Ride #2 Elroy-Sparta Destination Ride
(May 15th, 2021)
The day started early with my co-pilots Todd and Brad. I had just scored some early 2000s hip-hop CDs from a rummage sale a few days prior, so we spent the next hour and a half drive through winding country back roads, jamming to Method Man and Busta Rymes.
Our group met at the Kendall Wisconsin Bike Depot. Although the depot was closed, everyone was optimistic for the day's adventure and ready to get moving. The trail conditions were fair, with a few scattered puddles, but all in all, firm and easily navigable.
After a leg-spinning two-mile incline, we reached tunnel #1. The group was visibly excited, and the silly banter echoed through the arched, limestone passage to the silhouettes at the end to hear. After our walk through the tunnel, we had roughly six miles of easy downhill coasting. We bypassed a small trail washout with some avoidable debris before reaching the town of Wilton, where we enjoyed a trail-side snack and water refill.
It was a quick and primarily flat two miles to our second cavernous experience. Our legs felt fresh as we dismounted our bikes and entered the large arched doorway of tunnel #2. Good-humored echoes continued as our cleats clicked and scraped the wet, uneven tunnel floor. I stared in awe at the gleaming, reflective veins of white and orange stone that oozed down the walls into the flowing gutters exiting the mouth of the tunnel. When we emerged, it was time for an additional four-mile incline. The long walk through the tunnel provided plenty of rest. Soon after that, our bikes and butts were showered with diluted limestone-infused puddles while passing through an underpass on our way to Norwalk, the self-proclaimed "Black Squirrel Capital" of Wisconsin. While in black squirrel country, we rode alongside the abandoned Norwalk Creamery. The boarded windows, seasoned tin roof, and separating brickwork served as the perfect location for a midway group photo. Once we mounted our wheels, we agreed to head toward the stone flume and tunnel #3 before returning to Norwalk for lunch. After another short ascent, we reached tunnel #3. The extent of water dripping in the 3,833-foot passageway was unsettling, and without raincoats, it was inevitable that our clothes would be saturated. Large drops seeped from every tear and fold as we made our way through with a hint of laughter, but upon making our way back, the smiles and general humor had worn off. Luckily, our group had a short, downhill run back to Norwalk for hot beverages and lunch at Bailey's Diner. No one was interested in ice cream except for Paul. The hot chocolate, thin black coffee, and sack lunches suited our needs, but we all could have used a sauna at this point. We made our way back along the wet, tan trail; it was unique to see the same sights but from another angle. We rolled past each previous stop with anticipation of our goal, to return home with great memories and filthy bikes.
Thanks for the forty miles of fun, everyone!