The last 80 miles to Madison
Friday, September 9th, Day Six of the Bike Tour:
I wanted to get up as early ,as possible to see how far I could get in a day, but sometimes it's hard to get moving. It takes a while to boil water to make coffee and oatmeal, a little more of a while to eat it, and it still can take almost a half hour to take down the tent and pack everything back up. Sometime after 8, I got a visitor, the same dude who talked with me the previous night. He told me the best route to take from Reedsburg (the end of the "400" trail) would be due south until I hit the Military Ridge Trail and then use it to get to Madison. That route would be pretty flat; if I headed east from Reedsburg I would have to deal with the Baraboo Hills. I thanked him for the info and took off.
The final 20 miles along the "400" were uneventful, but they went a lot easier than the previous day's arduous travel. The scenery wasn't particularly exciting, but it wasn't bad either. A few hours later the trail abruptly ended by some industrial crap and without fanfare I was in Reedsburg. Now I had to figure out how to get to Madison.
I headed to the library to do some research. I mapped out the route Wonewoc Dude suggested via Google Maps, and compared it with the more direct route I was considering. His route was at least 15 miles longer than the other one. At this point in the trip, I wanted to get to Madison as fast as possible using the most direct route. But did I want to face the dreaded "Baraboo Hills"?
I went back out into the heat of the day and checked out Reedsburg. While most of the other towns on the route had some charm to them, Reedsburg was lacking. It had brick buildings and all that, but it just seemed so impersonal, like the people didn't care. I went to the grocery store to get lunch, and damn if I didn't have the hardest time finding something to eat. Everything in the deli counter had meat in it, even if it shouldn't. After being in the store for a half hour, I forced myself to get something because I didn't want to spend all day in this damned town. And that lunch was the least satisfying one I had on my whole trip. It made me wish that I just went to Subway instead. And that's a pretty desperate situation if I have to say that to myself.
Getting frustrated and realizing it was nearing 2pm, I decided to say the hell with adding 15 miles to my trip, I'd take the direct route, Baraboo Hills be damned. I had to traverse some icky suburban stripmall crap on the way out but once that had passed it was clear sailing on a nice road with a big shoulder.
Nothing exciting happened in the 15 miles between Reedsburg to Baraboo, other than stopping at a log cabin museum and getting a tour of one of them by the caretaker. He was 81 and mentioned how he was the youngest of the people involved. Wow!
Baraboo was nice, yet another town that I wished I could spend more time in. And I could feel that I was getting closer to Madison as signs of "Blue State City Living" were evident, a natural foods store, record store, and a few coffee shops. There was even an honest-to-goodness progressive type festival occurring in town the next day! Titled "Fighting Bob Day" after Robert LaFollette, Wisconsin's fabled progressive governor (and presidential candidate) from the first half of the 20th century), it was going to be a day of lefty type speakers to rile up the masses, featuring Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower! Alas, I wasn't in the mood for a festival and just wanted to get my ass to Madison. Besides, the weather for Saturday was going to be in the 90s.
For the night, I headed a couple miles south of town, up a big hill, to camp at Devil's Lake State Park.
Read this post to see how I finally made it into Madison.