Day 28 – You Better Work – Spring Green to La Crosse WI

biked – 88.6 grueling, hilly, way too late, windy, rainy miles.

9/27/09  We woke up in Spring Green, surprisingly not hung over (not that we drank that much, but somehow when you go to a Shitty Barn Party you just sort of expect to wake up hung over).  We were sort of awake when the sun rose at 7am.  We started packing up our stuff around  8:30am.  We made it to the diner down the street around 9:45am.  Then back to the barn to pack up our tents at 10:45am.  Finally on our bikes at 11:10am.  What’s funny about all this is that we were fully aware that we had around 90 miles of hilly biking ahead of us if we planned to get to La Crosse (the planned destination) before sunset at 6:30pm.  But we loved our little tent home in Spring Green and we drug our feet all the same.

The diner in Spring Green was definitely the place to be on a Sunday morning.  Filled with people from town and people visiting, including other Shitty Barn Party remnants.  Anders had some really fabulous looking blueberry waffles and the girls had tasty eggs.  Good energy for our long day.

The first 20 miles or so on highway 14 (a fairly major thruway) was relatively flat and we figured “Ok, we’ve got 7 1/2 hours to go 90 miles, we can do this.”  Then we took some small turns, Tracy’s shifters stopped working (AGAIN) and we made it to highway 56, a much less traveled and more beautiful road than 14.   However, as the rule goes, the prettier the road, the hillier.  These were big rolling hills though and of course, for every slow, drawn out up hill we had a speedy and exciting trip down.  We did get a little worried when a woman came running out of her house to yell “there’s inclement** weather in that direction” pointing in the direction we were riding.  As far as we could tell that meant clouds and a light drizzle.  We kept chugging along, and as a pleasant surprise, with the rain, Tracy’s shifters started working again.

50 miles in, we stopped for lunch in Viola – population 667 – for some pretty tasty BLTs at a very strange little dinner/bar (it was either that or the gas station).  Then it was off for the last 40 or so miles.  Up until that point, we had decided that if we didn’t make it to La Crosse, we could definitely stop at a town closer, or at the camp site just outside of town.  But we were making decent time and figured we might as well just go for it.  Around 4:30pm, with 25 miles to go, Caroline got a call that we had a place to stay.  It was going to be worth the extra push to go all the way to La Crosse because we’d have a warm house and a hot shower, plus the possibility of a brewery stop, instead of camping in the “inclement weather”.  And that was exactly when the terrain got REALLY fun.

Now, thus far for the day we’d biked about 65 miles, feeling pretty strong.  Thus far for the trip, we’d done the mountains in Vermont and felt like we could handle some decent climbs.  But the combination of mountain-like hills after a long day of riding was torture.  We were so close, yet so far away.  There we hills we hit that took what felt like a half an hour (at 4 miles an hour) to wind our way up.  At one point, Sara almost called her mother.  Caroline almost threw down her bike and just walked away.  At the top of the final climb, it was 7pm, the last of any really daylight and Anders pointed out (though we all knew) that if we had any more hills before we got to the river (and some flat, more well lit roads) we were going to be in for some dangerous riding.  Not knowing what to expect, we started down hill, praying for 4.5 miles of decent.  Luckily, that’s exactly what we got.

Arriving at the edge of the Mississippi with 8 miles into town should have been cake, but just to make things interesting, our “easy flat ride up the river”, basically in the dark, was accompanied by some winds that almost knocked us down.  We arrived at our home of for the night in La Crosse at 8:30pm, 88.6 miles under our belt, totally whipped but safe and happy to have a hot shower.

We must have earned some good karma with that ride because our hosts, 4 college guys, were some of the most gracious people we’ve stayed with thus far.  Even though we’d only made plans to stay with the a few hours before, they had already rearranged there living room and laid our extra mattresses for us to set up camp in their home.  The connection was Caroline’s friend’s best friend’s roommate’s college friend, Connor, who was at work at a nearby bar, so we went there after a quick shower, had a quick bite, a few quick beers and fell a sleep in very short order.  The boys we pretty insistent that we shouldn’t leave the next day, we should sleep in and go out with them for Oktoberfest, but we were on a mission and went to bed preparing for another day of riding in the morning.  The last thing we heard before we entered dreamland was “the weather report says 40 mile an hour winds tomorrow…”

**note: after some research it seems like ‘inclement’ is the proper spelling for the common word ‘imclimate’ … this is, however, up for debate.

Stormy Riding through WI

Stormy Riding through WI


2 Responses to “Day 28 – You Better Work – Spring Green to La Crosse WI”

  1. Anders
    2. October 2009 at 17:57

    I heard the woman yell about “EXTREME weather” — it sounded like she expected a hurricane towed by monstrous fire-breathing lizards.

    But maybe she yelled inclement, or even ‘imclimate’. Today is a good day to say that language log — looky you towards this feller — is blinking sweet.

  2. Rachael
    5. October 2009 at 14:43

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The longest mountain I ever road, was a hill in Southwest Wisconsin.” Them there rollers are deceptively harsh.

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