Tuesday, April 27, 2021


April 3-7 was uncommonly nice in Washington County: 5 straight days in the 70s. That’s about 20° above the average daytime high for that time of year, and of course it couldn’t last. When things went back to normal I went back to accepting any excuse not to ride my bike. On the days that failed to reach 50° I could argue—if only to myself—that it was too cold. On other days it was too windy or too rainy. One week ago today it was too snowy, and for proof I recall to your memory the 100-car pileup on Interstate 41 that left one person dead and sent several others to the hospital.

Today was … just OK. Yeah, you read that right. Sure, we got back above 70° for the first time since April 7, and I did my first full-distance Eisenbahn State Trail ride of 2021. But it was 74° when I started at 1 p.m. and only 61° when I got back at 4:30. The wind shifted from southeast to northeast when I was about 12 miles into my 50-mile ride. I had studied the forecast and expected the shift to come a little later and a little more gradually, but when it came it was like somebody threw a switch labeled “Screw you, Dave.”

And keeping with the theme of just OK, that badly neglected bridge south of Old Fond du Lac Road in Kewaskum has been repaired. It’s far better than the decaying mess it had become, but I’m not a fan of bridge decking that runs in the same direction as bicycle traffic:

The perpendicular decking is great: a bike rider will hit that at a 90-degree angle. But the middle of the bridge will be a problem eventually. Decking pops up when it wears out. When the perpendicular planks start to pop up, they will do so at the edges of the bridge where there’s no traffic. In the middle of the bridge, planks will pop up in a high traffic area. That’s a tripping hazard for walkers and a potential over-the-bars danger for bike riders. There’s also expansion and contraction to consider. It’s not a problem when the gaps between perpendicular planks get a little wider—your tires will handle that easily—but it’s a bicycle tire trap when gaps appear between planks running in the same direction as the trail. I asked a Washington County administrator with oversight for this project to ensure that all bridge decking be perpendicular, but I was ignored. So, good luck to you. Don’t be the person who proves me right.

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