Founder/Owner of Ruby Coffee, Jared Linzmeier was looking for an epic, full-northwoods bikepacking adventure that left from his back door and took him to familiar places via unfamiliar routes. Here we include part 1 of his day-by-day adventure journal, maps of his route, and a gallery of photos.
In Part 1, Jared shares the inspiration for this adventure and daily notes from days 1-3.
Story and Photos by Jared LInzmeier.
This route travels through incredible Wisconsin landmarks and landscapes, connecting Rib Mountain at the southern end of the loop to the Chequamegon National Forest at the northern end. Shane Hitz assembled this loop by combining and bridging three existing routes that are usually raced, toured, or bikepacked:
1. Dave Schlabowske’s Tour de Chequamegon [LINK]
2. Chris Schotz’s TTT 103 [LINK]
3. Shane’s own Red Granite Grinder 144. [LINK]
Together they are a pretty ultimate Northwoods experience, with some truly amazing sights and stops along the way. One of the nice things about a looped route is that riders can select start points that suit their preferences or needs.
Being born and raised in Wisconsin and having spent a lot of time up north, my attraction to this route was that it connects communities and places that I’m familiar with by traveling through a lot of unfamiliar, off the beaten track terrain. My ride centered around the town of Cable being my destination, breaking my trip down into ‘there’ and ‘back.’
Furthermore, I thought it would be an even greater connection to start the ride from my neighborhood in the Amherst, Wisconsin area, adding approximately 120 miles and bringing the route total to over 600.
Journal Entry Day 1: 100 miles, 2400 ft climbing
I rode from my house in Amherst Junction to Edgar via Wausau and camped at Scotch Creek Woodland- Preserve.
An adventure from your back door.
The first day of riding I decided on a route that took me on some familiar local country roads that led to gravel through the Dewey Marsh area north of Stevens Point. I got a later start in the afternoon after work, so I wasn't exactly sure how far I'd get or where I would camp. I also had to adjust my mileage expectations based on the load of my bike and kit I was carrying.
North out of Dewey, there’s an unpaved access road into Marathon County Forest that leads through Leather Camp Forest Unit and emerges near Kronenwetter, just southeast of Wausau. This stretch is basically a two track road through the woods. From there I rode to Nine Mile County Forest, where Shane Hitz's Ultimate route originates. The track carries on west of Wausau on some nice, scenic gravel and heads over to Edgar on a pretty well maintained ATV trail. By the time I reached Edgar, it was after 9pm and dark outside so I stopped for the night at a primitive and probably unsanctioned camp in Scotch Creek Preserve.
Journal Entry Day 2: 113 miles, 4300 ft climbing
From Edgar to Phillips via Ogema, Timm's Hill
Sometimes you hear noises at night. I yelled into the night a few times at whatever animal was making some huffing sounds. Mostly I convinced myself it was a deer in the nearby woods and that it would leave me alone. It was also a subtle reminder that adventure isn’t far from home.
Woke up and shook off the dew, found some hot water to get some instant Ruby coffee going right away using hot water at a nearby gas station.
The sun came up and I had a beautiful view of Rib Mtn to the east. I rode some bumpy stuff (legacy type singletrack) through the Scott Creek Preserve (tough on a loaded bike), emerged from that and ventured north. Great rainbow views to the west, especially at Rib Falls, which I took as a message from the universe that I was where I was supposed to be.
The surface northwest of Merril transitioned noticeably as I made my way out of the red granite roads into the forest roads of Lincoln County. More rugged stuff, more variety. That kicked out near Westboro and I got rained on pretty heavily. Rail trail to Ogema, where I stopped for lunch and warmed up at the Rail Trail Cafe. I’d advise stopping here to fuel up because options before and after are pretty few and far between.
The rain subsided and I finished the rest of the hilly route through Timm's Hill (highest point in WI!) and all the winding way to Phillips. I was pretty wiped after this day due to the climbing, weather, and the tougher gravel forest roads, which had become slow from precipitation as well. My feet and gear were wet and I was physically tired from being cold so I decided to get a hotel for better recovery.
Phillips has a lot of resupply options, including a well-stocked Pick N Save! I got a rotisserie chicken, peanut butter, bars, apples, and wobbled my bike over to the hotel. Bathtubs and hand soap do a decent job for washing gear.
Journal Entry Day 3: 108 miles, 3380 ft climbing
From Phillips to Cable via Winter
What a wonderful impact some sunshine, dry gear, and coffee can have.
I felt euphoric once I got out of bed and got moving (I might have definitely used two packs of instant on this day). I had some gear that needed an extra boost to finish drying before hitting the road again, so I happily recalled passing by a laundromat the day before. Thankfully my room had a hair dryer that dried out my shoes pretty effectively as well.
Heading west out of Philips, I made quick time on a paved section and then got started on more gravel in the scenic Flambeau State Forest. The riding was undulating and pretty smooth, with the classic scenes of log piles here and there and the occasional truck passing by.
There’s something empowering about knowing you have everything you need to take care of yourself through remote segments. Along with that is a healthy dose of vulnerability away from the comforts and resources of home. Next stop was a resupply in Winter followed by a short stretch on the Tuscobia State Trail.
By this time I was fixated on the pizza looming in the distance in Cable and savored the smooth miles in the Chequamegon National Forest.
About ten miles from Cable the route transitions from gravel to proper single track.
Riding along the Namakagon CAMBA trail, I quickly forgot I was approaching 100 miles for the day and lost myself in the fun of mountain biking on my loaded rig. I stopped for a few photos and watched a muskrat dip into the water, soaking up the landscape.
The last few miles into town are a dynamic series of punchy gravel climbs and a bit of rough two-track that eventually emerge to a fast and fun descent that leads right to the North End Trailhead and into Cable.
Let me tell you: PIZZA NEVER TASTED SO GOOD. Thankfully I arrived just in time to order before The Rivers closed for the night.
Camping at the town campgrounds a couple miles away was also absolutely perfect.