Beginning A Long Bike Ride

Well, there I am on day two. Ready to hit the road from our pastoral paradise where the nearest noticeable buildings were functioning farmsteads in the idyllic distance, I started pushing my bike toward the bike path. Then, about 10 seconds after that picture was snapped, I looked down and realized my rear was flat. It had happened sometime while walking my bike to our campsite, over the backside of a rolling grassy hill toward a backdrop of trees and foliage (you might be able to see it in the picture above). It was an easy fix, but an unanticipated repair for day two.

Overall though, the immediate adjustment to this traveling lifestyle has been bind free. It’s an ongoing camping trip with my best friends, finding places to pitch hammocks at night (or in the afternoon) and find some repose. We throw frisbees in open fields and slackline in the thicket.

That’s Nick practicing at campsite #2 in Madison. Our campsite the first night proved to be less hospitable.

Monday morning we knew we had a good 30-40 miles before Madison, and were confident we could make it. Monday morning quickly rolled into Monday afternoon and as I’m pushing off I look down and realize it’s pushing 5:00. Not likely to reach our destination by dusk, we set off without a real plan except riding.

As dusk began to settle, we pulled off the side of a two lane road we had been following next to a large farm buzzing with late night activity. At one point we heard a shriek and couldn’t ascertain if it was a goat or a little girl. As we are eating apples and hydrating, the farmer came by and offered us a place to camp, but we politely declined as a we had stirred up a testing determination to reach Madison that night.

We chased a wide-eyed Wisconsin sunset beneath a stellar blanket and temperatures in the mid 50’s. It’s also probably necessary to note that we all have proper and functioning front and rear lights lest anyone worry. My headlight has such a strong high setting that it probably blinds drivers!

Our destination after a quick google map perusal was the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, an expansive natural area just west of the city’s heart. Madison’s bicycle infrastructure is commendable, as we followed bike lanes beneath street lights and bike paths weaving around neighborhoods and tributaries from the lakes all the way to our destination.

We took Arboretum Road deep into the park, and lumbered with our bikes down a random hiking path with a wooden gate and sign declaring, “Bicycles Use Paved Roads”. A few minutes down the three-plank trail where vision is reduced to a headlight beam and peripheral shadowy masses, we trudged into the woods away from the path, set up our hammocks as a triangle around three trees, and MacGyver’d a three-tarp roof above us and our gear for falling tree debris. We swayed to sleep sometime after 1:00am.

The next morning I awoke early to a startling surprise, a man jogging through the woods nearby our site. I dismissed him as a crunchy college trail runner and slumbered more. I woke up again around 7:00am with Nick, and as we chatted quietly, a group of middle-aged folks began approaching. Both parties clearly surprised and intrigued by the other’s presence, an older gentleman started walking toward me in my hammock.

The man kindly informed us that this is a nature preserve where we could not camp freely, but did inquire on our journey after spotting our bicycles and gear. He wished us well and returned to the group, who were all staring at us like a strange exhibit in a zoo safari.

Today is our second day in Madison, and due to some necessary repairs on Evan’s bike, we will stay one more night. Tonight though, we have a host who has also toured by bicycle.

I’ve altered my gear a little bit, and will upload an updated picture of my bike with gear soon. Overall Wisconsin has been beautiful with outstanding bike trails (thanks grandma for recommending them) but we’re ready to move on. Onward toward Iowa tomorrow!

Day / Day Mileage / Total Mileage / Avg. Speed



About Ben Stark

My name is Ben Stark, no relation to Tony or the House Stark. B.A. in Sociology from Calvin College Preferred mode of transportation: Bicycle, Ice Skates, Feet Currently pursuing Adventure as Vocation Let's cross paths!
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One Response to Beginning A Long Bike Ride

  1. Jim Lautenbach says:

    Sounds like a good start to your trip. We will be thinking and praying for you

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