Military Ridge Trail / by Erin Wade

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Military Ridge Trail Ridgeway Wi to Barneveld Wi

Most years for Thanksgiving we travel to the Cheese State to spend the holiday with MLW's family. My sister-in-law suggested that I bring along my bike this year and take advantage of the bike trails in the area. Seemed like a pretty good idea - in line with REI's #optoutside campaign and all - so I did just that.

The Military Ridge State Trail is a Rails-To-Trails path that runs from Dodgeville to Madison. The entire trail is about 40 miles long, but that seemed a touch optimistic after all the turkey and wine, so I rode from Ridgeway to Barneveld and back. The trail over this section is primarily crushed stone, which was very soft following the persistent rain we had here for Thanksgiving. It was a fair amount of work, and I was rarely able to get MLW's Schwinn up into the big front ring. The Schwinn, incidentally, I borrowed partly in anticipation of encountering surfaces which would not be friendly toward my vintage Cannondale road bike, and partly because said road bike is in desperate need of some rear-wheel maintenance.

With regard to scenery this section of trail is somewhat of a mixed bag. The area in general is beautiful. The Baraboo region is essentially an ancient, buried mountain range, the peaks of which jut above the sediment, giving an alpine feel in a landscape of rolling hills. If you like the outdoors and live in the Great Lakes portion of the Midwest it's an excellent place to spend time. It provides a wonderful backdrop for any riding trip.

As is sometimes the case for riding trails converted from rail lines, though, the trail often runs within direct view of the highway. In addition, while most of it is bordered by plowed farmland, this section does run past a fairly large livestock operation, which one can detect via olfactory means before one actually lays eyes on it.

I had the trail entirely to myself, being the only person nuts enough to be out riding in 30-degree weather, and overall, it was a nice way to spend some time on Black Friday.

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