Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elroy Sparta 2008

This year Ming, Kyle and I once again hit the trail system in Wisconsin, intending to bike from very close to Winona (MN) to Reedsburg - about 100 miles. Last year Kyle sagged the whole way. This year we all took turns and extended the ride to two days - out and back. I checked the trail conditions too late however, and didn't realize until after we had hotel rooms that the last 17 miles had been rendered inoperable by flooding from the Baraboo River. In the end, it didn't matter, because 83 miles a day was probably beyond any of us. We ended up averaging closer to 90-100 miles between the two days. A pretty good ride, nonetheless, given the trails are gravel and the area between Sparta and Elroy has a lot of slope (six miles of up at one point - none of it above 3 degrees slope, but it adds up).

I have a few select pictures below with commentary, but if you like just perusing a set, I have them up at Flickr.

The tunnels are the major attraction. There are three of them, the longest over 3600 feet, almost pitch black inside, and dripping a constant stream of water. In one place you can see water shooting out of solid rock like there was a hose pressed on the other side of it. While Ming and I were doing the ride back and he was avoiding the drips I kept flicking my water bottle at his back so he'd think he'd found a particularly bad spot to walk. He'd look at the ceiling and move over a little bit and complain about how cold that one was. Took him a while to figure out I was being a tool.

I like this one. When Kyle and I were biking out it started to get late, so it looks just a little creepy.

Even better. Ming is king of the bicycling world!

And Kyle outside a tunnel. Near the beginning of the Sparta leg he wondered when the trail would start to climb. I think he was very disappointed to discover that Ming and I hadn't been exaggerating about the length of the climb last year.

Ming checking out what the water, and the parasites, taste like in a cave. Kyle said this wasn't the weird part - the weird part was when he tasted some limestone.

Speaking of Ming, he was in charge of the GPS the morning of the second day, when we intended to start bicycling at 7:00 a.m. In order to get from Reedsburg, to the starting point, a mere 17 miles away, we drove about 7 miles toward our destination, and then Ming guided us so far south that it took us 90 minutes to get to where we were going to start. I know we have to take some of the blame - after all, I drove 45 minutes south in the first place - but Ming is now the butt of many direction/gps-related jokes.

Unfortunately for bicyclists, they hunt in packs.

Sparta has a pretty cool water tower. We had lunch at Ginny's Cupboard one day. They make a very good soup and sandwich. And Kyle and Ming had layovers in Sparta on Saturday and toured the museum. I believe they told me it includes a bicycling museum, a museum dedicated to astronaut Deke Slayton, and a freemason outfit exhibit. The local guy who was in charge of the freemason area also helped Ming get the stickshift into reverse as Ming hadn't driven one in 17 years. The next day, when we saw the guy at the Sparta Depot he called Ming "Mr. Mechanic." Ming should just embrace "Mr. Nickname" so he doesn't pick up any more.

Some interesting rocks near Sparta. This is very close to where Ming tried to run over me while I was looking at a big snake last year.

Downtown Sparta is undergoing a bit of rennovation. I'm not sure why a town would agree to completely shut down their main street for an extended period of time, but it doesn't seem to be doing those businesses much good. On the other hand, there's plenty of room to stretch out after a long ride.

I almost forgot! I have movies! Approaching the tunnel...

In the tunnel...

But my bed faces North-South!

1 comment:

tonka_boy said...

Great post and great photos. I liked the video!. We've biked that trail and those tunnels are a welcome relief from the heat if biking in the summer. Feels great!