Beloit and Beyond Bike Tour Ride Report

This weekend we drove up to Beloit, Wisconsin to ride in the 2nd Annual Beloit and Beyond Bike Tour. I had only found out about this ride 3 days prior, when a friend emailed me a link she discovered in Paddle & Trail’s email newsletter.

Severe thunderstorms were originally predicted but thankfully the system was pushed back later in the day. The new forecast predicted highs were to reach 96 degrees with abundant sunshine, giving way to clouds and wind preceding an afternoon storm.

We got a late start to our morning, leaving home 40 minutes later than intended. Sketchy GPS navigation combined with unfamiliarity of the city of Beloit had us lost for a brief time, but we soon spotted cyclists and followed them into the Paddle & Trail‘s parking lot where registration was set up.

Paddle and Trail Beloit Wisconsin

This ride was intriguing because it had many options to accommodate all levels of bicyclists.

  • 4 Miles – Local Loop
  • 8 Miles – Beckman Mill One-Way ($5 shuttle fee)
  • 16 Miles – Beckman Mill Loop
  • 25 Miles – Brodhead One-Way ($10 shuttle fee)
  • 50 Miles – Brodhead Loop
  • 50 Miles – New Glarus Roads One-Way ($15 shuttle fee)
  • 50 Miles – New Glarus Roads + Trail One-Way ($15 shuttle fee)
  • 100 Miles – New Glarus Loop

We opted for the 50 mile one-way route. The concept of a one-way ride to New Glarus that shuttles riders home reminded me of a shorter version of The Eleventy. Since I don’t ride a sustained pace of 2omph – and I am not a guy – I’ll most likely never experience The Eleventy for myself. This Beloit ride was a good opportunity to ride something of a similar nature with about half the distance and half the testosterone.

The ride itself was free, but if you wanted to take advantage of the one-way routes there was a fee to take a shuttle back. Later we would learn that the shuttle was really a crowded minivan, not a bus as one might have imagined.

I had some initial hesitation with this ride. Although the website is designed attractively, there were some gaps in the information presented including the shuttle schedule. I had asked about the shuttle on social media and even sent them a message to which none of my efforts were responded to. My fear was that we would not make it to New Glarus in time to catch the shuttle (especially with our late start) and would be stranded many miles from home or forced to ride the full century which I was not physically or mentally prepared.

Thankfully the volunteers at registration were helpful and patient and addressed all my concerns. However I wish this would have been done beforehand, as the lack of response to my messages in days prior almost had be throw in the towel and not go. If you are going to use social media to promote your event, use it to communicate! Communication leading up to an event is key in getting riders engaged.

We were given a route map, a detour map, reserved seating wristbands for the shuttle, numbers of whom to call when we were ready to be picked up and a goodie bag. The goodie bag contained literature from the Beloit Chamber of Commerce “Visit Beloit” tourism campaign, a pen, bottle opener (which nearly broke upon first use), post-it notepad and perfume sample (a not-so-subtle hint for sweaty cyclists?). Instead of giving away things that will most likely get thrown out, it would be nice to have just one useful item such as a bandana, visor, drink koozie, pint glass or carabiner (just a few ideas) with the Beloit and Beyond logo (which is nicely designed). I understood that it was a free event so there were no complaints.

After popping our wheels on and filling our jersey pockets with Honey Stinger waffles, we were off.

Beloit and Beyond Bike Tour Route Markings

The course was smartly marked with spray-painted arrows on the pavement, in addition to a few signs at main turns. Spray-paint or ground decals are the way to go as ill-intentioned individuals often tamper with signage at events, an unfortunate reality of society. The route had us traveling straight west through some neighborhoods with a few stop signs. A few miles later the roads became more rural with less homes and more farmland. A combination of minimal traffic and gentle rolling hills made for a smooth and fun ride. There were some roads that I’d describe as pebbly, a bit rougher than the roads I am use to riding but still enjoyable.

