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Bike News

Biking with Steph: Biking on the Planet Trek

I enjoyed last week’s bike ride to Paoli so much that I thought I would embark on a similar type ride to Mt. Horeb.

I checked the weather on Tuesday morning and realize it would be a great day for a ride- no rain or high winds. I quickly packed up some essentials and hit the trail for my 50 mile ride. I generally pack pretty light for these rides:

I brought the following:

  • My cell phone and earbuds
  • Replacement bike tube, handheld tire pump and a plastic spoon for manipulating the tire off the wheel
  • Credit card and sunglasses
  • Lunch
  • Small camelbak to hold the above
  • Bike, helmet, and water bottle filled with Tailwind

For this ride, it is very hard to get lost if you’re coming from the east side. Basically, you take the Southwest Commuter Path to the Velo UnderRound and then take Military Ridge State Trail until you hit Mt. Horeb.

This route also hosts the Planet Trek Dane County (PTDC). According to the UW Space Place website “PTDC is, at heart, a scale model of our solar system: We shrunk the Sun, planets, and other bodies by the same factor so that the sizes and distances are represented to scale relative to each other. In our model, the scale is about 200 million to 1. This means the Sun is a sphere about 24 feet in diameter at Monona Terrace, and Pluto the size of a marble in Mt. Horeb”. Yes, Pluto is still holding on strong despite being downgraded to a dwarf planet. Each sign provides educational tidbits and really drives home the spatial features of these celestial bodies. The installment was intended to be temporary with removal planned for 2011, but the signs have been replaced with updated versions in the past year or two.

(Stay strong, Pluto!)

Anyway, if the Planet Trek hasn’t convinced you to bike to Mt. Horeb, the town’s charm and dining options are another great reason to make the ride. The presence of Norwegian immigrants has played a significant factor in the historic and contemporary identity of the town. It is known as the “Troll Capital of the World” with numerous troll statues sprinkled along the major streets. In the past couple of years, Mt. Horeb has expanded its tourist offerings with numerous cafes, restaurants, shops, and even a cider pub. I often enjoy stopping by Grumpy Troll Brew Pub for an enormous pretzel and a craft beer or Schubert’s Diner for some well-earned baked goods.

(A delicious cookie from Schubert’s)

A few things to note before you go:

  1. You will need to acquire a State Trail Pass to bike on the latter portion of the bike trail to Mt. Horeb. This can be accomplished at multiple kiosks along the way and you may be asked to show your state pass by park rangers.
  2. Things may seem to get oddly tough near the the final few miles of your bike ride to Mt. Horeb. Don’t worry, it’s not you, the elevation gradually increases in these miles.
  3. You will be biking on paved areas and on crushed stone. Some of the crushed stone portions of the trail has uncomfortable ruts and bumps due to use when the paths were wet, that have since dried. I’d assume a fat tire bike or mountain bike would handle these areas just fine.
  4. There are great stopping areas with benches along this route if you’d like to take your time and enjoy the scenery for a bit. Verona, WI (between Neptune and Uranus, about halfway) has a great shelter with two bike stations and bathrooms right next to the bike trail.
  5. If you’d like to go bikepacking, Blue Mound State Park and Governor Dodge State Park are accessible by Military Ridge State Trail. Mt. Horeb would be a great place to stop before or after camping at these sites for a treat.

Enjoy your ride! Tailwinds!

(Even trolls like to bike!)
PS: Not sure what gear you’d need for a successful bikepacking trip? Watch this handy
YouTube video!