Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

posted in: Bicycle Touring, Minnesota, Wisconsin | 28

I suppose I better get a post up for those curious whether I made it home or not.  I’m currently enjoying some time off the bike at home before I start the 2nd half of my ride.  The ride from Madison to Mantorville, MN exceeded my expectations.  I got a lot of great river bluff and Mississippi backwater views along with plenty of rolling hills to and from the river.

Day 54, June 22nd – Madison, WI to… Madison, WI

I think in the last post I said I was actually going to get some miles in this day… Well by the time I closed my computer it was 4:30 PM.  Instead of riding 30 miles out of town I decided (after Travis extended an invitation) to hang out at Trav’s for the night.  And get a fresh start in the morning.  I picked up a few groceries and watched the USA vs. Portugal World Cup with Travis and Lavilla.  We busted out the board games for the rest of the evening.

IMG_6484USA!  Too bad we tied in the last 30 seconds!

Miles: 12
Acts of Kindness:  3 – Breakfast at Eric’s; Travis and Lavilla let me stay at their place before heading out in the morning – Trav whipped up some tasty salads with dinner.

Day 55, June 23rd – Madison, WI to NW of Reedsburg, WI

Said farewell to Travis and Lavilla this morning and walked out with Travis as he left for work.  I was thinking a couple of rest days would have me really cruising today.  Well, unfortunately about 5 miles into my ride I found my IT band tightened up so much that I could hardly pedal.  I called my personal physical therapist (my sister) to get some advice.  After thoroughly stretching, rolling my leg up against my bike frame, and stretching some more I got back on the bike to find myself in the same pain about two miles down the road.  I repeated the stretching and rolling and found the same issue another mile or two down the road.  This time, too stubborn to stop, I decided to ride on and hope that it would work itself loose.  Eventually it did, but this activity chewed up a good chunk of my morning riding.

As I got further out of town and passed Sauk City (almost stopped at the gym for an afternoon workout) I started to find some fun rolling hills on the way to Reedsburg.  I stopped for dinner and looked up camping options.  I settled on a place NW of town about 14 miles.  On the way out of Reedsburg I connected with the “400” State Trail which is a biking, walking, and equestrian trail (in some sections).  Little did I know was that this trail was part of a the 4 Trails system which is 101 miles of bike trails all the way to Marshland, WI which was where I would pass from Wisconsin into Winona, MN.

I got to the campsite with enough time to get a shower in a setup camp before nightfall.  I did so quickly because the mosquitos are getting vicious!

IMG_6485I swung by Collectivo coffee on my way out of town.  A favorite spot downtown for tasty coffee and good capitol views.

IMG_6487Such a clever name for a bar!





IMG_6499On the 400 State Trail.

IMG_6502I saw plenty of deer along the 4 Trails system.






Miles: 80.4
Acts of Kindness:  2 – Free physical therapy consultation by Krista, Travis borrowed me a pair of headphones so I could listen to some podcasts on the ride home.

Day 56, June 24th – NW of Reedsburg, WI to Perrot State Park (north of Lacrosse, WI)

Today I was determined to put in high miles to prevent an especially long ride tomorrow.  Luckily I got to do all of the riding on the 4 Trails system which was excellent riding and a nice break from automobiles.  The trails are part of the first “rails to trails” project converting an old railroad line into a walking/biking/etc trail.  The old railroad tunnels were very cool (literally and figuratively).  If your ever looking to do a small weekend tour in the area I would highly recommend giving these trails a shot.  The trail has very good accommodations along the way so you wouldn’t need much gear.  Walk-in campgrounds too!



IMG_6523I took a break in Elroy at a trail stop where I met three cool ladies (Ricki, Hollie, and Shelly) who were there to cheer on a runner who was running the entire trail system in two days to raise money for a good cause (I believe a food shelf).  I gave him a shoutout as I passed him a few miles up the trail.  They asked about my trip and chatted for a bit.

IMG_6524They work for a nutrition company and sent me on my way with a free sample!  Thanks again!  It was good!


IMG_6530Cool old railroad stations in most of the towns along the trail system.








IMG_6569Another loooong tunnel – picture taken with flash.

IMG_6572Without flash.  The darkness drowns the light from my headlamp.

IMG_6581Sparta is “Bicycling Capital of America” – Who knew?!

IMG_6586Didn’t I see you in Port Byron, IL??  I read into it… The one in Port Byron was a recreation of this one in Sparta.  Port Byron constructed it in tribute to it’s local trails and also hopes to be a popular biking spot.

IMG_6587Downtown Sparta, WI

IMG_6589Stopped at a neat old soda parlor down town for a sandwich and a shake.

IMG_6590I dig the street signs.




