By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
On the road: Platteville students ramble through Monroe on bike trip
College students Archie Kinney and Andy Hayes reach the crest of a hill along Town Center Road during a planned bike trip across the stateline. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - Shuffling into Doyle's Irish Pub in Monroe on Friday, Archie Kinney and Andy Hayes looked body-tired but mind-alert.

That's because the two University of Wisconsin-Platteville students had biked about 50 miles that day. The two finished their mid-term exams that week and decided to bike 120 miles around the southern part of Wisconsin and then bike back home.

Kinney, 21, and Hayes, 23, happened to run into the Rev. Larry Bakke of St. Clare of Assisi parish, who invited the young men to camp on the lawn.

"We got pretty lucky with the pastor," Kinney said.

"Otherwise we were just going to camp in a parking lot or something," Hayes said.

Bakke said he was headed to Bonnie's restaurant to get some food and stopped to chat with Kinney and Hayes.

"They asked if there was any place to camp, and I said well, not a lot of options for camping, so I offered to let them find a spot to camp in the yard by the church," Bakke said.

Bakke said his house is behind the church, and he never heard a peep from the students. But when he unlocked the church on Saturday he saw their tent.

"I'm just glad we could open up the hospitality of good ol' Monroe," Bakke said.

Starting in Platteville on their 10-speed bikes, the students traveled to Darlington, then to Wiota, with a stop in South Wayne to eat a snack and chat with Kinney's father, David Kinney, who teaches Spanish at Black Hawk High School in South Wayne. A straight line from Platteville to Monroe is a little more than 43 miles, but the students pumped their pedals for closer to 50 miles across county highways. Hayes said when they approached Browntown, he was ready to call it a day.

"He was thinking of stopping there," Kinney said.

They decided to press forward and made it to Monroe at about 5 p.m. Friday after starting at about 11 a.m. in Platteville.

"It feels like it's midnight or something," said Hayes, as he looked outside the pub at the rapidly approaching dusk.

Prior to the trip, Kinney - who is studying engineering at UWP - toyed with the idea of building a bike trailer out of wood and metal but instead the two loaded up their backpacks and hit the road. Hayes said he only had his school bag to load up his tent, cooking gear and food with a blanket wrapped tightly around it to keep things together. Of the two, Kinney had done biking and hiking trips before, and Hayes decided 120 miles didn't sound so bad.

"We're in pretty good shape; we can do it," Hayes said.

Hayes and Kinney invited about four other people to join them on the trip, but after hearing how long it was, they all said no.

"They came to the conclusion that we're just crazy, but after riding down these roads, they're the ones that are crazy," Kinney said.

As for the terrain, Green and Lafayette counties have plenty of quiet country roads, so cars weren't a problem.

But the hills were.

"It was so hilly," Hayes said.

He said riding 50 miles with a pack on made him look like a "hunchback," but it wouldn't stop him from finishing the trip.

Starting Saturday morning the students were headed to Roscoe, Ill., to then catch a train to Chicago for a break. Coming back from Chicago they circled back mostly the way they came, on county highways.

Neither student brought along a camera to chronicle the trip, but Hayes wasn't worried about losing anything to memory.

"I can take the pictures through my eyes," Hayes said. "If it's not worth remembering, it's not worth a picture."