Viroqua Riding

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Riding around Viroqua Wisconsin yesterday was a total surprise.  A nice surprise.  I was surprised since I’d really never heard of the area and since I’ve been around so long, especially here in the midwest, you’d think that I would of at least heard of riding around here.

The riding here reminds me of riding around Europe, or maybe more like riding around Eastern Pennsylvania or New York.  Tons and tons of roads.  Way more than you could possibly use.  Plus a ton of climbing.  It is a constant maze of little mounds of trees, with nice streams threading through them.

The gang from Steamboat was going to ride about 4 hours.  Kent offered to put Trudi on the back of his tandem, which was super nice.  And perfect.  They were going pretty good.  Climbing on a tandem leaves much to be desired, but other than that, it worked out well.

I’m not sure where we went.  I’d have to look at my Strava.  We ended up in Viroqua at Blue Dog Cycles, after about 40 miles.   It is a super cool bike shop with a coffee shop included.   A coffee shop with cinnamon rolls, which is better.  Pete Taylor, the owner was really interesting and one of those guys that sport couldn’t survive without.  He is an avid trail creator and is now getting in to NICA, high school racing.  We had a great conversation.

Last night we ate at Driftless Cafe.  It is a farm to market restaurant that was pretty incredible. It’s a must if you make this a destination, which should be for anyone that is the least bit interested in bike riding in beautiful places.

I’m not exactly sure what we’re doing today.  Kent and these guys are changing sleeping arrangements.  They tried to keep the place they were staying, but it was already booked up for a wedding.  I’m going to head down to Davenport, to stay with Jeff Bradley, in the Quad Cities. I’m going to play this next weekend by ear.  I can’t say I’m super confident in my abilities right now.

Pete Taylor and me having a coffee in his shop.

Pete Taylor and me having a coffee in his shop.

Kent and Trudi on the tandem riding through a valley.

Kent and Trudi on the tandem riding through a valley.

Trudi, Kent and Katie at Blue Dog.

Trudi, Kent and Katie at Blue Dog.


There are a lot of Amish people around here.  It is perplexing to me how they can sometimes use a diesel engine, but can't use electricity and such.

There are a lot of Amish people around here. It is perplexing to me how they can sometimes use a diesel engine, but can’t use electricity and such.

There is an old tobacco barn where we're staying.  I can't believe it stayed up all these years.  It seems so  pieced together.

There is an old tobacco barn where we’re staying. I can’t believe it stayed up all these years. It seems so pieced together.

The side of the barn have hinges and it opens up to ventilate the tobacco I guess.

The side of the barn have hinges and it opens up to ventilate the tobacco I guess.




11 thoughts on “Viroqua Riding

  1. spinner

    I have cycled all over the world and Wisconsin is my favorite place to ride. Only thing missing is a mountain…..

  2. old and slow

    But when they have the Up Arrow yellow sign next to the road it means they are serving up at least 10 percent! And there’s no shortage of those all the way over to Spring Green. I live in Colorado and this place kicks my a$$ just fine, believe me.

    The only limitations are the river crossings. Steve would know more about the bridges in LaCrosse than moi, but the one in Lansing, IA is one of the scariest for a cyclist on the entire river. Maybe up there with Cairo, IL but not nearly as high, probably just about as narrow. This is the one in the movie “The Straight Story;” steel grating of course and you really might be better off on a riding mower than a road bike.

    Farther south crossing the Mississippi at Prarie du Chien is so casual that I did it over and over again just to make sure and I sure like the loop to the south from there where you would catch the Cassville Ferry to get back on the Wisconsin side. You get 300-500 vertical foot rollers until you just don’t want to see another one. The name of the brewery town is Potosi on this side-it’s at the southern end of a very rare flattish section of two lane road right next to the river that’s not a major highway with a railroad right next to it.

  3. KRB

    Many years ago I went back to a Trek dealer conference that was held in Lake Geneva. They gave us road bikes to use and each morning I want out for a ride with a few others. The roads were great and I always thought it would be a great place to live.

  4. Bill K

    Can’t you just do the Master’s 50+ races this weekend, and skip the 1-2 stuff??
    If need be, just sit in, for practice.

  5. old and slow

    I guess I always assumed that Cable was even better than the driftless, Steve? Now you have a place to lay up for a day or two if it’s really cold up there.

    Not to hijack the discussion, but I can’t be the only one who is baffled about how this area works economically? There are gobs of properties like the one pictured above that don’t seem to be doing agricultural production on any kind of scale, yet the roads are in fantastic shape the towns are very clean; there’s just not much vacant commercial real estate anywhere and most people are driving halfway new cars and trucks. Family owned general stores that are well stocked? WTF?? I showed up here without my spare tube bag and solved that problem in a town with just 1100 people living there, including new tire irons in bubble pack. Not only did the glaciers leave this area alone, but how on earth did WalMart and Applebees not find this place?

    Better yet the two times I worked up the nerve to broach this delicate question with a local in a public park setting on a weekday, they both revealed that they made cheese somewhere on the night shift. No kidding. One of them went on to admit that his family had lost a farm property nearby; this was farther east between Lake Lavelle and Mauston where the roads get up to 1100 feet.

    Hand pumped wells maintained by the “gubmint” and very hot weather were involved both times. In honor of the deceased last week Jobst Brandt, you might not be able to bet by with no water bottles on a long ride here, but you could certainly get by with just one if you really knew your way around. (Jobst knew were all the springs in the Santa Cruz mountains were.)

    There was a public well near about every other town baseball field in the driftless too.

  6. Touriste-Routier

    Each Amish community has it’s own rules; electricity isn’t disallowed in all communities. However, there is a general sense of independence from general public resources (such as utilities), so if they use electricity at their properties, it typically comes from their own generators rather than the public utility grid.

  7. Eric

    Moved to La Crosse area from Kansas City 5 years ago. Doubt many places in the U.S. have better road riding than our “driftless” region. There is such a high density of paved backroads – 5 seasons of riding and I’m still finding new roads.

  8. Devin

    The Driftless keeps me here,, the riding both road and dirt is perfect,, Steve you always seem to find a good time.. Enjoy Iowa.. And Come back soon.. Cheers..

  9. Charles Dostale

    Love Viroqua. Blue Dog is better now that they moved next to the furniture store. It used to be down the block in a much smaller place. The Kickapoo Coffee is roasted there in town up by the WalMart. Dirftless Cafe is always good. Too bad you aren’t staying for Farmer’s Market on Saturday, probably the best small town Market we’ve been to. You should have gone on the trail up to Westby to get curds at the Creamery. There are also a bunch of round barns in the area, there used to be a map available. Great apple orchards down the road close to Gay’s Mills if you are around in the fall. You should check out Kickapoo Valley Ranch sometime. It’s farther north and a bit east of Viroqua, right next to the Kickapoo Reserve, which is a cool place with good trails.

    The Memorial Day race isn’t the same since it isn’t in Moline in the Belgian part of town. The Belgian Village is closed now anyway, so no crazy drunks spilling out onto the course. That’s the corner where Dirty Dick crashed in front of me riding the frame I built, and I ran over it and ruined it.

    At least go to Lago’s in the Village and get a Green River or a hot fudge sundae. The coffee is good at Red Band by the Chiro School up the hill from downtown Davenport.

    I always liked those races in SE Iowa. Fatka and most of the Ames crew normally went to Vermillion for the stage race, so I ended up working and could only ride Muscatine and Moline.


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