Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Cycling in Madison WI

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Cycling in Madison WI

Old 08-31-17, 04:16 AM
  #1  
Lakerat
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 459
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 202 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Cycling in Madison WI

Just returned to western Missouri after a week of cycling in Madison and it sure is great to be back on some smooth roads. The trails are nice and there are many in Madison. Love riding around all the lakes and the U of W campus, but the roads are rough! Most of the roads have teeth rattling dips about every 50 feet. Like riding on cloud during a ride in Missouri last night. So nice and smooth and I could stay seated without losing my fillings. I've ridden several bikes there and I haven't found any that can handle the jarring.
Lakerat is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 04:48 AM
  #2  
HerrKaLeun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 1,534

Bikes: Giant Toughroad SLR1 and Motobecane Sturgis NX

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 729 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 55 Posts
I'm in (near )Madison and yes roads are not great for bikes. some have good bike lanes, or separate bike paths, though. and they expand all the time. Yahara Trail opened last week. Going around Lake Monona (via Isthmus) gets you on some roads, but not bad. Going around Lake Mendota gets you on some worse roads in Middleton (I heard will be bike paths in 2018?).

Many bike paths going to other cities, like the military ridge trail, Badger State Trail, Glacial Drumlin Trail. Except the last one they connect directly to the city trails. But you need a hybrid or better. Those trails are crushed limestone once you leave the city bounds. On paved parts the road bikes zip by me, but once we hit the gravel they have to go on roads. If you have a road bike with 23mm tires, yes you will be limited if you don't want to be on roads. You can go up to Verona on paved path.

I stay away from roads as much as I can. the side of the road often has all crut, is bad, and drivers don't pay attention (have OSHA rated reflective shirt, 150 lumen taillight ... and still hear squealing brakes behind me because people need to text while driving).

Go to google maps and turn on the bicycle layer. That shows you most pike paths and streets designated for bikes. You can turn on the satellite image to see what bike lane actually means (sometimes a separate path, sometimes nothing really). Takes a while to explore and find the way around in bike-friendly manner, but we have pretty good biking here.

I do some lake loops, also go on longer routes (one to Dodgeville State Park - 100 miles roundtrip). You can go to New Glarus, all the way to Freeport in Iowa on bike path.

Not perfect, but not as bad as you may think.
HerrKaLeun is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 06:50 AM
  #3  
Dirt Farmer
Senior Member
 
Dirt Farmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Madison, Wi.
Posts: 1,086

Bikes: Jamis Quest Elite; Fuji Sagres; Trek Fuel EX 8

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 298 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 16 Posts
As a Madison resident, I must ask "Why ride in Madison"? The rural farm roads outside of town, especially west of town near Cross Plains, Black Earth, Blue Mounds, etc., is some of the best riding in the country.
Dirt Farmer is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 09:44 AM
  #4  
dedhed
SE Wis
 
dedhed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 5,673

Bikes: '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 902 Post(s)
Liked 250 Times in 190 Posts
Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
Many bike paths going to other cities, like the military ridge trail, Badger State Trail, Glacial Drumlin Trail. Except the last one they connect directly to the city trails. But you need a hybrid or better. Those trails are crushed limestone once you leave the city bounds. On paved parts the road bikes zip by me, but once we hit the gravel they have to go on roads. If you have a road bike with 23mm tires, yes you will be limited if you don't want to be on roads.

I don't agree. I've ridden many of the crushed limestone paths in the state on my road bike and 25's. The 400, Glacial Drumlin, Bearskin, etc. You will have issues in the spring when soft, or after a big rain, but in the middle of summer and dry they're fine.
dedhed is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 10:39 AM
  #5  
Gresp15C
Senior Member
 
Gresp15C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,846
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 715 Post(s)
Liked 119 Times in 90 Posts
I live in Madison. In my experience, crushed limestone on hard clay is pleasant in good weather, if maintained correctly. There has been some maintenance done on the Military Ridge trail, where they repair low spots with pea gravel. And there can be some sandy spots. So you have to be somewhat alert while riding.

