On the north end of Cam-Rock County Park, Cambridge is a picturesque community known for its pottery works and small town charm. Cafes, B&Bs and antique stores make visitors feel welcome. The town has been a summer destination for a century thanks to the clean waters of Lake Ripley. The Davidsons of Harley-Davidson once had a summer home here.
A railbed trail runs south from town to Cam-Rock 1. It’s an extension of a spur line originally built to connect Cambridge to the village of London three miles north where a larger rail line connected Chicago to the Twin Cities along what is now the Glacial Drumlin State Trail. There, the “Cambridge Cannonball” picked up vacationers and brought them to Lake Ripley. Future plans call for a bike/hike trail to London and a connection to the Glacial Drumlin.
Located just south of the park, Rockdale is the smallest incorporated town in Wisconsin. With just 235 residents, it may lead the nation in mountain bike trails per capita. The trails at Cam-Rock 2 present riders with a few short steep slopes. It’s a fun ride that can introduce novices to handling gears and brakes on climbs and descents.
Things really get interesting at Cam-Rock 3 where trail builders had more than 100 feet of relief to work with. Single-track always challenges riding ability, but here the WORBA (Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycling Association) trail designers had rock outcroppings, gullies and other obstacles as well. They made the most of it. Expect to use all your skills and plenty of body English to get around with out dabbing a foot. On the newest and northernmost loop, riders will find an extreme six-foot drop and totally wacko spin cycle.
The area around Cambridge, known as the Koshkonong Prairie, was once the largest Norwegian settlement in the country. You can learn more about the area’s early settlers at the Cambridge Historic Museum.
Downtown, visit the Rowe Pottery Works Company Store. The store offers Rowe’s full line of renowned handmade salt-glazed stoneware and redware pottery.
You may notice lots of #20 flags around Cambridge. They’re for NASCAR racing hero Matt Kenseth, former Rookie of the Year and Winston Cup Champion. He’s a local boy, one of few northerners to make it big in the good-old-boy racing world of NASCAR. You can learn all about it, and get your own #20 flag, at the Matt Kenseth Museum and Fan Club Headquarters in downtown Cambridge.
If you’re a NASCAR wannabe, just clothespin a baseball card to your spokes and whisper “Vroom-vroom.”