The first water stop was around mile 8, too soon for us so we rolled on past. The next water stop was placed outside of a cemetery around mile 18. They had small granola bars, fruit snacks, fruit, and individual drink enhancer packets (Gatorade? Crystal Light? I wasn’t sure). I opted for a Smores-flavored granola bar, filled one of my bottles and then we rolled out towards Brodhead. Along the way was a suggested detour because of some freshly poured gravel that caused some last minute route changes, although volunteer Larry said that a few cyclists had already gone through and said it was fine. We decided to risk the gravel and so just past the Sand Burr restaurant on County T we turned onto the original route of Halfway Tree Road. Indeed there was fresh gravel all along Halfway Tree and most of Airport Road, about a 1.75 mile stretch, but it was doable on road bikes.

Brodhead Wisconsin Train Depot

Once we reached Brodhead, we stopped at the Brodhead Depot Museum next to Veterans Memorial Park for a saddle adjustment. While off the bike, an ant had gotten into my sock which resulted in me hopping around with my shoe off. Brodhead looked like a cute town and I wished we had a little more time to explore and get some coffee but we wanted to get to continue on to New Glarus.

Only a half mile after our saddle adjustment stop we had to stop again as we approached Exchange & 3rd ave. – the road vs. trail juncture approximately 26 miles into the ride. From here you had the option to take the roads which are described as hilly and challenging or the mild-mannered Sugar River Trail. The road option included two category 5 climbs, one nearly a mile long. My lack of hill training combined with rising temps contributed to my decision to choose the trail option. I’m well aware of the hills that Southwestern Wisconsin has to offer and was not feeling like I was properly trained to attempt it this year. I also had a ride planned for the following day and did not want to trash my quads on those hills and have jello legs the rest of the weekend. This juncture had another water stop and self-registration for those deciding to use the trail. It cost $4 a person for a daily trail pass, exact cash placed into an envelope and deposited into a mailbox slot at the park shelter. After filling out the form and depositing our $8 we pedaled north along 3rd Avenue, past 4th (the turn-off for the road riders) towards the trailhead. Little did I know this would be a decision that I’d soon come to regret.

Sugar River State Trail Trailhead in Brodhead Wisconsin

We stopped at the trailhead at Decatur & Pierce Road to take a mini break to eat a Honey Stinger and then began the last half of our ride. The Sugar River Trail is a rails-to-trails project and I assumed it would be much like my rails-to-trails back home which I often take my road bike on. Incorrect assumption. It was obvious right away that this trail does not see much use. Weeds were sprouting up in the middle of the trail like a suburban boulevard. Large branches and debris littered the path, and some areas were so soft and sandy that my skinny tires sank along with my spirits. Wish I would have read Tracy Doyle’s review which largely echoed my own. This trail may be fine for mountain or hybrids but it was not as hard-packed and smooth as the trails we are use to. The scenery diminished as both sides of the trail were bordered by trees and brush, making it impossible to see any of the country landscape. I became mentally bogged down by the thought of riding a full 25 miles (it later turned out to be 22) on this and missed the wide-open roads with views of spotted cows, weathered barns and rolls of hay on the horizon. The only benefit I saw to the trail was that it was partly shaded which was relief on a hot day and there was a neat covered bridge that was fun to ride through. Each mile felt like 10, and it wasn’t until we crossed paths with the Badger Trail and approached Monticello that I perked up a little.

Monticello Train Railroad Depot Along Sugar River Trail in Wisconsin

In Monticello just north of County EE there is a restored train depot along the trail which is painted a bright and lovely shade of orange. We stopped here for another Honey Stinger and finished off the rest of our water. While there were 3 water stops in the first 26 miles of the route, there were 0 water stops out here on the trail. In fact we did not see any other cyclists from our ride while on the trail and we barely saw a soul at all. I had a feeling that 99% of the riders took the road option. At least we get points for being different, eh?

