Monday, May 30, 2011

Glacial Drumlin Trail Ride

Friday night, Alex and I drove over to her sister and brother-in-law's, (Brooke and Anders), home in Illinois, and then we all drove to the Glacial Drumlin Trail between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, early Saturday morning. We got on the trail at Sullivan, a small burg roughly half-way between Milwaukee and the Mad City.


Having ridden more than a few rail-trails in Wisconsin and Michigan over the past few years, we expected this to be a decent ride. And it was. Most of the trail surface was crushed stone (quite smooth, even for my 28mm Continental Gatorskin tires). Some of the trail was asphalt, and very smooth (no roots had yet wrecked the suface). We headed to the east, with the plan being that we would ride all the way to the end of the trail in Milwaukee, then head back to Sullivan. The next day, Sunday, we planned to ride from Sullivan to Madison and back.

Sometimes, however rides don't always go according to plan, but experienced cyclists find ways to adapt, and even thrive in difficult circumstances.


Despite our slow pace, Alex's thighs were burning pretty badly after we had covered only about 15 miles. Anders, below, is trying to cheer her up. We decided that maybe we should turn back to Sullivan. After all, 30 miles for the day seems sufficient. The main thing we strive for on our bike journeys is to have fun, and mileage or speed are not important.


A stop in Dousman at Chamberlain's Flower and Ice Cream Shop on the way back seemed like the perfect way to infuse our bodies with calories. I had a chocolate malt made with Zanzibar Chocolate Ice Cream, a deep, dark brown ice cream made with 3 different African cocoa bean varieties. It was delicious! Alex was still tired, and her legs were still sore when we left, but she was in a much better mood.


A little farther down the road, Anders had gotten a phone call. I make fun of him sometimes because he's always seems to have phone calls. But he has a business, and many of his calls are important. This one, however, turned out to be a little more serious, as Alex apparently had an accident.


Alex had apparently done a face-plant on the asphalt not too long after we left the ice cream shop. Anders rode the next 5 miles to Sullivan and got in his truck to head back to Dousman, where we told Alex and Brooke to head back to. I rode back to see what the problem was.

I didn't take any photos, and won't describe the injuries, other than a bruised lip, many bruises and a scratched pair of glasses were among the more serious results of the accident. Apparently, Alex had squeezed the front brake lever too hard, and she went over the handlebars. I looked closely at her to make sure she was OK, and she was, then I turned my attention to her bike. Her left brake pad was almost 2/3 worn off, and rubber bits from the brake pad were all over the brake, fork, and on the lower down tube. The rim was bent quite severely at the point where one spoke was noticeably disfigured. I also noticed the front wheel was not seated all the way in the right dropout, which made the left side of the front wheel rub on the brake pad.

My guess is Alex had been riding all day on her bike this way. Her legs were sore by pedaling much harder than the rest of us. When she squeezed the left brake lever, my guess is the right brake shoe slipped inside the rim and may have grabbed some spoke nipples, causing the wheel to stop quickly.

Fortunately, there was an awesome bike shop in Dousman, The Bicycle Doctor Nordic Ski Shop. Even though they had just closed, the mechanic took a look at the bike, measured the spoke, and gave me a new one. He offered to put it in, but since I've built several wheels for myself, I wanted to put it in myself. He adjusted the brakes at no charge, and sent us on our way.

On the ride back to the hotel in Oconomowoc, I tried to help Alex feel better by showing her some photos of shooting stars I had taken along the way.


The next day started out extremely foggy, but Alex was feeling amazingly well. I had made sure she had some carbs and protein just as we got into the truck at Dousman to help her recover. Plus, she drank quite a bit of water Saturday night also.

On the trail on Sunday morning, she had very little pain in her legs. All was good!


I thought this was a very cool feature for the trail. Someone took pride and designed and built a beautiful bridge beneath a county road for us to enjoy. In these days of austerity, this is a monument to show that we can build nice things.


