The final day of a bicycle tour is always full of mixed emotions. Part of you is glad that the physical challenge is just about over and you’re ready to sleep in a real bed; but deep inside you know that you’ll miss the people and the fun of bicycle touring. I love riding on these tours, and I know it can be hard to make the switch back to reality.
It was a cool and calm morning when we left Green Lake. Probably the coolest, nicest day of the week. The weather was predominantly hot and humid most of the week, windy on Thursday, but Friday promised better temperatures, sunny skies, and drier air. We needed considering the challenge that awaited us outside Green Lake.
You know you are in for trouble when the cue sheet has the words HILL in bold letters after the turn. Sure enough, County Highway A, just past the park and beach outside of Green Lake, had a nice steep climb. About two thirds up the hill, I dropped the bike into the granny gear to save my legs. It wasn’t a race and I knew I’d need the energy for he next 54 miles ahead of us. Once we got to the top we where rewarded with a beautiful view of the Green Lake itself.
More hills await, about 12 miles worth. We climbed up and down hills from Green Lake to Markesan. Most of the hills had climbs of 150 to 200 feet with an 6-9% grade. We probably put on 2000 feet of vertical climbing on that 12 mile stretch. Coming into Markesan, we where rewarded with a very nice rest stop at the high school. Fresh water, snacks and a band rewarded our efforts of the morning.
Continuing on, the route flattened out and took us through lots of very tall corn fields. Next stop was Randolph, home of Jung seeds and the Galaxy Drive Inn. The Galaxy is a great little ice cream stand with burgers, dogs and a few other items. The owner was just getting ready to paint the building when he received word from the SAG team that about 500 riders will pass his location that day. A couple of frantic calls later and he was fully staffed for the onslaught that awaited him.
From Randolph we rode over about 3 miles of fresh chip seal to the little town of Fall River. Riding on chip seal is not my idea of a good time, so you just take things carefully and hope that you don’t end up with a flat tire. In Fall River I ended up helping another rider that picked up a piece of stone that worked itself deep into his tire until it went flat. After helping with the repair, it was on to the finish in Columbus, about 7 miles away.
Just outside of Columbus on old Hwy 73 is a great iron overhead truss bridge. You don’t see those much any more, so it was a treat to ride over it. After a brief ride through town, we ended up back at the Columbus High School, the same place we started out our adventure six days ago. The luggage was spread over the lawn, so it was easy to claim your bags. After putting the bike on the car rack, and saying my goodbyes, it was off to home. Another tour in the bag.
If you want to see the state of Wisconsin and all it has to offer, I highly recommend one of these bicycle tours. You can travel at your own pace and experience adventure and physical challenge at the same time. The Bike Wisconsin people put on a great tour and do a tremendous job to ensure that everyone is safe and has fun. I hope to see you on the road some day.