"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

Friday, June 12, 2015

Door County Riding

Our Route: Sturgeon Bay - Ellison Bay - Washington Island - Algoma

Three Days Spent Exploring the Wonderfully Beautiful Door County

Total Miles in The Door: 160
Total Miles To Date: 1,125
Heading into the HOME stretch


Cycling Door County is a bit like coming home. I have so many great memories of this place: downhill skiing when I was a kid, riding self-supported with my friend Valerie the summer after college, cross country skiing when I moved back to the Midwest, bicycling with Pedal Across Wisconsin (PAW), driving a support van for my friends in the Fall 50 running relay race and then last year as a destination for a 5 day self-supported bike ride. My brain has a map of the place permanently etched inside it, memories like vivid photos attached to many of the locals. My objective this trip was to discover it anew and share it with Will, Jerri and Nancy. The Door did not disappoint.

Door County Day #1: Sturgeon Bay - Ellison Bay

Will, Jerri and Nancy riding into Fish Creek along one of many "Cottage Rows"

Stopped by The Edge of The Park bike shop and visited with
our "Ride with the Wind" friend. - Recognize him?
For our first day in The Door, we headed north along the eastern shore of Green Bay. It was great fun to take note of just where we were relative to our trip southward on the shore. First we started out level with Oconto then Marinette and until I think we were level with Cedar River. Yet everything is so different here. Small, bustling beach towns line the shore. Art galleries, boutiques thriving summer businesses. We have certainly come out of the woods into civilization. And yet we still found pockets of quiet, still traveled along mostly rural roads between spots.

Favorite Sights Sturgeon Bay - Ellison Bay

Frank E. Murphy County Park 
Edgewood Orchard Gardens with its fun garden sculptures
Fish Creek with its  "Not Just Licks" ice cream stand and the great Edge of the Park Bike Shop
Peninsula State Park - Lighthouse and Eagle Tower (unfortunately currently closed)
Ephraim (my personal favorite Door County Town) with Wilson's Ice Cream

Enjoying Life in Ephraim with Nancy & Jerri

Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park

Door County Day #2: Washington Island

We stayed over in Ellison Bay so that we could ride, unencumbered to Washington Island. An isolated outpost at the tip of Door County it supports a mostly Scandinavian community of hardy farmers and fisherman. Lovely day trip filled with historic memorabilia and beautiful view. 

The last bit of road leading to the Washington Island Ferry. Usually quite except when the
ferry comes in.

Aboard the Washington Island Ferry on a beautiful, sunny day

Will, inside the wonderfully eclectic Jacobsen Museum at the Northwest corner of Washington Island

Nancy enjoying a quiet moment on the shore of Little Lake, Washington Island

The Stavkirke (Norwegian wooden church)
Sponsored by Washington Island's
Trinity Lutheran Church

Door County Day #3: Ellison Bay - Algoma

Our last day in Door County threatened and then delivered lots of rain. We headed out early but not early enough to miss it all. Heads down we were not too interested in much sight seeing, but we did catch a few things. 

Crossing the 45th Parallel once again, this time going South. Halfway from the Equator to the North Pole.
Now that's adventure Cycling

Trying to stay dry as we cycled along Door County's eastern shore

The Niagara Escaprment

At Cave Point County Park - atop a sample of the Niagara Escarpment

Door County exists geographically because of something called the Niagara Escarpment. Think of it
 as a long upwardly curving backbone which starts somewhere north east of Madison, WI, forms the spine of the Door, extends northeast creating dangerous islands at the tip of the peninsula, skirts east of Escanaba forming the Stonington peninsula, starts to turn south toward the Straights of Mackinaw, extends southeast through the islands of Canada and finally down to Niagara Falls. Made of HARD bedrock, mostly limestone, this geologic feature is way the Great Lakes take the shape they do. When the glaciers ended nearly 14,000 years ago they had scraped most of the soft rock and deposited it elsewhere. What was left was this backbone. Water was trapped around it. Today we enjoy this geography only occasionally noticing the underlaying structure. In Door County we had several opportunities to touch it up close. The first time I'd heard of this phenomena I was on a PAW ride and stopped at Cave Point County Park where they've posted a particularly rich educational sign explaining all this is far more detail than I can relate. I got to walk out on the ledges of the escarpment there, got to feel the stone and sense the solidness of its character. Its an amazing to me that the rock I stood on extend up to the UP, Canada and back down to the Falls- so large its rather incomprehensible. I was anxious to share this with my friends.


  1. Continue to enjoy your ride descriptions + comments on geology and and history of the area. Thanks for mentioning Washington Island - will make a point of riding there next time we are in Door Count.