Biking Into Winter. Biking with Friends.

Saturday’s ride was full of fun, full of adventure, full of great food, and of course full of great conversation. Saris Cycling Group was our meeting point and there were about 8 of us there a little after 10am. We all grabbed a little coffee (we’ve recently invested in a 2.5l carafe), chatted, then headed out on Military Ridge Trail. We picked up 2 other riders on our way out and went westward into the great headwinds.

Since the ride was so last minute we weren’t expecting that we’d have more than 5-6 riders, but we had a nice group of 10! The two gentlemen on the ride were outnumbered with 8 of us chatty ladies, but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Most of the group.
Most of the group.

Military Ridge was fairly dry with a few gummy spots where larger ‘cross tires came in handy. Everyone was either on a road bike or a ‘cross style bike. The headwinds all the way into Mt. Horeb were pretty intense. The pace was around 11mph until we got closer to the town, where there was more tree cover. The open prairie and marshy area outside of Verona can make for some tough riding. While the route is flat, you basically can’t coast due to the winds being always at your face. Needless to say, we earned our lunch.

The group debated a bit as to where we’d like to eat. The plan initially was to go to the Grumpy Troll, but others were interested in going to Sjolinds Chocolate House. We ended going to the Troll for lunch as they serve alcohol. Bloody Mary’s needed to be had after that ride!

The Grumpy Troll
The Grumpy Troll

The Grumpy Troll has a fantastic Gluten Free menu and fully stocked bar. We highly recommend stopping in! We have plans on going again, but with a trailer in tow to stock up on growlers.

Sjolinds ended up becoming our dessert destination. We had said goodbye to 3 of our ride crew as they had other commitments, but the rest of us were more than happy to spend a little extra time drinking hot chocolates and tasting all the treats Sjolinds had to offer. It’s basically a candy store for adults. Lots of high quality chocolates, caramels, cakes, pies, and delectables.

Checking out the treats at Sjolinds.
Checking out the treats at Sjolinds.

Once we had our fill of treats, we decided to head out. The ride back towards Madison was extremely easy. The tailwind was incredible and we were going 15-17mph vs. the 11mph on the way to Mt. Horeb. All was going really well on our way out. Lots of fun conversation and friendships being formed. Each of us came from different backgrounds, but all found common ground and enjoyed each others company. It’s always exciting to see a group of people mesh so well.

The only negative thing that happened during the ride is that Cassandra had a bad crash. She skidded out on one of the wooden bridges, hurting her right forearm and pelvis. Luckily after a few minutes of being curled up on the ground, she was able to get back up and walk her bike to the next nearest road.

Cassandra's road rash. It looks a lot less scary in this photo than it does now!
Cassandra’s road rash. It looks a lot less scary in this photo than it does now!

Luckily one of the riders, Jackie, had her significant other on the phone to come pick us up. George had met us in Mt. Horeb by car and joined us for lunch. We were very lucky that he not only was able to come pick us up, but also had a Saris Bones rack on the back of his car for bikes! It was a bit of a bummer to have to end the ride early, but the rest of the ladies stuck around until we were picked up and were able to finish out the rest of the ride.

We really appreciated the NO RIDER LEFT BEHIND policy. They kept us in high spirits while waiting to go home. It’s amazing how awesome of a group this was and we can’t wait to get back out there and see our friends again.

Cassandra ended up going to urgent care once we picked up the car. Nothing ended up being broken, but her right forearm is cut up pretty bad and really swollen. She also has a really badly bruised pubic bone. There are also some pretty gnarly bruises on her left inner thigh, lower left back, and on her bum. Pain medicine, ice, and lots of rest are keeping her from feeling too terrible. She can’t wait to get back on the bike!

Word of advice kids, don’t ride over rail trail bridges one handed! She skidded out and hit the side of the bridge while trying to put something in her vest pocket. Ouch!

Overall we’d say this ride was 100% AWESOME. Hopefully we can do this route again or something similar in the future. We have no shortage of rail trails in this area and have a number of small towns outside of Madison that offer great food options!

Welcoming winter by bike is a great way to stave off the seasonal slump, so get out and RIDE.

Check out some additional photos below of our adventure 🙂