Free to Ride the Country

Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to rough it to get your bike-fun merit badge. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to go glamping or (gasp!) stay in a nice hotel and soak in the hot tub after a day in the saddle. I see a lot of press about riders putting in huge miles and trekking across remote places. Those types of trips are hard for the average person to get enough time away or to really have trained enough to enjoy. You have to start somewhere and getting started could be the first step to gaining the confidence to take on an epic trip down the road. With that in mind, I’m sharing a recent little adventure that I cooked up while I was sitting on my ass at the Wausau24 crewing for Angry Andy.

I planned to ride my fat-bike, Ten Beers, from Broadhead to New Glarus, Wisconsin on the Sugar River State Trail. New Glarus is a quaint Swiss village nestled in the Driftless area of Wisconsin. There’s a State Park there that shares the name of the town (New Glarus State Park) and that’s where my wife and I tied the knot twenty years ago in a crazy cool bicycle-themed wedding that I’ll never forget. For this trip, instead of bringing along my tent and stove, I made a reservation at a local Hotel and just packed a change of clothes and a bathing suit!

After a weekend of watching mi amigos ride around the clock and sleeping under the great wide open, I came up with a plan to revisit New Glarus and stay at the same hotel that I’d stayed at on previous visits. I’ve done this trip before with a group of amigos. I think that we called it Tequilafest and as I remember it…we had a really hot humid summer day and this trip was a carbon copy. The temps were in the 90’s and the dew points were in the mid seventies so I rode in a pair of keen sandals instead of shoes and refilled my waterbottles at every opportunity. The trail guide says that the trip is twenty-four miles so when I got to New Glarus, I took a side trip up to the State Park to visit the site where I got hitched.

I recently learned that the Master Plan for New Glarus Woods won’t be officially approved until this fall, but there’s no reason to expect that it won’t be approved as written, and the draft includes mountain bike trails! The Friends of New Glarus Woods State Park are not wasting any time; they’ve applied for and received a $20,000 Knowles-Nelson Stewardship matching grant to develop some sweet mountain bike trails, and they’re hard at work raising their portion of the match so that they can hit the ground running when the Master Plan is approved. I hit almost forty-four miles per hour on the bike path rolling back into town from up in the state park, so you know there’s some good topography to work with at that facility! I can’t wait till I can ride some new singletrack with Bethany at the park where we got married.

Dining al fresco at the Chalet Landhaus

I checked into the hotel and had to talk them into letting me keep my bike in the room. They wanted me to put Ten Beers in some kind of shed with other bikes. I explained to the desk clerk that Ten Beers was a Loner and a Rebel and they relented. I ate dinner right at the hotel and had some delicious locally souced lamb chops. They were as good as I make them, which doesn’t always happen when you decide to eat at a local restaurant. After dinner, I took a dip in the pool after some time in a super foamy jacuzzi. All in all, a pretty fucking nice day!

The next day I got up early and ate some pancakes for breakfast. I wanted to get out early before things got too hot, so I packed up and hit the trail back to Broadhead. Luxury bike touring isn’t my first inclination, but I think that every once in a while I like this sort of trip. It turned out to be something of a gentlemen’s spa vacation for Ten Beers and myself. A similar trip could be the gateway to some bicycle adventures for some of you out there that don’t think that they’d survive a couple of days without a shower or other modern amenities. There’s more than one way to bicycle fun and we like it every which way. Happy Trails Amigos!

Sugar River Trail –

Chalet Landhaus Inn –

New Glarus State Park –

New Glarus Brewing –

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Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.