Driftless Area of Wisconsin

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I drove from Nebraska to Wisconsin after the race on Sunday.   This area is called the driftless area.  It is called this because it is one of the only parts of America that was missed by glaciers. The landscape is amazing.  According to this website, this area was a prehistoric sea, where sharks swam millions of years ago.

Whatever the history, it is amazing.  Giant bluffs, winding streams, groomed farms, super picturequest.  I have to say it might be the best place in the country to ride a bicycle.  Countless meandering roads, with virtually no traffic.

I met a group of guys from Steamboat Springs here.  Kent Eriksen and his wife Katie, plus a gaggle of their friends.  Then Dennis, from Cable, drove the 4 hours down.   Pretty amazing group of people.

Yesterday we just wandered around for 3 hours.  The climbs are pretty severe.  Not long, usually less than a mile, but sometimes steep.  LIke over 15%.  I have a 25 on, but with these guys I might put on a 28 in the back.

I’ve not been feeling that good the last couple days.  Probably allergies.  I’m just feeling run down and weak.  Plus, my breathing is horrible.  So, doing longer rides with these guys is perfect.  Not that they are weak, they just ride a different pace than I’m used to, which is perfect.

The garage here has an incredible collection of Eriksen bicycles.  Lot of road bikes, plus Kent’s tandem, then a Fatbike that they are delivering to an ex- professional hockey player.  It would be cool to have a weekend retreat of only Eriksen bike owners.  They are beautiful.

Anyway, as usual, I’m behind.  These guys are trying to get out early, like in 15 minutes.  Tucker loves it here.  He can run free and explore.

It's hard to see how steep the climbs are, but they are steep.

It’s hard to see how steep the climbs are, but they are steep.

Dinner last night.

Dinner last night.

Dennis with Tucker and Hawkeye.

Dennis with Tucker and Hawkeye.

A few of the bikes.  There are a few more not in the picture.

A few of the bikes. There are a few more not in the picture.



11 thoughts on “Driftless Area of Wisconsin

  1. old and slow

    Please stop popularizing the place before I get a chance to retire there?

    (Off to the southeast every valley coming up from the Mississippi has a nice paved road going up it, if you play your cards right you can usually avoid the 15 percent surprises. I suspect that the other side of the river up by Winona is almost as good and those roads will be more in the shade on a hot summer afternoon. Unfortunately in Iowa’s part of the driftless all the corresponding side roads are gravel.)

  2. Matthew M.

    The Driftless, regardless of which state, is my favorite part of the United States. When you throw in the countless trout streams with the cycling it’s beyond comprehension.

  3. channel_zero

    Unfortunately in Iowa’s part of the driftless all the corresponding side roads are gravel.

    It sounds like the better side to me!!

  4. old and slow

    I don’t own a modern “gravel bike” but I do ride one or two thousand miles a year on unpaved graded roads, mostly on 30-40 year old steel bikes and tires as fat as 700×35 on the back. Sometimes on my newer road bikes with narrower tires and once in a blue moon even on tubulars.

    Suffice to say that the Iowa driftless stuff is not the neglected low maintenance hardpan that I am used to on the northern Colorado front range. “Gravel” that can often be better than bad pavement in just about every respect. Here a decent gravel road in a wealthy area can even resemble a clay tennis court after they just have bladed it. Iowa doesn’t quite work that way.

    (This is specifically referring to the back roads around Lansing, IA and perhaps the gravel was just very fresh when I was there too? On the other had I did a great ride east of Iowa City a week ago on Saturday and it was pretty much the same story there.)

    These Iowa roads get a fair amount of farm traffic thus presumably a fair amount of attention from the road crews and it was more the freshly graveled four inches deep type of road that can be an absolute nightmare if it has just rained. (Like in the 2015 Dirty Kanza.) If I lived five miles up one of these roads and these are indeed the typical dry weather conditions then I doubt that I would ever mount less than a 32 width tire on the back?

    I supposed that if you have gone whole hog with the modern gravel rig you would maybe want to struggle on this thick and loose stuff just so you know that you can deal with it in a race situation? In my case it was over 100 degrees that day, I had a 700×25 on the back I already knew how good the Wisconsin side was too. So I would have really liked to stay in the afternoon shade on the west side if I could have.

  5. sillypuddy

    You know I can see why you like Tucker so much. Rugged good looks, full of charm and personality. Ahhh..there ‘re so few of us. But maybe it’s time to give the little guy some time off.. No dought, he’s been a good Lil’ buddy.. Believe me, i’m a fan of his Royal Highness. But the aforementioned is probably getting tired of being paraded around like little puppy. Oh, wait a second, he is a little puppy. Forget what I said. I take it all back.
    Happy Riding

  6. John morrone

    Yup Kent is a cool guy, great to hear u are recovering with the steamboat crowd, say hi for me, used to ride with that bunch!

  7. Bike Man Dan

    We love the riding here so much that we have put together a website with routes for everyone (bicyclelacrosse.com). There are so many great back roads that you need years to explore them all. Also we are a RideWithGPS.com ambassador site ( https://ridewithgps.com/ambassadors/29-bicyclelacrosse-com ) where you can download many of the routes to your GPS or phone. If you like a challenge we have our own classics ride, L-N-L a mixed road ride with six gravel sections and five big (for or area ) climbs- https://ridewithgps.com/ambassador_routes/164-l-n-l-la-crosse-nodine-la-crosse-64-miles


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