|First stop at a bike shop: Higher Gear in Highland Park|
|Stung by wasp midride, poor baby.|
|Kept going like a champ only minutes later.|
|First night, soaking wet in our speedily set up stealth campsite.|
|First fall. It's hard to balance with 30+ pounds of weight on your bike.|
|FIRST STATE LINE CROSSING. We were very excited.|
|First Flat. Yes, that also happened to Jessi.|
|Jessi couldn't handle it. But no worries, I took over.|
|I DID IT...and it was not easy.|
|The best things in life are free....such as the satisfaction of changing a tire for the first time. Ah, it's the little things in life, isn't it?|
|At Country Rose Bakery and Café in Union Grove, WI. with THE Country Rose, herself on the left and on the right LouAnnie, one of the sweetest, most generous ladies I have ever met.|
|Our fantastic Day 2 hosts, Pat and MaryJo.|
|Jessi and I in our sweet little room at Pat and MaryJo's.|
|The height of luxury after our first wet, cold, night.|
|We still love each other!|
|Just one of the MANY MANY MANY beautiful views on the bike trail, Day 3.|
|The one and only SAM ADAMS took us in on day 3.|
Day one. We haven't even started yet. What can go wrong? Well, a lot. What went wrong for us, you ask? Well, let me paint you a picture. Let's get a really early start.....HAHA. nope. Let's have everything packed and ready the night before.....uh uh, not us. Have our bikes properly tuned up and ready to roll....hell no. Know where we're going....not these girls! Needless to say, after a hectic morning of packing, cleaning, searching for a ghost key, and hanging out in the Bike Lane so Jessi could get her brake fixed, we finally set out at about noon only to get lost about a million times in freaking Chicago. I can't make a dramatic enough statement to describe how much I hate the way Google Maps does bike directions. So I'll just say that I REALY F%CK!NG (sorry, Mommy...but it's the only word strong enough to convey this emotion) despise it! They're so illogical and impossible to follow. Anyways, we finally made it out of the city and onto the North Branch Trail, which was paved and beautiful. We stopped at Higher Gear, a cute little bike shop in Highland park, just off the trail to supplement our gear, since we had already figured out several inconveniences in our little riding setup. The proprietors of Higher Gear were insanely kind to us, and we left the bike shop in high spirits. Shortly after, we hooked up with the Green Bay Trail...not quite as scenic and definitely not as paved as the North Branch Trail. Also, what's that? Ominous gray skies, rolling thunder in the distance (in the direction we're heading, of course) and strong headwinds? Oh, good. Needless to say, we did not make it to our planned destination. The downpour started at about 8:30, and we finally gave up when we started seeing lightening illuminate the sky above our heads at around 9 or 9:30. We definitely want to live, at least to finish out this trip, if not longer! So we pulled off the trail and set up our tent near some trees. I don't want to sound braggy here, but we were so efficient. We moved like a well oiled machine and had the tent set up and all of our gear inside within 15 minutes. We then attempted to dry off...hahahahahaha. Not in the cards for us. So we just stripped off our wet clothes, laid down on our damp sleeping bags, and fell asleep to the pounding rain and the rolling thunder, waking up briefly every once and awhile if the lightning flashed especially bright or the thunder clashed particularly vehemently.
Biking is SO easy, a little kid can do it. Biking into the wind is harder. Biking with 30 pounds on your bike is even harder. Biking uphill, with weight, into the wind is impossible. Yet SOMEHOW, we did it for EIGHTY MILES. That's right.....Day two was, I sweartogod, ALL UPHILL, with intense headwinds and light rains. We were on our bikes for more than 13 hours (with a couple of generous rest breaks thrown in.) We biked well over 80 miles. Here is my abridged version of Day 2: Woke up soggy and sore, but excited nonetheless. Packed up our tent and gear. Got back on the fantastic *ahem* gravel trail. Made it to the Wisconsin border (YAYY). My rear tire had a low pressure at this point, which made it quite uncomfortable and difficult to ride. UNFORTUNATELY, we did not have the adaptor to our air pump, so we couldn't fix it. This led us to take a 3 mile detour, only to find that the place we were seeking (a Target, I believe) did not exist. We managed to find a bike shop 4 miles away. They pumped up our tires, and we bought our adaptor there. Shortly thereafter, Jessi got our first flat. (Luckily, we had just purchased our trusty adaptor, or we would have been screwed!) I had never officially changed an innertube before, but thanks to the fantastic tutoring session I had with Mike Knish only days before, I was confident. It turned out to take a leetle more muscle than I had anticipated, but I DID IT. Jessi was stung by a wasp at some point. We also made the decision, for better or worse, to bike on the highway because gravel is hard to pedal through, but soggy gravel is absolutely miserable. So we biked on the less gravelly, but MUCH more hilly highway....into the wind. Call me a masochist, but I freaking LOVED it. Pedaling uphill was a struggle, but it was also like a game....all you have to do is reach the top, and you win. And the reward is SO worth it: Crest that hill and see the downward slope and go ohsofast back down that you make it halfway up the next hill before you even know you're on an incline. We did this for hours and hours and hours and hours. Finally, at about 10 P.M., we arrived at Pat and MaryJo's. We could not have asked for better hosts after the LONGEST day of our lives! They had a massage-shower. You can't imagine how heavenly that felt. And we got to sleep in a bed...so cozy.
Day 3 commenced with a late start....we could hardly bear to leave the Haven of MaryJo and Pat. We had a great morning eating breakfast, sharing stories, exploring their gorgeous property, and playing with the best Coon Hound I have yet to meet since Old Dan and Little Ann, Dolly. We set off for Madison around noon. We biked from MaryJo and Pat's to a lovely paved trail and had a lovely ride. We hooked up with the Glacial Drumlin State Trail at Wales and took it to the end: 43 miles. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride. Unfortunately, the entire trail was gravel, which we have quickly discovered is our least favorite riding surface. From the end of the trail in cottage grove it was a pleasant (although quite hilly, compared to any ride I have ever taken in Chicago!) journey. In Madison, we met up with the fantastically brilliant Samuel Adams, who took us to dinner at a DELICIOUS restaurant, fittingly called the "Weary Traveller" where we both ate one of the best meals of our lives. Not that you're interested in mundane details, such as my eating habits....but this food merits a short description. I literally just copied this from the menu: Grilled Walleye Sandwich- fresh walleye filét with roasted Poblano tartar sauce on a housemade bun, with lettuce and tomato. Served with mixed greens, Yukon God potatoes and a pickle spear. Also, we had a Spotted Cow, which according to Sam, is THE beer of Wisconsin. It was quite tasty. We ended the day with....a great night's sleep! Can't get much better than that when you're on the road.
|We road this trail almost from it's origin, for 46 miles. It was gorgeous, but gravel....Yuck. Call me city girl, but I love a paved trail!|
(Posted by Annie)