September 10, 2012

Pick Me up at the Border

When my alarm went off at 11pm waking me from a brief nap, I admit to thinking, "That ride sounds fun, but it feels so good to be sleeping." Soon my sleepiness was replaced by a caffeinated anticipation for that night's ride to the Illinois border on the Badger Trail.

On Capitol Square we meet a couple dozen kindred spirits, whether touring cyclists with nicely packed panniers, road cyclists in lycra, or tandem-riding couples. At midnight we were off. I had no strategy other than to go as hard as I could and see what happened. I had never raced before, yet can be quite competitive - I come from a family where you earn cred with your siblings based on how long you can stand on your hands and how impressive your moonwalking skills are.

South of Fitchburg the group spread out and I found myself riding solo under a full moon. In open spaces I could switch off my lights and still see the light-colored, crushed limestone trail. However, I mainly kept my lights on, watching for the racoons and possums that might wander across the trail.

A trailer filled with beer, food, and prizes awaited the first place finisher at the border. According to the unofficial race's rules, the winner had the privilege of hooking the trailer to his bike and leading the procession back to Madison. In Monroe and in the Stewart Tunnel, the beers and snacks were distributed to lighten the load.

I was within a few miles of the border when I saw the blinding lights of a train of cyclists heading towards me. I hitched on and headed back at a casual pace, chatting with a fellow bike camper and touring cyclist. By Belleville, the sun was starting to rise and it was 8 am before I was back in bed. When I awoke around noon, it felt like the whole race had been a dream.


  1. Hey it's the fellow bike touring guy. I was still curious about your trip to Octoberfest. Just went to Kettle Moraine this past weekend. It was an amazing ride and I highly recommend it. Very easy and lots of beautiful back roads. Anyway drop me an email sometime to let me know of any upcoming rides you guys do.

  2. It really was a fun event. We rode like animals and made it to the border while the trailer was still there. I remember seeing you, but had no idea who you were.

    Please enjoy a few snaps I made during the ride...

  3. The link in my comment is invisible, so here it is in the light of day: