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I am considering a cycling trip from Minneapolis to Chicago (or near Chicago). What is your experience with routes along the Mississippi and then into Madison? Grateful for any advice, websites, or blogs of previous adventures.

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Looks like a long ride to La Crosse from Minneapolis...don't have that info. However I have access to the rest of the trip - sort of.

From La Crosse to Madison (I've never biked it):
www.bike4trails.com

Also have a look at the Dane County and Wisconsin biker maps....

I have done this:
Bike via Madison streets, trails to Glacial Drumlin, through Waukesha to New Berlin, down through the Oak Leaf, to the Racine Trail, on the Root River pathway through Racine, pick up the Racine County trail to Kenosha, the Kenosha lakefront to the Kenosha/Robert McClory/Green Bay, take Asbury to Washington to Elmwood in Evanston and then weave south on residential streets, pick up Chicago Lakefront trail at Loyola Park.
Matt,
Thanks for one important piece of the puzzle. I'm grateful that you have shared you experience. If I do it I certainly make notes for anyone who wants to follow.

Matt M. said:
Looks like a long ride to La Crosse from Minneapolis...don't have that info. However I have access to the rest of the trip - sort of.

From La Crosse to Madison (I've never biked it):
www.bike4trails.com

Also have a look at the Dane County and Wisconsin biker maps....

I have done this:
Bike via Madison streets, trails to Glacial Drumlin, through Waukesha to New Berlin, down through the Oak Leaf, to the Racine Trail, on the Root River pathway through Racine, pick up the Racine County trail to Kenosha, the Kenosha lakefront to the Kenosha/Robert McClory/Green Bay, take Asbury to Washington to Elmwood in Evanston and then weave south on residential streets, pick up Chicago Lakefront trail at Loyola Park.
Thanks for the help. I now need assistance on the best way to get from Madison to Reedsburg. Anyone done that?
Kristian,

Thanks. This is just what I need, a path without too many steep inclines. I appreciate it.


Kristian M Zoerhoff said:
David Travis said:
Thanks for the help. I now need assistance on the best way to get from Madison to Reedsburg. Anyone done that?

The Military Ridge Trail will get you as far west as Dodgeville: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/LAND/parks/specific/militaryridge/

From there, the WI Bike Map seems to indicate that Wis-23 straight north to Reedsburg is the ticket (and you'll go past Spring Green and the House on the Rock).
H3,

Thanks. I just happened to come across this resource earlier today. I have a cyclist friend in Madison, who is cogitating on which paths are actually decent and what other routes might work if traffic is light.

I see that the Military Ridge trail is not on a direct diagonal from Madison to Reedsburg and would involve lots of extra miles of peddling.

It's getting to be a contagious puzzle.

Thanks for helping as I could have missed this entirely.


h3 said:
I once purchased the whole set of Wisconsin state bike maps-- they're pretty good.
You can order the portions you need (probably two at $5 each) here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/statemap.htm
Or you can download individual county bike maps here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/countymaps.htm
I've done the "4 trails" and quite enjoyed it. Heartily second the suggestions below.

Matt M. said:
Looks like a long ride to La Crosse from Minneapolis...don't have that info. However I have access to the rest of the trip - sort of.

From La Crosse to Madison (I've never biked it):
www.bike4trails.com

I couldn't agree with you more, H3. I think the Elroy-Sparta trail is particularly cool - going through mile long rail tunnels. But, in all, I enjoy moreso the open road for all the hill-climbing, small-town passing through, dog-chasing me, glory!

h3 said:
David Travis said:
H3,

Thanks. I just happened to come across this resource earlier today. I have a cyclist friend in Madison, who is cogitating on which paths are actually decent and what other routes might work if traffic is light.

I see that the Military Ridge trail is not on a direct diagonal from Madison to Reedsburg and would involve lots of extra miles of peddling.

It's getting to be a contagious puzzle.

Thanks for helping as I could have missed this entirely.


h3 said:
I once purchased the whole set of Wisconsin state bike maps-- they're pretty good.
You can order the portions you need (probably two at $5 each) here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/statemap.htm
Or you can download individual county bike maps here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/countymaps.htm

No prob . . . in my road riding days I tired of paths early on-- would rather pass through towns and get a taste of how people live (whether the WI folks like it or not ;-), see houses and farms, etc.
Paths have a way of keeping you out of the center of a town . . .
H3, I'm with you there. My friend in Madison, who is an experienced cyclist, is trying to be sure that he does not send me along a beautiful country road with a wonderful winding descent that suddenly has a two inch expanse of pea gravel at the bottom. I too am eager to see the towns and meet folks. Not trying to set any speed record - nor could I.

h3 said:
David Travis said:
H3,

Thanks. I just happened to come across this resource earlier today. I have a cyclist friend in Madison, who is cogitating on which paths are actually decent and what other routes might work if traffic is light.

I see that the Military Ridge trail is not on a direct diagonal from Madison to Reedsburg and would involve lots of extra miles of peddling.

It's getting to be a contagious puzzle.

Thanks for helping as I could have missed this entirely.


h3 said:
I once purchased the whole set of Wisconsin state bike maps-- they're pretty good.
You can order the portions you need (probably two at $5 each) here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/statemap.htm
Or you can download individual county bike maps here:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/countymaps.htm

No prob . . . in my road riding days I tired of paths early on-- would rather pass through towns and get a taste of how people live (whether the WI folks like it or not ;-), see houses and farms, etc.
Paths have a way of keeping you out of the center of a town . . .
Should it make any difference, I have decided to cycle from Chicago to Minneapolis rather than the other way around. I want to go through Madison. So any experience from getting out of Chicago toward that goal is helpful. Thanks so far for all the excellent suggestions.
Thanks for all who offered advice for a cycling route to St. Paul. I made it in very good shape.

A few notes on touring: 1.) Have some dog spray at the ready - didn't quite need it, but going slowly up country hills you become a perfect canine target. 2.) Plenty of powdered Gadorade - drink before you are thristy. 3.) From Madison to Reedsburg the least hilly route is Hwy 14 to Spring Green (10 foot, well paved shoulder) and then Hwy 23 to Reedsburg (three hills to start with and then a long beautiful valley ride and one big hill before a fine descent into Reedsburg. 4.) The Wisconsin rails to trails are absolutely excellent. Not one single rut or pothole. Very well groomed and smooth. You are required to pay for a pass either daily $4.00 or seasonal $20. This money seems well spent judging from the trails. 5.) Wear rain gear in the third and largest tunnel in the Leroy-Sparta trail as the passage was tunneled under an active spring. A light helps navigationin the tunnels. 6.) Hwy 35 along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi has an adequate 4 foot shoulder. It also has the biggest hills that begin north of Stockholm. Some stretches are flat but before Prescott expect to look for your granny gears especially if you have 45 pounds of gear. There are also serious hills between Prescott and St. Paul to negotiate. 7.) If you are hauling gear definitely get a front rack that mounts panniers low down. This restored my bike to her old sweet self concerning handling. It would have been very dangerous to make any 30 mph + descent with just the loaded rear rack. Believe me.
I know you already completed your trip, but here are some additional choices:
Check out the Grand Illinois Trail, This has turn-by-turn from Chicago to Freeport, IL. From there, take the Jane Adams trail and Badger trail north up to Madison.

For the route along the Mississippi you can look at this map made by the Adventure Cycling Organization . Not cheap, but probably the best bicycling specific maps available
Duppie

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