The ‘Top Of The World’ is in Wisconsin. It’s elevation is just about 1,200 ft above sea level and it’s marked by cartoon earths sprayed onto the tarmac with a single Look-style cleat imprint nearby. From the top, you can see many things. Silos. Butterflies. Swallows. Hills. A cow, many of them for that matter, scattered amongst a farmland so picturesque it’d fit right in a County Kitchen advert.
I could not see my house from there.
Minnesota is a rather flat state, and I say that out of love. It’s steadfastness in this regard is something to behold and I believe our ancestors have made the best of it by leveling anything the glaciers happened to miss. This leads to a certain type of riding, and from that a certain type of cyclist. Paul Fournel referred to the ‘Flats’ as a ‘…boring Eden for older cyclists’. I believe Mr. Fournel wasn’t so far off, you can tell by the bourgeoning Master’s classes which inundate the registration lines at our local criteriums.
Trempealeau, although, is a little different. Our Norwegian stubbourness did not survive this far south and the land shows it. Hill after glorious hill command the landscape. In these sleepy valleys lie small towns which are mostly comprised of a few dwelling units, a church and a bar. Coming into them, you’re very often on a lovely, twisty descent which always puts you in a good mood while bellying up to the bar. Leaving these hamlets, although, generally entails a two to four mile long climb. For those of you who enjoy this ‘Hell’ well, you’re in luck.
It’s gorgeous. But not like Alps-Swedish-Hot-Chick-In-A-Parka gorgeous. More like the Girl-Next-Door-That-Just-Pounded-A-Miller-Lite gorgeous. In that, I mean totally attainable, but still a catch. A bit of a stretch for a day trip out of good old Minneapolis, MN – but not impossible. Cheap and decent lodging is plentiful, with plenty of continental breakfasts for the budget minded rider. It’s an easy way to get a jump on those whose only elevation will comprise of Ohio and Ramsey repeats.
Sitting up on the ‘Top’ and looking down at the valley below I couldn’t help but smile today. The plants had just begun to turn, corn looked heavy and ready for the upcoming harvest. One last day of hot, sweaty, sticky mess that is a Midwest summer. The last summer day.
Couldn’t imagine a better Hell to spend it in.