I’ve had a few days off between my old job ending and my new job starting. I decided to do a ride that I’ve started several times, but never completed because honestly it was a pretty boring route to ride solo. Thankfully my old co-worker Simone had reached out to see if I was riding yesterday and she joined me for the 40 mile loop to a local outdoor hot spot, Indian Lake County Park.
The route goes up the Highway 12 bike path which goes North of Madison up towards Sauk City. The trail itself terminates before you actually reach Sauk City, which is a bit sad. I’m hoping more land easements will come to connect the entire route to make it more direct. The nice thing about the trail is it is a great way to access some beautiful state natural areas and parks such as Devil’s Lake State Park, Indian Lake, Pafrey’s Glen, and the Merrimac Ferry with its quaint views.
We took the Highway 12 trail up to its end on Raul road, which we found was named something different than what was on our map. Raul took us across Highway 12 and around to Matz road, which spit us out right on Highway 19 across from Indian Lake County Park!
The park was absolutely packed when we arrived, no surprise there as it seems people are finally rediscovering the outdoors thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. A bit frustrating as someone who enjoyed these places prior to the pandemic, but happy that it will hopefully encourage the state to invest in more natural areas and do some upgrades to some places that need a serious face lift.
The restrooms were open thankfully, so we took a snack/bathroom break, filled our water bottles, and rolled back home. On the way home we stopped into my new home shop Wheel and Sprocket. I needed some more nutrition and ended up picking up some Floyd’s of Leadville CBD recovery gummies as well as some new flavors of Stroopwafels from GU. It also gave me an opportunity to look around the shop and get familiar with some of the products we carry and see how busy the shop was still on the weekends.
I ended my ride in a local park where I shot a good portion of a sort of chat to the camera style vlog. I do a little taste test of the snacks I picked up, talk a bit about life, and a little bit about some of the new gear I’ve been trying out. I’m looking to experiment more with this style of video to add a bit more of my personality versus just talking about a product. We’ll see if I can keep up a regular schedule. It may be tough with starting the new job and I start a new Marketing course through my school this week as well.
Next weekend I am planning on doing a sub 24 hour overnight as a part of the annual Swift Industries Campout event. Almost all of the state parks are booked up, but know from past excursions that if you bike or hike into a state park, you can’t really be turned away. The other option would be to just stealth camp somewhere in the area, which shouldn’t be too difficult as it gets darker early and I’m planning on testing out my bivy set up and bringing my hammock as a back up.
Assuming the weather cooperates, I’ll try to capture that adventure on camera as well!
As always thank you for reading, watching, and supporting the site. Stay safe and sane and of course…EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!
I’ve been waiting to make this announcement as I wanted to respect my current employer, Fitchburg Cycles. Tomorrow is my last official day there though and I feel it’s time for me to update those who give a care on where I’ll be headed!
I’ll be joining the team at Wheel & Sprocket Middleton as a Store Manager. I’m nervous and excited for the new opportunity. I’ve spent a cumulative nearly four years working with Edwin and the folx at Fitchburg Cycles. I considered it my home shop, even when I wasn’t physically in the shop working. I’ve held many events there, took on a lot of responsibilities that kept the shop running (purchasing, social media management, and running the sales floor), and learned so much from my time at the shop. It was a bit of a revolving door of employees during my four years there, but will for sure miss my most recent co-workers.
It will be a bittersweet ending of my time there, but I know that it was time for me to move on. For those who aren’t familiar with Wheel & Sprocket, they are a Midwestern regional chain that was founded in 1973. Chris Kegel was the longtime president of the company until he sadly passed away in 2017. I had the pleasure of working with Chris during my time at Saris managing the silent auction and assisting in planning the annual Saris Gala. I also had ties to Chris and his family during my time as a board member for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation.
Throughout my time at Saris and the Bike Fed I had met Chris’s daughters Amelia and Tessa as well as his sons Noel and Julian. Noel has taken over as president of the company while Amelia heads up the events and marketing. They’ve grown as a company within the last few years with expanding to new markets such as Middleton and Evanston, IL. They’ve also been expanding and updating their locations in and around the greater Milwaukee area, making for clean and modern looking shops.
It’s nice knowing that while they are a “chain store” that they are still owned and run by the Kegel family. Wheel has a great reputation outside of their shops for giving back to the community. They sponsor a number of local charity rides, started the Chris Kegel foundation which provides funding for cycling infrastructure projects, and they donate funds to a lot of cycling non-profits. Their ride support is always a welcome site when rolling up to a cycling event as they always have great mechanical support.
My hope is once our world gets back to normal after COVID that I’ll be able to join an event or two as it’s always something I’ve enjoyed while working in bike shops.
