Day 56: Sparta to Reedsburg - Racpat Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

July 26, 2021

Day 56: Sparta to Reedsburg

Bike 4 Trails, completed

“When we start riding hills again, it’s going to be a shock,” Patrick says. We’ve been detoured off the Elroy-Sparta State Trail and getting a taste of the hills in the Driftless Area. There will be a second detour after Kendall to Elroy.

Just near our hotel is the park with the Ben Bikin’ statue with the giant Penny Farthing. After taking pictures we go over the bridge and on a bike path back to the start of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.  We know there will be two detours to Highway 71 due to damage to the trail and that we will still be riding through the three tunnels on the route. The first tunnel is before Norwalk and is the longest at 3800 feet. There is a long steady climb of 2% to the tunnel. Not steep enough to be a hill, but just up enough to make you wonder why the going is harder. At the entrance of the tunnel are two huge double doors. These doors were closed between trains during winter temperatures to minimize freeze-thaw damage to the tunnel. We stop to put on our headlamps and then enter the tunnel. We hear the dripping water and in the pitch dark but for the light from our lamps. It is eerily to hear rushing water ahead of us inside the tunnel. In some areas it rains pretty good from the ceiling, at other spots a good size waterfall appears from cracks in the walls. An interpretive sign explains the tunnel is wet because springs inside the mountain. We just focus on the light at the end of tunnel.

We take our headlamps off, keeping them for easy access for there are two more tunnels. Then there is a long decline to Norwalk, we stop for a break at the park. The surface of trail is great, though like most of the trails we’ve ridden, would not be so great if wet or in the rain.

“We must be getting close to the next tunnel,” Rachel says as there is that change in effort in pedaling that indicates an incline. The second tunnel is shorter at 1600 feet, just before Wilton and the process is the same, headlamp on Patrick rides into the tunnel with Rachel headlamp light distance shining on his back wheel. He asks: “are you still there” periodically. Water is dripping, puddles in the road, the light barely lights the sides of the tunnel. Then we are out, headlamps off, and a bit of a decline to Wilton. A very nice city park and camping is available, but this is where we have to detour to route 71. There’s no signage on the road, only posted instruction to find Logan Road. Just as we are near the road, we hear horses clopping behind us, an Amish carriage catches up, and then turns off just before it would have passed us.  We are back on the trail to the last tunnel, same process, also 1600 feet, and the surface is smoother and a bit slippery. Then a decline to Kendall where we are detoured again to 71 and into Elroy where we connect to the 400 State Trail. We had hoped to catch a second breakfast here, a little late at almost 11:00 am, but this is the first café we pass today. Disappointingly the café is closed Mondays and Tuesdays…..

The 400 is a great trail with 3 towns along the route before Reedsburg: Union Center, Wonewoc and La Valle. Wonewoc and La Valle have campgrounds and if the weather had not been hot and muggy, we might have staged our ride differently. The 400 Trail goes through marshes and flat farmland.

Into Reedsburg, we stop at the terminus of the trail and Rachel checks out the visitor center. Then Patrick navigates us to the Reedsburg Motel, doesn’t look like much on the outside but the rooms are clean, TV to watch the Olympics, free WiFI (though slow). Patrick says “In India we would be happy to find accommodations like this. Patrick walks to the store for supplies, for dinner we go to a Mexican Restaurant for great food and almost across the street from our motel.

And this was a Margarita kind of day…so we shared a big Margarita.

Ben Bikin' Statue
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Of course, we follow the rules (wink wink)
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Tunnel # 3 on the map (the first tunnel for us) and the longest
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Tunnel #2 on the map and us, shorter 1600 feet
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Tunnel #1 (#3 for us)
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The detour onto highway 71, this is the flat section to Elroy
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The 400 Trail begins, 22 miles
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Baraboo River, we crossed 10 times
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Reedsburg ends the Bike 4 Trails
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Today's ride: 59 miles (95 km)
Total: 2,342 miles (3,769 km)

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