Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Milwaukee Weekend: Running, Kayaking, and Biking

Wisconsin offers a unique mix of opportunities for outdoor athleticism.  Plenty of quality running, cycling, and paddling opportunities offering a variety of challenges exist.  Just within cycling Wisconsin offers excellent road, trail, and mountain bike opportunities.  Paddling the fresh water Great Lakes or local rivers are options with very different considerations.  Numerous races and running opportunities exist from road to trail events.  Wisconsin features some true world class locations and events associated with them.

For Fourth of July week some friends and family came to visit for a long weekend.  This was a great vacation that included a little mountain biking, trail biking, running, kayaking and shooting sporting clays as well as cultural events to include Summerfest and a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game.  While most of this activity was contained to the Milwaukee area I do have aspirations to take part in the best Wisconsin has to offer.  

Cycling the Oak Leaf Trail in Grant Park.

The week started off with a trip to the John Muir trails for some mountain biking.  The trails were in great condition.  Even though it was a hot day there was plenty of cover on the trail to keep cool.  While not mountainous, like my most recent experience, these trails made good use of the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine area, and featured a variety of terrain and technical challenges with rock gardens and banked curves being the most notable. 

The bikes pictured make for a rough day of mountain biking but excel at commuting and trails.

After a pass on the 1 mile beginner loop I had the confidence to tackle the 10 mile advanced loop.  Did I mention I did this using my upright, 30mm suspension, 700mm x35c tire, commuter bike complete with bell and kick-stand.  Of course it was ridiculous but the bike handled good enough, had plenty of gears, and I found myself passing many riders.  As for the downside, this was the roughest ride of my life with the consequences including great discomfort in my hands.  I plan to get a proper mountain bike and am considering building one in the winter for sport.  I have no further plans to take a trail bike or road bike onto off road trails.  Once in possession of this mountain bike I plan to visit Devil’s Lake and hit their much touted trails.     

Kayaking off South Shore and Bay View park.

Two days of kayaking were done in Milwaukee along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.  The water was glassy and Coho Salmon were abundant within the breakwater and visible using polarized lenses.  I heard they were biting too but never did drop a line.  The pictures turned out great.  Next year I plan to take a trip to the Apostle Islands for paddling which is said to be among the best in the world and only a five hour drive away.

Lefty with a new training partner after a swim in the lake preceded by an easy run.

The main event of the week was the Rock ‘n Sole ½ marathon which I have previously blogged about.  In the days leading up to this event everyone took it easy with some casual cycling along the beautiful Oak Leaf trail and some light running.  I have not done any trail running this year but plan to break onto the scene this fall.  Next year I would like to compete in the well known Badgerland Striders Ice Age trail run which also takes place in Kettle Moraine.

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