Monday, July 23, 2007

I Like You Stewart

At 9 a.m. on this last Saturday, I set out from my front door on a little ride to check out the newly opened southern segment of the Badger State Trail and one of its more interesting features, the Stewart Tunnel.

I rode southeast from home through the UW Arboretum, south on Seminole through Fitchburg to Whalen, Fitchburg and Borchert roads, picking up the Badger at Purcell Rd. Now, I grew up on the rail line whose route this trail follows, so I've been looking forward to riding this thing for a long time. In fact, the northern segment would run right into Madison, but the Wisconsin DNR has seen fit to drag its feet on this whole project for better than a decade. But I digress. Sure seems like a popular facility already since its opening two weeks ago, and one of the more scenic rails-to-trails routes I've ridden.

I stopped at the Town and Country Mart (a PDQ, IIRC) on the outskirts of lovely Belleville and bought a trail pass, some Fig Newtons and a Vitamin Water. About 11 miles south of Purcell, I arrived at the tunnel.

Here's a shot of the north entrance to the Stewart. As much as I liked the world that Peter Jackson came up with Lord of the Rings movies, this is more like what I saw in my mind's eye while reading Tolkien's description of the entrance to the Path of the Dead in Return of the King. Anyway, there wasn't a ghost army or anything like that in the Stewart. Just cool, damp and quite as dark as the inside of a can of pitch. It's a quarter of a mile long and bends in the middle, so even at midday (about the time I was there) you really can't see a thing right about the middle. I had my Planet Bike Beamer along, but I think I'd bring a bigger light next time.

Here we are a bit closer. That's a huge blessed tree hanging over the entrance and that tiny fleck of light inside the tunnel is another cyclist's headlight.

Here's the south end, with some peeps for scale.

Then the ride continued south in hopes of meeting up with the Sugar River State Trail and following it back to New Glarus. Turns out it was a lot farther south than I had anticipated, and I ended up riding all the way to Monticello before turning northwest 32 miles out from home.

My next stop was lovelier New Glarus, a very neat little town chock full of Switzers. Here's the Trucker taking a break at the trailhead.

Next I rode out on County O, out onto some back roads and up past this Church. Lots of churches still out in the country like this in Wisconsin. Used to be the hub of farming communities, but fewer are in use now that those populations are more and more living in towns and cities. This one looks loved up.

Here's a farmer baling hay. That's a kicker baler, and you can see the bale in midair as it's being kicked into the wagon.

Then further north to lovely Mt. Vernon, up County Highways G and J to Dairy Ridge and White Crossing Rds., then a turn east and back onto the Military Ridge State Trail for the ride through my beloved hometown of Verona and back into Madison.

Arrived home at about 4 p.m. after something like 5 and a half hours of actual pedaling a total of 73 miles. Perfect day. Brilliant.


Tex69 said...

Sconnyboy, we have similar LHTs, except I have RBW 'Stache bars on mine (been thinking of standard road bars though). What's your set-up for the rain flap on your front fender?

Mauricio Babilonia said...

If I recall, you have a sage green frame also, but with 26" wheels, correct? Mine has Specialized-badged Dirt Drop bars that I think were made by Nitto. Hopefully I'll be getting around to blogging this bike sometime soon.

Meanwhile, more pics over in my Flickr and here.

And you have a Cross Check and a mid-80's Trek road bike too, don't you? Hmmmmm....

Joe said...

Is that title in referance to a Dead Milkmen song??? "You're not like the other
people, here, in the trailer park."

Mauricio Babilonia said...

You win the prize, Beelzebubba, as soon as the committee settles on what exactly the prize is. Actually, it's a pretty non sequitur reference, and the Milkmen spell it "Stuart," but good catch!

Anonymous said...

did you happen to stop by the New Glarus brewery while in town? That make some tasty products that my GF brings back when she goes to Eau Claire, her hometown. Needless to say, she brings home a few 12 packs of Leines.

Mauricio Babilonia said...

No. As much as it pained me, I rode right past the New Glarus Brewing Company on the way out of town (I took 5th avenue to 2nd street, which is County O once you leave the village.)

See, if I had stopped, I would have had to have a sample. Hot as it was, one sample would have led to another and before you know it, POOF! My motivation for the return trip would have gone out the window.

Do love their beer though, some of it internationally recognized and award-winning. With great names like Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel, and Totally Naked, how could you not? Their Belgian Red Cherry Ale is the best kirsch bier I've ever had.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, totally naked. I've haven't tried their Red Cherry Ale and it sounds delicious. I've only had a few of their varieties and liked each one I've tried. Too bad they don't export their beers outside Wisconsin, I would love to buy their beer on a regular basis in Iowa!

From their website it looks like they try to source local ingredients, another added bonus.