Friday, April 21, 2017

Viroqua, WI to Madison, WI: "Another Homeless Guy"

When we last left off, I had failed to contact a Warmshowers host that was ready to have me, relegating myself to the perils of stealth camping. On this particular night, those perils were rain.

It started raining about 9 PM and I started realizing my bivvy sack wasn’t waterproof around 11. I then woke up every half hour or hour or so to another part of my body being wet, until 3 AM at which point most of the lower half of my body was wet (I had slept on a slight incline with my head at the top). I was debating spending $50 for 5 hours in a motel room when the rain stopped. I waited a few minutes to be sure, hopped out of my bag, changed into dry clothes, and started the laborious process of squeezing out everything wet and loading it onto my bike. I left camp that morning at 5 AM, having nothing better to do and no dry place to sleep.

It was beautiful out. I attempted to take a few photos but they really don’t do it justice. I admit being dry after a night of rain probably made it that much more enjoyable. Having the roads all to myself was nice, too -- a total of three cars passed me in the first hour.

After a few hours of pedaling, including some nasty hills ameliorated by petrichor, I came into a small city known as La Farge. I was told the two places to eat were the bar and a restaurant called “Sisters;” the latter being more expensive but much better. I opted for the latter, hedging my bets it would also be voluminous enough to feed a touring cyclist, and was rewarded with a rather large breakfast including OJ for $7 plus tip.

I stepped out a few times to retrieve various chargers and water bottles, and the second time was greeted, “Another homeless man’s come into La Farge this morning!” -- that’s how I made friends with Chris, a local with an interest in cycling. He ended up giving me the Wisconsin road map I never got in La Crosse and recommended a good road out of town. TTE - Talk to everyone!

It continued to rain for the next few hours, including some hail for which I was fortunately nearby cover. I discovered a town that wasn’t on the map -- Bunker Hill, WI -- which consisted of a bar and some RVs, and as the sun had come out, set my bike up as a drying rack for everything that would fit.

Around Cazenovia, WI, I passed an old fashioned auction -- a stage with a man yelling prices as fast as the brain could process them surrounded by about a hundred people and parked cars in a line as long as a football field on the side of the road. Also parked there… a horse and buggy? Yes, turns out there was an Amish community at the next city, Ironton, WI, and I even ended up racing a buggy for a while -- it would beat me up the hills and I’d pass it going down the other side. I think a selfie would have been particularly artistic, but also a bit rude, so I settled for a photo from behind.

I made camp for the night in Reedsburg. Not wanting to be caught out in the rain, I got permission from the local PD to sleep in a park with a pagoda. It was good I did because an awesome thunderstorm rolled in that night. I imagine it would have been less awesome stealth camping in the woods without a waterproof covering.

Day 5 -- finally, a day of sun! The rain passed over just as I finished packing at about 6 AM. I stopped in Baraboo to pick up lunch and discovered a number of Clif Bar flavors I didn’t know existed…

...before continuing on to Devil’s Lake, a nearby state park, to consume said lunch. The hills going out of the park were obnoxious, but traffic was light. A ferry out of Merrimac, a bit of pedaling with a headwind, and I was home.

I got in on Sunday, 4/16, and plan to leave again on Monday, 4/24. I’ve spent the week with friends and am rather enjoying myself, but am also itching to get out again. There will be one more blog post before I go, and then I’m headed to Chicago to see my cousin. Until next time!


  1. Great blog. So many interesting experiences - homeless assumption, auction, horse and buggy, TTE! Love you.

    1. I don't think he thought I was homeless, actually. Just joking. :)