Two weeks ago- Tristan and I lead a shop bike camping trip to the Lake Mills Sand Hill Station Campgrounds. We had 11 people meet us at the shop with another four who meet up with us along the trail. Of all who attended- two had done bike camping before and for most this was their first long distance biking trip and all had a blast!
Everybody had a different bike and gear setup which lead to many conversations about different camping styles and biking styles along the ride. From a simple rear rack with a cargo net around a backpack to a fully loaded Salsa Fargo Adventure Bike with front and rear panniers. There are many ways to get started bike camping and while basic gear is needed- really the most important gear is you, your bike and a sense of adventure.
We left from the shop around 8:30a to take the Hank Aaron Trail out west. After the detour around Highway 100- we connected onto the New Berlin trail after a few miles to take that out to Waukesha.
From Waukesha- we followed our fearless leader Tristan who zig zagged using College Ave. to connect onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail. For those doing this trip the first time- be sure to bring a map! Waukesha is the most confusing area to connect to the trail but once you’ve done it a few times it’s quite easy.
Up to this point the road and paths have been paved and smooth to roll over however, along the Glacial Drumlin Trail before Dousman the trail goes to crushed gravel. We had great weather and the trail was dry- however if it’s been raining be weary of skinny tires on the trail as they can sink. The minimum tire width I would ride would be 28c along this section or wider depending on how dry it’s been.
We picked up Lynn along the way who drove to our half-way point at the trail entrance and stopped for lunch in Sullivan, WI at the Sullivan Saloon. We all had tasty pub fair and $2 taps- refreshing after biking 40 miles!
We took many breaks along the way, every 15 to 20 miles to give people a chance to refill on water and bathroom breaks. One of the pleasures of bike camping and touring for me is the easy pace riding of getting to the destination within a longer time frame and enjoying the scenery and people along the way.
After Sullivan, we rode on to Lake Mills and found our camp grounds at Sandhill Station, two miles from the trail. There are two showers at Lake Mills Station so if you’re going on the trip you may want to plan on taking a shower before setting up camp. Be warned- the bugs are bad so bring some bug spray- even in dry weather.
After setting up camp- we all rode to one of the three grocery stores and picked up food. Many brought their own food- and Aaron even brought an entire kitchen with him and cooked Risotto- so tasty and thanks for sharing!
We all met up at Tyranna Brewing to enjoy a Celtic Rock band and local Wisconsin Brew while relaxing our legs for the journey back home. All in all- the ride in took about seven hours with a group of 15 people.
The next day we all packed up and met on the trail to ride back home. The weather was dreary in the morning with a brief five minute shower- but we dried off quickly and the rest of the day was warm and sunny.
We all stopped for lunch near Dousman at Mama D’s- a cozy coffee shop right off the Hank Aaron Trail. Highly recommend their food and delicious beverages!
We followed our same route back home with the Glacial Drumlin Trail to New Berlin and then to the Hank Aaron Trail and half of us took the Oak Leaf Trail home to the eastside of MIlwaukee. We’re so lucky in Wisconsin to have four trails we were able to access with only being 65 miles away from home!
There’s still plenty of time for bike adventures this season- so consider doing a quick weekend trip either west, south, north or east to Michigan- there are plenty of destinations close by!
All riders rode all 150 miles on their own and had a great time. We can’t wait to hear about their bike adventures now that 12 of them have their first one and already were plotting their next trips. Coast In Bikes will be doing three trips next year, one shorter one, one longer trip and a family focused trip so join our email list to get those dates early next year- we would love to see you join us!
A few links to places we visited:
Sand Hills Station Campgrounds– They have walk in sites
Glacial Drumlin Trail– remember your trail pass. We were checked!
Mama D’s Coffee– great lunch stop
Sullivan’s Saloon– $2 tap beers. Need we say more?