Another aspect I’m excited about with heading to a new shop is I get to work with some new brands. I have a lot of love and respect for the brands I worked with at Fitchburg Cycles, but I will get to now sell brands like Salsa and All-City who make some fun bikes and products I’ve been a fan of for many years.
I’ll still get the opportunity to sell Liv and Giant, which is exciting and they are wonderful bike brands. Some other brands that will be new for me to sell include Ortlieb (some of the nicest pannier and bike packing gear on the market), Kuat racks, Terra Trike, Tern, Yuba, Felt, and another 4 lettered brand that lots of people know. I shall not name them at this time due to their association with the police bike issue, so I’d just rather not go there. I’m trying this whole if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It gets me into a little less trouble, but for those who know me…I’m pretty candid about my thoughts and opinions on things.
The opportunity is awesome and I’m excited to getting my feet wet with learning their systems, the new products, the new brands, and meeting a new customer base! I know some of my existing regulars will likely come see me at the new shop and I look forward to exposing them to some new offerings as well.
I don’t know that I’d write much about my day to day job as I tend to like to just talk about my bike, reviewing products, and the rides I’m doing. If anything cool pops up though I’ll be sure to share about it.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and as always EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!
October is what we deem “Leafer Season” here in Wisconsin, meaning on the weekends our country roads, small towns, farm stands, and orchards are packed with people flocking to see the change in foliage.
I’ve lived in this state my entire life and yet I still find myself falling into the seasonal shenanigans. (ooh! Alliteration and a pun! Get it…FALLing.)
One of my favorite pilgrimages is to the small town of Spring Green, WI. Famously known for the original Taliesin building created by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. They are also known for American Player’s Theater, one of the best Shakespearean theaters in the world. It’s a quaint and quirky town of less than 5000 people, yet it manages to boast an economy of restaurants, coffee shops, several artisan studios, and specialty shops.
I grew up in a town not far from Spring Green, but spent much of my life there and had friends whose parents lived there. It feels more like home to me than my actual home town in a lot of ways and I think that’s because of the overall artsy, hippy culture that thrives behind the farms, local branch of Culver’s, and the kids wearing River Valley Blackhawks gear (the high school mascot).
Spring Green boasts a lot of beautiful places to enjoy nature, beyond sitting in the woods watching Macbeth or A Mid Summer Night’s Dream. It’s nestled right on the Wisconsin river with not only the river itself, but the bottoms and many ponds that surround it. There’s even Tower Hill State Park, a small but interesting natural area that has an original shot tower still on the premises.
While we had plans of visiting the park, I had actually wanted to explore a slightly lesser known natural area called the Spring Green Preserve. It’s a parcel of land run by the local branch of the Nature Conservancy. The reason this place is so special is that there are very few like it in our state. It’s a mix of desert and black oak barrens in an entirely un-glaciated region, meaning it is in the same state it has been for thousands of years. You can see cacti and lizards along side cranes, deer, and other wildlife. It’s truly unlike anywhere in the area, minus a couple of untouched areas of Lone Rock, WI which is very tiny town located just down highway 14 from Spring Green.
The last time I had visited the preserve was my senior year of high school for my AP Environmental Science class. I had remembered enjoying all the new natural areas I had not realized were in places I drove past on a regular basis. This is one that for those who know, really enjoy visiting it and for those who don’t, it’s just a pretty ridge off in the distance.
My partner and I took some back roads to Spring Green from Madison to get in the beautiful rolling hills covered in trees starting their annual turning into yellows, oranges, and fiery reds. It’s not peak turn at the moment, so there was still a fair bit of green. Nonetheless it’s still a gorgeous drive.
The driftless region of Wisconsin runs deep for those of us who have lived here a long time. It’s untouched by the ancient glaciers that manipulated so much of our state. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were in the rolling hills of Kentucky in some areas of the state. Not quite mountains, but there are some really breathtaking views in the driftless that make you appreciate the quiet beauty of Wisconsin. Something many don’t appreciate as they consider the Midwest to be flyover territory.
That’s ok, we’ll keep it our own little secret.
Upon our arrival to Spring Green our first stop was the Spring Green General Store. A hippie haven with a great cafe, an ever changing mural on its side, and a nice shop with eclectic offerings. I always seem to find a little something there that I love. This trip it was a natural toothpaste I like that comes in a glass jar rather than in a tube. It’s difficult to find and only a couple of stores in Madison carry it and they don’t always have it. That’s the magic of the Spring Green General store, it just knows.
We ordered up lunch. I with a vegetarian chilly, deluxe with all the accoutrements. My partner ordered a vegetarian burrito. Both delicious and warm and just what we needed to fuel up for our hike.