IMG_6602Good Ol’ Mississippi

IMG_6608After Lacrosse the trail turns into double track.






IMG_6633Rode into the state park with the last fleeting light of the day.

Miles: 96.9
Acts of Kindness:  1 – Free protein sample from Ricki, Hollie, and Shelly.

Day 57, June 25th – Perrot State Park, WI to Mantorville, MN

On the road early today with the plans of catching breakfast in Winona, MN.  I stopped to relax for a bit at the Acoustic Cafe which my sister suggested for good coffee.  Good sandwiches too!  Back on the rode, today’s ride was filled with familiar towns and landscapes.  I rode into my Dad’s office in Rochester around 6:00 PM not long after my Mom had caught me in her car on my ride into town.



IMG_6642Minnesota!  I’ve arrived!

IMG_6645Just as I reached the bridge into Winona I met Kit.  Kit on his way BACK to Maine after biking down to San Diego Last summer.  He spent five months escaping the cold enjoying some coastal rays.  His trip will end up totaling about 10,000 miles!  He had some great stories to share about his experience with generous people along the way and how great it is to see our country at a leisurely pace on the seat of a bike.


IMG_6650Feeling some Bob Dylan at this moment.

IMG_6655Some fun downhills…

IMG_6661and climbs.

IMG_6663Home county!

IMG_6664Cat and calf.  Best buddies apparently.

Miles: 73.9
Acts of Kindness:  1 – Made it home!  Parents letting me raid their cabinets for over a week 🙂

Day 58 through 63, June 25th June 30th – Mantorville, MN (rest week+)

So I made it home… approximately halfway point of my trip.  With 3000 miles in, I’m thinking my original trip estimate of ~4600 miles is far from accurate.  The last couple weeks have been a good change of pace.  It’s nice to hang out with familiar faces and have some conversations that don’t solely revolve around my trip.  I’m enjoying my time at home and helping work on some projects around the folks place.  Stocked food pantry, a regular bed, regular shower, and good company isn’t so bad!  I’ve picked up replacement parts for the bike that I will be working on before I depart again.  Some of the replacement gear includes new tires (1.75″ instead of 1.5″ for a plusher ride hopefully), new handlebar grip tape, new chain and brake pads.

I think I need to get back out on the bike today for a good joy ride (monday, June 30th)!  I’m finding my legs cramping up continuously throughout the day, probably from lack of use.  Happy Monday!  Looking forward to hanging out with friends on the 4th of July!

IMG_6667Strawberry season here!  Weird since it was in season almost 2 months ago in North Carolina.

IMG_6672Went to watch the USA vs. Germany game in Rochester with my Mom.  Advanced with a loss – big game against Belgium!


IMG_5779Then we checked out Thursday’s on 1st in downtown Rochester.

IMG_5783Awesome chalkboard downtown.

IMG_5784Later I went with Lance to watch the Buffalo Killers (band) play downtown.  Pulling a “Dom Trom” in the above picture.

IMG_5782After the music venue we went to The Doggery – A cool basement bar in Rochester.  A speakeasy theme with a good atmosphere

IMG_5786Dad and I have been working on building a hops trellis.  After a long morning/afternoon at Menards and Home Depot we hashed through several designs on scrap paper.  Our design quickly grew to become more complex and esthetic.  As a result we ended up with way more lumber than we originally anticipated.  Engineering problems.

IMG_5790My aunt Lori came to visit.  Getting in some relaxing kayaking down the river.

IMG_2907Working on the trellis.  As soon as we got concrete in the holes the rain came.  Working through the pouring rain, Aunt Lori was pouring concrete powder while I kept the poles level.  Brad Douglas filled the holes while my dad packed the dirt.  In our hurry we somehow we managed to get them all in straight.

IMG_6688Better weather for working on the trellis today.

IMG_6703Mom planting flowers.

IMG_6702There was another pic where I was making an even worse face… I’ll spare you.

IMG_6706Out for a walk after a long day in the yard.

IMG_6710Photo cred to Jeff Ryan

IMG_6720The trellis is coming along!

Miles: Zero!
Acts of Kindness:  ? – Aunt Lori came to visit which included kayaking, ice cream, and beer!; Lance bought burgers downtown; I’m blanking… I know there’s more.




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28 Responses

  1. Erik Lewinski

    I’m glad to see you made it home safely. Enjoy your time there. I look forward to the rest of your trip!

  2. Tom Jakab

    Uh oh… you dont engineer for a while and your counting is going down the drain. Ricki, Hollie, and Shelly adds up to three ladies!

  3. Karen Brogan

    Thanks Brad for posting all the beautiful pictures. I love reading about your travels and experiences. You make it seem like we are right there with you. Enjoy your time at home with your mom and dad.

