My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Friday, June 3, 2011

Riding in LaCrosse

Last week, the state association of my profession held its annual spring conference in LaCrosse.  Normally, the conference starts kicks off with a golf outing that benefits the scholarship foundation we have.  (Which, by the way, provides almost $20,000 in scholarships annually to HS seniors in the state.)  And this year was no exception.

But not everyone golfs. So two of my colleagues who work in the LaCrosse area organized an alternative activity for the day - a 26 mile bike ride on a trail that runs along side the Mississippi River.  Proceeds from our ride are going to the Family and Children's Center of Western Wisconsin.  I'm not sure how many people signed up to ride, but there were seven of us who braved the weather and peddled to Trempealeau and back that day.  (It was raining all day, with temps in the low 50s.)

At 10:00 we gathered in Onalaska to start the ride.  By 10:20 we were mounted and rolling.  This was a non-competitive and no-drop ride, so the seven of us rode together and chatted most of the way up.  Larry and I talked a lot about the current state of funding and changes coming our way from the State.
Mounting up and heading out at the trail head.
(L-R: Me, Kent, Erin, Jeff A, Jeff S, Larry & Jason)

The trail was crushed limestone, but flat and straight. I swear in 13 miles each way, we didn't turn once.  The trail was in decent shape for being so wet.  It was packed fairly hard, but there were vehicle tracks (from the DNR trucks) in which water pooled.  Of course, because they were packed even further by trucks, the tracks were the firmest ground to ride on.

As we approached Trempealeau, the group split a bit as a couple riders were interested in getting out of the cold rain while others were keeping at their pace. By 11:45 we had racked the bikes and went into the Trempealeau Hotel for lunch.  Being good organizers, Larry and Jason had made arrangements for us to lunch there, so when seven dripping wet and muddy riders showed up, it wasn't too much of a surprise.
Took a little of the trail home with me on my tail.
Lunch at the Historic Trempealeau Hotel
After some hot beverages, cold beer (at least for Kent and I) and great food, it was time for the return trip.  The rain never let up and the temp only rose a few degrees.  But for some reason it didn't seem so cold on the way back.  The two Jeffs were anxious, I suspect, to get out of the rain and chose to ride on ahead.  The rest of us hung pretty much together for about half the trip back.  Kent and I did get ahead of the others but waited after crossing over the Black River bridge.
Erin and Larry crossing the Black River bridge
From there, Jason and I took off, trying to see if we could catch the Jeffs. I sucked wind trying to hold onto Jason's wheel for the first couple miles. Then I took point. It was fun pushing ourselves. At some point Jason turned back and rode in with the others.  He says he couldn't keep up but I don't believe I dropped him. Not for a second.  I arrived back at the trail head as the Jeffs were warming back up and getting ready to leave. Not too long after I arrived at the destination, the others rode up.
Jason, Erin and Larry finishing the ride
We chatted, then packed up and headed out.  Time for a hot shower to warm up and wash away the grit and grime.
Jason is taking some of the trail home with him, too.
And yes, I gave my bike a shower too!  Though not as bad as Jason's bike (above), there was a lot of grit and grime on my bike.
It was a great ride with some great folks who are also Loving The Bike. Thanks Larry & Jason for organizing this great event!

Oh, and it turns out that the golf was cancelled for the day! The weather was too much for almost all of them.  (Though I hear that there was one foursome that did play a full 18.)

The next day, the weather was perfect.  And there was no event planned after 5:30, so I took advantage and did a 26 mile ride on the county highways in the area.  This included a challenging climb up Cty Hwy YY - which MapMyRide lists as a Cat 4 climb.  (Potter Hill on Day 7 of RAGBRAI XXXVIII was only a Cat 5.) 
It was a great climb and the views from the top in the Coulee region are beautiful! If you're ever in the LaCrosse area, be sure to bring a bike!

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