Saturday Arron and I found our way up to Cross Plains, Wisconsin, to ride. The trip had several goals. 1) Scout out the roads for a metric ride route we put together last year and are planning on having this year; 2) Get some good training in the legs for next month’s Bike Tour of Colorado; 3) Suffer up some steep hills; and 4) Enjoy some excellent coffee at the end.
From the outset of the drive up I-90, the skies were threatening. But we figured if we were going to end up on a week long ride in the Rockies that inclement weather might be a part of the deal. By the time we got to Cross Plains it was raining. Not bad, but enough to be miserable if it kept up all day. So we geared up and hopped on the bikes.
As we were leaving the lot of Uphill Grind Coffee & Bikes, the shop owner was pulling in and said, “You should have been here yesterday when the weather was perfect.” Yeah, thanks.
The rollout was a bit on the drizzly side, but by the time we finished the first few flat miles and headed into the hills, the rain stopped. Temps from there hovered between 48-52F for a good portion of the day. I was just uncomfortable enough to start the ride that I knew I had not overdressed.
The trunk roads in southwest Wisconsin that link the dairy farms to the main roads are not tall, but can get silly steep. Enough so that they are a grind to climb, but the far side of many are thrill ride descents. We lumbered along up Moen Valley, Sutcliffe, Zweittler, Pinnacle, and Lakeview. From the tops of a few you can see hulking Blue Mound off in the distance. That’s where we were headed.
After the 400 foot downhill on Ridge View, we got to Mounds Park Road, where we knew a time trial race happening. This one is a 10 mile TT called Alpe Bl’Huez. We checked with the guy waving riders the right way if it was okay for us to head up the road and he said it was open and go ahead. So we rocked it up the first big part of the road to Blue Mound State Park. We were passed by a guy on a full time trial bike. He was cooking. We were also passed by a young guy with a full beard on a regular road bike. As our day was going to be more than just this climb, we didn’t chase (not sure we could have done much on that, anyway).
Normally we’d take the final 200+ foot climb up into the park, but with the TT finish happening there we skipped that and headed down into the town of Blue Mounds to the General Store. The cold ham and cheese sandwich tasted pretty good. Arron felt he deserved a fudge round and he didn’t even count the calories.
I didn't win the lottery.
The little climb out of Blue Mounds up County Road F isn’t so bad, but after sitting down at the General Store for more than five minutes, the legs were wondering why they were being asked to turn pedals again. Mentally, though, this is not a bad climb because I know there is a wonderful four mile downhill on the other side of the crest.
The last few hills are some of the hardest. Could have been a combination of fatigue and ready to be done, but heading up Braun, Garfoot, Observatory, and then the optional (for our route) climb/descent of Barlow, I was really ready for a break.
The ride back down Barlow > Observatory > Garfoot back to Cross Plains was pretty chill and we even had a bit of a tailwind on the final flat mile into town on KP.
Here’s what the day looked like all graphed out for elevation
Back to the beginning. Uphill Grind is a fantastic little shop. We waited a few minutes for Michael to take care of closing the deal on a couple of townie bikes and then settled in for a hot drink as a reward for all the climbing. The café au lait hit the spot. Could have done with another, but time didn’t allow. Arron had a cappuccino with like 8 shots in it. He was almost awake when we drove home.
Can’t wait to get back up there in a few weeks for the Double or Nothing Metric. Hopefully the weather is more sunny and about 15 degrees warmer. One can hope.
Oh yeah, we also stopped at Arby’s on the way back. ARBY’S!!