When you imagine scenic mountains and picturesque shorelines, you're probably not thinking about the Midwest. Caves and islands? Seriously?
With sights set on the grandeur of the Rockies or the sandy beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific, there is a tendency to overlook the fascinating diversity of terrain within a day's drive of Chicago. Have you ever seen the Ozarks or visited the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior? Have you ever observed and absorbed these sights atop the saddle of a bike?
Chasing Summer in Madison Wisconsin can show you the often overlooked beauty of the Midwest with one of their fully supported bicycle tours.
Bicycle touring is extremely popular in Europe and fairly popular out west and in New England. Until now, your only option for a pseudo-supported tour of parts of the Midwest was to sign up for large-scale event rides like RAGBRAI or SAGBRAW. If you craved something a little more intimate, you had to plan it entirely on your own.
Chasing Summer was founded by Adam and Caleah Clark to provide both guided and self-guided, fully-supported bike tours to small groups. Fully supported, in bike parlance, means a bike mechanic and a bus to rescue you should you have an issue that interrupts your ride.
One of the coolest features of Chasing Summer is the variety of tours offered throughout the riding season. If you're unsure about devoting a full week of vacation to riding your bike through the Ozarks, up to and around the Apostle Islands, or from cave to cave in Kentucky, you can sample their services with a one-day tour of Southwest Wisconsin.
The most difficult part about planning one-day tours - and I do this frequently for myself and friends - is coordinating transportation to the start point and back from the end point.
Take, for example, if I wanted to ride the Jane Addams and Badger State Trails from Freeport Illinois to Madison Wisconsin in a single day. This is a 60 mile ride - pretty much the perfect distance for an all-day, leisurely-paced, rail trail outing.
To do this alone I would have to sweet-talk my fiance, bribe one of my kids, or offer a friend a favor to be named at a later date, just to drive me to Freeport and pick me up in Madison. The alternative would be an overnight stay in Madison - adding a bunch of extra baggage to my bike - while turning it into a two-day, out-and-back trip. Or I could drive myself to Freeport, turn around after thirty miles of riding and return to my car, missing the other half of the trail. For only $40 - $60, Chasing Summer will take me to the trailhead and make sure that I return to my car without any incident that might otherwise strand me on the trail. And I won't have to promise to help my buddy move...
Chasing Summer's day tours include a number of the area's great rail trails including the Jane Addams / Badger State Trail, the Military Ridge Trail, and the Glacial-Drumlin Trail. Other rides take you on scenic back roads or combine trails and roads and throw in a brewery tour for good measure. The possibilities - though finite in availability - are only limited to your time constraints and sightseeing interests.
For more information, visit Chasing Summer's website and inquire about availability. If you tell them that I recommended you, you are guaranteed to pay the same price as everyone else...
I plan on writing about many of the trails featured on Chasing Summer's 2012 ride schedule in upcoming weeks. I am very tempted to sign up for the Border Jumping trip on May 6th myself, as I really don't think my riding buddies will be up to a 60-miler that early in the season...
Keep riding and be safe!
All images below courtesy of Chasing Summer. Enjoy!
If you found this post helpful, share it on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter by clicking the boxes below the article title.
If you like this blog, fan it on Facebook and follow me on Twitter by clicking the boxes below my bio.