This blog was named The Part Time Vegetarian very intentionally. Although it started as a way to document my experience of becoming more vegetarian, I wanted to be able to expand and share other experiences in my life as well. The end goal of this blog is and always has been to make my life more exciting and environmentally friendly while also convincing others to do the same. So recently when work gave me off two days in a row (something that happens rather infrequently at my job) I wanted to take advantage of every moment of that free time and truly escape my comfort zone. I didn’t know what to do at first, but then I considered one of my life long dreams…to bike across America. You see, despite having this long term goal I have never biked more than 10 miles in a single sitting. That was to change.
The Interurban Trail
From its inception in 1905 to the end of its operations in 1951 the Interurban was to be a rapid transit electric railway system connecting Milwaukee, WI to Sheboygan, WI. This approximately 60 mile railway went through the majority of the cities and towns between its two end points. Although it was a helpful form of transportation, use of the Interurban began to decline and as a result the railway eventually closed. Since the closure of the railway the trail has been converted into The Interurban Trail, a wonderful way for travelers (primarily by bike) to get between the two cities while remaining off road and away from vehicles.
I took advantage of this perfect transit route and went north on a bike with only a change of clothes, some money, and a phone in case of an emergency. It was one of the greatest decisions in my life. Something about biking a long distance alone while surrounded entirely by the beautiful country I live in was both peaceful and exhausting. It showed me parts of my state I hardly see. Little towns with small populations, farm fields as far as the eye could see, and numerous animals who seemed to use the trail as much as the other people I met along the way.
The biking started off easy, every few minutes I passed another mile marker and felt like I was cruising. 5 miles in I kept thinking, “this is going to be a breeze”. After 10 miles I realized I probably should have brought a seat which was a little more comfortable. 15 miles, and I could really feel the strain on my muscles. My thighs burned, my chest was heavy, and so I decided to take a break for lunch. A small sandwich (peanut butter and honey) and two kiwis were enough to get my energy back up and they pushed me the next 5 miles with ease. I was cruising along at about 27 miles in when I realized I had taken a wrong turn. Instead of going into the town I planned on spending the night, I had gone up and around.
This route, although beautiful, made me go an extra 15 miles more than I intended. It was stressful at the time, but entirely worth it for the views I received in return. The blue of Lake Michigan, bridges, boats, and people just going about their daily lives with a smile on their face. My legs weren’t happy, but it made the trip what it was. As a result of this turn, I arrived at my hotel close to dark, checked in, and immediately jumped in the pool to help my body recover. It turns out jumping into a 45 mile bike ride without any practice exhausts your body, and I fell asleep soon after I got back to my room.
The next day I woke up a little sore, and in checking the weather realized I had to leave by 8 AM to get back before it began to rain. This second day was much easier (likely because I avoided the extra 15 miles I went the first day). I grabbed a quick breakfast from the hotel, hopped on my bike and began pedaling. Having seen the surrounding terrain already, I decided to put my headphones in and listen to The Lumineers the whole way back. This time it WAS a breeze…except I still wish I had a more comfortable seat.
I arrived home, exhausted, and felt better than I’ve felt in a long time. To top it off, it started raining 15 minutes after I arrived home! Talk about timing. I only was given off for two days, and I was gone for less than 24 hours, but something about taking the little time I had and making the most of it reminded me of my connection to the world. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.
Until Next Time,
The Part Time Vegetarian