Thursday, July 11, 2013

Woodstock to Ellison Bay in Three Days, Three Hundred Miles

 Here it is! Three days of riding fun in the early days of summer!  We all started in Woodstock Illinois, which is about an hour outside of the sprawling metropolis.  We hit some rain on Saturday morning, and felt the solid northeast wind as soon as we took off.

But the temps were comfortable, we had good navigable routes, and were destined for a nice bundle of mileage-rich days with rolling hills and no traffic.  A perfect Summer weekend.  Jack calls the ride the Yooper Challenge, since the ride terminates after four days of riding to his cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but I planned to break off after two days of riding.  My own ride would end in Ellison Bay, on the tip of the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin.  One thing about documenting these rides, is that it's usually been tough going to ride and stop for photographs.  With a plan of a hundred miles each day, we best not be stopping too often.  That's why this year, with the celebrated bike sag kit that Jilly gifted me this year, I was able to point and shoot while riding!
Thank you Jilly! You must be a genius or something!
The sack hangs nicely off my top tube and I can fit wallet, phone, camera, map,  all in a location easier to reach than rear pockets or panniers. Our first day was fun-filled, but per the tortuous wind and some rain and even some detours thanks to the battling navigation skills of JR, KN and the Wiz himself, I'm not proud of any day one photos.
Let me get this you run for 4 hours at a time...for training? -JC
We met Ken for lunch in Palmyra, WI and that was a success, onward into the wind we forged, only to land in Mayville at an unusually late hour.  Let's just say that we skipped cocktail hour and headed into town for our ritual argument over the difference between broasted, broiled and, of course fried.
 Look up there!  It's broasted, no it's roasted, no it's broiled!  Oh hell, just look at the house behind you, the midcentury detail will take you back to whatever sort of food preparation is most evocative to you! 

Sunday Morning delivered terrific weather, on the face of it, but we were served, again, a relentless wind that fluctuated between 10 and 20 mph.  A potential risk of the one way journey is such, riding into the merciless wind with no respite of a tailwind. But alas, how can I complain when my strong friends insisted on my draft for hours at a time?  

Practically painless.
Upon finishing a ride such as this, it's often difficult to encapsulate the experience.  But my obsession with nostalgia and longing is what emerges when I look at my photo selection.  If only I could give form to the built structures out there in the open or tucked into woodsy and fielded areas.  Mobile homes, in their own simple beauty carrying that very American dream and the barns, rural industry and homes in all states of occupancy, love, and forlorn.
Against the always amazing and shifting sky, it is all so breathtaking and life giving.  This outbuilding and mobile home was very near a somewhat major town-intersection.  The guys were around the corner getting a shot of a great abandoned mill building, but something about it looked to stagey to capture.  So I hopped around, knowing that something my style was near by. It was a few minutes later that we stopped to check the map(s) and chuckled that there was some sort of difficulty following the masterful navigation of our absentee leader.  What's a few extra miles when it gives us a tailwind for a few minutes?
It's not easy to get a photo of JC when his mouth is closed, but who can argue with the espousal of wisdom?
And it's lunchtime.  See all that sunlight, no shade?  We had plenty of this.  Those that remembered the sunscreen and lip balm did better than me.  My lips were a wreck for days after the trip.
Great article about this deli's attempt to combat the local presence of Walmart.
Time to get back on the road.  Not exactly ripping speed, and we can certainly blame it on the loll-gagging of the one woman in the bunch.  I'm not afraid of saying that as I get older, I like to stop, take pictures, and grab a gatorade.
Never too far from DQ.

Don't forget to position that helmet properly, apply sunscreen, and check out the hogs in the background.

And then we're on our way to Green Bay, over half way there and bearing down on more relentless wind.

Sometimes, riding through Wisconsin, one gets the impression that life must be idyllic out here.  But then we think of all the things that folks have to put up with in the country, and remember why all those beautiful farm buildings are falling down and all those old German houses are boarded up or on the market. 

Our final ten miles or so. A relief, at last, to be shaded from the wind on a path heading into the downtown area.  It's sunny, the water is sparkling, folks are out enjoying the amazing weather.  It's near 5:00 and we're feeling great.  Anticipating a shower, rest, and dinner out with friends.  Who could be so lucky?
There they friends.

Yup, that's the Green Bay we've all heard about.  Clean living at it's best.

Sunset after dinner in old town Green Bay.

You guessed it.  Green Bay Road on the Northshore of Chicago actually connected to Green Bay!  Go figure. 
An end to day two.  Everybody is in good spirits, it's off to a night of rest, ready to finish this ride.  My day three is solitary, so I'm feeling a little sad to lose the benefit of the draft and the company of friends, but I can see a good opportunity to take more pictures and stop whenever I want.  Finally liberated from the ruthless drive of the guys, I'm gonna keep my own schedule, today.

Nicolet Road out of Green Bay

Morning. Out of Green Bay, heading north and east.

This old schoolhouse looked so sweet in the morning light.

How many of these amazing German farmhouses do I see?  Heartbreaking.

I was sort of anxious about getting to Sturgeon Bay, since I've ridden from Sturgeon Bay to Ellison Bay many times and know the roads, which would feel more typical.  I stopped in Sturgeon Bay for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed the charm of the touristy feel of Sturgeon Bay.
After lunch I still had a hefty dose of headwinded riding, but I grabbed the camera and took as many photos as I wanted heading north to our house.
I never tire of the scenery as I ride across the peninsula.  It's sad, it's happy, it's artsy, it's authentic, it's fake, it evokes my own memories, it's natural, it's safe, it's Wisconsin, it's "the Cape Cod of the Midwest", it's all that and more.  Today, with brilliant sky and a holiday weekend in my future, it was simply perfect.  I love it up here.  Always a dose of quiet and an opportunity to remove myself from stress, technology, and the grime and chaos of Chicagoland.
The arts and the tourists will save so many outbuildings in this little corner of the world. 

Town Hall Bakery.  Love. Forever. So many memories.

Pain-free riding at it's best.  Clear, clean roads and amazing sky.  

The hillside. Our first glimpse of the water at Ellison Bay.  Always a welcome sight.

Afternoon shadows.  Long. Slow. Day.
As I rode into Ellison Bay on Highway 42, I got a little weepy.  After all, I've wanted to ride up to this house since I first visited in 1998!  I could never really figure out how to make it happen without having it take a big chunk out of my vacation time and then there is the obvious difficulty of the children.  Most of my time here I have been the main Mom.  But here I am!!!! Granny and Ashby drove up on Monday as my welcoming committee.  Couldn't be better.  Big hugs and celebration, then a great supper and movie night.  Welcome home!!!
Which one of these women is unencumbered/retired?

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