by Mike Magnuson
And lo, my old cycling buddies – John and Dave and Roberto – appeared in Southwest Wisconsin. They had driven eight hours to get here, all the way from the hills of southern Illinois, and when I first saw them getting out of their van in the Mineral Point Fire Station parking lot – three skinny guys with shaved legs and a full season of St. Louis-style criterium racing in their tanks – I sensed that the up-and-downhill experience I’d been having in Wisconsin would now enter a newer, tougher, more disoriented phase.
Before I moved to California, I used to spend about half of my waking hours riding bikes with these guys. We trained constantly, traveled to events on weekends, and on weeknights, we’d get together and eat more food than normal human beings should be allowed to consume in one sitting. In terms of cycling friends, of course, this made us very typical because ideally, cycling is a group activity where the fellowship is almost more important than the riding itself. True, I had gotten out of the loop with the lifestyle, I guess, but by the time we were sitting around the dinner table, stuffing ourselves with pasta, I found myself comfortably in the fold again. Roberto was raving about the local cheese and sausage; John was waxing philosophical about a fantastic white wine made in Wisconsin, Wollersheim’s Prairie Fume; and Dave was wanting us to finish up with dinner already so we could wander over to the Midway Bar for a glass of Spotted Cow.
After supper, I suggested we should take a look at the map, which we did. We spread out the Cycle Southwest Wisconsin map on the table and assessed the merits of the various loops – I did mention, several times, that all the loops were hard – and somewhere in there, John pointed to the town of Lancaster, which borders the U-Farm, the Rodgers Branch, and the Green River loops, and said, “Let’s take the bikes over there and see if we can get lost.”
Everybody agreed. Because getting lost on bikes, to us, is the essence of cycling. If we know where we’re going, the old saying went, why go there in the first place?
There might be a profound error in logic associated with that way thinking, but in any case, we didn’t consider it. We folded up the map and set out in the direction of Spotted Cow.