Biking over hill and dale and hill and hill and hill…

by Free Speech on June 9, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
By Wendy Soucie

I love to bicycle!  I am lucky that I live in the middle of Scenic Lodi Valley with some of the very best and most challenging riding in the area. However, Wisconsin has some wonderful geography throughout the state to explore and I do much of my riding with one or two friends or my husband (if I promise to find a good pancake place about halfway).

In early May a Lodi/Deforest contingent of bikers headed to Dodgeville. One of the earliest Century Rides(100 mile) in Wisconsin is the Quadrapedal Spring Century in the Dodgeville area. A worthwhile event for sure, with routes climbing between 1500 and 9000 feet and guaranteed to get your heart pumping.  They touted in the materials that “you’ll wish you had an extra set of legs!” and they were right. All proceeds from this ride went to benefit the Iowa County Humane Society (ICHS).

We rode this Century in 2008 for the first time.  Most of us had never ridden in this part of Wisconsin before except for the relatively flat bike trail between Verona and Mt Horeb.  Enough time had elapsed between last year and this so the four of us who rode it before decided to do it again, talking 3 additional innocents to do it as well.  I had some heads up about the hills from Dave R. who has done the Horrible Hilly and the Dairyland Dare in past years. Both of these rides have a vast amount of vertical change.  Three of us from Lodi – Diana Karls, Amy Bublitz and me along with Eric  and Mike from DeForest headed down to Dodgeville at 5:30 AM, determined to get an early start.  Our goal was the 100-mile distance.  Diana is training for the Louisville Ironman while Mike and Eric are training for the Madison Ironman race in September.  Me, well I am just a glutton for punishment.  I relish the training regime that the others are following without the financial and stress commitment.  None of us had ridden this mileage yet this year.  The closest was 65 miles and the least was 20.

Once we arrived, the next big decision was what to wear.  It was about 49 degrees at the start with expected temps sometime during the day to reach 65 degrees.  The question was when and how long did we want to be cold.  Most tours like this have bags they provide at the different rest stops to take extra clothing back to the start so we all decided to dress warm and remove clothes later on the ride.  It took me only 5 miles to strip off an extra pair of pants and unzip all my shirts, which I removed at the first rest stop at 20 miles.

Map of the Quadrapedal Ride in Iowa County

Map of the Quadrapedal Ride in Iowa County

The first 10 miles of the ride had some short but very steep hills.  It was a challenge to get the gear change from the downhill to the following uphill, which happened like a roller coaster.  The next 10 was a fair amount of ridge riding with some chilly wind to contend with but general rolling terrain. We had some great views of wind farms  and fields ready for planting.  The rains had been generous in this area and the landscape was greening up nicely.   Lulled into complacency, I cautiously thought that if the ride continued like this, I would have no problem making the 100 miles.  However, it was my son’s birthday and I was also determined to make it back to Madison for his soccer game.   I made an early commitment that based on the time, I would make the turn at 55 and bail on trying to do 100, if I thought I could get back in time.

Amy and I lost Diana, Mike and Eric after the first rest stop where we stopped to use the restrooms.  They had decided to push a little harder while Amy and I had a “pace yourself” strategy to go the likely a shorter distance.  All of the rest stops were well manned and with plenty of good refreshments for riding.

Back on the route, we found that the geography changed quite a bit for the next 50 miles.  In this section, the route wound its way in and out of creek valleys, up some step verticals, over ridges and past some very scenic vistas.  This middle section had some of the most idyllic valleys with streams, flowers, rock outcroppings, and quiet farmsteads. It made up for the ridiculous vertical.  Always cautions of loose gravel on the down hills, the washed out sections from last year were repaired.  The best part was how quiet these roads were.  In fact for the entire day, probably only 10 cars passed me counting both directions.  The challenge of this section and actually the rest of the course was that for every thrilling downhill there was an equal and opposite uphill grind.

I admittedly swore a few times when I looked up and saw the next section I had to go up.  As the course wound up and down valleys and switched back and forth out of the ridges, I wondered if this was the hill, I was going to walk up. I am proud to say that I did not have to succumb to walking but I have determined I need to check out adding one more granny gear on my bike before I do this ride again.

This year Amy and I only made two stops in the 55 miles. It did feel good to walk a bit after sitting in the saddle for 1 or 2 hours at a time.  At the 40-mile mark, the temptation to linger with a group that stopped for lunch was great, but we pushed on.  I could really feel the hills at this point and wondered if I should try for the full 100 miles.  Over the next 15 miles, I enjoyed the coutryside and the overall ride.  I noted a farm with several very young foals out in the pasture, pigs pastured with horses, some unique metal yard-sculptures and a very cool Frank Lloyd Wright style house up on a hillside.  I know we road near Ridgeway, but otherwise felt clueless in knowing where I actually was.

The last 6 miles was about the only part of the ride that was unimpressive as it included a detour on a busy highway.  It did allow me the chance to use my new aero bars without much worry about turns. I was tired overall and could have kept going but I want to enjoy my ride with a little bit of push.  The route by now had changed back to longer and less steep hills and some ridge riding.  I know I was happy to pull into the parking lot and stop in for the free meal of chili, pork sandwiches and desert provide by the tour.

After starting at 7:30 am, Amy and I finished our 55 miles by 12:30 (7.5 hours).  Diana arrived from her 100 miles Eric and Mike in tow around 3:30 or 4 pm. Overall, we had a gorgeous day to ride and I guess we were not in too bad a shape this early in the season.  I would do this ride again, although I suggest waiting a few weeks to forget the gianormous hills!

Wendy Soucie lives in Westpoint with her husband Laurent and three children.  In good weather, she is often biking to work in Madison along Lodi-Springfield road and the new bike path.  She owns Wendy Soucie Consulting LLC, a social media and marketing consulting firm.

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