A lot of the roads are rough. Don't expect infrastructure to be a priority in Wisconsin for now.

Most of my actual miles are urban -- commuting or just getting around town. Madison is definitely improving as a bike friendly city.
Gresp15C is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 12:42 PM
  #6  
VegasTriker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sin City, Nevada
Posts: 2,206

Bikes: Catrike 700, Greenspeed GTO trike, , Linear LWB recumbent, Haluzak Horizon SWB recumbent, Balance 450 MTB, Cannondale SM800 Beast of the East

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 341 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 32 Times in 25 Posts
That's really sad. Madison was once one of the best places in the US to ride. I was a grad student at UW-Madison in the 1970s when the Yellow Jersey Bike Co-op was formed (no longer a co-op and no longer in Madison) and even worked there for a time. It was rather brutal in the winter but there were at least a few months of absolute fine riding weather. I used to ride to places like Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo and out into farm country in Dane County. The roads were great back then. I'll say no more because politics has no place in this forum.
VegasTriker is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 01:02 PM
  #7  
Gresp15C
Senior Member
 
Gresp15C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,846
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 715 Post(s)
Liked 119 Times in 90 Posts
Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
That's really sad. Madison was once one of the best places in the US to ride. I was a grad student at UW-Madison in the 1970s when the Yellow Jersey Bike Co-op was formed (no longer a co-op and no longer in Madison) and even worked there for a time. It was rather brutal in the winter but there were at least a few months of absolute fine riding weather. I used to ride to places like Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo and out into farm country in Dane County. The roads were great back then. I'll say no more because politics has no place in this forum.
Oh, I think it's still great here, but the roads have some bumps. And I suspect infrastructure is going to be a nationwide issue. I'm not a serious roadie, so it's not a huge deal for me.
Gresp15C is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 01:04 PM
  #8  
Dirt Farmer
Senior Member
 
Dirt Farmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Madison, Wi.
Posts: 1,086

Bikes: Jamis Quest Elite; Fuji Sagres; Trek Fuel EX 8

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 298 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 16 Posts
Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
That's really sad. Madison was once one of the best places in the US to ride. I was a grad student at UW-Madison in the 1970s when the Yellow Jersey Bike Co-op was formed (no longer a co-op and no longer in Madison) and even worked there for a time. It was rather brutal in the winter but there were at least a few months of absolute fine riding weather. I used to ride to places like Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo and out into farm country in Dane County. The roads were great back then. I'll say no more because politics has no place in this forum.
Those rural roads are still great. It's the city streets that suck - potholes, debris, dips, etc.
Dirt Farmer is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 02:08 PM
  #9  
HerrKaLeun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 1,534

Bikes: Giant Toughroad SLR1 and Motobecane Sturgis NX

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 729 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 55 Posts
Originally Posted by Dirt Farmer View Post
As a Madison resident, I must ask "Why ride in Madison"? The rural farm roads outside of town, especially west of town near Cross Plains, Black Earth, Blue Mounds, etc., is some of the best riding in the country.
How do you get to Black Earth etc. on the bike if the roads there are not good? I don't know the OP, but I prefer to start my bike ride with the bike, not by car.
Yes in general rural roads are not bad for riding since they are less travelled. but also often in bad condition and car drivers there may not expect bicyclists.

Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
I don't agree. I've ridden many of the crushed limestone paths in the state on my road bike and 25's. The 400, Glacial Drumlin, Bearskin, etc. You will have issues in the spring when soft, or after a big rain, but in the middle of summer and dry they're fine.
Good points. but after some storms the paths also are filled with wood sticks etc. and it takes the county some weeks to clean up. As you go further (e.g. dodgeville) there are some really rough patches where I was glad to have 50mm tires on my hybrid. Most roaders drop off when pavement ends. but i agree, it can be done. You also get parts with sand-fishtailing. nothing impossible, though.

