Friday, August 17, 2007

Once around the lake... again

I figured if I can make it around the lake in Madison, surely the same thing would apply back at home, yes? Around an even smaller lake?



On Tuesday of this week I set out around our local Lake Vermilion. It's a shallow pond in comparison to most lakes in Wisconsin, but hey, it's our lake, and it's there.

I set out up Logon and then down the very steep hill to the lake on Denmark Road. This hill would never exist were that road made today, it's too steep. IDOT would figure out how to lengthen it and make it shallower. I was able to drop into Granny gear and power up the other side, and the it was down the hill past the country club and back up. Again I powered back up, but by the time I got to the top I was done in. I didn't stop but slowed way down and took my time.

The day was much hotter than my trip in Madison, and it was around 10:30 when I set out so it was getting hotter, not cooler. All of this ice in my first bottle was already gone. My second bottle though, which I had completly frozen, was still mostly solid and delicuously cold. Lesson learned: freeze the first bottle about half full then fill just before the ride, and freeze the second one entirely.

What I had once thought of as the long flat stretch of Denmark Road, going to West Newell, is not flat. It's a long hill going mostly up unti it gets to Denmark Road. There are some ups and down, but it's mostly up. Drive it and pay attention and you'll see it.
What all of that amounts to is that by the time I got to the long (and much welcome) downhill on Denmark Road, I was done. Seriously done. So I pulled into the Heron Wetlands (the second longest boardwalk in Illinois, did you know?), parked my bike in the shade of the pavilion, and crashed out on one of the picnic tables. It was wonderfully quiet and there was a nice breeze, and after ten minutes and some still-cold water (still ice in the bottle!), I was rejuvinated.
I'm somewhat proud that I made it up the other end of Denmark Road without stopping to walk the bike. The hill is not real steep, but it's long. Then the rest of the way home, a mostly straight shot down Vermilion, was uneventful. Well, except for the nearly overwhelming desire to stop for Dairy Queen, and missing the old A&W Root Beer stand across from the mall.

Some differences between Madison and Danville:

Bike Lanes: Danville - none. And I missed them. There's nothing fun about riding down a rural road with no bike lane and cars whizzing by at 55 mph.

Road Kill: Madison- one squirrel. Danville - many possums, and what may have once been a bird. I don't know why this struck me, but it did. Far more road kill down home. This is likely due to the more rural nature of the route.

Shade: Oh how I missed the shade of Madison. Much of my ride in Danville was in direct sunlight. Again the rural nature of the route, but there do seem to be far more 'old growth' trees up north. That's what I get for living on the prarie.

Hills: Wisconsin is far hillier than Illinois... unless you're riding around the lake.

Conclusion: Next time, ride it early or late, but never in the middle of the afternoon when the temperature is over 90 degrees again.
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