Train, Train, Train Silver Lining

The gorgeously painful ride up Cty W outside New Freedom.

With the cuts to the budget and proposed repeal of complete streets, anyone who likes to ride a bike here may be feeling a little down on Wisconsin lately. It might also be getting harder for our great state cycling industry to do business here with the proposed new tax on bicycles and our state’s sinking reputation. We all have to continue to let our state legislators what bad ideas those are, but I thought this blog post about our annual “Train, Train, Train” fundraising trip might cheer people up.

Downhill with a tailwind on the Great River Road.

Despite the attacks, Wisconsin remains a great state in which to ride a bike. While we are not at the top anymore, we still have about 1,800 miles of trails and a wonderful network of paved, low traffic roads. Our annual trip up to La Crosse on vintage Brook Stevens designed train cars and the three-day ride back to Milwaukee via the Great River Road, trails like the iconic Elroy-Sparta, and rolling town roads highlights all that is great about Wisconsin.

Train, Train, Train!

Regular readers may remember reading this blog post about the first time we were invited on Tom Schuler’s Train, Train, Train trip three years ago. Tom is Wisconsin cycling royalty. He raced on the famed 7-Eleven Team, is a member of the Bicycle Hall of Fame and currently is part of the team that puts on the Tour of America’s Dairyland, the largest race series in the country. It has been an honor to get invited on this trip, and we are especially grateful that Tom lets us auction off a couple of spots on his ride at our Saris Gala.

Julian gives the new Trek 720 a big thumbs up. He said it might be the most fun bike he has ever ridden, high praise from a guy who grew up working in Wheel & Sprocket bike shops.

You can read more about the ride in our first blog post about it, but today I just wanted to share something positive about riding a bike in our state. This trip is a perfect example of why cycling is important to us here. From Driver Dave’s Diner where we eat our first delicious lunch to Stockholm Pie and General Store where we get desert, to the Historic Trempeleau Hotel where we stay our first night to Candy’s Merrimac Cafe where we eat our last breakfast, our group leaves thousands of  dollars behind supporting small businesses across the state. We hope we also leave behind smiles and a network of new friends we look forward to seeing for years to come.

The Green Heron Bike shop opened recently in Trempeleau, and the owner also bought the empty buildings across the street, in which he plans to open up a Cafe!

Made in Wisconsin.


Turns out if you ride your bike 120 miles a day, you can eat a lot.


Why we ride.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

5 thoughts on “Train, Train, Train Silver Lining

    • Hi Alan,

      As I mentioned, I am lucky to know Tom and get invited with his other friends. The only way to get on Tom’s trip is to bid on it at the annual Saris Gala in the live auction. But you could recreate the trip very easily with a group of friends. We would be happy to share the gpx routes and places we stay with other Bike Fed members. Amtrak is adding roll-on bike service to the Empire Builder later this summer. The vintage train cars only come through Milwaukee when the Friends of Engine 261 have something else scheduled. Tom Schuler’s invite-only trip is typically tied to when the Cedar Rapids cars are at the National Restaurant Convention in Chicago. Going on a regular Amtrak would not be as cool, but still fun and you could go later in the summer when the weather is more likely to be warm. It is typically pretty cold on our trips.

  1. Cite for Empire Builder roll-on service? I have only found old articles saying that roll on service is coming to long distance routes (seems to me it was supposed to be by the end of 2014)
    If you have link saying it is coming this summer (better yet an ETA), please share
    This is the best I found:

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