We left La Crosse with 80 miles of trail ahead of us. The three trails we rode are some of the oldest Rails to Trails out there, and the beauty we got to enjoy from behind the handlebars can only be explained by John Steinbeck:
"It is possible, even probable, to be told a truth about a place, to accept it, to know it and at the same time to know nothing about it. I had never been to Wisconsin, but all my life I had heard about it, had eaten it's cheeses, some of them as good as any in the world. And I must have seen pictures. Everyone must have. Why then was I unprepared for the beauty of field and hill, forest, lake? I think now I must have considered it one big level cow pasture because of the state's enormous yield of milk products. I never saw a country that changed so rapidly, and because I had not expected it everything I saw brought delight." - Travels with Charley
It's hard to follow such an apt and complete Steinbeck quote, so I'll keep it short.
The trail was a treat. We passed through 3 remarkable old tunnels dug through massive rock. One was almost a mile long! There was no shortage of Lord of the Rings references made or fake train noises as we passed through the tunnels. I wondered to myself what the people who built these tunnels would think if they knew their years of work was used for recreational cyclist now. Yet another reminder of how much this country has changed over the years. I think it's progress.
We camped just off the trail after 60 miles in the town of Elroy. After a breakfast of turkey sandwiches we finished the last 20 miles of the trail and went back to the world of pavement and cars. We road 60 more up hills, forest, and on one ferry. The day ended in Madison with a Warmshower host, Emily and Dan, and beer. People in Wisconsin seem to be on a steady diet of beer and cheese. Someone has to do it I suppose.
Photos: Tunnels to the mines of Moria