I woke up with my brother at 6am. I had decided that I would see him off to work, since he was riding in again. Besides, I needed to be in an early morning routine to avoid the heat that is coming later in the week. Michael rode off to the east and I headed west toward my next destination, Minneapolis.
Navigating Big Cities
Although I originally intended to do the trip without maps, I was now armed with more maps than I would ever need. Even so, I had some trouble getting out of Madison. I took the bike route around Lake Monona again and saw lots of other people out biking to work. After that it got a little more tricky. I made a couple complete circles in the middle of nowhere before I abandoned my maps and street names and just followed my instincts.
Military Ridge State Trail
Wisconsin has some of the most amazing bike trails. I picked up this 40-mile trail at the start in Verona. I spent most of the day cruising along over this dirt wonder. Not many people out. Just a peaceful ride through the Wisconsin countryside. And because the trail is built on an old railroad bed, there are no steep ups and downs.
The highlight of the day was definitely downtown Mt. Horeb. There was a woman sitting in a chamber of commerce shed cum info booth who recommended a restaurant called Schubert's. I stepped into a classic rural diner with great food and nice waitresses. In fact there was a poem in the menu that captured the atmosphere just right.
From there I rode up the trail a bit to Little Norway. It is an old homestead which was settled by a Norwegian family in the late 19th Century. Now visitors can tour the old buildings and look at various antiques. The seven-dollar tour there is well worth it. I learned a bit more about the immigration to this country. It is something that we don't talk about much in central Illinois for some reason. It is kind of fun to visit these "ethnic" towns in Wisconsin, even if they are only constructed for tourists.
After climbing the hill out of the valley of Little Norway, I got back on the trail and continued west. It was a cool evening with absolutely no traffic on the trail, so I made pretty good time. I stopped in Dodgeville for some rather bland pizza before moving up the road to the state park. When I arrived up there at dark, I thought that my day was over. However, I still had to ride about three miles over hilly terrain to get back to the campground. The park encompasses over 5000 acres of prairie and forest with a nice waterfall that I don't have time to hike up to. I will definitely have to make it back here.