Chris Heffel's blog

Superior Bike Trip - August 2008.

In late 2008, we rode from New Lisbon in central Wisconsin, to Lake Superior and back. This 500 mile trip accounts for the northern part of our bisection of the country. The larger southern trip will be in 2009.

We faced hot and cold weather, wet and dry. We rode many miles of gravel, and met a lot of great people. The nicest people we met were in Pittsville WI where we were given lunch. Please help us repay the favor by supporting Baums Mercantile.

We learned things like...
Where the hell is Pittsville? (the town motto)
Are teenagers impressed by hydrology?

Day 4 - August 5, 2008 - Phillips to Glidden - 37 miles

Today we were faced with a rough decision. Gravel roads, or traffic. The decision was to give the gravel road a shot, and see how it went. Well, it started out nice and hard packed.

See, this is how gravel roads trick you. As soon as we were committed, the road turned sour. We hit a freshly grated section that was about 3-4 miles long.

Day 9 - August 10, 2008 - Marshfield to New Lisbon - 71 miles

We surprised the owners of Baums Mercantile in Pittsville by fulfilling the promise we made on day 1 of our trip. We stopped by to visit. He thanked us and had his wife pack us each a nice meal. We sat in a yard nearby and enjoyed the best meals of the trip. After eating, we returned to do some shopping and donated some money towards a charity that the Baums were supporting via donation jars in the store. These were the nicest people you could ever meet, and I encourage you all to stop and say hi.

Day 8 - August 9, 2008 - Medford to Marshfield - 45 miles

I have not had very many huge disappointments in my life. The list is short; the Packers loss in Superbowl XXXII, having my first bicycle stolen in 7th grade, and finding out that we arrived in a town called Colby Wisconsin and yet couldn't buy any cheese. Devastating.

We had to settle with some health food from the Plan-It Earth General Store. As it turns out, the snacks were great. We each had a different type of fruit chew or some form of mangled fruit. The owner was really nice, and the store was quite welcoming. If you pass through, stop and ask for some snacks.

Day 7 - August 8, 2008 - Park Falls to Medford - 67 miles

The weather was beautiful today, and riding was perfect. Lets suppress the memory of that huge gravel hill... and let our therapist worry about it.

After the torturous gravel hill we were able to find side roads that were nicely paved and without heavy traffic. Lets give credit to the guy with the maps....

Everyone made great time on the smooth rolling hills today.

Day 6 - August 7, 2008 - Ashland to Park Falls - 59 miles

Chuck rides ahead. The road had a nice shoulder, and was fairly quiet in the early morning hours.

The log trucks must have slept in, but they did eventually arrive.

Our route passed some amazing road cuts. The igneous rocks of this area are a stark contrast to the sandstones in Central Wisconsin. As it turns out, road cuts do not impress Taters. What does it take to impress a teenager?

Day 5 - August 6, 2008 - Glidden to Ashland - 42 miles

For a town that sees a lot of cycling tourists, I would have expected better service at restaurants? Have my fellow cyclists not been tipping well? The Bruin restaurant took over an hour to get us eggs. We were almost going to leave when they finally brought out our breakfast. Lucky for them, I have a soft spot for unique signs. All is forgiven.

Day 2 - August 3, 2008 - Marshfield to Abbotsford - 31 miles

Ryan woke up to shooting pains in his abdomen. The nagging pains from the day before had gotten worse in the night. He wanted to continue, but the group wouldn't have it. The problem was clearly getting worse. His trip was over; but he wished us well and we continued. The first miles were silent....

Soon after leaving Abbotsford we were hit with a very hard headwind. Soon the roads changed to gravel. The state cycling map recommended a road which was solid traffic and no shoulder. We opted for the peaceful gravel roads that paralleled it. It was slower, hillier, dustier, and the headwind got worse, but at least it was scenic.

Day 1 - August 2, 2008 - New Lisbon to Marshfield - 73 miles

We left New Lisbon bright and early; the morning was far cooler than we had expected. A few miles into our ride and Katie was captured digitally with her helmet in her mouth and her arm trying to put her foot up. Nobody wanted to stop moving due to mosquitoes which seemed to handle the cold just fine.

As the sun burns the fog off, the temperature finally begins to climb into the 50s.

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