Adventures with a folding bike, episode 4: Let's go to Milwaukee
! Everyone else is doing it
, so why not me? But being me, I had to do it my own way: alone, carlessly, and with a vengeance. I had an old score to settle with Milwaukee, and it was high time I did.
The distance between Chicago
is roughly a century. Any Real Cyclist could do that in a day and still have time to clean up and hit the town the same evening. Many do exactly that on a Saturday and then the reverse on a Sunday. Most take Sheridan Road.
Well, I'm not a Real Cyclist, I just play one on the Internet. I don't do centuries, I just ride around from here to there, and if I travel 100 miles in a single 24-hour period it's because I'm amazingly energized and fantastically lost. I don't do Sheridan Rd., either. Why risk your neck on Sheridan Rd. when there's a nearly continuous series of bike trails between Milwaukee and Chicago? The key word here, though, is "nearly"; the other is "limestone screenings." So there's some gravelly off-road adventure and some potentially on-road getting lost involved.
And now I can finally, finally
say I've done it all.
I hit the Lakefront Path down the street from my apartment and got as far as the Oak Creek Parkway in South Milwaukee
. In 2007
I took Metra
and picked up the Kenosha County
Bike Trail, then later veered off the Oak Leaf Trail
in Oak Creek
so I could cross the city boundary at it's most accessible (to me) point, south of Mitchell Airport. In 2008 I looked at my folding bike and thought, "Well, let's finish this." No doubt in 2009 I will again attempt to do the whole route in one trip, and in 2010 I might try for a single day. Maybe in 2011 I'll finally take Sheridan Road.
So Saturday I took Scooty-Puff the Useful Folding Bike onto the Hiawatha
and got off at the Mitchell Airport stop. Or at least that's what I planned to do. What actually happened is that I missed the 6am train, (turns out it leaves from the south concourse, not the north one), so I had to hang around Union Station for two and a half unbearably boring hours while dragging 20 lbs of bike and 10 lbs of invisible cinder block
in a huge duffel bag with a high center of gravity and lots of unyielding sharp corners, and then
I took it onto the Hiawatha and got off at the Mitchell Airport stop.
Once there I reassembled everything back into bike formation and wondered what the hell to do now. Well, first I ought to take a picture of the Mitchell Airport Railroad Station
A charming piece of work done in the Prairie style and landscaped with actual prairie plants. What could be better?
Well, for one thing, not being at an airport with a bike would be better. Airports are usually the very definition of bike hostility, and even relatively small ones like Mitchell can be a royal pain to navigate. Air Cargo Rd. was marked as a bike route on my Milwaukee by Bike Map
, but the cluster of sternly worded orange barriers succeeded in deterring me. (It's not like I had a plane to catch.) So I ended up on College Ave., which was disagreeable but not dangerous on a Saturday morning, then south on Howell Ave., much the same as College except with a paved shoulder as wide as an entire lane. (Remarkably free of debris, too.) I took that to Drexel Ave., where I spotted a Culver's
and decided that I was hungry.
As you can see I opted for a salad instead of a Butterburger and fried cheese curds, but as this particular salad was piled high with fried chicken and blue cheese it was probably only symbolically healthier. Maybe the iceberg lettuce at least prevented me from dying of a heart attack on the spot.
Across the street was Delco Electronics. I don't know what they do, but evidently precision geodetic reference involves equipment that's housed in a dome.
After lunch I got on the Oak Leaf Trail in the form of a sidepath along Drexel Ave. and was finally on my way up to Milwaukee along the trail route from roughly the place where I had left off twice before. This led to the Oak Creek Parkway, where I spotted a decent photo-op for Scooty-Puff in front of some signage with, appropriately, a lovely grove of leafy oak trees in the background:
I was forced to make a detour off the trail because I ran into a cross street closure for a parade
(good grief, is anything
not on YouTube these days?
), but the detour was actually a pretty significant shortcut straight east to Rawson Park, so I didn't terribly mind. From there the Oak Leaf Trail meanders north through a series of parks along the lakefront. One of them is Sheridan Park, which has a swimming pool...
...with a fabulously Art Deco entrance!
Or at least it looks fabulously Art Deco. Or at least it looks fabulously Art Deco to me. It probably isn't. In any case, I really liked it.
Farther up the trail, the view opens up dramatically of the Milwaukee skyline across the water.
Lake and prairie.
Scooty-Puff likes to pose; here it is admiring the scenery.
There was another impressive view from Bay View Park. (I think.)
At some point I realized that the big-ass boat I was looking at might be the Lake Express Ferry
and got a picture, but now I am not so sure.Then the trail ended
, and unfortunately so did the good part of my day.