I had never been to Door County and although I love trail riding… I was looking forward to biking Door County on my road bike, wandering around the shorelines and checking out the sites. Plus, I was headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula next and my ribs were just about healed up and I wanted to save them for the trails in the Keweenaw.
Prelude Ride and Wasted Beer
I took off for a short ride on the evening that we arrived in Door County to check out the surroundings and also see if I could find a connector trail into the state park that was next door and the town of Sturgeon Bay. I ended up doing a nice loop around the state park and then found the short connector trail to the lake front drive that lead into town. I did a nice little ride around the town that took me by some parks and some of the ship building companies.
I also came across a gas station with a sign that said “Beer Cave”! One of my little things that I enjoy doing, is trying beer from small local breweries whenever we travel to a new place. I used to brew beer myself and still have my equipment, but it has been awhile since I have put together my own batch. Anyways, I decided to stop in and find a 6 pack of something local. Not really sure how I was going to haul it back to camp on my bike, but some things you just figure out as you go…
Well, it was really humid, I took a wrong turn and ended up getting lost in a subdivision. The condensation was starting to build up on the bottles as I was wandering around in the humidity, trying to find my way back to the campground. I was also getting some funny looks as I was in full roadie cycling gear and carrying a six pack. I finally found my way back to the lake front drive and just as I approached the connector trail… pop, boom, pop… the bottles had built up enough condensation to soak the cardboard case and they started dropping out of the bottom and crashing all over the road.
So there I was standing at the end of this road in my roadie gear, trying to figure out what I was going to do with all this broken glass. I don’t like leaving a mess for somebody else… Anyways, 3 of the bottles actually survived after hitting the pavement and I stuffed them in my jersey pockets. I picked up all the broken glass and was able to fold up the remains of the cardboard case just enough to hold all the broken glass and ride the remaining mile back to camp. The beer, by the way was Door County Style IPA from Door County Brewing Co. I am not great at describing beers, but it was decent and I would buy it again.
Biking Door County – The Big Ride
Sturgeon Bay To Egg Harbor On Lakeshore Drive
I headed into Sturgeon Bay, across the river and started making my way out of town up the west side of Door County Peninsula on Lakeshore Drive. I expected to see more shoreline, but most of the shoreline was covered in private property and homes. Regardless, it was a really nice road for cycling. Although not a huge shoulder, there was a couple feet and very little traffic during my mid morning weekday ride. There was a county park that I was able to pull into and see the lake before arriving in Egg Harbor. Turns out that the county park was the pit area for the Door County Tri. I could see the paint markings on the asphalt for the pit areas.
The ride from Sturgeon Bay to Egg Harbor was very flat. I don’t think there was a any noticeable elevation change at all. I rode straight thru the town of Egg Harbor without stopping. It seemed like a nice little touristy town with restuarants, ice cream shops and pubs and looked like it could be a fun place to stop and hang out for an afternoon.
There was a small climb out of Sturgeon Bay and then the ride was mostly flat and downhill to Fish Creek. Fish Creek was another little touristy harbor town but appeared to be a little more busy. I got a little curious and wandered down to the boat docks to find a small public lake view access. I really like the atmosphere around boat harbors. I spent most of my summers hanging around boats & harbors as a kid. I have never gotten into boating myself though. The price of maintaining a decent size boat will afford you a whole lot of other things in life…
Peninsula State Park
The entrance to Peninsula State Park is right there in Fish Creek, so I headed in to wander around the state park roads. The road wasn’t perfectly smooth, but it was some nice riding and I found a few little lookout spots and a lighthouse to help make this more of a site seeing tour of Door County, rather than just a bike ride. I was still missing and hoping for some riding along open shoreline, but I was enjoying the ride regardless. I ended up riding 12 miles of roads within Peninsula State Park and I think there were a couple other roads that I still missed, but it was time to move on as I was just over 40 miles into my ride by now. I found a water spout to top off my hydration pack and headed out of the park and up the road toward Ephraim.
Ephraim To The Other Side of Door County Penninsula
I was starting to think I should either head back the other way or I could find my way to the east side of Door County Peninsula and follow that shoreline back to Sturgeon Bay. As I rode into Ephraim, I saw a rustic road sign on a road that headed up the hill. I turned around and decided to head up to see where it would take me. I stopped and looked at the gps on my phone at the top as I found myself in the middle of farmland, but this road would take me across the peninsula, so I proceeded on across.
Cana Island Lighthouse
I found a little shoreline drive and then came across a lighthouse sign and decided to follow it. It ended up being an additional 5 mile round trip out and back, but I came across Cana Island Lighthouse. Apparently you can pay for a tour and a wagon ride out to the island. I believe at one time the island was actually a peninsula, but the land and road going out to it appeared to be sunken or washed out. I saw people walking across the old sunken road and the tour tractor was pulling the wagon across also. I think I had only eaten 1 energy bar at this point and decided I should eat something more and dug into my sport beans. I probably should have packed real food for a easier paced tour like this, but I was also trying to test out some of my various energy food products. Sometimes I think it is a good idea to start yourself into a bit of a hole and see what will bring you out of it the best.
Bailey’s Harbor and Jacksonport
Speaking of food, I was starting to think about those ice cream shops that I passed by in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek and was feeling like ice cream might be a great idea. I saw what might have been a shop as I was pedaling through Bailey’s Harbor, but never stopped and didn’t feel like turning around after I found myself at the other end of town. I was also running a little behind schedule from when I told my wife I would be back to the campground. I did stop real quick at a little pier on the south end of town to call and check in with my wife and check out the lake though. As I mentioned before, I was expecting to see more of the lake during my shoreline rides and these little stops were about the only times I could see the lake.
I got back on the road and was headed south toward Jacksonport. Now I couldn’t get the ice cream out of my head. I should have stopped… Jacksonport was a no go for ice cream. There wasn’t much in Jacksonport really. Actually, the towns on the west side of Door Peninsula seemed to be where more of the tourist action was at and the east side of the peninsula was a little calmer.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
I turned down Cave Point Drive to get off the main road and headed into Whitefish Dunes State Park. I had 2 options once inside the park. I could back out of the park and cut inland to ride around the park and reconnect to the shoreline drive at the south end of the park, or I could do a little off roading on my road bike. I chose the later, hoping my road tires would hold up to the multi use trail. I normally wouldn’t be too worried, but my rear tire was pretty worn and I had a 22mm tire on the front. Not a fan of the 22mm tire. It is a racing tire, but I think I got a good deal on a tire set a couple years ago and this was the front one. I hadn’t used it much and was trying to wear it out. Surprisingly it actually made the mile and a half of gravel and sand. It is hard to escape the fact that a gravel bike makes so much more sense for me than a road bike. My road bike is 10 years old though, so it really isn’t worth trying to sell. At any rate, I popped out on the shoreline road at the south end of the park and was almost 80 miles into my ride at this point.
This was a fun road to ride down. It was a little bumpy, but it was just twisty enough to make it a lot of fun on a road bike at 18 to 20 mph. Again, not much of a view of the shoreline though.
Back Toward Sturgeon Bay
Now I was headed back to the west and across the peninsula to find Sturgeon Bay again. I had a pretty big head wind in the wide open farm land and was wearing down a bit. I should have filled my water up in Whitefish Dunes State Park, because I was emtpy and thirsty. Food doesn’t really help when you are out of water either. In my experience, it just sucks you even more dry. That being said, I came across a hill that I was still able to hammer up at a pretty good pace, even after riding 80+ miles.
Ice Cream Stop
Ah ha… A gas station. I didn’t realize how close to town I actually was, but I pulled into the first gas station that I saw. I grabbed a couple bottles of water and an ice cream sandwhich. The water went down fast and so did the ice cream. I dumped the remaining water in my hydration pack and got back on the road to find that I was back in Sturgeon Bay and just a few miles back to camp. I ended up with a nice 94 mile road ride on the day and 114 miles total in Door County between the 2 rides.
Biking Door County Summary
I enjoyed the ride, but was really hoping to see more lakeshore. Regardless, Door County was still a great place to get out and do some touring around on a bike. As far as my fitness… I felt good, but the humidity and heat really sucked the water out of me and it took me a couple days to rehydrate. It probably was a good thing that only 3 of those beers survived… My muscles felt good and it was nice to get back out on the bike and just wander around again. I didn’t ride too hard, but didn’t take it easy either. I rode most of the ride at an Endurance or Tempo pace and then kicked it up on the few hills that I came across to work the legs over a bit in between all the tempo riding.
I did take the next couple days off completely from the bike. I am a bit mixed on whether or not active recovery works for me. It might have been a good idea to do a short 30 minute easy spin the next day, but I couldn’t really fit it in anyways. Rides like this is what my Endurance Path is really all about. I really enjoy the racing and challenges, but the end game is having the ability to be able to go out and do stuff like this whenever and wherever I want without having to train for it or take 2 weeks to recover.
Stay tuned for my next post as I headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan next to do a few days of trail riding.