June 25, 2012

Featured Bicycle Touring Route: Devil's Lake State Park

by Peter Herreid

Devil’s Lake is one of the most popular state parks in Wisconsin and a great weekend camping destination for biking out of Madison. So, it is surprising not to see more people pulling up to campsites on bikes. The park is located about 42 miles northwest of Madison or roughly five hours on a fully loaded bike. The route is hilly, but the destination rewarding.

June 18, 2012

Featured Bicycle Touring Route: Blue Mound State Park

Military Ridge State Trail
Bike camping at Blue Mound State Park is a good introduction to an overnight bike tour. The 30-mile trail route from Capitol Square will take you straight to the park’s bike-in campground.  
Sugar River
The Southwest Commuter Path leads out of Madison towards the start of the Military Ridge State Trail. Out of Verona, this rail trail runs through the Sugar River Bottoms’ wetlands and prairies. After the trail parts ways with the Sugar River, it ascends for miles at a slight, yet tiring uphill grade to Mt. Horeb. (The flipside of the ascent is a fast downhill stretch on the way home.) 
In Mt. Horeb, there’s water and bathrooms at the restored train depot along the path and a handful of places to get food and a beer in town. Schubert’s Diner on Main Street is a nice place for breakfast and coffee. There is also a convenience store in the Village of Blue Mounds just off the trail for any items you want to pick up just before the park.  
My friend made the trip on her single speed.
The bike campground is surprisingly underutilized. Although it’s a bit more rustic than campgrounds that accommodate RVs, it still has running water and two well-maintained latrines. In addition to standard, non-electric tent sites, there’s also an open-air structure with wooden cots – on a recent trip with friends we opted not to pitch the tent and instead slept in the cool, mosquito-free air. 
No tent required.
From the park’s observation tower (the highest point in southern Wisconsin), you can look back over the distance biked and see Madison as specks on the horizon. The park doesn’t have a lake, but does have a pool with diving board.
Taking a yoga break on the return trip.
Wild asparagus along the Capital City Trail

June 11, 2012

Talked into Touring

by Peter Herreid

One night back in ’09, we were sitting around a campfire at Picnic Point and a friend suggested we bike out to Blue Mound State Park and camp overnight. He wasn’t getting any takers from us. Sure, we had made a few trips out of Madison on our classic Schwinn 3-speeds, but never as far as the Dane County border. A trip past the county line seemed epic, but loaded down with camping gear, a foolish undertaking.