epic journey!

I don’t know if you realize this, but a historic journey of heroic proportions was completed yesterday. I’m talking, of course, about the bike ride My Darling B took with me all the way around Lake Monona. This 12-mile trip is probably longer than she’s ever traveled on her bike in one day. I knew she could do it, but I was still amazed that she not only agreed to it, she also suggested it in the first place!

She surprised the hell out of me last week when she suggested we ride our bikes to the Orton Park festival. That trip was a breeze and she seemed to enjoy the ride quite a lot. So much, apparently, that she suggested, while we were making our plans to visit the Taste Of Madison this weekend, that we ride our bikes in and take a ride all the way around the lake at the same time. I didn’t raise my eyebrows and ask, “Are you sure?” I figured she knew what she was capable of.

The trip up Monona Drive is a good way to start: It’s mostly downhill, except for that one hump in front of the high school. We left the main road after we passed the intersection with Cottage Grove Road, weaving through the back streets of the neighborhood behind Olbrich Park until we met up with the Capitol City Trail and followed it into town. The trail runs along a railroad track so it’s almost flat as a board, a very easy ride, and it goes all the way to the end of Williamson Street.

At that point, though, we had to climb the ridge up to capitol square; not all the way, but about three blocks up King Street where we locked up our bikes to a post across from the Majestic Theater. B was just a teensy bit winded and looking a bit peaked from the steep climb so our first stop was the beer cart that was helpfully parked at the top of King Street. Seven bucks bought us a twenty-ounce cup of ice-cold Capital Amber to refresh us as we made our way around the square.

After sampling some of the foods at the festival, we saddled up and headed back down the hill, much to the delight of My Darling B, and rejoined the bike trail, turning to the south to follow it along John Nolen Drive. The cool breeze blowing off the lake was a blessing and a curse, giving us some relief from the heat but, dammit, it was a headwind, so we had to fight it all the way to Olin-Turville Park. I geared down as far as I could so we could enjoy the view without having to huff and puff all the way around the lake.

After fighting a headwind around the lake we had to run the gauntlet of Waunona Drive, a neighborhood of million-dollar homes along the lakefront and, not incidentally, more than a little hilly. Not terribly steep hills, but a lot of them. It was crank, crank, crank our way to the top of a hill, go “Wheeee!” all the way to the bottom, then crank, crank, crank our way to the top of the next hill again. Waunona Drive is only a mile or two long, but it seems to go on forever.

And the home stretch is a long, steep hill at the top of Bridge Street that I thought My Darling B would have to dismount for, but she stayed in the saddle and climbed it like a trooper. The road levels off at Bridge Road Park, then begins a shallow downhill that we took advantage of, mostly coasting all the way home.

According to The Mighty Google, it’s a 12.3 mile trip. B says she’s sure it’s more like twenty. I have to go with her estimate; she’s usually right.

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