I'm finally recapping my Wisconsin Oddities Bike tour from last summer....
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I’ve always had a hard time saying no and I began this ride after not saying “no” to several people. The night before leaving on the ride, I helped lead Chicago’s monthly Critical Mass bike ride. I had become friends with a map maker for the ride who wanted help, so I was willing to lend my skills and my balloons. Then, a family that had previously hired me for a birthday party wanted my services. I had to decline that, but I offered to create a balloon delivery.
This was how, in the morning of my first “vacation” really ever, I found myself working and creating a massive balloon mermaid. Fortunately it didn’t take too long to twist a kid-sized mermaid holding a few dozen fish wands, but it did put me a little behind schedule to catch my intended train. Since I had done that day’s ride before, I was confident and decided to take the slightly later train.
Eventually I had my bike packed up and I rode the 3 miles to the train station and climbed on board with my hefty bike just as the train was pulling away. To this day, I’m still not sure how I managed to life it up the steps....I am stronger than I ever thought.
The massive amount gear and my bright yellow balloon pump attracted a bit of attention from the packed train. I had a great me answering bike camping questions for many folks who were heading to a horse race. Eventually the train emptied out and I found myself at the end of the line in Harvard, IL..
It felt comforting to begin this ride with a familiar route. The month before, I did the same bike ride with a group of women for a camping weekend. I had biked up earlier on my own that time, so I knew exactly what to expect.
The first 15 miles are through corn and soybean fields and I got to pass through the lovely town of Delavan, which used to be a circus colony. Between the years of 1847 and 1894, the town was home to 26 circus companies and is the site where P.T. Barnum’s circus was formed. The town pays homage to that history with statues in a park near it’s watertower.
After Delavan, the ride to Kettle Morraine State Forest in South Wisconsin becomes very pretty with a varied landscap. Having lived in Chicago for the past 5 years, having to tackle hills is certainly a challenge, though I love the way that rolling hills and expanses of forests look from afar.
When I reached the campsite that my friends Sarah and Paul had set up, I had to set up my tent quickly to avoid the numerous mosquitoes swarming my hot and sweaty self. They were off swimming in Whitewater lake and came back to the site just as I finished tidying up from the days ride.
We had an enjoyable night around the camp fire chatting about this and that and how I’d be spending the next week on my bike. The long two days soon caught up with me and I headed to bed shortly after the sun went down feeling incredibly excited for the week ahead and meeting the unknown.