What a gorgeous morning. The temperature was about 60 degrees and the air was fresh and cool. After our Oatmeal breakfast, we loaded our luggage at 7:00 and we were on the road about 7:15. Many turns to get us out of La Crosse on back roads but they were nice residential streets and a bit of bike path.As we went up, only small hills today, the air got a bit foggy but we didn’t stay too long and descended into cool sunshine. Several railroad tracks to cross, they are always on our route sheets (and cattle guards), but today we had several trains we had to wait for, or trains that rode along our side. I am not sure why, but trains are pretty fascinating. The possibilities of things to see and places to go maybe.
The entire ride was beautiful, green and tons of wild flowers. We saw a bunny, black squirrels and one deer, as well as cattle, horses, goats, sheep and a llama. The houses are more frequent and we must be back east as I saw the first Dunkin Donuts I have seen since we left home.
Mile 27 was our first SAG stop. We had fun checking out the Visitors Center at the Trailhead of the Elroy-Sparta Trail.The trail is packed dirt (they did tell us not to wash our bikes last night) and we did 34 miles. The first 25 were OK – the butt (again!) got tired of the constant pounding after a while. It was not difficult to ride with our bikes, well groomed, it was just butt-abrasive.
The Elroy-Sparta Trail is considered to be the first rails to trails hiking and biking trail in the nation. Who knew? We are so lucky to have taken this trip and to have learned so much (and to realize there is so much we do not know!)
Sparta is known as the Bicycling Capital of America. Located in the center of 101 miles of state trails. So the Chamber of Commerce has many ways to keep us entertained. The path was shady and beautiful. It ran along farms, the highway and railroad tracks. It was pretty quiet with occasional families or camp groups biking the other way. Only one or two runners. The Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail is considered to be the first “rails to
trails” hiking/biking trail in America! Built from an abandoned Chicago
Northwestern main line, the trail features three amazing rock tunnels and dozens of old stone bridges. These tunnels were cut through the rolling hills of Wisconsin in the late 1800’s. Tunnel #3, which is 3/4 of a mile long, is the longest bike trail tunnel in America!
We could see the exit far ahead of us. It reminded me of the Hoosac Tunnel at home. Bob sang Harry Belafonte and the acoustics were great. In the second tunnel, Al, another rider came along and began a chant … Bob joined in and the effect was awesome. It was perfect for the location.! Once we were done with the bike trail, we fortified ourselves with bananas and peanut butter and grapefruit and raisins and were on our last 30 miles to the Wisconsin Dells. We had a few hills but they kept our weary legs entertained. The visuals were beautiful and the roads were quiet. So, we are spending the night, after seriously washing and cleaning out bikes in Wisconsin Dells. What is it? Home of the largest water park in the US. The city takes its name from the dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the banks of the Wisconsin River. (we will see them tomorrow on our way out of town). Together with nearby Lake Delton, the city forms an area known as “the Dells”, a popular Midwestern tourist destination. Another late evening for us. Such busy days! Thanks for all the comments and notes … we know our days in suspended animation are numbered … BUT we plan to enjoy each & every oneof them!