Madison, WI

6:30 am: We’re in full kit and seated at a diner, which, I think is called “The Diner”, not sure. Aaron isn’t here yet, but his mother is slated to drop him off at any moment. It’s evident that the other diner patrons have never seen so many lycra clad cyclists before.

6:45 am: Aaron is here and so is his mother. She’s very sweet. Mike, the host for the ride, hasn’t stopped talking about “Americana” and how this place is filled with it. A sign next to the grill says “Drink Coffee…do stupid things faster and with more energy.” Tony takes a picture of it and so do I. Seems like the right thing to do.

7:30 am: Plates of egg sandwiches are served and consumed. Reluctantly we head out into the cold rainy morning. A place I remember all too well. This diner is down the street from Betty’s Diner which I used to frequent with my Grandparents as a small child. I am a little giddy at the prospect of riding on roads I grew up on, but never rode as a child.

8:00 am: Our faces are spattered with road grit and we’re working to keep the pace up to stay warm, however the sun seems to be creeping up over the hills. Blue Mound State Park, also known as, “Ventoux of Wisconsin” looms in the distance. This is where we will end the day.

9:00 am: Spirits are much higher now as the sunlight streams through the clouds and warms everything and layers are starting to shed. I’ve convinced myself that this area smells similar to what I remember; county fairs, manure spreaders, greasy spoon diners, and alfalfa fields. They all have a distinct smell and it all smells like home.

10:00 am: The quality of the roads here are far superior to anything I remember. Aaron is also from Wisconsin I come to find out, Green Bay, and he thinks the same thing. Outloud.

11:15 am: We run into two cyclists seated in front of a church. It’s an odd place. Very much in the middle of nowhere. And yet here are two cyclists on full carbon Trek bicycles (oh yes, we are but miles from the Trek factory). We offer assistance but have no tubular tyres for them. Luckily wives have been called.

12:00 pm: We stop for a moment at a gas station. Raspberry Zingers. I haven’t had one of these in years. A mob of drunk men pile out of a caravan that they have been riding around in and drinking for hours. I position myself behind the van and out of site. Curiously Aaron does the same. We both laugh and hope that we didn’t go to high school with any of them. They pose for Daniel’s camera.

1:10 pm: I see why this area hosts a race called the Horrible Hilly Hundreds. Because its incredibly hilly. Horribly so.

1:30 pm: Slate finds the skull of an animal on the side of the road. He claims that it is either a sturgeon, armadillo or wolverine and tries to get everyone to hold it.

2:00 pm: Some of the descents here are amazing. The road quality combined with the perfect rolling pitch of the hills definitely caters to high speeds. Tony has topped out at 49.6 miles an hour. It is visibly apparent that he was actually hoping for something above 50.

2:45 pm: We literally pass by the Blue Mound, we can see it to our left and wonder when we will be heading up to the top. Mike has repeatedly warned us about the ascent. “Leg breakingly” steep, I think it is a phrase that has been thrown around.

3:00 pm: Daniel is on the hill and quietly says “300 meters to go” I look at him questioningly but say nothing. “Is this a joke?” I thought. “The hill just started.”

3:04 pm: He wasn’t joking and we’ve conquered Blue Mound State Park. Next Please.

– Jeremy Dunn