Wisconsin Bike Tour

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 31st, 2011

I leave Saturday for a bike tour across the state of Wisconsin. I’ll ride from the Twin Cities to Green Bay, approximately 325 miles. The tour will be self contained, about a week in length and the first significant bike tour I’ve taken in over 20 years.

My original plan was to ride the Mountain Bay Trail from Wausau, Wisconsin to Green Bay, but that changed a couple of weeks ago when I had the chance to test ride the eastern end of the trail. The ride began at the end of an all day rain. The first thirty miles were on paved road, then I jumped on the trail. It took only a couple of meters for me to realize that my speed on the trail would be permanently reduced from about 16 mph to 11 mph, and even that reduced speed required a substantial increase in effort. The trail in this area, near Shawano, looks and feels like a jeep trail with two narrow tracks, soft wet gravel and occasional puddles. I turned off at the first cross road that went in the direction I was heading.

Wisconsin has an extensive network of paved back roads, some of them with as little as 50 cars per day, or one every half hour. Central Wisconsin was flattened 10,000 years ago by glaciers, so the road system is pretty much in a grid. With a resource like that, all I had to do to get to my destination was ride generally northwest by going first north, then west and making my turns almost at random until I neared my destination. For me this is the essence of bicycle touring- to get from Point A to Point B, but not necessarily in a straight line. I look forward to a week of similar meanderings.

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