My ride from Madison, WI to Highwood, IL

Hello, this is my story about riding from Madison to Highwood (a north suburb of Chicago). I began my 140 mile adventure on Sunday August 15th from Ogg hall on the UW Madison campus at dawn. We had moved my stuff in to my new dorm room the night before, I will be moving myself in on the 26th. My set up was a 24 inch Schwinn with a Kris Holm seat and a piece of 15" metal piping extending outward underneath the back of the seat, that I bolted to the seat post with 2 small metal plates. I was able to bungee my small pack of about 20-25 pounds to the seat post and this piping. I also had a water bottle holder hose clamped to the seat post so that I could put a water bottle under the front of the seat.

My ride began on the Capitol City trail bike trail which extends around Lake Monona. So I rode around the top of Lake Monona until I reached Cottage Grove road which tooke me to the town of Cottage Grove, WI about 8 miles east of Madison. There, I began riding the fantastic Glacial Drumlin State Trail of Wisconsin, which goes along an old railroad line. This 52 mile trail was beautiful, going through prairie, marshlands, and classic Wisconsin farmland. The first day of riding was the best because of this gorgeous landscape shaped by glaciers I was riding through. It was very rural and wild. At about 5 p.m. I stopped in Sullivan, WI for dinner then rode a little ways until I found a spot in the woods a bit off the trail where I would sleep. I rode 45 miles the first day. I was making great time. I carried a sleeping bag, a change of clothes, a little food, bug spray, a jacket, a cell phone, a GPS, and a few other necessities. So I just slept in my sleeping bag in the woods on some farmer’s property. I was reading my book before the sun set in dead quiet, except for the slight rustling of leaves caused by scurrying squirrels, for about half an hour when I heard a strange subtle noise. I turn around and there is a wild turkey about 10 yards away from me walking about. I watch him for a while, and he eventually flies up into a tree! Seeing a turkey fly into a tree is quite a sight. I slept pretty well that night considering I had no air pad or anything.

I started the next morning at dawn, and rode through mist in the marshlands. I stopped for a breakfast of granola in Dousman and continued riding to the end of the trail in Waukesha. I rode through Waukesha, and continued on the New Berlin trail which took me to New Berlin a suburb of Milwaukee. That 6 mile trail connected me to the Oak Leaf trail which goes around the perimeter of Milwaukee. I rode on that until I was south of Milwaukee not far from Lake Michigan, and I rode along some quiet country roads, until I reached a bike path that went to Racine. I had a lot of energy the second day, and I just kept riding. I was really hungry around 5 p.m. and there was no place to eat until Racine, so I just kept riding. I got into Racine and had a huge dinner at a barbecue grill restaurant. Only problem now was that I was in a big town, it was going to get dark soon, and I had nowhere to sleep yet. I rode through town and got a little lost, I was thankful I took my dad’s GPS, so I got back on track. I was going along the Root River and I was dead tired, completely exhausted, I could go no further, and it was dark. I first stopped by a school to sleep but it was too close to a big street, so I moved to a park along the river that was kind of secluded and that was perfect. I slept in the grass and was not disturbed until it started drizzling in the middle of the night. Luckily there was a picnic shelter nearby where I spent the rest of the night on a hardwood floor. I woke up at dawn and right as I was ready to go it started raining again, pouring rain. It went for about an hour and a half, I just read my book. When it stopped I got started and was determined to get to Highwood that afternoon or evening. I rode about 55 miles the second day, so I was sore and tired that morning but I was going to make it, I knew it.

I rode south to Kenosha and had a breakfast/lunch of blueberry pancakes at a cafe. I continued riding south to the state border, called my dad and told him I was coming home that day. I had planned a 4 day trip, but I was going to make it in 3. I kept going, pushing my legs and knees to the limit. The riding was pretty dull compared to the beatiful drumlin trail but I was psyched I was in Illinois and almost home. Then in Lake Forest, about 3 miles north of my house, the thunderstorm hit. It began pouring rain, and lightning was striking nearby. I kept riding because I was so close. It soon began hailing on me but I fought through it, and pulled into home with my adrenaline pumping.

I had made it! 140 miles in 3 days, on a 24 inch unicycle. I had only trained seriously for a week before the ride, and got my post attached only a few days before the ride. I pulled this ride together to finish off my summer, and it was an amazing experience. Now if I ever want to unicycle home from college I know just the way.

Thanks for reading,
Will Rockey

Another unicyclist in Madison?!!

I myself am a student at the UW Madison, and bought a unicycle in january.
There are a few other unicyclists that meet (occasionally) as part of the Madison Area Jugglers twice weekly ( If you’re interested in joining us to juggle and unicycle, you can PM or email me and I’ll show you where we meet.

I’m going on tuesday the 24th.

Have a nice year, and I hope to see you sometime juggling/unicycling with us.

-Matt Hemke


Congratulations on your substantial ride!


Very fine ride report. Too bad unis came into my life so late. It would have been great fun uni-ing home from Madison when I went there. The Wisconsin bike trails are super. Especially the ones that go through the old railroad tunnels. On hot summer days, they are chilly and drippy inside with a shimmering “light at the end of the tunnel”. Thanks for the nicely written ride.

Santa Monica where me kid is swirling in and out of driveways and up the way on his new 5-6 footer. He takes great joy in being taller than me.

Great ride. Sounds like a good challange. I am determined to do at least 50 miles in one day in the near future. I will need a lot more training time than you did though. So what book were you reading?:smiley:

If you get an early start and ride until dark you can make 50 miles easier than you think, even with a lot of breaks. I was reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, which I highly recommend.