The Prune: Green Lake 100 ride? Taxing, but not overwhelming

THE PRUNE DEMONSTRATES that he is not tire-d despite biking for 75 miles. submitted photo

by Todd Sharp

Three days before

I’m getting ready for the weekend, ready to ride the Green Lake 100.

I’ve anticipated that one year this ride will expand well beyond the organizers’ capacity to handle all the last-minute riders. This might be the year.  A lot of people have already signed up. I know of a bunch more who have pledged their interest and the weather promises to be gorgeous.

The chance to “Loop the Lake,” the shortest route at 24 miles, is a real big draw. Tossing the milkweed bombs and the great weather all adds to the excitement.

Whitney Meza and the marketing group at the Chamber of Commerce, the Greenways folks and Liane Walsh, mastermind at the Green Lake Chamber of Commerce, have all done a remarkable job. Though some of the routes still need to be marked, we are poised to have a great ride.

Two days before

My girlfriend, Katy, and I planned on camping at Hattie Sherwood Campground Friday night and Saturday before the ride, but the tornado warnings in western Wisconsin and the impending rain on Friday keep us home and dry.

We take a 20-mile ride to see parts of the beautiful Muskellunge Route (100 miles) that we won’t get to see when we ride 75 miles on Sunday.

Two days before

While setting up camp early Saturday morning we receive a call to pitch in and mark some of the route. Our intended plan for a short ride and to spend a relaxing, restful day got jumbled with 50 miles via car, and 200 stops, jumping out of the air conditioning into 86 degree heat and marking arrows on the road. My trigger finger is a delightful combination of fluorescent green and orange. My boots have a spattered pattern of the same shades. It takes longer to mark the route in a vehicle than to ride it.

We finish marking the Lake Trout (75 miles) and Muskellunge routes in time for a quick dinner and a good night sleep in the tent, but there is another 12 miles of route that needs to be marked before the ride starts, so I set my alarm for the crack of dawn.

Day of the Ride

After marking the remainder of the route, we make it back to the start at Deacon Mills Park and see cars, bikes and bikers all over town. The ride starts in a half hour and lots of folks are getting prepared to go.

Katy starts her ride and I stay back to help with registration. Around 9:30 a.m., I leave to ride clean up in case anyone needs assistance along the way, and to see how long it takes me to catch up with Katy, who’s becoming a serious rider, but isn’t as fast as me (yet).

I’m sure I’ll regret this line soon.

As I’m getting ready to leave, Ken Bates, former school superintendent and fellow Prune, shows up.

Ken had set up the Milkweed bombs to be tossed into a fenced off area in Tichora as part of the Green Lake Conservancy’s effort to return native plants and butterflies to the park. I’m sure many of you know Ken and how positively optimistic and kind he is. We chatted and had a near effortless trip on this beautiful Sunday Morning rolling around the southside of the lake, rolling through Tichora’s new pathway and tossing out the Milkweed bombs.

Tichora is a very special place developing on the south shore of the lake. Lots of work is going on and dedicated volunteers are making the lake accessible to everyone and preserving this prime public waterfront.

You’ll be hearing stories of the buildings being taken apart by volunteers and Habitat for Humanity and the cabins removed, restoring the park to a natural state.

Along the route we ride by a number of groups walking with strollers, with dogs, hand in hand, jogging, riding bikes, standing and chatting with neighbors.

So much energy and so many healthy activities taking place in our community.

Ken stopped at his house and I continued on my quest to catch up to with Katy. I had planned the routes and had ridden most of them. I love the view from T looking west. I swear on a clear day you can see all the way past the amber waves of grain to Pike’s Peak -— or at least to the Wisconsin River.

I apologize though; I never rode up the Hwy. W hill before. I hope everyone thought the view was worth it!

I hammer the pedals but miss connecting with Katy in Princeton by a few minutes, and take the opportunity at the rest stop to relax and refuel.

Heading west and north to the Longbranch, I chat with a large group of bike riders not on the GL 100 ride but just enjoying our beautiful countryside on their way to the Longbranch for burgers.

Katy is a little disappointed that I was able to catch up so quickly. She wanted to be sitting at the Lunch Creek Winery, having a glass, when I finally found her, but here she is at the Longbranch in Germania. She had met up with some more riders; we make introductions and head out on the second half of the ride on the sweet, smooth country roads toward the Lunch Creek Vineyard and Winery in Neshkoro.

My pace slows as our group hopscotches and leapfrogs through conversations on the way. It is a bluebird day with little wind in any direction and little need to finish quickly.

The winery tasting room is packed and the outdoor tables full. Katy and I tasted some of the delicious whites while marking the routes yesterday so today we settle on orange slices, yellow bananas and salty brown pretzels.

We ride through Neshkoro and back to Princeton. These are some of the nicest roads and scenery on the entire ride, but after 50 miles, conversation slows as concentration on riding and discomfort in the saddle intensifies.

We make it back to the Princeton rest stop and enjoy the relief, more food and colorful conversation as we fuel up for the final leg of the trip back to Green Lake through the Huckleberries.

The solitude and grace of the White River Marsh has a calming influence on any ride, but it’s never more apparent than at the end of 75 miles.

We finish up and discover we were nearly the last to come in. Three more people come in a few minutes later. We had ridden 74.8 miles. They finished the full 100.

The Green Lake 100 did grow a lot this year. The number of riders did expand. We still haven’t overwhelmed the staff of the Chamber of Commerce or the volunteers, but there’s always next year.

The one thing we did overwhelm was the keg of Knuth’s Blue Eyed Blonde — it was gone before I got any, I’ll have to ride faster.

I encourage you to get out and enjoy the ride for yourself. The routes (Pink-24, Yellow -40, Green-75, and Orange- 100 miles) will continue to be marked as long as the temporary painted arrows remain.

May your memories of the views, conversations and the friendships you make along the way last much longer.

See you next year at the Green Lake 100!


Editor’s note: When not making friends, drinking beer and riding his bike, Todd Sharp is selling advertising for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.