"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

PREPARATION - Trail Run - Day #2

The Day's Route: Racine - Oconomowoc, WI

Headed northwest, we follow great trails through
Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties to Oconomowoc
A second day of test riding brings a few lessons. Many thanks to Jeff a small miracle worker. Great riding, long day.

Departed:Apr 16, '15, 08:47AM
Starts in:Racine, WI, US
Distance:63.6 mi
Elevation:1773 / - 1385 ft
Max Grade
3.5 %
Avg. Grade
0.2 %
Total Duration:09:28:07
Moving Time:04:53:14
Max Speed:28.7 mph
Avg. Speed:13.0 mph

Disaster Avoided

Required stop in Racine for Danish Kringle

Disaster avoided thanks to Jeff - our miracle worker
Waking to a cloudy and cool day, we hope the sun comes out as we ride west from Racine and the lake. But first, a stop for "second breakfast" at the famous O&H Danish Bakery.  Kringle lives up to its reputation. Wait staff does not - too bad.

We leave town via the limestone-surfaced and rather bumpy MRK trail. After one particularly jarring spot Will calls out "I think we dropped something!" Close inspection revealing nothing, we ride on. A Little later, after leaving the trail and crossing some tracks, Suzie's back rack flops backwards - NOT GOOD - potential disaster. The bolts holding the rack in place had come loose. Must have been one of them we lost back there. But, no sooner had we stopped, propped our rigs against some trees when Jeff, a local iron worker, appears as if from no where asking if he could help. AMAZINGLY he has two right-sized alternative bolts which do the trick. Disaster AvoidedThank You Jeff.

Finding The Wild in South East Wisconsin

The southern start to the Milwaukee County trail system
Prairie reclamation in Franklin, WI 
Root River historical marker. Little did we know we'd been following
the river all the way from Racine. 
Greenfield Park, one of may wonderful parks
 throughout Milwaukee County
From there we ride on quiet country roads through Racine into Walworth and then eventually Milwaukee County. We're riding in an area I've driven past countless times, but am seeing it now up close, noting its contours, its rivers, its prairies and wildlife. I love knowing all this nature exists just feet away from, or even under, the interstates I've covered by car. This is why I'm riding around THE LAKE not driving. It's this hidden environment I want to experience. In a way it's like being in a foreign country - turns my perspective a bit. The X-urbia of malls, drive throughs, gas stations, multi-lane highways becomes a frog-noisy pond, a black bird chirping prairie. I see the territory a-new, through different eyes.

We experience southwestern Milwaukee County by way of the Oak Leaf trail system including the Root River Parkway. Little did I realize (DUH!), but the Root River here was the same as the one which drains into Lake Michigan at Racine (French for Root)! We've been moving through the Lake Michigan water basin all day, following the often hidden path of this historic river. The marker we found said that early artifacts dating back more than 3,000 years to the Indian Copper Culture have been unearthed near here. We look forward to learning more of that era when we visit sites in Northern Wisconsin.

Greenfield Park Brings Back Wonderful Memories

For now, its time to traverse the wonderful Root River Parkway, and pass through Greenfield Park with its swimming pool and lagoon. Stopping for a quick, off the bike break, I'm reminded of Hoyt Park and the summer days of my youth. Writing this now I also realize that Hoyt Park, Washington Park and Sherman Park, all part of my family's Milwaukee heritage, were created at the same time as this park. The stonework and even the turnstiles are the same. They carry the same grandeur of that 1936 Bath House we visited in Kenosha yesterday. Must be the same era - need to check on that. No wonder my family loved these parks. They brought a respite from the city just a short walk away, a place for recreation but also JOBS during such desperate times. I look at this lovely lagoon on the southwest suburbs and really see the frozen one in Washington Park where I learned to skate. So much connection - so more heritage. Wish I had my parents around to share this with.
Postcard showing Washington Park Lagoon where my Dad
hung out as a kid and my brother & I learned to skate

Experiencing the Continental Divide

We leave the Milwaukee County Park System and head west on the New Berlin trail to the city of Waukesha on the other side of the continental divide. When we say that term, Continental Divide, we usually think of the one out west in the Rockies. But here in the upper Mid-West we have our own Continental Divide as well. All the water east of that line flows into Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes, out the Saint Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. To the west it makes its way to the Mississippi down to the Gulf of Mexico. The Root River we passed earlier flows eventually to the Atlantic. The Fox, where we ate lunch in Waukesha flows to the Gulf - an amazing lesson in geography all in one day.

Last Stop - Mrs. D's in Wales
Right along the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail

A Nice Finish

Last leg - we're getting close now -  we ride along the Glacial Drumlin state bike trail out of Waukesha, through the hamlet of Wales then north to our place in the Village of Oconomowoc Lake. Its been a great day, full of adventures, a miraculous recovery and lots of sunshine. We're pooped and ready for dinner. Thank goodness Jim and Baggins are there to drive us home.

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