A chilly 50 degree start had me donning a jacket this morning as I headed out of Trempealeau on the Great River Trail. Caught a pic of a huge catfish on the way out of town, looks like we’ll have to come back in July for the festival.
20 miles down river, then an eastward turn on the Lacrosse River Trail for another 20 miles or so towards where I met up with Jackie, who parked in Sparta and cycled out to meet me, then back. Great to bike with my favorite cyclist on a trail built for two.
Sparta Wisconsin is the self-proclaimed ‘Bicycling Capital of America’, and they have a large statue of ‘Ben Bikin’ to help substantiate that lofty claim. Sparta is the trailhead of the Sparta-Elroy trail, the nations first ‘Rails-to-Trails’ recreational conversion project – completed in 1967 and serving as a model for hundreds of other similar projects around the country. Sparta-Elroy is a legendary 32 mile trail through rolling hills and featuring 3 tunnels.
The first tunnel is the longest, measuring over 3,800 feet or 3/4 of a mile. This one was cold and literally dripping wet. A headlight is essential, and the trail is too dark and slippery to ride – so walking your bike thru is a smart option.
Tunnel #2 is the shortest, but still headlight and hike worthy. I met a group of Wisconsin cyclists here and we traded stories and photos.
And after one more tunnel, a downhill cruise to the trail terminus of Elroy for tonight’s stay. 74 miles total, mostly 60s and low 70s (quite a bit cooler in those tunnels!) made for a very pleasant and enjoyable ride across three of Wisconsin’s finest state trails. A few more trails tomorrow on a roll into Madison. Adios for now.