The weather finally cooperated for one of our Lowlands Group Spring Classic Series yesterday! The sun was shining and it was in the 60s for the Holland to the Cut La Crosse area Classic. About 80 people showed up for the 55-mile ride, which leaves from Onalaska, rolls through New Amsterdam, Holland and up to the Mindoro Cut, the deepest hand-hewn cut in the United States.
La Crosse and the Driftless Region are well known as cycling nirvana. The county populations are low, so there is relatively little motor vehicle traffic once you hit the paved town road network. While the terrain is enough to test your legs, the gorgeous scenery and ear-to-ear downhills are worth the climbs.
The La Crosse Classic is always one of my favorites. I like that the local organizers mark the course well, stock it with water to refill bottles and that we go through a couple towns with European names. The ride through the small town of Mindoro and the push up to “The Cut” is what I enjoy the most though.
Because it is a hike from Milwaukee to La Crosse, this year my wife Liz and I drove up the night before and stayed overnight at the cool Charmont Hotel. It was prom weekend, so we were definitely the most underdressed people in the restaurant. It was cute to see all the kids in fancy dresses and suits eating burgers though.
Because the ride did not start until 1 PM I was able to schedule some Sunday morning meetings with a few local advocates and bike shop owners. I got a tour of areas where the Outdoor Recreation Alliance would really want to add some progressive mountain bike trails. The land seems perfect to make La Crosse a national destination for mountain biking.
If La Crosse was able to add modern, purpose-built progressive mountain bike trails, it could become one of the nation’s top cycling destinations. The combination of modern mountain bike trails, the great road riding, their Omnium race series, the La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival and the fun Beer by Bike Brigade ride series give La Crosse some of the best of all things cycling. While the existing mountain bike trails in La Crosse are fun, to be competitive with the likes of Duluth, Bentonville, and now even Wausau’s Sylvan Hills MTB park, the advocates at the Outdoor Recreation Alliance are correct that LAX needs to up their game.
Our chat about effective strategies for bicycle advocacy in the La Crosse area also included talk about the Bike Fed’s goal to become a true federation of local advocacy groups to improve our geographic representation across Wisconsin. We discussed the possibility of holding an election for a La Crosse County Bike Fed representative, a representative from the ORA and any other local groups. First steps, but the meetings went well.
This upcoming Spring Classic is the Ghent to Wales ride from Cafe Hollander Tosa to Wales for coffee at Mamma D’s and back for post-ride beers. There are 179 people who claim to be “Interested” on FB event page. Here is a report from the 2017 ride to Wales. All y’all need to get off the fence and on your bikes. Just say you are going!