    • Bradley

      Glad you enjoy the posts Karen! Having a good time around home!

  4. “As I got further out of town and passed Sauk City (almost stopped at the gym for an afternoon workout)”

    Shame on you for skipping a workout! Don’t you know how important physical exercise is? I’m very disappointed.

  5. Really enjoyed all photos, as usual. Enjoy your time with Mom, Dad and other family members. I’ll raise a beer in your honor during tomorrow’s World Cup vs. Belgium.

    • Bradley

      I appreciate the gesture! Unfortunately it didn’t help with a US victory 🙁

      • No, it didn’t. But the better team won. Belgium dominated most of the game, although the U.S. put on a furious finish the last 20 or so minutes of extra time. Had the goalkeeper Howard had a bad day it would have been a blowout.

        • Bradley

          True Belgium definitely out played us most of the game. Howard is the man! The last 20 minutes were definitely the best of the game.

  6. Jeff Makulec

    “Cramping up from lack of use”… I’m glad I don’t have that problem. I do recognize the benefits of having a close relative who is a PT. I’ve been on the Elroy-Sparta trail and am always amazed at how dark the longest tunnel is. Makes you wonder what the heck happened to the brand new batteries in the light. Great sunset photos from the trail. I’ve spent enough time in Rochester the last few years that your downtown photos are pretty familiar. And I think I recognize the bacl yard and trellis area at your folks’ place from my visits to nephew Eric before he sold the place to your folks. Have a great rest!

    • Bradley

      Yea the cramping has been surprisingly painful! I’ve been doing some mountain biking around the yard to try and ease this. I dug out my foam roller too… I hate that thing! Glad you’ve also had the opportunity to enjoy the Elroy-Sparta trail.

      I actually just had breakfast with your nephew, my Dad, and friend Gene this morning on Eric’s last stop in town before heading to New Zealand. Seems like he’s enjoying unemployment as well 🙂

  7. Keith Short

    I think the black and white cat with the calf may be a Holstein also… Someone is in for a shock when it graduates to the milking parlor!
    Love the photos especially with the one with the grass stem/seeds in the foreground. Nice!

    • Bradley

      Ha! Poor cat will need to find a new friend… I’ve added some photo credit to my Dad who took some photos around home.

  8. It is great having you home with us for awhile. Sorry we put you to work on the hops trellis’s. Country living takes work. Thanks for all your

  9. Patrick McIntyre

    Thanks for the updates! Glad you got to spend some time in MN.

    Loved the Elroy-Sparta Trail pics. I ran my first marathon on it and the long tunnel is pretty awesome. It’s crazy how dark it actually is and you’re just aiming yourself towards a pinhole of light. Did you attempt to ride it? I remember it being awfully wet and uneven.

    • Bradley

      Hey Patrick! Yea the trail was really cool. That’d be a fun marathon route. I walked my bike like the sign requested for the first two tunnels…. about halfway through the 3rd and longest tunnel I got sick of pushing my bike and rode it out. A little sketchy ground for sure.

  10. jean Ryan

    Just came across this post today. Fahja reorganized my inbox and put all your updates in another place(?) I just ran across them today. I’m so illiterate. Sounds like it’s good to be home for a bit. Hate those leg cramps! I feel foe you.

    • The leg cramps seem to be a thing of the past thankfully! Hope you’ve figured that inbox out – If not feel free to give me a call!

  11. Hey Brad – posted 4 new songs for you – all based on this part of the blog – be sure to give them a listen! Thanks for the inspiration! Jody

    • Awesome Jody! I am about to hit the road so I’ll have to give them a listen at my next stop! Looking forward to giving them a listen

    • Jeff Ryan

      These are really great Jody! Thanks for sharing!

      • Agreed! These were awesome! I may have to see if I can’t borrow some/one of these for editing some footage with.

  12. Jason Garvens

    Congrats on making it back to the motherland. It’s cool that you got to ride on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. I’ve ridden that trail before with my family years ago, plus my grandparents live in Elroy. Those tunnels are pretty fun to go through.
    Enjoy northern MN and the rest of the trip out to WA. Good luck in the coming weeks.

    • Thanks Jason! It was a cool trail indeed. I should be hitting the Paul Bunyan Trail in Minnesota today… should be interesting to see how it compares.

  13. Thanks for coming home and spending time with us Brad. It was great having you here for a bit and we enjoyed seeing your friends who stopped by as well. Appreciate all your help around the farm and wishing you safe travels the rest of the way. Here’s to part II of your big adventure!!

    The IPA’s should be ready by the time your back! The hops might be a while 😉

    • Thanks Pops.
      Can’t wait to try that IPA! Had fun at home… Thanks for letting me crash for a couple weeks!

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