Day 53: Chandra’s Post: The End is the Beginning — Reedsburg, WI to MADISON, WI!! June 30

Daily Miles: 75 Total Miles: 3258

Wow, the last day. Since we were sleeping in the Bass Family cornfield in
Reedsburg, rather than Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, we had an extra
24 miles to go. The original plan (i.e., the plan that we had conveyed to
my father yesterday) was to make it from Trempealeau to Devils Lake and
then meet up with my father and others at the Merrimac ferry around
9:30AM. However, since Reedsburg turned out to be 90 miles, rather than
70 miles, from LaCrosse and because we lost some time in LaCrosse
yesterday at the bike store and the coffee shop (where we got chatted up
by locals who were generous with much needed-route advice), we didn’t make
it as far as we thought. Nor were we camping in an established campground
with a pay phone, but rather out in a cornfield with no cell phone
coverage. For these reasons, we got up early to find a phone to call my
father to let him know of these developments. We skipped a hot breakfast
and got on the road by around 6:40 AM. After finding a pay phone, the new
“revised” plan was to meet them at the ferry closer to 10:30 AM, which
gave us enough time to bike into Baraboo for breakfast.

When we pulled into Baraboo, we came across evidence that there was some
sort of established ride going through town: there were more bikers on
the road than one normally sees on a Friday morning, and the first
restaurant that we saw had a dozen or so riders in it. Seemed like a
promising endorsement for the place, so we stopped for breakfast. It
turned out that the riders were part of the Great Annual Bicycle Ride
Along the Wisconsin River (a.k.a. GRABAAWR), a multi-day supported ride
around southwest Wisconsin. Thirty minutes later, fully fed and
caffienated, we left Baraboo for Merrimac. The weather was beautiful and
the country-side just as nice. Rolling hills with a couple of longer,
steeper ones for variety.

We made good time along the last 12 or 13 miles to Merrimac. I was
particularly happy that our route put us on the ferry as I have fond
memories of the ferry from when I was a child. The ferry is a free car
ferry that runs in the summertime across the river between Baraboo and
Madison. The ferry is popular, so long lines of cars would form while
everyone got out for ice cream from the shop at the river’s edge. I
remember sitting there with an ice cream cone watching the ferry approach.
Life didn’t get much better than that as a child. So it was nostalgic and
surreal to pull up to the ferry landing, park the bike, and eat ice cream
while waiting to see if dad and others were on the approaching ferry.
Being surrounded by a hundred or so other riders only made the scene more
unreal. The bikers were, of course, extraordinarily nice and all
interested in where we had come from and where we were going.

As the ferry approached, we saw not only my father, but also Peter Bock (a
former Wisconsin legislator and avid biker), my mom with little Tyler (my
father’s legislative aide, Jamie K., 19 month old son), and my uncle Jeff.
What a great meeting, there on the ferry in the middle of the GRABAAWR
racers. After crossing the river, we disembarked on the east side of the
river and Peter and my father pulled out their bikes to accompany us back
to Madison. I had originally thought that the route would be flat, but it
turned out to continue to be rolling hills with an occasional steep hill
here and there. After five miles or so, my father–lacking cleats and
slowed down by fat tires–decided to hitch a ride home with mom, while
Peter and we continued towards Middleton and eventually Madison. What a
great ride we had, augmented by the knowledge that we were now in our new
“stomping” (i.e., riding) grounds. It was nice to have Peter along with
us, providing new conversation to make the 30 miles go quickly. By 1 PM,
we were winding our way along the Lake Mendota bike path, finally pulling
up to the Capital Square at 1:20 PM. We were DONE!!!!!

Greeting us was a collection of cheering family and friends, complete with
Welcome Home sign and champagne (and cameras)! Our arrival was even
mentioned in the Wisconsin State Journal. It was great to have many of
the people who have watched and supported our progress there at the very
end.

(Actually, we weren’t completely done, since after the celebration we
still had to bike the five or so miles from the Capital to my parents’
house in Monona. We finally pulled into the house and buttoned down
Talula around 3 PM, before heading to the Wisconsin Student Union Terrace
for beers and company and then to Jolly Bob’s for dinner.)

It is hard to believe that we are done. It isn’t difficult to believe
that we rode from San Francisco to Madison, but that we won’t be getting
back on the bike in a day or two, that we won’t be setting up our little
green tent in a new place every night, and that we won’t be posting our
daily adventures anymore. Although many people along the way have told us
that they can’t imagine biking 3200 miles (even my grandmother informed
Mike that she didn’t think we’d make it), I think that the harder part of
the move is ahead, not behind, us. Now we have to deal with selling the
house in San Francisco, buying a new house here, looking for jobs,
finishing a Ph.D., being apart for the rest of the summer, etc. That
said, it feels right to be here, and I remain sure that we have made the
right decision and done it in the right way.

Thank you for all the support, the food, the emails, the comments, the
road-side assistance along the way. We couldn’t have done it without many
many people. But mostly, the key thing that made the trip possible was
just our decision to live the dream, rather than dream it. That’s a
lesson that we will continue to apply here, and one that I hope motivates
others who have kept us company along the way to live their own dreams as
well.

3 thoughts on “Day 53: Chandra’s Post: The End is the Beginning — Reedsburg, WI to MADISON, WI!! June 30

  1. omedeto! congratulations you guys, i could almost taste the cool, celebratory madison wind on your faces as you rode those last few miles. thanks for the great stories and the inspiration. love, yosh

  2. Congratulations on living your dream–not just the dream of cycling, but the dream of leaving the rat race to find some more satisfaction out of life. You two are an example to us all. Job well done; now all you have to do is ride to DC some time.

  3. It was wonderful to see Mike and Chandra at the ferry dock among dozens of colorful bikers. Their bike stood out because of its length (tandem plus trailer). Chandra and Mike were all ice creamed up and we exchnged hugs and took pictures on the ferry. As soon as we left Merrimac I realized that I was way outclassed in terms of fitness and equipment compared to C & M and Peter Bock so I called Jo for motorized pick up and bailed after only 12 miles. Peter and the cross country travelers made it to Madison only 90 minutes after we did by car. It was exciting and fun to celebrate on the capital grounds and to chill out at the Union Terrace. It is sweet to have them in Madison.

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