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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Overcast
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Working the legs on the Sugar River State Trail
"North of Brodhead, the trail goes over a replica covered bridge."
"North of Brodhead, the trail goes over a replica covered bridge."
Credit:DNR Photo by Joseph Warren

This weekend my boyfriend and I continued our spring tour of the state's bike trail system with a trip down the Sugar River State Trail, which runs south of Madison between New Glarus and Brodhead.

Unlike the Military Ridge and Glacial Drumlin trails, which we hit last Sunday and the Sunday before that, respectively, the Sugar River trail lies entirely outside Dane County. We drove half an hour to the trailhead in garishly Swiss-themed New Glarus.

In the parking lot, a genial retiree asked us to help him with the quick-release lever on the wheel of his shiny new Trek bike. We did the best we could, and then we were off. The trail is paved for half a mile or so through New Glarus, but after it crosses busy Highway 69, it is gravel. Actually, it is as much dust as it is gravel, and both my skin and my bicycle turned grimy right away.

We pedaled past the restored train depot in Monticello, and past the intersection with the new Badger state trail, which eventually will run between Madison and Freeport, Ill. Just before we reached Albany we traversed a rambling wooden bridge that crosses the Sugar River itself.

Then we paused at the rest area in Albany and ate our lunch on one of the picnic tables there. We had biked 16 miles by then and felt ready to make the jaunt to Brodhead, where the trail ends, and back to New Glarus. So we did, and we were glad to, because we got to inspect the handsome covered bridge just outside Brodhead.

But by the time we turned around, came back through Albany and Belleville and arrived in New Glarus, we had traveled almost 50 miles on our bikes, nearly twice as far as we went on our other trips this spring. I was exhausted, and I briefly entered the zone just before we came to New Glarus -- the zone, that is, where I was no longer aware of the trail, of the pretty scenery, or of the beautiful day. I was aware of how tired my legs were, and that was about it.

Still, we got our greatest reward as we crossed the Sugar River on our way back: The sight of a regal blue heron sunning itself in the waterway. Magnificent.

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