We had about 7 or so miles left to New Glarus and these last miles were tolerable. The trail seemed to get more use in this stretch so it was better maintained and we actually saw a few things besides trees and brush. We saw lovely white and brown birch trees with bright yellow goldenrod. We saw the manicured golf course of the Edelweiss Chalet Country Club. We saw open views of a farm with spotted cows. We saw a 4′ long snake spread across the path, a snake which we both nearly ran over. We began to see more people, mostly walkers, and could sense that we were close to town.

All of a sudden we popped out onto Route 69, crossed the road and continued behind Chalet Landhaus Inn and arrived at the finish (turn around for the century riders) on the deck of Fat Cat Coffee Works. I was surprised we arrived so quickly, my Garmin read just a hair over 48 miles, approximately 2 miles short of 50.

The volunteers seemed genuinely friendly and happy to see us. They said that a shuttle would be on its way and another rider was waiting at a local pub. We left our phone number with them and they said they’d call when the shuttle arrived. They suggested we leave the bikes under their supervision while we walked into town for lunch. Mr. Nine admired a Surly Moonlander that was parked outside of the coffee shop and then we headed off in search of food and drink. Walking on sidewalks in bike shoes is not an easy task and Mr. Nine was worried that he’d wear out his new cleats. We walked into one of the first pubs we found, only to see it packed with a biker crowd – the motorcycle kind. Leather & lycra don’t mix so we opted to walk a bit further until we found a place that seemed bicyclist friendly. We ended up going to Toffler’s Pub & Grill which had outdoor seating and New Glarus beer on tap. The waitress was very friendly and the food arrived quickly. I would say that it was the best burger with pepper-jack cheese and homemade chips that I’ve ever had, but truth be told I was so hungry that anything would have tasted incredible. It was washed down with my current NG fave – Moon Man. I wondered if the owner of the above-mentioned Moonlander enjoyed a Moon Man while in town…

Toffler's Pub New Glarus Wisconsin

We walked through town and listened to bells from the Swiss United Church and peeked into the windows of shops but didn’t stop in because we didn’t have appropriate shoes. It would have been ideal for the ride to offer a drop-bag service where cyclists could bring a bag with a change of clothes, shoes, food or other essentials and drop it off at registration. Then the first shuttle could bring it into New Glarus where it would be waiting for cyclists. This would have made it possible for us to change shoes and clothes and spend the afternoon in New Glarus.

Swiss Church New Glarus

Beloit and Beyond Map and Fat Cat Scone

After a short walking tour of downtown NG we walked back to Fat Cat and the volunteers said it would be another 2 hours before the shuttle was to arrive, and then another half hour before we’d depart. I wouldn’t mind if they had a drop-bag system as I’ve mentioned, but sitting around in sweaty bike clothes for another 2 1/2 hours was not ideal. I rode around the block a few times to make up my lost 2 miles to try to get to an even 50 (OCD behavior), got Americanos and a scone (the Americanos were excellent, the scone was horrible). Thankfully moments later a volunteer in a minivan arrived and offered to take us and 2 other cyclists, 2 hours ahead of the projected time. He had a 4-bike rack but it was not on the hitch. Turned out that he was missing a bolt, so another volunteer left to go to the hardware store to buy one. Meanwhile, we are now sitting in a gas station parking lot waiting for said part to arrive. Some time later, the bike rack is finally on the hitch and our bikes are loaded. There are only 3 seats in the vehicle, so one of the guys volunteered to sit in the back. The minivan was quite cluttered with everything from flowery glass trivets to spools of wire to shopping bags and it was very cramped amongst the clutter. Not really what I was expecting for our $15 shuttle, but it was a ride and we needed one so I kept quiet. On our 50 mile ride back the skies darkened and became ominous as the storm loomed not far away. I was glad we were not stuck in New Glarus waiting or worse – on the roads with our bikes.

We made it back to Paddle & Trail just minutes before the rain started. A few volunteers remained and they congratulated us on a great ride. We packed up the bikes and headed out just as the winds really picked up and the strong downpour began.

