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I am thinking of putting together a week on the bike this late spring. The idea is to take as many rails to trails style paths as possible. Area is Central Wisconsin.

So far I have read about The 400, Elroy-Sparta and Nicolet trails. Ideally, I would take the Amtrak/Metra to some drop-off spot and get going north and west. 

Any ideas or suggestions on connecting trails so as to make this longer than a one-day ride? I am not averse to riding on country roads but prefer the safety of the R2T type paths.

Also, if you have done something like this and can chime in on the do's and don'ts, I would appreciate it.

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...supposedly due to the dairy industry...

I've heard the same urban legend.  But I think it is because Wisconsin just maintains itself better than other states, socially, physically, athletically, etc.   For instance, we go all the way up there to cross-country ski because they groom the trails in their state parks all winter long.  Other than DuPage Co.  Illinois has no grooming program. 

The same thing is true of most county roads: well-paved and plowed in the winter in Wisconsin; gravel and unplowed in Illinois, outside the metropolitan area.

And if I was taking Amtrak up to Winona, I'd return via the Root River Bike Trail, by going due south from Winona to Lanesboro, MN.  It's a paved and very picturesque bike trail well worth knowing about. And will feed you out to the Mississippi, right across from LaCrosse, WI.

Walker has single-handedly wrecked their states road fund with splashy and expensive upgrades to appease his Milwaukee suburban base. That leaves little left over for a lot of those back roads. Gravel roads can be cost effective and many times are more appropriate, but obviously, aren't the most fun for road cycling.

According to this, Illinois is #5 in rural arterial condition vs #21 for Wisconsin:

Well without getting political, I cannot believe your 'Annual Highway Report.'   Any report that places the Dakotas and Kansas at the top is screwy. 

Those two comparisons seem to be specifically for the driving public, and are for 'state highways' and 'major' roads only.  As cyclists we don't ride those roads.   We ride county and local roads any comparisons of those smaller roads?

Got anything beside your anecdotal experience?

And yes, while they do not focus on county roads, it stands to reason that maintenance of roads follows the patterns of use by motorists.

You can get from Chicago to Madison in two and a half days and bus back. It's mostly rail-trail with a few rural roads and a ring road through a park around Milwaukee.

For something longer I highly recommend the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. It's all rail/trail and there's a decent downhill grade for the last sixteen miles down into Cumberland. It's about 150 miles with an option to follow the C&O Canal and ride next to the Potomac all the way to Washington DC. It's another 180 or so miles but much rougher so figure an extra day for that. It's all trail with no roads until you are in the middle of Georgetown. The midwest is pretty flat and dull and even though it's mostly rail/trail there is a lot of elevation and scenery to enjoy.

The beauty is it's all along the route of the Capitol Limited, so it's an overnight trip to Pittsburgh and another overnight back to Chicago if you leave from the capitol or catch the train back from Cumberland. Not all stations will allow bikes, though Amtrak's policy has opened up since I did this in 2013. There are plenty of campgrounds and B&Bs along the way, too.

Been there, done that.  It's a great trip and worthwhile taking.

Hi Bob!   That's a link to some great bike writing.  Thanks.  I spent a couple hours this morning following your adventures over the past 20+ years.  Lots of good information about bike touring all over the US, in a pleasingly self-deprecating style of writing. 

Unlike going on a road trip by car, when you set off on an extended bike trip, there's a lot of unknowns ahead!  Just part of the adventure!

Bob - I don't know that I have ever seen a site like this. I am enjoying reading up on all things bike trekking. Thanks for the link. And, your journal was a pretty decent read. 

Doing this in August over four days in August!

When we did the GAP-C&O in 2016, we originally planned  a 4 day trip.  Had to stretch it to 5 because of the conditions on the C&O - rain & trees down.  I retrospect, should have planned a longer trip.  A lot to see and do besides riding - rafting at Ohiopyle, tubing on the Potomac and the historical site such as Antietam, Harper Ferry etc.

Good tips. Definitely hoping for good trail conditions. Going for the credit card tour route and four is the goal.

I did it in five days not counting a stop over day in Harper's Ferry, and spent a few days in Pittsburgh and DC, too.


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