During the second week of June 2010, my wife Gail and I spent a week exploring Door County, Wisconsin on our Bike Fridays.
Six months earlier, we hadn’t even heard of Door County, and like so many native westerners (we live in Tucson) our knowledge of the U.S. was pretty much limited to the east and west coasts with the exceptions of too intimate acquaintance with the Dallas and Chicago airports.
More than a year ago, I made a deal with myself to get to know the middle of America and I wanted to do on the Brooks saddle on my classic Bike Friday.
My first exposure to “America’s Heartland” was RAGBRAI. I loved the experience. The great people. All new terrain. Bike Fridays just seem to attract nice people from all over. The great pie and wonderful small communities that welcomed all 12,000 or so of us. I wanted more. But I also wanted to share the experience with Gail. The problem was the 12,000 other cyclists. She enjoys riding in groups, as long as they are groups of six, four, or two.
I proposed one of the several cross state rides in Wisconsin. She got on the Internet and started exploring. That’s how she found Door County.
Door County peninsula is about a 50 miles long, which juts into Lake Michigan northeast of Green Bay. They call it “the Cape Cod of the Midwest” but what got our attention was all of the language they devoted to talking up the whole idea of “silent sports.”
We checked out pictures of the tiny communities, conveniently spaced about 10 to 15 miles apart and noted that we could expect temperatures to be near 75. The roads would be fairly flat and lightly traveled. It sounded good and we committed.
We flew into Green Bay and took a shuttle (Green Bay Shuttle 920-746-0500) to Sturgeon Bay where we began our trip.
There are two main highways in Door County. Highway 42 follows the Green Bay side of the peninsula and Highway 57 covers the Lake Michigan side. These highways were fine for riding and drivers were as courteous as we could have hoped. People tell us that Door County tourist traffic peaks between July 4 and Labor Day. But our greatest discoveries were the smaller traffic-free county roads that hug the coast or cross the peninsula.
We decided to take a clockwise route around Door County, covering the busier Green Bay side first. We spent nights at Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek, Ellison Bay, Baileys Harbor and at a wonderful B & B/art gallery/sheep farm near Whitefish Bay.
I recommend this as a first multi-day Bike Friday tour or as a way to introduce friends to easy bicycle touring. If you are an experienced bicycle tourist and want to see some great scenery, eat good food, and have plenty of time to explore some charming small towns, you’ll have a great time. On the other hand, if you need to put in 65 or 70 miles before you feel like you’ve had a worthwhile day cycling, it would make more sense to plan to cover Door County in two or three days of riding rather than the week we took.
We are already looking for our next “Heart of America” Bike Friday adventure. Any ideas?