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. 

Initial, improvised touring rig on a bike ill-suited for carrying so much junk

My friend did end up talking me into a test run on the Military Ridge State Trail to Mt. Horeb and back with the faster bike I had recently bought. That wasn’t so bad, so I joined him on a trip to Governor Dodge State Park at the end of the Military Ridge Trail. A first trip was the best lesson possible. Alyson got a touring bike shortly thereafter to supplement her city bike as well. Ever since, Alyson and I have been enjoying bike camping, including a trip from Madison to Minnesota. From now until the snow falls, we will be biking out of Madison into greater Wisconsin.  

Touring opened up a world of weekend bike camping destinations: Blue Mound, Devil’s Lake, and Governor Dodge state parks to name a few. By extending the weekend, the possibilities only multiply. Our touring confidence grew to make day trips out of Mt. Horeb, New Glarus, and other destinations close to Madison along the rail trails.  
Bike paths leading out of Madison
This is the first in a series of weekly posts on touring, including tips from lessons learned and destinations for weekend bike camping. Our equipment has been incrementally upgraded since the first year, but we hope to show just how accessible touring is – you don’t need just the right gear (or be a competitive athlete). We too are still learning and checking off more destinations on our list. 
Campsite along the La Crosse River
Bike touring and camping are great ways to explore Wisconsin's hinterland and visit Madison's fellow cities and villages where the train once stopped. 
Trail facilities in Elroy, where three trails meet

1 comment: