Monthly Archives: September 2011

September 19, 2011

Wisconsin Mountain Biking Basics

Six tips for getting out and enjoying the state’s excellent mountain biking trails

Mountain bike raceMountain biking is for everyone. Geared lower than road bikes, mountain bikes allow riders of nearly any ability to climb hills with ease. Mountain bikes are also versatile: they can literally go anywhere. And best of all, there is a huge variety of mountain biking trails. In Wisconsin, you’ll find everything from flat trails for beginners to rugged trails for diehards.

Although anyone can hop on a mountain bike and have a good time, it does help to know a few things before you hit the trails. Here are six things to think about before you go on your first Wisconsin mountain biking trip.

Pick a trail with a terrain that fits your riding skills – There are hundreds of excellent mountain biking trails in Wisconsin. Your job is to find trails that are right for you. If you are a beginner, look for wide, level trails. If you’re very confident in your skills, look for single-track trails, which often include obstacles and run through hilly terrain.

Biker on bike trail

Photo by RJ & Linda Miller

Know your gears – All of the gears on your mountain bike are there for a reason. The cranks (those three gears attached to your pedals) include a small ring for climbing hills, a medium ring for most riding conditions and a large ring for downhills. The other gears, located on your back wheel, are called your cogset. These gears are used to find the right gear to match your pedaling speed.

Anticipate shifts – Shift to a lower gear before you hit your uphill climbs. Don’t wait until your momentum has slowed to a crawl. When you see a hill ahead of you, shift to a lower gear—a gear in which it is easier to press down on the pedals. Downhills require less anticipation. Simply shift towards a higher gear as you roll into the downward slope. The better your shifting, the more enjoyable your mountain biking experience.

Use good body position– Your body’s position in relation to the bicycle is important. When you are going downhill, keep your weight back by moving your buttocks back on the saddle. You might even notice some expert mountain bikers moving their posteriors all the way off the saddle and over the back wheel! Going uphill, you will lean your weight forward and bend your body down over the handlebar. Standing is generally not a good idea, especially for beginners. When a rider stands up on his or her pedals and wrenches against the handlebars, this puts an incredible amount of stress on the frame and other bike components—an equipment failure in this situation could mean catastrophe. And, standing up is, believe it or not, less efficient than pedaling in a seated position. Stay seated!

Bike trail

Photo by RJ & Linda Miller

Use your eyes – Always watch the trail ahead of you to decide how you’re going to navigate the various twists, turns, potholes and other obstacles. For many people, this snap decision making process is the most exciting part of mountain biking. You will have a few clumsy moments and maybe some tumbles during your first few mountain biking excursions, but you’ll quickly get an instinct for handling anything the trail throws at you.

Use your head – Mountain biking is as safe as you want it to be. You know when you’re doing something foolish or dangerous. Make the decision to be a safe rider and you’ll have a hobby that can last a lifetime.

This entry was posted in Enews on Monday, September 19, 2011.

September 19, 2011

Art in the Outdoors

Three places to enjoy fantastic fall color and beautiful art

Per capita, Wisconsin might have more artists than any other place in the Midwest. There’s something about the varied landscape of the Badger State that inspires artists. Many of these artists create work that melds with their local surroundings.

When fall transforms the Wisconsin countryside into a colorful work of art, it’s the perfect time to visit the state’s most interesting outdoor artwork. This fall, these three outdoor collections will give you a whole new view of Wisconsin.

West Bend Sculpture Walk

West Bend Sculpture WalkFine art has a strong presence in West Bend. The community is home to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which houses the largest collection of art by Wisconsin artists ever assembled. So, it isn’t surprising that this charming community in southeast Wisconsin is also home to one of the state’s most interesting collections of outdoor art.

The West Bend Sculpture Walk links more than 25 outdoor exhibits of modern sculpture. The sculptures are set along West Bend’s scenic Riverwalk, which follows the course of the Milwaukee River. The collection includes works by local artists as well as artists from around the country. With the backdrop of autumn leaves, the sculptures take on a whole new aspect.

Black River Falls’ Historic Murals

Black River Falls Historic MuralsBlack River Country is one of the most unique regions of Wisconsin. Not only is the landscape unique, so are the people and their stories. The historic murals displayed throughout downtown Black River Falls celebrate the leaders, heroes and eccentric characters that built the communities of Black River Country.

The murals are the work of local artist Susan Sampson. She brings to life figures from Black River Falls’ past, showing them with their tools, their livestock, their friends and their creations. You’ll see murals depicting the cranberry industry, dairy farms and deer hunting. The images are fun and sometimes even moving. If you are interested in what makes small-town Wisconsin tick, you don’t want to miss these murals.

Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines

Dickeyville Grotto & ShrinesAlong the Wisconsin Great River Road, in the tiny town of Dickevville, you’ll find one of the Midwest’s most amazing examples of folk art. The Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines is located on the church grounds of the Holy Ghost Parish. It was created between 1925-1930 by Father Matthias Wernerus, a Catholic priest and pastor of Holy Ghost Parish.

Materials for the grotto include everything from colored glass and fine porcelain to sea shells and petrified wood. It’s an incredible sight to behold. Wernerus centered his elaborate work of art around two main themes: love of country and love of God. You’ll see these ideas interwoven throughout the main shrine.


September 6, 2011

Hit the Links this Fall

Pleasant View Golf Course, MiddletonGreat golf courses in southern Wisconsin Fall is an outstanding season for golf. The crisp autumn air and the fall colors create a wonderful atmosphere for a golf outing with friends. Often, there are fewer golfers out on the course, making for a more relaxed pace. Plan a trip this fall to one of these southern Wisconsin destinations and enjoy a great round of golf.

MiddletonPleasant View Golf Course in Middleton is a real gem. The course offers views of Lake Mendota and the City of Madison skyline. Golfers can enjoy 27 holes of championship golf on a challenging par-three course. You’ll also find a driving range, putting green and a pitching area.

Cedar Creek Country Club, Onalaska

Photo by RJ & Linda Miller

Onalaska – Drugan’s Castle Mound Country Club in Onalaska offers a challenging eighteen-hole, par-72 course. It features well-edged bunkers, contoured fairways and bent grass tees and greens. The scenery is typical for Wisconsin’s Mississippi River Valley—absolutely beautiful.

West BendWest Bend Lakes Golf Club is an eighteen-hole, championship-style course. On sixteen of the eighteen holes, water comes into play. On five holes, golfers will enjoy views of the Milwaukee River. It’s a top-notch course and one that looks gorgeous in the fall.


September 6, 2011

Where to See the Fall Color Show

Eleven places and ways to enjoy fall color in Wisconsin

Fall Color in BoulderIn the fall, Wisconsin is awash in brilliant color. The mix of forests, farms and lakes makes the state ideal for enjoying fall scenery. But beware: the autumn display only lasts a few weeks. So, when you see the leaves in your neighborhood begin to show signs of color, don’t dally. Head to Wisconsin for the fall color show! Here are some of the best places to view the fall transformation. Aboard the Wilderness Queen, Rhinelander – A boat trip from Wisconsin River Cruises is the perfect way to experience fall in the Northwoods. Cruises are offered throughout the fall. Learn more. Bicycle trails in Boulder Junction – If you’re going to go biking this fall, Boulder Junction is your best bet. The community’s biking trail system winds through some of the most breathtaking forests you’ll find anywhere. A favorite excursion is from Boulder Junction to beautiful Crystal Lake near Sayner. Learn more.

Black River Fall Colors

Photo by Charlene Miller

Black River, Onalaska – Set high on a bluff above Onalaska, Greens Coulee Park offers you some of the best scenic vistas in the region. Trails run throughout the park, giving you a number of excellent vantage points. Don’t miss this fall color hotspot. Learn more. Autumn TrailKettle Moraine State Forest, West Bend – This 30,000-acre state forest located north of West Bend offers a landscape of rolling hills, scattered woodlands and small lakes. It’s absolutely stunning in the fall. Learn more. Ledge Park, Horicon, Dodge County – The Niagara Escarpment is a geological feature that stretches across the northern U.S. and Canada. The escarpment makes its appearance in Dodge County at Ledge Park. In the fall, it is a great place to view the surrounding countryside and the Horicon Marsh. Learn more. Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton – This conservancy in the heart of Middleton protects 550 acres of wetlands, woodlands and prairies. During the fall, it dazzles with color as well as numerous species of birds that use the conservancy as a resting place on their trip south for the winter. Learn more. Schlect Trail, Minocqua, Oneida County – Take a quiet walk in the woods along this set of trail loops near Minocqua. In addition to colorful foliage, you’ll have a chance to see some of the abundant wildlife, from white-tailed deer to ruffed grouse. Learn more.