Pedaling Through the Badger State

otto head shot

Airplane! star, Otto the Auto Pilot, was born and raised in Wisconsin.

I'm back by popular demand! Because of the success of my first guest blog (at least six clicks), I've been asked by Travel Wisconsin to contribute another post.

I've been floating on air (which is pretty much what I always do) thanks to the success of my Travel Wisconsin TV commercial in which I’m ably supported by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Hays. The ad has been so popular, that an editor from Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, even interviewed me. Talk about an inflated ego!

For this blog I’m focusing on my favorite Wisconsin pastime: biking. I recently graduated from my training wheels to my "big boy bike!" (I won't specify the brand, unless, of course, I pick up an endorsement deal.) Wisconsin is a great state for bike enthusiasts. In fact, The League of American Bicyclists just ranked the state number 3 in bicycle friendliness among all 50 states. That’s a pretty big wheel! I mean, deal!

A good pilot and bicyclist always needs a great route. So for planning my bike adventures, I turn to the newly updated Wisconsin Biking Guide from Travel Wisconsin.  This 80-page all-encompassing guide divides the state into seven quadrants (Northwest, Northeast, East Central, Central, Southwest, South Central and Southeast). From there, you can select your style of riding, such as linear, mountain and road biking trails. What's great about the biking guide is that when you get a little saddle sore and want to take a break, it also includes information on what to see in those areas, from attractions to historical sites and something that immediately caught my attention - breweries and wineries. Did I mention that I am 21? The biking guide also has a listing of biking events throughout the state

For my most recent ride, all I needed was my Biking Guide and bike and I was ready to hit the trails! Well, that and my trusty air pump and tire repair kit. Tire repair for the bike, air pump for me – you never know how winded you’ll get! I started in the Northeast section of Wisconsin (Minocqua, to be exact), and hopped on the Bearskin State Trail - 18-miles of pure scenery - lakes, streams, bogs and boardwalks. This is the Northwoods of Wisconsin if you’ve ever seen it! The trail used to be part of a railroad line to export logs from the forests of Wisconsin to the big cities of the Midwest. Today the trail has a nice, compact granite surface perfect for any type of bike. This trail in particular offers some fantastic birding opportunities as it passes through a variety of natural habitats. I didn’t stop to look though, I’m afraid of things that fly… Kidding! A daily or annual state trail pass is required for riders 16 and older. I told them I was 14.

Since I recently threw out the first pitch (right down the heart of the plate, I might add), at the Milwaukee Brewers game, I thought it was only appropriate that I hop on the Hank Aaron State Trail, named after the legendary Milwaukee Braves and Brewers slugger. I wanted to get in some urban biking since my first ride earlier this summer was up in the Northwoods. This 14-mile trail traverses Milwaukee County from Lake Michigan through the Historic Third Ward and the Menomonee (by Miller Park) to the Milwaukee/Waukesha County line. This trail is perfect for enjoying the outdoors and the city at the same time. It passes a lot of great spots in Milwaukee including Discovery World, The Milwaukee Art Museum, Summerfest, Harley-Davidson Museum and The Urban Ecology Center, while it also follows the Menomonee River in other sections.

I'm hoping to shed my spare tire (not the one for my bike) as I cycle around the state this summer. Be sure to get a copy of the Travel Wisconsin Biking Guide for your own adventures! Have fun, be safe and follow the rules of the road. Yes, that means wear a helmet and not a cheesehead!

Otto Pilot was given birth by three guys (that’s some trick) who were born and raised in Wisconsin – David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams. He was raised as their own son, and soon began flying lessons, before finally earning his stripes as a commercial autopilot. In 1980 he lent his talents to the hit movie, Airplane!, conveniently directed by all three of his dads.

This entry was posted in Biking, Sports, Spectator Sports, Local Foods, Breweries, Wineries, Outdoor Fun, On Road Touring, Natural Attractions and Parks, Tours