Back in Black (River Falls) 400K

Ridewithgps link here. ACP certified, 256 miles.

This is a new route for 2017 and we think it’s a keeper! The overwhelming majority of the route is on the kind of quiet two lane roads that makes SW Wisconsin such a special place to ride and were it not for that pesky need to refuel we could do the whole ride without going through a “city”. We leave Richland Center and head towards Ontario with a couple of challenging climbs between us and the first store control in Norwalk. The climb up Wildcat Mountain is not to be missed – anytime they bother using the words “hill” or “mountain” to describe a road or area you know you’re in for something special! Not super steep but long at a consist grade that’ll test the legs.

Leaving Norwalk there’s another little tester before we get up on the ridge tops for some stunning vistas followed by a nice descent then a long stretch of mostly downhill (with a few little sharpies thrown in) and rolling terrain for a little more than 100 miles. Then a couple of steepish climbs after the control at West Salem and the control at LaFarge before heading for the barn up that last little climb up CR-Q.

Don’t let the climbs put you off, the ridewithgps elevation (which is usually understated somewhat) is reported at 9527 so an “easy” 37 feet/mile and nothing in the 20% range, mostly they’re “pick your gear and spin” rather than “shift all the way down and grind” sorts of climbs.

Some of the roads on the northern most part of the route between Warrens and Black River Falls are fairly rough. They’re “paved” but are cracked/rough road surface so this isn’t the ride to try out those 22mm tires you’ve been hoarding – bigger volume tires and lower air pressures will help smooth things out.

Since this is the midwest, pretty much everything folds up at 22:00 so if you’re running late it’s likely some of the later controls will be closed so plan your food stops accordingly. We’ll have alternate info control questions at the controls where the c-store closes before the official control close time but you’ll be advised to stock up with enough food/fluids to get you to the finish if you’re running late.

Here’s some food info to help you plan your ride (distances approximate):

  1. Ontario at 46 miles has a Centex station with the usual c-store stuff. It’s not a control but we go right past it so you can stop if you choose.
  2. Norwalk at 55 miles is a control. Usual c-store fare.
  3. Warrens at 86 miles is a control. Usual c-store fare.
  4. Hatfield at 120 miles is a control. C-store fare plus a restaurant if you want a longer meal.
  5. Black River Falls at 130 miles. Not a control but the route goes right past a Subway, a Hardees and a c-store. More choices off route.
  6. The route goes right past an IGA in Bangor at 176 miles that has a deli with salads, fried chicken and other fare. It’s a grocery store so they’ve likely got just about anything you want. It closes at 22:00
  7. West Salem at 180 miles. The control is a Cenex station which has a restaurant that is open until 21:00 (though they likely stop serving food much earlier so I wouldn’t push it). The station closes at 22:00. There’s also another station with a Subway off route up the hill. The Subway closes at 21:00.
  8. The Central Express in Cashton at 203 miles has the usual c-store stuff. They make sandwiches and pizzas but I expect they shut that down at least an hour before they close at 22:00 (they were a little fuzzy on the exact timing when I asked).
  9. The ZZip stop in LaFarge at 221 is another c-store. They close at 22:00.
  10. We go past a Cenex station in Boaz at 250 miles. You’re doing pretty well if you get there before they close at 22:00 and only have a few miles to go but if you get there before they close good on ya!