by Peter Herreid
This last month I was in the market for a Dutch bike. Since there are no bike shops that sell Dutch bikes in Madison, I went looking in Chicago. According to Ding Ding Let’s Ride, three shops in Chicago sell Dutch-style bikes. On December 10th, I took a walk on the the north side of Chicago to visit all three. First, I eyed Pashleys at Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square, then test rode “Student” Velorbis bikes at Copenhagen Cyclery on North Milwaukee Ave., and last, I test rode Dutch bikes at J. C. Lind Bike Co. in Old Town. Then I continued walking to Daley Plaza in anticipation of some warm Glühwein at the Kristkindlmarket.
Later back in Madison, I called up Jon at J.C. Lind Bike Co. and bought a five-speed Batavus Fryslan with a Brooks saddle and a front rack at an end-of-year discounted price. I can ride the Batavus Fryslan upright enough to grip the handles without uncomfortably pulling on the fabric of my wool winter coat, a key criterion for me. While I could have had the bike shipped to Madison, I instead chose to take advantage of the mild winter weather and lack of snow - I arranged to pick it up from J.C. Lind Bike Co. the day after Christmas with the plan to take it on the Metra to the end of the Union Pacific/Northwest Line (bikes are allowed on non-rush hour trains) in Harvard, IL and ride my new bike back to Madison from there.
I had the benefit of already having biked from Harvard to Madison last summer on my touring bike. My route for Harvard to Madison is 65% rail trails (see map). While this rail-trail route is a little longer than a more direct route on roads, it avoids many hills (rail trails do not exceed a 3% gradient) and, more importantly, avoids stress caused by motor vehicle traffic. However, my route still included a few stretches of roads with higher traffic volumes and basically no paved shoulders which I would have preferred not to bike: Rockton Rd. and Yale Bridge Rd. (the first five miles west of Rockton) and Co. Hwy. T leading into Brodhead. I coped with these poor conditions by riding with traffic, but pulling off the road for each passing car, and sometimes walking the bike as a pedestrian opposing traffic.
I broke up the 100-mile ride into two days and stayed overnight at the Sutherland House, a pleasant, economical bed and breakfast and the only place to stay in Brodhead, WI, the start of the Sugar River Trail, which connects to the Badger Trail leading into Madison. The next day, the closer I got to Madison, the more blustery the weather became. That, in addition to the trail being a little soft in parts, made for a slow slog. On the plus side, walking the bike for a few stretches kept my feet warm.
|Arriving home in Madison on my new Dutch bike|