18 June 2014

Beer, Cheese, Football--And Cycling?

If you were to ask people what the best US States for cycling are, a lot of people--even those who've  never been to those states--would probably pick Vermont, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado or Michigan (especially the Upper Peninsula and the upper parts of the Lower Peninsula).  Nearly every state would get a vote from someone:  After all, we all have different ideas about what "the best" cycling conditions are.

And, I would suspect, at least a few people would pick Wisconsin.  I've never cycled in the Badger State, but I know that its capital, Madison, is consistently rated as one of the most bike-friendly communities in the nation.  And, during cycling's first heyday (during the last two decades of the 19th Century and the first decade of the 20th), Wisconsin had one of the most extensive networks of bicycle lanes.

However, as in much of the rest of the US, the automobile rapidly overtook the bicycle as the chief means of transportation for those who did not have access to mass transit (and even among those who had it).  The bicycle was largely seen as a children's toy.

But, during the "dark ages" of cycling, Wisconsin did more than its share to keep the flame of adult cycling alive, if flickering.  And now the state--better known, rightly or wrongly, for cheese, beer and football (the US version), now boasts some of the greatest concentrations of cyclists and bicycle shops (both brick-and-mortar and online) in the nation.

Jesse Gant and Nicholas Hoffman tell this story in a book released in September:  Wheel Fever:  How Wisconsin Became A Great Bicycling State.

I want a copy for the cover alone:

No comments:

Post a Comment