OP: not sure what bike you have, but there are also plenty MTB trails around here. Check out Madcitydirt. Some of them are easy to reach via bikepath.
HerrKaLeun is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 06:13 PM
  #10  
Dirt Farmer
Senior Member
 
Dirt Farmer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Madison, Wi.
Posts: 1,086

Bikes: Jamis Quest Elite; Fuji Sagres; Trek Fuel EX 8

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 298 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 16 Posts
Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
How do you get to Black Earth etc. on the bike if the roads there are not good? I don't know the OP, but I prefer to start my bike ride with the bike, not by car.
Yes in general rural roads are not bad for riding since they are less travelled. but also often in bad condition and car drivers there may not expect bicyclists.


The escape routes to the north are fine. See this route I did for an example:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/24394459

Ask anyone from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, etc. They envy that our rural farm roads were paved years ago, as most of the farm roads in those states are gravel.

Last edited by Dirt Farmer; 08-31-17 at 06:18 PM.
Dirt Farmer is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 06:54 PM
  #11  
Gresp15C
Senior Member
 
Gresp15C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,846
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 715 Post(s)
Liked 119 Times in 90 Posts
Originally Posted by Dirt Farmer View Post
The escape routes to the north are fine. See this route I did for an example:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/24394459

Ask anyone from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, etc. They envy that our rural farm roads were paved years ago, as most of the farm roads in those states are gravel.
That looks like a nice route. I'd be coming from the near west side of Madison, so I'd sneak out along Airport Rd and follow the country roads. There's almost always a "farm to market" road running alongside the bigger state and federal roads, except where something like a river intervenes. Of course it can't be guaranteed to be flat. If you like hill climbing there are some nice rollers and more as you head west from Madison.
Gresp15C is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 06:58 PM
  #12  
Lakerat
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 459
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 202 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
This thread has elicited a hazy suggestion of blame of a political nature. I considered posing a question about Madison road condition in the politics section, read a while there and decided not to jump into that barrel of snakes. I also did an internet search to quickly see if I could find the reason behind Madison road condition quickly, and I couldn't. I'm not curious enough to enter the fray in the politics section.

I understand anyone who reads this won't be able to explain or post links.
Lakerat is offline  
Old 08-31-17, 07:20 PM
  #13  
Gresp15C
Senior Member
 
Gresp15C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,846
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 715 Post(s)
Liked 119 Times in 90 Posts
Originally Posted by Lakerat View Post
This thread has elicited a hazy suggestion of blame of a political nature. I considered posing a question about Madison road condition in the politics section, read a while there and decided not to jump into that barrel of snakes. I also did an internet search to quickly see if I could find the reason behind Madison road condition quickly, and I couldn't. I'm not curious enough to enter the fray in the politics section.

I understand anyone who reads this won't be able to explain or post links.
Well, to be fair, we have our hard winters, which are pretty tough on the roads. That's the reason for the lumpy cracks. I've also seen two cases where major road projects deteriorated extremely quickly (less than a year), due to buckling of the road surface during the summer, and in one case the contractor actually had to rebuild the road at their own expense.
Gresp15C is offline  
Old 09-01-17, 04:59 AM
  #14  
Lakerat
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 459
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 202 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Well, to be fair, we have our hard winters, which are pretty tough on the roads. That's the reason for the lumpy cracks. I've also seen two cases where major road projects deteriorated extremely quickly (less than a year), due to buckling of the road surface during the summer, and in one case the contractor actually had to rebuild the road at their own expense.

I knew weather is a factor in the defects, I'm just a little surprised they aren't fixed. The construction crews seem to be efficient at completing quality road upgrades, so the older road defects are either just lived with or not funded. My daughter lives in Madison and I've been there a lot in the last few years so I've seen the major road projects get completed somewhat timely and appear to be nicely designed and forward lookin projects.

I can see how Madison residents could get used to the rough roads, it is just really noticeable when you ride on smooth roads in of all places, Missouri.
Lakerat is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
jamawani
Touring
25
06-23-18 09:04 AM
peterws
Fifty Plus (50+)
34
10-23-16 05:23 AM
fritz1255
Northeast
9
06-27-16 07:20 PM
tegnamo
Pacific Northwest
48
05-07-15 01:44 PM
cycle16v
Texas
13
03-02-12 04:43 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.