1:30pm CDT and almost to Madison!
This is another unexpected quickie update from the public library in Waunakee, WI (none other in the world!) Unexpected because I wanted to push on today without stopping until I got to Madison. But the 95 degree heat (that's 35 in Celsius for our English-system impared) and hazy sunshine is getting to me. So it's breaktime. And what better way to cool down than be in an air-conditioned library?
Last night I made it to Devil's Lake State Park, about 40 miles northwest of Madison and 3 miles south of Baraboo, the largest town I had seen since La Crosse on Wednesday. I arrived in Baraboo around 5pm, and debated whether or not I should push on further (since I had some "oomph") or play it safe and camp in Devil's Lake. I knew that I wouldn't be able to clandestinely camp there (like I had done on several spots), but what the hey. When I got to Devil's Lake it made me wish that I had got there earlier to enjoy the park. The lake is situated between two high bluffs in the Baraboo Hills, and offered a bunch of hiking trails. The most I could do was take a quick dip in the very-shallow swimming section. The campgrounds lacked character, basically big fields to accomodate 100+ campsites. And they were hoppin' with families tonight. So much for solitude. As night fell, I was totally drained and decided to just lay in the sleeping bag. Those discmans come in useful for tuning out everything else.
I didn't get as early of a start as I should have this morning. As I was taking down the tent around 8:30am, I felt the sun beating down on me, never a good sign for that early in the day. I took one last cruise by the lake and left the park. And that first hill out the park was a killer! It was so steep and neverending I had to stop twice on the way up. It got me scared that the rest of the way would be like that, as I was warned about "the Baraboo Hills". Thankfully, that's been the biggest hill I've faced so far on this leg.
The next fifteen miles were'nt too bad. Rolling landscape through nice scenery, some ups and downs, but nothing too bad. I took the ferry across the Wisconsin River at Merrimac, and on the other side the sign said "Madison 30". No sweat. More nice country for six miles to Lodi (pop 2500) where I got some supplies at the Piggly Wiggly.
Out of Lodi is where things got tough. The landscape switched to cornfarms, offering little cover. And the ups and downs got more up and more down. Now the sun was really starting to beat down. I rolled into the village of Dane, 5 miles south, and had to get some Gatorade before I went on. And it was more of the same to here. Bank thermometers reading 96? Dang. This weather hasn't been good for a bike trip. Either too hot, or rainy. No in-between.
Dane seemed like a nothing-town, but there was a couple subdivisions, indicating I must be getting close to some city. Waunakee looks like the first official suburb of Madison, as the subdivisions and stripmalls started as soon as I entered the city limits. But there's a library...
It looks like maybe a dozen miles to Madison. Hopefully I'll arrive not dead there in a few hours.