Mountain-Bike Wisconsin

Jul 30, 2009
Outside Magazine
Scenic Ridge Campground on Whitewater Lake

Scenic Ridge Campground on Whitewater Lake    Photo: courtesy of Scenic Ridge Campground

ODE: Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Does it bother me that some of my friends think it's schmaltzy? Or that the greatest song about an American shipwreck was actually written by a Canadian? Or that I can't name one other song by Gordon Lightfoot? No, uh-uh, and nope. Nothing bothers me about the song except its length. It's six and a half minutes long. I wish it were 12. When I listen to it (which is often, in the car, alone), I want to stand defiantly in the face of a raging storm on some rocky outcropping. I want to grow a mustache. Or, because I look terrible with a mustache, round up all my buddies from Wisconsin, head out to one of the warm and welcoming bars that dot the Northwoods, and get schnockered. --SAM MOULTON

My home state is pretty flat. Except where it isn't. Like in Kettle Moraine State Forest, which, thanks to a 10,000-year-old glacial grudge match, is downright hilly. I grew up cycling in the state forest's Northern Unit, but the Southern Unit, with more than 30 miles of mostly singletrack, is the best place for knobby tires. My favorite ride: "Blue," a ten-mile singletrack loop with just enough switchbacks and rock gardens to keep things interesting. Like all of the trails here, it's hard-packed and fast—and popular. But while these trails do see heavy use, they're also in great shape, thanks to meticulous upkeep. Backyard Bikes and Ski, in LaGrange, Wisconsin, 1.5 miles from the main trailhead, rents single-speeds, 29ers, and full-suspension rigs (from $30 per day; Rent a cottage at Scenic Ridge Campground, on nearby Whitewater Lake (from $120;