Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Minneapolis - Milwaukee

Instead of doing the GRABAAWR or other organized multi-day tour, we decided to do our own ride. We decided on a one-way Minneapolis to Milwaukee ride, coordinating in such a way that we could participate in the 23rd annual Fat Tire Tour of Milwaukee. Its a pub crawl that I had been hoping to participate in for a few years. We packed the Bob Trailer (the bag weighed 45 pounds) and off we (Kay, me and Jeff) went.

Day 1 - June 17: Minneapolis to Pepin, 87 miles. It was a hot, humid and windy day. I heard that the high temp was 91. We crossed the Saint Croix River in Prescott and, to our disappointment, found that the coffee shop was closed. We headed south on highway 35 to Pepin and stayed at the Lake Pepin Inn. Dinner was at the Harbor View Cafe.

Day 2 - June 18: Pepin to Black River Falls, 88 miles. Again, the weather was hot and humid. We barely beat a rather severe thunderstorm when we arrived at the Best Western (Orange Moose) hotel. The route was hilly and scenic, although on this day the camera was packed away because rain was predicted. We encountered very few cars on any of the roads today.

Day 3 - June 19: Black River Falls to Baraboo, 101 miles. Today had to be the best cycling day anyone could ask for. Temps were in the mid-70's and we had a 20-25 mph tailwind all the way to Baraboo. Being in the big ring and pulling the fat bag was great. We stayed at the Gollmar Guest House B&B (was great) and had dinner at the Village Cafe (always great).

Day 4 - June 20: Baraboo to Watertown, 81 miles. The weather got warmer, 85 degrees was the high. Today's route included Devils Lake and the Merrimac Ferry. Saw a number of Sand Hill Cranes. The lunch stop was at the Bar in Arlington. Not bad for bar grub, it was one of the few options all day. We did have an espresso stop in Columbus, right near the Amtrak station. The accommodations were at the Econolodge, the only downtown Hotel. It was better than I expected, I would return.

Day 5 - June 21: Watertown - Milwaukee, 68 miles. We just avoided rain today as there were scattered showers around. The route included county CW and it was good for the most part. A few spots saw an increase in traffic but nothing that was threatening. We really struggled to cross Hwy 100/145 when we got in to the Milwaukee area, it seems to be a significant barrier. Eventually we got help from the Menomonee Falls Fire Department and ended up taking W. Bradley Road. We made our way to the Fuel Cafe and to our Hotel, the Residence Inn on N. Plankinton. Milwaukee proper is great on a bike. The Oak Leaf Trail in the burbs is hard to follow and is really nothing more than a sidewalk at some points. 426 miles for the whole week.

We had four days and three nights in Milwaukee. Jeff took Amtrak back on Thursday evening. We took in Polish Fest, a Brewer game and the Fat Tire Tour. We rented a van from Avis to get back. It was a Buick Terraza, the seats folded down and we were able to get three bikes, the trailer, two people and our bag loaded without any drama. Click the link to my Flickr site to see the photos.