We saw many creatures on and along the trail. Most hopped, flew, or darted out of site before I could take a photo, but this guy was slow enough for me to capture (by photo only). There were many wetlands along the trail, which was good to see. But soon, I imagine there will be an abundant crop of mosquitoes, especially with all the rain we've been getting for the past two months.


We saw several deer (Red deer?) in this enclosure. I don't think they are the native white tailed deer - they look shorter, and their ears look wider. They seemed even more interested in us than we were in them.


Near Helenville, I saw this old barn. It was attached to two concrete silos, which looked like it may have been a grainery to load rail cars when trains used this path.


Someone had put together this brief history of Helenville, which preserves the stories of the people of this hamlet, which otherwise would be just a blip on the map.



A canopy of trees was common along the trail, but in other places the trail was open, allowing us to enjoy the Kettle Moraine region. This is beautiful country.


We headed back to Sullivan by noon, where we racked the bikes once again. Anders is showing off his handy work here.


Shortly after we got in the truck, the skies opened up and dumped rain on us. Brooke had been following the rain from Dubuque, and figured the rain would start sometime around noon, here. And she was right. While I'm not to hip on being connected to the web, especially when I'm biking, I appreciated Brooke's attention to the weather radar.

We went on a little excursion in the truck, and one of the stops was Aztalan State Park. When Alex and I lived in the Madison area, many moons ago, I had always wanted to get over here to see this park, but I never made it.


Unlike the history of Helenville, the stories of this village are lost. Nothing remains of the lives of the people who walked and played and farmed this ground but what little we can sift out of the soil.


Sacred ground. The mound behind this reconstructed palisade is a burial mound.


I hope all of you folks had a great Memorial Day weekend. We did!

Happy riding!

Bill

8 comments:

PaddyAnne said...

Very nice looking trail! The bridge work is well done and does add to the whole experience, I agree! I'm glad the rides ended well, its not fun to have an accident along the way.

Steve A said...

Aztalan sounds Mexican rather than what I'd expect a northern Indian name to sound like. Sorry the mystery of why Alex was sore wasn't discovered in another way.

Apertome said...

Excellent travelogue. Sorry about your wife's wreck, but I'm glad it turned out OK. That sure is a beautiful area!

Jon said...

Glad Alex is okay. What a trooper!

Chandra said...

Bill,
Sorry to hear Alex got hurt, but glad to note she is better. This post brings back so many fond memories of real trails, which I haven't ridden in a long time. I need some trail ridin' real bad. I have been on a few trails here, but none are shaded, so they are hard to ride when it is really sunny and hot.

I loved the picture of the flower. Very beautiful and nicely photographed!!

Glad you had a fun ride!

Peace :)

rlove2bike said...

It is nice to hear of a group like yours getting together and riding like you did. That is awesome.

Too bad about the bit of bad luck, but sounds as if things worked out in the end. I had a guy ride in to work one day and wanted me to look at his bike. He said it was hard to pedal. Come to find out the rear wheel was almost out of the drop out and the rubber from the tire was piled up on the chainstay. Things happen I guess.

I too have rode that trail, although it was the middle of August and saying it was rather warm that day would be an understatement. Still fun though. I

Big Oak said...

All - thanks for your concern for Alex. She's back to 100% tonight, and only has some bruises left, and a big scrape on her right glasses lens. Unfortunately that won't go away unless she gets it replaced.

Steve - I'm not sure how the culture came to be called the Aztalan, other than I think the Middle Mississippians were descendents from earlier people from Central America. There was a great deal of movement among the people back then, but that was before European contact, so all that remains are the structures (most obvious are the mounds) and artifacts. The natives at European contact in the 1600's are from completely different cultures, most likely they had spread to the north and west from what is now the southeast and northeast US. An interesting tidbit is that Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis, was a huge pre-Columbian city that was the greatest community of the Middle Mississippian culture. http://cahokiamounds.org/

Melissa said...

Hi Bill, my name is Melissa and I work with Alex! She told me about her wipeout--I'm so glad she is OK!

Your blog is great--nice photography and storytelling. I will check back often, and share it with my cycling fiance.