Thursday July 16: Viroqua to Madison

105.5 miles to Madison, Ro is in Los Angeles.

First off, I'd like to state that this was the most wonderful day (mostly) since we'd been in Idaho, from my own point of view. It was marred only by Ro's absence and the road conditions (quite poor) the last 15 miles or so into Madison.

Ro was getting a ride back from one of the media people, Mike Breslin, to Madison early this morning so he could make a flight to Los Angeles so he could sign various papers and take the required drug tests for the company that just acquired his old company. I guess it had to be done; neither of us were really happy about him having to leave the ride for the day, but all in all it worked out. Anyway, we woke up early so he could leave on time, and somehow I managed to make it out to Bike Parking by 6:30am. This has never happened before; I don't know exactly what caused me to be that early. Maybe I knew there was no one to make sure I didn't go back to sleep!

We rode out of Viroqua down down down down for about 8 miles (well, there were still some rolling hills, but nothing like what was on the way in), then hit 2 very steep 1+ mile hills. They were steep, yes, but I just shifted into my lowest gear (a well-practiced move from the first 3 weeks of the ride) and moseyed on up. *bounce*. The land was beautiful -- in this part of the time zone 6:30am means that the sun hasn't been up for very long at all, and there were lots of clouds sitting in the valleys, and we kept riding down into the clouds then up out of them. The land was very green, and very quiet and peaceful.

After we'd descended we passed through Richland Center, the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright, where Pit 1 was located. We continued, criss-crossing Hwy 14 about 3 or 4 times, on more county roads through some of the most gorgeous fields and two very nice lemonade and muffin stands, owned and operated by some very friendly and enterprising 11-and-under fans (with very helpful moms). Sorry, no pictures of them (but I have one of a later stop).

I hooked up at Pit 2 in Spring Green with Lynn and Tom and Laura, who were looking to get some sandwiches to go, and eat at the Frank Lloyd Wright Studio and Museum, which was about 4 miles after the pit. This wasn't Taliesen itself, but the tour which runs out of the Museum does visit the house. Yet another place to come back to! However, the museum did have several models of his Prairie style structures, and info about how during the June 18th 1998 storm the last of the 3 great oaks was felled (and crashed into the studio). Extensive renovation is continuing, but the nature of the tea garden will be vastly changed, because it was the oak that shaded the garden and which held the chinese gong. *sigh*.

Before I got too far from the museum, I had to stop and take a picture of the Iowa River from the road just below the museum, simply because it was too pretty not to. *smile*. I continued on just before Team Toto was ready to leave, again onto the back roads of Wisconsin, passing an actual historical marker (which have been getting scarce recently)! The roads started deteriorating at this point, but they weren't too bad yet. We climbed Old Sauk Pass over the hills into Madison -- these hills didn't really show up on the topo we are given because they are too close together and don't really trend up or down! There were two in particular that I had to stand up and pedal while in my lowest gear -- because I was sliding backwards out of my seat when I tried to sit down! I did take a picture from the top of the first hill, not knowing yet that another was just around the corner. However, relief was near; at the top of the hill a very well located lemonade stand was just being set up at the top of the hill by Brooks and his mom, Patty. I stopped, and we talked for a while -- turns out Patty teaches at U.W. Madison. One of the other riders (also named Patty, who rides with a stuffed green snake attached to her aero bars) and I rode together into Madison after this -- up and down and up and down right until you really get into the city entrance proper, and cross Hwy 14 once again (which at this point has nearly become a freeway). Now the roads were really really bumpy and narrow, and we continued the "we can't seem to take any main streets approach" all the way around the city until we got to the University, where, although I'd had a great day, I was all too happy to get off the bike and check in.

Admittedly, I liked the Missoula dorms more. These are more basic, and we were on the 10th floor. But hey, they're beds and they're inside and I don't have to set them up. *grin*. I miss Ro, though. But, he should be back tomorrow evening! With the laptop!

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