Mileage: 92.1 miles Average Speed: 14.4 mph
Vertical: 2580 feet Depart: 7:06 AM Arrive: 2:31 PM
Link to Garmin ROUTE DATA
Today was a most interesting day. We got on the road with a threat of rain (30% in forecast), but got a few drops and that was it. I rode the first two SAGs with Tom Zack. The ride to the first took us through some small towns (West Salem, West Jefferson, and Bangor). There was really nothing special in any of them. I did take a shot coming into I believe Bangor, just to show the change in the way the land is.
We arrived in Sparta at 27 miles of travel. You can see from this picture of Matt (son of tandem team) and Teresa (1st grade teacher) that Sparta fashions itself the bicycle capital of America. I am not sure why they believe they merit that distinction, but this picture does show the start of 34 miles on the Elroy-Sparta bicycle path, one of the first big rails-to-trails projects.
The trail was a nice change of pace from the roads. I took this shot in a section fairly typical of the trail. It was nicely wooded, and the surface was pretty packed. It was a little slick in spots, from the recent rains. I stood and pedaled a couple of times, and generally would spin out, due to lack of rear wheel traction. You can see Steve and Tom cycling along the trail.
One of the interesting features of the trail was the three old railroad tunnels we went through. The first was the longest, at 3810 feet, or roughly 3/4 of a mile. You had to dismount and walk your bikes, and it was very dark in there. We had our trusty $1 Wal Mart flashlights, which were marginally enough to get us through. We definitely saw the light at the end of the tunnel (eventually). The other two were about 1/3 of a mile each. They were finished in 1873. The sign on the second said it cost $75K. A dollar went a lot farther in those days. Here is some of our folks, plus another couple, at the end of the third tunnel.
After the trail, the last 30 miles were just long. One tough hill and a bunch of rollers into town. If I get ambitious after rap, I may go check the dells.