Wisconsin once had the nation’s best system of secondary and tertiary roads. When the economy was dominated by family dairy farms, the milk truck had to be able to make daily pickups all year. That meant well-paved and well-maintained roads.
If a road was named after a person, they were the first white settler to farm there, not a wealthy developer wanting fame. If a road was called “Oak Grove”, it was because there was an oak grove there; it wasn’t a suburban fantasy to sell over-priced lots in a former cornfield.
The roads were used by the people who lived there, the milk trucks, (and bicyclists). These were the roads that made me fall in love with bicycling. As the dairy industry consolidated, with larger farms, each with more cattle, the back roads fell into disrepair. Money for infrastructure is not popular, especially when it serves the remaining small family farms and not the captains of industry.
But these “roads to nowhere” are what we a rode across Wisconsin. Today we are in Manitowoc. The ship doesn’t sail until 2pm Sunday. We can’t get into showers until 1:30. After picnic I pitched the tent and loaded what laundry I could fit into my tiny lumbar pack and headed to the laundromat. Then it was a trip to the Y for a shower, then clean up time for the bike. The chain is only a week old but today’s fresh (and dusty) chipseal ensured that a clean and lube was needed.
We rode north and east until we reached Lakeshore Road, which offers only fleeting glimpses of the lake, as we made our way to Manitowoc.
The sky is the bluest of blues…all along the lakeshore and as I sit outside a brewpub in Manitowoc. Various blue sky songs have been running through my head. I settled on this one, as Dickey Betts was always (unfairly) in the shadow of Duane Allman. [You may have to imagine this one or look it up yourself, as both wi-fi and cell service have failed me this evening. We’ll see if either makes a comeback.
Tomorrow we will be incomunicado for four hours (five by the clock due to a time change) as we make our way across the lake. There are no cell towers or wi-fi in the middle of a 100 mile wide lake.
I won’t yell “clear” for you
When I’m riding with others, I point out hazards (gravel, debris, holes). At an intersection I will call out “car left” as a warning if I see a car approaching from the left that a following rider might not notice.
Other riders call “clear” to tell you no one is coming, so you can run stop signs. Don’t look to me to do that. Calling “clear” is taking responsibility for another’s life. It is giving your assurance that a situation is safe. I am not willing to make that decision for another, nor do I expect them to make that decision for me. I do not want to encourage others to abdicate responsibility for their own safety. The same reasoning is why you won’t find me bungee-jumping.