Overall I thought it was worth the trip. While I would have preferred better pre-ride communication, a real shuttle and a drop-bag option – we ended up managing just fine. Next time I would rather use my triple crankset to its full ability and burn my quads on those “demon hills” than to take the Sugar River State Recreation Trail again. While the ride is “free”, in the end it cost $19 each with the shuttle and trail fee. This ride is only in its second year and there is room for improvement. I overheard a volunteer say that around 120 people came out for this ride which was an increase in attendance from their first year. It is a good idea, run by friendly volunteers and has real potential to become a solid annual ride if they ask for feedback from the riders and listen. I’d encourage others to come out next year and try this versatile ride, there is something for the whole family.

Categories: Cycling, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Craving Quiche

Spent a fun-filled weekend in Madison.

Giraffe at Henry Vilas Zoo

Went to the zoo.

Pier on Lake Mendota

Walked along the Lake Mendota.

Stones Throw Madison

Did some bargain shopping ($10 clearance Lole top!).

Hopalicious and New Glarus

Stocked the fridge with some fave Wisconsin brews and my favorite preserves from the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

Potter's Crackers

And a few more Farmers’ Market finds like Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread and these Rhubarb Graham Crackers from Potter’s Crackers.

There was also lots of eating, wandering around, a trip to Olbrich Botanical Gardens and we even went over to Sundance to see the film Salmon Fishing in Yemen.

Today I stayed home and got caught up on things like laundry and mowing the lawn. After attending to the fun domestic stuff, I took a little trip to Barnes & Noble and treated myself to a new cookbook. After a week of eating out (between my Door County and Madison travels) I wanted to jumpstart some healthy eating and be inspired with some new recipes.

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

I’ve been making many of Elana’s recipes from her website and thought it was time that I bought her book. While in Madison, I had some of the best quiche ever from La Baguette. Authentic French bakery, the quiche and pastries taste just like I remember from Paris. Swoon. While the quiche was sinful, it was also most likely made with butter and heavy cream (that is why it tastes so darn good!). I was happy to see a healthier version of quiche in the cookbook and decided that I’d make it for dinner tonight.

Quiche Crust

Here is the Savory Pie Crust (I did a sloppy job pressing it in the pan) made with just almond flour, baking soda, salt, green oniongrape seed oil and water. I did have to bake it about 12 minutes longer than the recipe stated, but it came out perfectly golden and made the house smell like almond cookies.

While the crust was cooling, I cooked the onion, broccoli, mushroomssun-dried tomatoes and garlic. I let the veggie mixture cool and went to water some plants in the garden. A half hour later and I was ready to prepare the quiche. I whisked 3 eggs and gently stirred in goat cheese & salt. I folded in the veggies and poured it into the prepared crust. Baked for 35 minutes and then let it sit for another half hour (while I did some more gardening).

Savory Quiche

The completed Savory Vegetable Quiche cooling on the table.

Quiche Closeup

Sliced and plated, ready to eat. Mr. Nine added lots of hot sauce to his, and admittedly the quiche was rather bland. I decided to forgo the hot sauce and just enjoy the mild veggie flavors. The crust was a bit crumbly, like a graham cracker crust. Next time I’d add another egg or two (my egg to veggie ratio seemed off, but I just eyeballed my measurements) but this was a good “healthy quiche” recipe. Of course it wasn’t as indulgent and creamy as La Baguette, but I won’t have to spend an extra hour (or two, or three) in the gym because of it. 😉

As I am writing this blog post, I smelled something burning. My Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars! It wasn’t quite ready at 25 minutes, so I left it in for a few more but forgot to set the timer. 😦 I hope they are not too ruined… they look okay, but do smell a little overdone. I have no idea how long they’ve been in there… but longer than they should have been. Boo. I really wanted these to snack on this week and do not feel like making another batch tonight.

It is amazing how you can sit down at the computer for “just a few minutes” blogging, reading emails, catching up on Facebook and suddenly a huge chunk of time is gone.

Do you ever lose track of time while on the computer? Do you ever set a timer for yourself to limit your online time? What is your favorite quiche recipe? Rich and indulgent or light and healthy?

Update: The Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars ended up being edible. A little on the dry side, but not burnt. They were probably in there 10-15 minutes longer than they were suppose to so that says a lot to how fool-proof this recipe is. 🙂

Categories: Food, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nicolet Bay 5k Race Weekend Recap

Back from my girls weekend in Door County!

Door County Country Chalet

Our charming rental “chalet” in the woods. After dropping off our luggage we went to the Ephraim Town Hall for packet pick-up. The sun was out and there was an excitement in the air (along with lots of bugs). That evening we stayed in and cooked since it was the night before the race. Roasted vegetable lasagna was the star, and a garden salad, spinach cake, garlic bread were the supporting acts. We also had a festive taco dip, fresh fruit, and other little snacks. I made up a batch of cranberry apricot truffles for something sweet. We had so much food that we forgot to take some out of the fridge. While most people like to super hydrate with water the night before a race, I like to have a glass of wine with my dinner to relax. 🙂 Dinner was wonderful and we went to bed early to get a good night of rest.

This was my first race coming back from my ITB injury, and as much as I wanted to run the half marathon with the girls, I played it safe and stuck to the 5k race option. Check out the course:

Nicolet Bay 5k Course Map

The course runs on park roads that hug the two bays. I was so excited!

The race didn’t start until 10:35 so we were able to sleep in, have breakfast and take our time getting ready.

Costco Running Outfit

My race outfit from Costco! Yes, Costco makes decent running clothes and I love them. The pants are Kirkland yoga crop pants for $16.99 and the space-dye racer-back tank was $12.99. There is a rumor that some of Costco’s workout clothes are made in the same place where they make Lululemon. I own a pair of Lululemon capri pants and I can say that I think the Costco ones are just as good if not better quality. The fit and fabric are both perfect and the price is right. I actually bought a pair of these pants last summer and after a few dozen washes they are still great and don’t pill like Lululemon. The amount of money I saved covered the cost of my race entry, my portion of the chalet rental and a few bottles of cherry wine! 😉 Check out these other discussions on Costco’s Kirkland workout clothes here, here and here.

We decided to drive to the race instead of taking the trolley. There were tents set up with clothing and shoe vendors, food, drinks and music playing on the speakers. We had quite a bit of a wait until the start (I had about an hour and a half) so we just chatted and the time flew by.

Get Outdoors Wisconsin

The weather was PERFECT for running. It started out cloudy and cool, a few rain drops, then the sun came out. My friends left to go head to their half marathon start and I decided to walk around Nicolet Bay and take some photos. Pretty soon it was time for me to follow the signs to the starting line.

5k Start

There were lots of people with fun signs like this one:

Race Sign

I did a mile warm-up run 10 minutes before the start and then lined up with about 500 other runners.

Starting Line

I started in the back of the front third of the pack, although I soon realized that I should have started closer to the front. Many people in front of me walked right from the start and I landed on my ankle funny trying to get around them. The first mile flew by and I was really in a good groove. Much of the race is on tree-lined paved roads but every once in awhile you’d see views of the bay.

Door County Green Bay

Could the scenery be any better? The water was so blue and the sun had come out and made everything sparkle.

Around Mile 2

This was around mile 2. The trees were so green and although there were other runners on the course it wasn’t too crowded.

Horseshoe Island

Another view of the water, between miles 2 and 3. That is Horseshoe Island in the background.

Park Road

A typical view of the course, smooth winding roads in the park. Most of the route was flat but there were a few slight hills. I heard the half marathon course had many more hills.

I was in awe of the views, and just the feeling of being alive and healthy enough to run through the park that I started talking aloud sharing my excitement with whomever was next to me. I kept snapping pics like these as I was running and wasn’t taking the race too seriously. I wanted to finish in a decent time but also knew that I haven’t been back running long and my pace hasn’t been the greatest. I saw the finish line and sprinted into the chute and was surprised with my time of 28:20.

7 out of 51 Age Group43 out of 315 Gender104 out of 479 Overall

I’ll take that. Honestly the time didn’t matter, just finishing without feeling any knee pain was my goal. Sometimes people get so hung up on their times that they forget to enjoy the course. I wanted to soak it all in and be “aware” and present in the moment.

I ran down to the food tent for a cookie, banana and water and then headed to the beach to do a little yoga and stretching. I knew I wasn’t getting an age group award but I stuck around to hear most of the runners be called up to the awards table. It was just before noon and I wanted to go back out on the course and cheer and wait for my friends who were doing the half. I walked up to mile 12 which had a perfect view of the bay and I cheered for a half hour straight until my hands felt numb from clapping.

Soon I heard my friends come charging down the course and I ran with them to the finish. It was amazing to see Mandy cross the finish line of her first half marathon! I started to cry a little! There was hugging, laughing, and smiling until our faces hurt.

After heading back to clean up, we went to Husby’s for our free beer and some greasy bar food. The Kentucky Derby came on and that was fun to watch another kind of race. I’ll Have Another won!

Husby's Kentucky Derby

They had a band outside and they played one of my favorite songs – Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer” – so we stayed to listen to a few songs. We tried to stay up late drinking and celebrating, but truth be told we were so exhausted that we turned in early. I needed toothpicks for my eyelids to keep them open!

My friend who organized this weekend gave us Etsy swag bags on our pillows that contained this thoughtful “sole sister” charm.

Sole Sister Charm

Photo by Ilona M.

As someone who loves Etsy and use to sell on there, it made me happy to see that she got everything from there. I like that this charm has a bare foot, too because I’ve been running semi-barefoot (minimalist) lately.

The following morning we went to White Gull Inn for breakfast, picked up wine, stopped for coffee, shopping, etc. and then headed home. There were so many other moments in between that I am leaving out for the sake of keeping this post fairly short.

The race was well organized, had a small town feel (despite a decent number of runners), an amazing course and accurate mile markers (which is rare). It was perfect and I’d do it again! It was a great weekend and I am happy to be back running.

What is your favorite race? Do you ever travel to do races with friends, or do you prefer to keep it local?

Categories: Running, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Weekend Away

Just got in from a busy, but super fun, little weekend getaway.

Before we embarked on our road trip to fun, we had appointments for an annual health event.

Health Event

The night before, we fasted for 12 hours for an accurate fasting blood draw. They checked blood glucose, LDL & HDL cholesterol & triglycerides. Blood pressure, weight, height, BMI & waist measurements are also checked at this event.

The latter info I can easily get on my own, but it is nice to have the cholesterol and blood glucose checked, as my regular doctor will not request those tests for me. I asked him before, but because I am under 40 (or was it 45?) and am healthy, show no signs of any illness, there is no need to test in his opinion. This may be true, but I still want to stay on top of my numbers to make sure they are good and keep them that way. It is silly to wait for there to be a problem and then get tested! Since this is a free event and only takes 30 minutes of my time, it is worth it to be proactive and take my health into my own hands. I’m not sure if they have these free health events in other cities, but it is definitely worth checking.

Numbers Event

My weight and BMI stayed the same, my blood pressure was slightly higher than last time but still well within the optimal range (less than 120/80 is optimal). I’ve always had low blood pressure, so I expected it to still be good.

The waist measurement came up at 2″ more than last time! It was still in the good range (over 35″ for women is a problem, 40″ for men) but was odd that there was that big of a difference, especially since I weigh the same. It could have been possible measurement error (not measuring in the exact same spot as last year) or I have been feeling a little bloated this week. She told me not to worry, that women’s bodies fluctuate and change with hormones and other things and that it was in a good range. Still, two inches?!

She also told me that they measure the waist by the traditional way, keeping your belly relaxed and not holding it in. She said that Dr. Oz has this new way of testing where you suck your belly in!

From Dr. Oz:

“Measure at your natural waistline, which is above your hipbone and below the ribcage – not where your belt lies or around your hips. Be mindful of your posture and suck in your stomach since the fat you’re measuring is deep inside the belly.”

