Horicon, Wisconsin is approximately 56 miles as the goose flies from Madison.
Every autumn squadrons of amateur ornithologists flock to this marshy metropolis to observe Canada Geese passing though on their southward migration. Although I didn’t see a single goose during my June pilgramage to this swampy Shangri-La, I wholeheartedly recommend Horicon as a spectacular destination for an early-summer bike-camping excursion.
I set out from Madison bright and early Saturday morning on my trusty Trek 620. My minimal load for this two-day jaunt felt featherlight by comparison after recently schlepping supplies for twelve– (or twenty-) day excursions.
Wisconsin’s county highways are a cyclist’s paradise. Miles and miles of smooth pavement punctuated by gently rolling hills offer utterly blissful biking, and an abundant lack of automotive traffic bestows free rein to riders over rural roads.
America’s DairyLand maintains such beautiful byways to meet the transportation needs of our fine, upstanding dairy farmers–according to a very friendly and super-duper fit woman in her mid-forties seated next to me during a recent flight to Colorado. Regardless of whether her claim is accurate or just so much manure, we can all agree that Wisconsin’s bovine residents make our nation a better place.
Cows may be cute to look at, but vision is only one out of five human senses. Pedaling past miles and miles of heifers without interruption would make for an overwhelming olfactory experience. Fortunately, and contrary to popular belief, there are occasional cattle-free areas in the Wisconsin countryside. And sometimes these oases are filled-to-bursting with lovely, luscious-smelling flowers.
After five serene hours in the saddle I arrived on the banks of Horicon Marsh. I could not have asked for more pleasant accommodations. My campsite was quiet, calm, and offered plenty of shade.
I wandered around the campgrounds for a bit before settling in for the evening with a digital version of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
The following morning I woke up bright and early to the sounds of fish jumping and robins chirping, packed up my panniers, then set on my merry way back to Madison.
I have an irrational aversion to backtracking, so I rode home by an alternate route. Wisconsin pastoral scenery is lovely, but doesn’t necessarily lend itself to repeat viewings.
My decision to seek the path less pedaled on the way home kept my mind sufficiently engaged for five hours in the saddle.
Before I knew it, I was on a terrace overlooking Lake Monona, back where I belong in the Capital City.
Overall my mini-excursion was a perfect Wisconsin weekend: I rode my bike, I saw some cows, I slept outside. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Have a GREAT week!