Back to church

Wednesday night church is back in session. Services officially started a month ago but this was the first day that the weather and I were in agreement. We met in Mount Horeb. To some of you, this was where Moses received the Ten Commandments. (Maybe not this Mount Horeb, but the other Mount Horeb.) To others, it’s the home of the Trollway, the corporate HQ of Duluth Trading Company, the Grumpy Troll Brewpub, or (for the really old folks out there) the Gonstead Chiropractic Clinic (founded by Clarence Gonstead, 1898-1978).

[When discussing how to get to the ride on time several years ago, one rider said that his calendar at work was marked “Church” at 3PM every Wednesday so nothing could be scheduled to interfere with riding.]

Tricycling troll image from Authentic Wisconsin. This is just one of many troll sculptures in town. He is less troll-like than most.

To me, it’s the starting point of some of my favorite rides. This one makes a quick pass across the main drag in town, then heads downhill through Stewart Lake County Park. After a couple of steep switchbacks it sort of levels out for a four mile gradual downhill through Tyrol Basin before heading back up (and down, and up, and down, and up…)

While this form of worship requires no building, just the great outdoors, the ride includes another of my favorite spots, the climb up Vermont Church Road to Vermont Lutheran Church (home of the Blessing of the Bikes) at the summit.

Like the view at Brigham Park, I always like an excuse to take another picture here. The church was built in 1913, to replace the old building just east of here.
The relevant moment, at 4:35, is almost lost because he isn’t singing into the mic. I was going to just use a clip of that line, but I couldn’t resist this live version, even though that line is nearly lost. The verse is “Church on Sunday, sleep and nod/Tryin’ to duck the wrath of god./Preachers fillin’ us with fright/They’re all trying to teach us what they think is right./They really got to be some kind of nut./ I can’t use it./ Try to make it real compared to what.” I once had a roommate who used this song as his alarm clock.

The ride was followed by dinner (and a coffee stout) at the Grumpy Troll. My first ride far out of town for the year, it reminded me of why I like to get out of town to the driftless area – there are few 40 mph downhills close to town. [The Driftless Area refers to the southwestern corner of Wisconsin that remained untouched by glaciers during the last ice age. It is steeper and craggier than the rest of the state and upper midwest.]

I finished my first college semester in 25 years. Like any good student, I celebrated with a beer (Potosi Cave Ale) on the terrace.

The Union Terrace, site of end-of-semester beer