Before we made our way to the preserve, we stopped in a couple of artsy shops across the street. There’s a little mall of shops and cafes on Albany Street. We saw some lovely pieces and I kept mental notes of things for the holiday season.
Shortly after we hopped in our car and made our way to the preserve. On the way there we ran into a closed rode due to flooding. It seems the area around the preserve that was developed either for farming or housing had been a couple of feet under water. So much so that a gaggle of geese seemed to have claimed it for their own. We had to brave a somewhat gnarly puddle to drive into the preserve, but the land on the preserve was oddly bone dry.
I guess that’s nature’s way of telling us humans, hah, told you you shouldn’t have messed with me. It’s true. If we leave the land untouched or manage it properly, it will take care of us. When it’s not, we have hell to pay.
We got suited up and started on our trek. The trail is primarily sandy almost all the way up until the oak barren. My partner had never seen a natural area like this in Wisconsin. I pointed out the prickly pear cacti that were growing alongside the trail. No lizards were sighted, but I know from experience they are there as are painted box turtles and other cool creatures.
The trail was pretty overgrown with tall foliage. I was happy to have grabbed my trekking poles. I went so long without using them, but when we had hiked Gem Lake over the summer when we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, I realized that my active person’s left knee wasn’t going to take the abuse it once did. Too many snowboarding and cycling crashes. So, I’m getting used to using them and learning how to utilize them to take the pressure off the knees.
Grasshoppers were in abundance. We tried our best not to step on any, but there may have been a few casualties along the way. (Eek, sorry!) There were also many small red dragonflies about. We don’t see many red ones near us as the lakes usually have blue or green ones. My guess is that’s a biological thing. A red dragonfly would likely draw more attention to itself on the water and get eaten much faster than one that blends in with the colors of the water. Out in the prairie, red things tend to blend in more.
The hike itself is only 3.2 miles, an out and back. There are no other trails in the preserve. That is, legal trails. Plenty of stupid human traces of people not respecting the land and cutting down the bluff.
The first half of the hike is all uphill. It’s a gradual climb up until the oak barren and then it’s a moderate incline up until you get to the top of the bluff at a beautiful overlook. We were dressed for much colder weather as it hasn’t been over 50 degrees all week. Of course we pick the day where it got nearly to 70 out to be dressed in layers and have wool socks on. It got sweaty fast, but we pulled a layer off and ended up being ok. The trail on All Trails is listed as Moderate difficulty. I guess I could agree with that as it was quite overgrown when we went and it’s sandy, but in comparison to other, more challenging stuff I’ve hiked I would say it’s an easy trail. I don’t think anyone who is fully capable of climbing up a hill would find it all that challenging. It’s probably actually easier in the summer when they do more trail maintenance. Not a humble brag or anything of the like, just in comparison to hikes in places with actual mountains, it’s not as challenging.
My hikes generally take much longer than they would because I enjoy nature photography and videography, so I annoyed my partner by stopping for a bit every so often to snap a photo off here or there. Eventually I could tell it was time to go, so we hustled back to the car and of course stopped at the Midwestern fast food mecca, Culver’s. We don’t eat there often, so when we do car trips, it’s kind of our special treat. The spicy chicken sando and cheese curds with diet root beer is where its at!
I would highly recommend checking out the Spring Green Preserve if you are in the area and have a couple hours to kill. The hike is not very challenging and the view at the top is totally worth it. You get to see a unique micro-climate that is becoming harder to find in Wisconsin and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the area is.
Thanks as always for reading. If I can get enough footage, I’ll likely get a short video up on the Spoke Haven YouTube so you can see a bit of the hike and the Spring Green General Store. Please follow, like, subscribe, and all that good stuff.
Join Liv Cycling, Spoke Haven, Fitchburg Cycles and other area cycling groups for a special ride on Mother’s Day Weekend.
We’re offering up two route options this year. A long and a short. The long will include a ride around Lake Monona, then off to the Cap City Trail for roughly 30 beautiful miles of Madison scenery.
The short route will be around Lake Monona. Both rides will start and end at Olin Park.
The short ride will be casually paced and great for beginners and families.(10-12 mph)
The long ride option will be a little faster paced and great for more intermediate to advanced riders. (15-17 mph)
We’ll have some pre-ride nutrition and hydration available. For the long ride, we’ll have an opportunity have a restroom/water stop if it is needed at Fitchburg Cycles.
Long route riders should be ready to leave Olin Park at 10am.
Short route riders should be ready to leave Olin Park at 11am.
We’ll do a post ride stretching/yoga session after the ride, so please bring a mat, towel, or blanket if you’d like to participate.
RSVP online: https://www.facebook.com/events/1271042409669774/