We’ve designed these routes to be ridden self-supported, either individually or in small groups, without the need of a tour guide or ride leader. All are designed as loops, leaving from public parks or parking lots. Wherever possible, you’ll travel on low-traffic rural roads, or at least on roads with bike facilities. To help you stay self-sufficient, we’ve marked optional stops every 25-30 miles at convenience stores or public parks. The routes on this site are graded from “Easy” to “Difficult” to help you choose the appropriate level of challenge. Images on Flickr help you preview the terrain. And most importantly, we’ve created maps, elevation charts and cue sheets to let you navigate the route yourself. Under each of the routes, click on the icon of the folded blue map to go to a shared Dropbox folder of printable PDFs and cue sheets. Or click the “Ride with GPS” logo to go to a detailed route map — downloadable to computers, smartphones and GPS devices — with turn-by-turn directions, cue sheets, elevation profiles, photos, points of interest and GPX/TCX/KML files. Ride on!
Our rides zoom through the hills and bluffland surrounding the Mississippi and its tributaries. These aren’t mountain ranges with hour-long climbs, but hills with overall grades ranging from 6-13% and short pitches of 15-20%. The good news is that all rides start in the river valley — at about 600 feet above sea level — so we have plenty of oxygen. And very few individual hill climbs have over 500 feet of elevation gain.
Generally, we consider an elevation gain of 100-200 feet a small climb, 201-350 feet a moderate climb, and 351-500 feet a big climb. But be aware: since they might have a steep grade, even the smaller hills can still be very tough to climb. Given such variety, it’s just as easy to create an easy ride with few hills as it is to map out a fiendish route that averages ten thousand feet of climbing every ten miles. We’ve created routes with both extremes, and everything in between.
The Driftless Region
There’s something special about the place where Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa meet. We call it the Driftless Region, where the Ice Age glaciers left untouched a cyclist’s playground of bluffs, ravines, coulees and lowlands on both sides of the Mississippi river.
The corrugated geography of the Driftless is overlaid with a network of smooth, low-traffic county byways, paved in the early-20th century “Good Roads” movement to connect dairy farmers with their markets. For much of the last decade, area cyclists and volunteers have worked with the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to build a library of routes, with a variety of lengths and difficulties offering excitement and challenges for all levels of riders.
Generally starting from the river valley cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, and La Crescent, these routes venture into the bluffs and coulees of the surrounding Driftless region. Some of these counties have been described by Bicycling magazine as “the perfect getaway,” and “cycling nirvana, the American Dairyland edition. ”
List Your Bicycle Event
1) Make sure the event is not already listed at our calendar.
2) Fill out the form completely (address, date, time etc).
3) Provide an engaging image (we are more likely to share events with images).
4) Event description: Tell visitors and locals why they should attend your event (be descriptive).
5) Include special considerations in the event description (every Tuesday, every third Friday, until January 2015, etc.).
Are you a member of the LACVB? Contact us and find out how to get your events instantaneously listed on our site via your calendar feed.
Director of Media & Membership
La Crosse Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Atten: Bicycling in the Driftless Region
410 Veterans Memorial Drive
La Crosse, WI 54601
(800) 658-9424 or (608) 782-2220
(608) 782-4082 FAX
La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival - September 4-7, 2015