Today we rode slightly over 50 miles, from Montello, Wisconsin, to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It was another good day, even though it rained a bit here and there (although never very heavily).
We rode out of Montello on the main road, Route 23, for the first 12 miles until the town of Princeton (population 1,200 -- about the same number as my freshman class at the university of the same name -- no relation, I think). The shoulder was good, but not super wide (maybe 2 to 3 feet), and the traffic, although by no means heavy, was still more than we like -- so we were looking forward to getting onto smaller roads after Princeton. Which we were able to do, mostly, for the next 16 miles or so to the town of Ripon, enjoying a sequence of lovely, basically traffic-free, roads. It was not quite as scenic as yesterday -- you might have farms on one side of the road, and fairly standardized houses on the other, so I didn't get quite the same feeling of being fully enveloped by the countryside. But still very nice.
Ripon, which is purportedly (see photo) the birthplace of the Republican Party, was, notwithstanding its origins, a very inviting town -- one that, with its small cafes and hip storefronts, might be hard to reconcile with the current incarnation of the GOP (end of political screed). I stayed there and had an early lunch (a Caprese panini) while Bob, not hungry at the time, continued on towards Fond du Lac. I actually ended up lingering for about an hour, also enjoying a cafe au lait and, I admit it, an orange cranberry scone. One does get hungry biking -- and the good thing is you don't feel guilty (or gain weight) from eating a lot with the type of miles we're putting in. My guess (with an assist from my Garmin unit, which tries to estimate them) is we're burning between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day.
Feeling unusually well-rested by this luxurious respite after the initial almost 30 miles, I very much enjoyed the final 20+ miles of the ride -- even though they included about 5 miles on yet another unpaved Wisconsin bike trail. Yes, the trail was a bit slower and certainly more dusty, but it beat going back on an even more crowded Route 23 for that stretch. And, otherwise, I was able to ride entirely on low traffic back roads until Fond du Lac. The afternoon scenery, to my surprise, since I was nearing a largish city (Fond du Lac's population is over 40,000), was more isolated, with a ton of farms and corn fields. For those who have been there, it felt a bit like riding on the North Fork of Long Island (Oregon Road, in particular).
The final small road leading into Fond du Lac was County Road OOO, which compels me to ask: Does anyone understand the Wisconsin road naming conventions? Yes, I get it's all letters, but Route H will be next to Route A, which will cross Route QQ, which will intersect Route EEE, and so on. If there's a logic, so far it's escaped me. In any event, the aforementioned CR OOO fed me out almost directly into a large shopping mall near that night's motel (a Day's Inn, if you must know). There, I actually spotted an AAA storefront (not to be confused with Wisconsin's County Road AAA) and happily went in and got free (OK, you do have to be a member) detailed road maps for our upcoming states. Nice. I can't believe I wasn't doing this before (although, in truth, I'm not sure I was even aware that AAA storefronts existed). I was also able to find a sporting goods store in the mall and buy some more kinesiology tape for my Achilles tendon (actually, KT Tape, the very same brand worn by beach volleyball Gold Medalist, Kerri Walsh, although there the similarity ends, and I did go with the more sedate beige color). Whether the tape actually works, or is just a confidence booster, is pretty much anyone's guess, but, at minimum, I find it mentally comforting to have it on, supposedly helping (but I'm not giving up my regular doses of Advil just yet).
Tomorrow is our last day in Wisconsin, as we pedal to Manitowoc, which Bob and I continue to struggle to pronounce as the locals do (I think it's "Man-it-twau"). We'll overnight there and, on Wednesday, give our weary legs a break from bicycling and take the S.S. Badger ferry, across Lake Michigan, to Ludington, Michigan. It will be a new state and a new (and final) time zone! But no premature celebrations are in order. I will still have over 1,100 miles to get home (having pedaled about 2,800 miles to this point).
Here are today's route and metrics: