Talking Trails: A good time to get the bike out and go | Local News

By Chris Stindt for the Tribune

Spring is a tough time to be someone who likes to get out on the trails. The recent cold spell wasn’t exactly unexpected (March in Wisconsin, after all), but it still put a damper on my hopes for an early spring. Normally I’ll use this column to share more traditional trails, but with the soft and muddy ground I’m going to talk about some less orthodox trails.

One of my favorite axioms about life in La Crosse is that it’s always the right season for something. Except that I think they forget the end of winter and the beginning of spring. And then I remember that I have a bicycle! And I can ride it outside! Maybe you have a dusty bike in the garage, or maybe you have a high-end road bike you can’t wait to ride. Either way, it doesn’t matter; anything with two wheels and pedals can get you going.

All of the trails I mentioned in my previous column are open to bikes and can be great starting points. You don’t have to go far or fast to get out, and you don’t have to wear tight-fitting spandex either. Put on what you feel comfortable wearing and go for a ride – around the corner or across town.

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Check out this map of the city’s cycle routes – – you can cycle a paved loop through the city streets and paths around the perimeter of La Crosse, from the river to the cliffs and back again. Most La Crosse residents are within a mile of the loop, or you can park at Riverside Park and start and end there.

For the more adventurous, check out our local railways – these are wider, flat paths that were once railway tracks. You can start in La Crosse and drive northwest to Trempealeau or go east to West Salem and beyond. Just look for one of these three local trails: Great River, Elroy-Sparta or La Crosse River. These trails are suitable for all bikes, but require a state trail pass. The good news is that most local bike shops sell these passes!

Which brings me to a good point – you might want to get your bike tuned. If you haven’t ridden it recently, it’s good to have it checked, and if you’ve ridden it a ton, you may have worn out some parts.

I’ve had bikes in both situations, and a quick trip to a local shop can save you a flat tire or mechanical issue on the trail. Plus, you can pick up your pass and maybe a new bag or piece of clothing! La Crosse is home to Smith’s Bike Shop and Bikes Limited near the town centre. The north side has Wrench and Roll Collective, Onalaska has Coulee Bike Co., and Holmen is home to River Trail Cycles. Every location has qualified mechanics who can make sure you work safely and efficiently!

Perhaps you have already explored the city and on the trails. You might want to try to get out into the cliffs and lava flows to enjoy the scenery. Many routes are available, some shorter and others much longer. Driftless Cycling has many options on its website, including routes and images:

La Crosse also hosts many group bike rides, where you can enjoy the benefits of riding with friends and meeting new people too! Check out the La Crosse Rides group on Facebook for more information. You might even fall in love with longer rides and try riding across the state. Did you know that La Crosse is home to Ride Across Wisconsin? See more at

However you go out, I hope you can get a ride on two wheels this spring. Bikes aren’t just for kids, and they’re also super fuel-efficient!

Search Talking Trails every two weeks. Chris Stindt can be contacted at [email protected]

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