Ride report with pictures from the Elroy Sparta trail
August 17th, 2001
Click on any photo to see the full size image.
Intro to Tunnel #1
Before you hit the trail I would recommend that you pick up a copy of the book "Elroy Sparta Trail Guide" by Bob Sobie. The book is packed full of information that you will find useful while riding the trail.
We arrived in Sparta Thursday night August 17th, 2001. It took us about 5 hours to drive from the Western suburbs of Chicago with a stop to get gas and something to eat. We got into Sparta about 5:30 P.M. The sky was dark to the West and we knew it would start raining shortly. You could tell that it had rained earlier in the day by the wet roads. We wanted to ride part of the LaCrosse River State trail but I didn't want to risk my daughter and myself getting soaked. We drove around town and found the trailhead for the Elroy Sparta trail and the East end of the LaCrosse River trail. Directly to the side of the LaCrosse River trail is Speeds bicycle shop. What a perfect location between both of the paths. The bike shop rents bikes, tandems, recumbents at very reasonable rates. If you need any bike repairs or items for your bike you have come to the right place. We bought a couple of BikeMe T-shirts and 2 trail passes for the next day. We checked in at the Best Nights Inn. Their prices were very good, the rooms were clean.The owner (Dragan Miljkovic) was very friendly and has a cool accent. He grew up in Serbia. We drove over to Pizza hut to eat dinner. After dinner we went back to to motel and watched TV for a while and went to bed.
We got up early and took advantage of the free continental
breakfast and grabbed a donut and orange juice from the office. The sky
was blue without a cloud in sight. The temp was a little cool but we new
it was going to be about 80 degrees later in the day.
My friend Lloyd and his dad Bud showed up about 8:00 A.M. They drove in from Wisconsin Rapids. OutSpokin' Adventures pulled into the parking lot about 8:15 A.M. I had called the day before to schedule shuttle service for our bikes and ourselves to Camp Douglas. Using OutSpokin's shuttle service allowed us to ride the Omaha and Elroy Sparta trails rather than doing the Elroy Sparta trail twice. Tom Mc Anulty arrived ahead of schedule, loaded up our bikes and we headed off to Camp Douglas. Tom was very knowledgeable about the area and all of the trails. If you are in the area I strongly suggest that you give OutSpokin' a call and use their shuttle service or set up a tour. The cost is reasonable and the service and knowledge is great.
Click here to read the Omaha Trail ride report
We rode the Omaha trail and had a hard time finding the trailhead to
the Elroy Sparta trail. We asked a couple of guys that were working on
a truck for directions and they sent us off to the West. We couldn't find
the trail so we asked a grandma who was in her driveway for directions.
She hopped on her old balloon tire bike (which she bought for $5.00 from
a garage sale) and let us follow her to the trailhead. I didn't get her
name, but we said thank you and she headed back home.
It was now about 11:30 A.M. and we were a little hungry. We went into the old Elroy depot and looked around.
There are all kinds of trail souveniers, T-shirts, patches, books, maps and lots of other goodies.
Lloyd and Jenny bought an ice cream bar. We rode a block or two to the the trailhead of the Elroy Sparta trail.
We stopped to read the sign and take a couple of pictures. Here is Lloyd and my daughter Jenny.
Here is a pic of Jenny and me. I am the taller and wider one on the right.
The path was very open at this end and there wasn't much shade.
Here is a pic of Lloyd and Bud. Budd was camera shy but I managed to get a shot or two of him during the ride.
Here is Lloyd and Bud crossing one of the old bridges.
Here is a pic of a good looking farm along the trail.
Our next stop was the town of Kendall. We stopped at the old train depot which has a lot of interesting railroad pictures and trail items for sale inside.
Make sure that you stop in and take a look.
We decided to get lunch since we were all hungry so we rode up the street to a restaurant/bar and had a good cheeseburger for lunch.
Lunch took about 45 minutes and we were back on the trail. We had picked a perfect day for the ride. It was about 80 degrees and there was a slight wind from the West.
The trail was now getting denser with trees and the shade was more constant.
The temp started dropping as I got closer to the entrance to the 1st tunnel. I took some photos while I waited for Jenny, Lloyd and Bud.
Here my daughter Jenny is riding toward the East entrance of tunnel #1.
Here we are outside the East entrance to tunnel #1.
I have seen pictures and read about the trail for years but nothing
can describe the feeling when you are actually there. It is really cool
to finally be on the trail and ready to enter one of the tunnels. I turned
on my headlight and started walking into the tunnel. (Make sure you have
a good headlight or bring a bright flashlight) It got pretty dark but you
could always see the light at the end of the tunnel. The surface was crowned
in the middle and slopping off to the sides. Take time to look at the way
the tunnel was built. It took a couple of minutes to walk through. As you
exit it gets warm fast. Luckily it was only about 80 degrees that day.
On a really hot day you would like to stay in the tunnel all day to enjoy mother nature's air conditioning.
I exited the tunnel and took more pictures. Pictures of the West end of tunnel #1
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Intro to Tunnel #1
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