I had never heard of this before, but I opted to do the non-sucked in version. She said a lot of other people coming through the event were sucking in, but whatever.

Waiting on the blood test results to find out the other numbers so I can fill in my card!

After our health clinic, we broke the fast with a quick breakfast at Panera. I mentioned this Egg White Sandwich in a post a few weeks back and remembered to take a picture this time.

Panera Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

It was still as good as I remembered, fresh baby spinach, and they gave a good amount of roasted tomatoes this time, maybe they listened to my last post. 😉 My gritty, ground-filled coffee was another story.

Then Mr. Nine and I hit the road for Mad City. We had a great lunch, a little shopping and then went to the Chazen Museum of Art. Wow, what a fantastic place! We put 2 hours on the meter and spent the entire duration there. 4 floors divided between two sides, and an impressive collection of art, all to view for free! There were so many highlights it would be enough to fill an entire blog post.

Faculty Exhibit

After the museum, we walked along Lake Mendota, made some other stops, checked into our hotel and then went to dinner. It was packed and service was uncomfortably slow, even for being busy. A guy sat down next to us and said service for “the rest of us” was bad because Barry was there. Barry? He looked stunned that we didn’t know who Barry was. “He was standing right next to you!” he exclaimed, “Barry Alvarez, local sports celebrity, blah, blah, blah!” (replace “blah” with sports stats I don’t know anything about).

I don’t watch football. I just wanted my steak and wine in a timely manner, but apparently the presence of the famed Barry took all the attention of the servers as they were making sure he was treated to perfection. Luckily dinner was FANTASTIC, or else I would have been more annoyed. I would have taken a photo of my meal, but it was insanely dark in the restaurant that the photo would have turned out grainy from the lowlight (and would require a very steady hand for the slow exposure, one I would not have had after wine) or have been a hideous photo taken with flash which would not have done the food justice. Besides, people would wonder why I was taking photos of food and not the famous Barry.

We had another glass of wine someplace else (someplace without any sports celebrities and within walking distance of our hotel, just to be safe and not drive) and then called it a night.

Sunday we slept in (hooray!) and started the day sharing an almond croissant and sipping on coffee.

Sunday at Barriques

Wow, that croissant went fast!

Next up was a little shopping, then brunch at Sardine. I’ve been wanting to go to Sardine for awhile, and it was worth the wait! I love the ambiance, white painted brick walls, high ceilings, beams, a view of the lake. Overall very charming, yet sophisticated.

Sardine Brunch

I had the crab, bacon and rock shrimp cakes with chipolte beurre blanc, poached eggs, and mixed greens salad with corn, green beans, and tomatoes.

Crab, Bacon & Shrimp Cakes

It was good, but I am not huge on crab cakes that have been breaded on the outside, I prefer the breading to be more intermixed, so you can see the crab and have it flake/fall apart. A crispy crust of fried panko keeps the fillings intact, but is not nearly as good. Mr. Nine had the steamed mussels.

Steamed Mussels

I really liked his muscles, I mean mussels. 🙂 The bread was perfect to soak up the broth. Indulgent. Sardine, we must meet again.

Brunch was followed by bike shop perusing, lakeside walking and architecture exploring. The lake was frozen and there were ice fishers, dog walkers & cyclists making their way across the frozen blindingly white surface.


Cyclists On Ice


Although the lake was frozen, it was actually very warm outside. We didn’t even need our coats!

Of course no visit to Madison is complete without picking up some bagels. They had the perfect base for our bagel pizzas tonight.

Pizza Bagels

It was a quick, easy and tasty dinner while we unpacked and unwound. Still unwinding as I type, reflecting on everything, way more than I could wrap up into a single blog post. Although the past few days were not a true vacation, this little getaway filled with food, art, nature and fun was the perfect way to spend a weekend.

Do you go on short day trips or staycations? What is your favorite local place to visit? Have you had your cholesterol and blood glucose tested before?

Categories: Food, Health, Travels | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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