Railroad Tracks, Prickly Bushes, Mosquitoes, and Mud Make for a Little Too Much Challenge
I love creating my own cycling adventure by finding fire roads or old logging roads.
This particular cycling adventure, though, turned out to be a bit more than I bargained for.
Amazing Gravel Roads for a Cycling Adventure in Sawyer County, WI
I was at my mom’s cabin in Stone Lake, Wisconsin, near Hayward. There are some amazing gravel and dirt roads that never cease to provide spectacular scenery and challenging terrain. The perfect combination!
I plotted the route between Google Maps, Strava, and Garmin. Each of them showed some sort of road extending from Ortwig Lane.
There Should be a Road Here, Somewhere
You can clearly see a dotted line extending from the end of the road.
When I came to the end of the road, I found a fairly open double-track that may have been an old logging road. It certainly hadn’t been used for a long time!
It looked perfect for a cyclocross bike.
Soon, though, the path – since I can’t really call it a road – started to be more overgrown, more filled with logs and other obstacles like raspberry bushes and thistles.
The ruts also filled up with water and mud from a heavy rain several days earlier.
When You Can’t See What’s Coming
One of the more terrifying, then joyful moments came on a steep downhill.
I couldn’t really see the bottom of the path since there was so much overgrowth. So sometimes I ended up in mud that I didn’t see until I was in it.
But at the bottom of this particular downhill was a wide and deep puddle that I could not avoid.
Instinctively, I stuck my butt back as far as I could and plowed through the 10-inch deep puddle.
I was so surprised I made it, I laughed out loud going up the short hill on the other side.
There were fewer photos of the amazing scenery for one big reason: mosquitoes.
I swear I thought they might carry me off if I stopped.
I was worried that if I crashed or had a mechanical, I’d never get out, and rescuers would only find a broken shell of a man, whose blood had all been sucked out by Wisconsin mosquitoes.
Cross Practice During the Cycling Adventure!
There was also plenty of chances to practice cross dismounts and remounts.
After 30-minutes of this kind of riding, the trail came to an end in some kind of circle area. No way to go forward.
I turned around and headed back to another path-ish kind of opening I had noticed along the way.
This path was even less of a path.
And it got worse. I couldn’t imagine turning around and trying to bushwhack back to the main path-ish trail.
So I kept going.
Until I couldn’t.
End of the Road – Or Path-Ish Trail
All that was in front of me was a swamp.
To my joy, I heard a vehicle near me!
But around the corner of the swamp, though, was a steep hill of rock.
At the top of the hill, though, was a railroad bed. And railroad tracks. Not a road.
Riding the Railroad on a Bike?
You know, railroad tracks are not great for a bike.
I’m not talented enough to ride on the rail. So I let a bit of air out of my tires and started riding down the middle.
It was amazing to see how much steel is left around the tracks: spikes, braces, anchors.
I should have collected it all and sold it all for scrap.
As it was, I could barely ride on the ties. After a time, I just got off the bike and walked, hoping for a road soon.
Eventually, I came onto a road. It looked oddly familiar, though.
The road ended up being the same one I started on! I did a big loop.
What’s odd about the Strava map, which I have no reason to doubt, is that the path turned a bit north, when the road on the map clearly went straight west.
There were no other options, unless I somehow missed a path because of the overgrowth.
I didn’t/couldn’t pay attention to the direction on my Garmin because taking my eyes off the path might have resulted in disaster.
Gravel and Dirt Roads are Better Than Overgrown Paths
I did get a chance to ride some of my favorite gravel and dirt roads, though.
I’m grateful that no bears ate me, nor did the mosquitoes carry me away.
I learned that some of the roads should be left for other equipment, like tanks. Or maybe in the spring, when there are fewer raspberry bushes.
I’m going to stick with gravel and dirt roads or fairly well-defined double-track from now on.
Bears, hordes of mosquitoes, raspberries and thistles, muddy paths were just a bit much for me this time.
My next cycling adventure will be a bit tamer!
Time For Your Own Cycling Adventure or Epic Run!
Want to create your own cycling adventure? Want to do an epic run? Need training advice to prepare?