Madison, SW Bicycling Path

August 1 & 2

The first of August was the kickoff of the NABA Convention, and my short work week. We took a bus ride down to Monroe, WI, and toured the Minhas Brewery. They gave us generous portions of their beer to taste, and a nice lunch to boot.

That evening, the Brewmaster’s Dinner was held, and (as usual) it was a splendid affair, with delicious food, including Duck Soup (despite the Marx Brothers jokes flying around the room).

Thursday, August 2, was a bunch of workshops etc. for the beer memorabilia collectors, and my usual “day off” during the Conventions, so I can get out and see some of the local color. 

Naturally, Jack and I took another of the wonderful bike circuits around the city. We saw the sand cranes again, right next to the path near a warehouse, and they didn’t have any issue at all with me stopping and snapping some shots.

This time, we hit the Southwest Path after riding across the long boardwalk near Babcock County Park and hitting the Capital City Trail, still under construction. We crossed the “jetty” between Lake Monona and Monona Bay into the downtown Madison area again, and then, instead of heading east as we’d done the other day, we struck out west, on the Southwest Path. 

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Look who we met! Of course, Jack had to take photos of Rugby Badger.

It was a thoroughly wonderful ride. Jack reported it far surpassed the ride he’d taken yesterday which tried to be the same thing, but never quite came together for him. Circling through the countryside, and a small part of the University of Wisconsin area, we finally hit the Cannonball Path, which took us back to the Capital City and thus home. 

At the long boardwalk, I stopped to see if I could possibly capture the length of the structure across the water, and I saw some ducks and turtles. 

These photos don’t do the boardwalk justice, but there simply no place to stand and get a photo of its breadth, without a boat.

Bike Stats:

  • Ride Time = 2:25
  • Stopped Time = 37 minutes
  • Distance = 28.5 miles
  • Average Speed = 11.75MPH

It was a great ride, and we completed my day off with a package meal of pork chops, potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. It is all packed together in foil and the packets are roasted on the grill (or campfire) and what results is simply delicious.

 

Madison, Wisconsin

July 29, 30 & 31

Said goodbye to Lake Winnebago and hello to Babcock County Park Campground, confusingly, part of the Dane County Park system.

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At first impression, the Babcock campground was unimpressive. We missed it on the first pass, and it’s right next to a heavily-travelled road, so we saw what we might be in store for as we passed: big rigs chock-a-bock in a small, woody park.

But when we pulled in and saw our site (#5), on the opposite side of the total 25 site options from those next to the road, we were more pleased. The hosts, Tom and Mary Lou, are very welcoming and helpful and we’re on the side of the small grounds nearest the Yahara River, with a large lawn behind our trailer, and lovely sugar maples keeping things shady everywhere. The fire ring is out in the lawn, and there’s no problem setting up the screen house behind Roomba on the expansive lawn.

There are no gates, although a sign says “no visitors after 10P” which is also quiet hours. So we were a little apprehensive about security. But with the hosts knowing us and our neighbors knowing us (a couple who share long-distance trucking duties when they’re working) we felt easier after we’d all spoken after the first day.

After taking some time with the setup (we also had to fill our water tank on board, as there’s water, but not at the sites, which are all electric), we asked Tom about reaching a cycling path from the campground, and he directed us to a neighborhood nearby. We decided to walk up there a ways to see what we could see after our dinner, and we caught the sun setting over Lake Waubesa, which the Yahara River flows into, and on which we are situated to the east. I had to stand in someone’s driveway to get the shot, as the whole lakefront is “owned,” but it was a nice walk with not only the pretty sunset to see, but really nicely-done homes with flowers in the yards, and a mix of contemporary and more traditional architectures.

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July 30

Took our bikes into the neighborhood we’d walked last night, but down along the neighborhoods along the lake front, headed north toward the dedicated bike trail that winds up in downtown Madison.

It was a really fun ride, and we passed over what Tom reported is the longest boardwalk in the US, across one of the Lake’s bays. We saw some sand cranes after we moved away from Lake W and toward the urban areas of Madison’s suburbs, but still had a nice dedicated, paved path. Saw a couple of neighbors along the way.

Shortly thereafter, we found the Capital Trail closed for re-paving. A local rode up and offered some work-arounds, and suggested that some folks are still using the leg we needed to get into town, because he’d heard that they hadn’t begun the construction there. So we took a chance, and appreciated his advice, which included how to re-locate the Capital Trail on the other side of the construction.

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With a bit of jiggering, we made it into downtown, and found our way to the “Lake Loop” which was not marked on our map, but had indicators painted on the path and sidewalks. One of the primary problems with the map we had was that it did not include any crossing street names, which left us somewhat asea as we negotiated the more urban parts of our ride.

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Downtown Madison from the bike path.

We saw one part of the trials or the warmups for the CrossFit competition that is going to consume Madison over the weekend: One of the city’s boat ramps to Lake Monona was closed for folks to swim out to a float where (presumably) their efforts would be timed. We also saw lots of signage and other types of infrastructure for the event being installed by work crews. Our hosts had previously mentioned the CrossFit competition, and said that by Thursday and Friday, the campground would be full of young folks with chiseled bodies either competing in or watching the series of events. 

On our ride, we got a bit off kilter when we decided that a real circumnavigation of Lake Monona would take us back where we started, or nearly so—and we thought there were at least segments of bike path to take us there. But as the clouds darkened and we heard thunder in the distance, we had to rely on Jack’s “spidey sense” to figure out general direction, and our positioning without any references to cross streets. We ended up with a pretty nice round path with a small “tail” on it to get up and back to Babcock Park.

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BikeStats

  • Ride time = 1:53
  • Stopped time = 56:40
  • Distance = 22.85 mi
  • Average speed = 12MPH

I had some fun taking pictures of a heron that landed on the little river near us (the rain did not hit locally), and we grilled some bratwurst, grilled some veggies and corn, and had rice for dinner.

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July 31

We’d arranged (before we left home) with my college roommate and W&M Women’s rugby teammate, Val, to meet her and Jody halfway between their home and our campsite, in Delaplane, WI. About an hour’s drive for each of us, we chose the Waterstreet Brewery’s “Lake District” location (they’re a Milwaukee brewery) for lunch.

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It was a wonderful reunion, although something came up and Jody was unable to join us. The last time we were in Wisconsin, we had linked up with them at their lovely home in Racine, and since then, Val has retired and she showed us photos of her garden, which has matured and possibly doubled in size since we saw it in person.

We had a decent meal, but it was the catching up talk that was the main dish. We had a truly wonderful time.

After our meal, we returned to camp and I began to get myself ready for starting work on the morrow, at the NABA Convention, held at the Madison Crown Plaza in town.