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 share part 2 of his day-by-day adventure journal, maps of his route, and a gallery of photos.
In Part 2, Jared shares about his return journey home from Cable and daily notes from days 4 and 5.
Story and Photos by Jared LInzmeier.
Journal Entry Day 4: 137 miles, 3830 ft climbing
From Cable to Tripoli via Clam Lake, Park Falls
It was hard to leave Cable.
I had a tasty breakfast at Velo cafe and a nice strong cup of drip coffee. It was a little bit overcast and I felt the urge to linger, have a slow morning. I resisted that gravitational pull, packed up my stuff, and hit the road north of Cable, a morning fog hanging low in the majestic trees of Bayfield County.
The route passed east through the Porcupine Lake Wilderness passing lakes, streams, North Country Trail, and a fair bit of solitude on the way to Clam Lake for a resupply. Into the Ashland County State lands, the route incorporated a mix of chunky, rutted, wet ATV trails that required a few short hiking sections. From there it was mostly nice forest roads all the way to Butternut and then smooth county roads to Park Falls and Fifield, which offered plenty of options for resupply, lodging, etc.
I was considering stopping at Sailor Lake campground, but it was a bit buggy and I still had some daylight left so decided to keep riding on the good gravel roads. As the sun set, I rode through one of the unexpected highlights of the trip: Riley Lake Wildlife Management Area. This was such a stunning landscape, with expansive views over the large bog and a lot of dispersed camping options.
I rode into the night, with a glorious view of the stars and the sounds of the forest keeping me company.
Day 5: 147 miles, 3560 ft climbing
From Tripoli to Amherst Junction via Tomahawk and Wausau
A new day ahead! As always, everything starts with coffee. Ideally a hot one.
First a Tripoli resupply then smooth forest miles north of Tomahawk followed by scenic, mellow miles on the Bearskin State Trail that include incredible views of Lake Nokomis and the Wisconsin River. Several bridges offer expansive views of the Northwoods waterways. Shane gave me a heads up that I should stock up heavily in Tomahawk, with no options for food from there to Brokaw.
The landscape began shifting back to more open farmland and undulating hills as the smooth gravel roads stretch to the south. The Averill Creek crossing might have you guessing if you’re on the right track. In the summer it can be pretty overgrown, so prepare for a couple of slow miles with some hike-a-bike and possibly downed trees blocking the trail.
Marathon County is more exposed in the summer heat, red granite gravel passing by rustic farmland, and leading to a couple of deceivingly difficult climbs toward Brokaw.
Entering Wausau, I soaked up the late afternoon buzz of people and traffic as I rode in on the bike path and made my way through town over to the base of Rib Mountain, where I had started the route a few days earlier.
I wrapped up Shane's loop and went to Culver's nearby to fuel up and relax a little before finishing my ride home as the sun went down.
Consecutive long days on the bike bring about a calm, meditative state that helps to put the world into perspective. For me, that also meant a lot of reflection and meditation on gratitude. I felt deeply appreciative for an able body, the time to pursue this ride, the kind people I met along the way, my family, and so much more. .
Plan This Adventure Yourself
Jared's notes and recommendations
Plan conservatively with resupplying. There are a lot of convenience stores on the route and several larger towns with hotels and other lodging. But there are also long stretches that are very sparse.
Remember to use outlets when available to top off batteries. Some of the camping options won’t have electricity available.
This route includes some highway miles so be prepared to ride around some traffic and use caution to be visible.
Overall the gravel is fairly smooth and rideable, but it does vary from segment to segment and depending on time of year. Some sections can be loose and chunky.
Much of the route can be ridden on tires as narrow as 35mm, but for comfort and enjoyment I’d recommend at least 40mm and more ideally closer to 50mm. Certainly a mountain bike would be handy, albeit a bit slower going on the smooth sections.
Build an approximate itinerary that suits your goals. This route can be challenging in some areas.
There are a few segments that may require some additional navigation attention or a reroute:
Marathon County School Forest
Corbin Shooting Range
Wintergreen Trails (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cnnf/recarea/?recid=27827)