Keeping the silent sports community informed and self propelled.
The following is the Editor's Letter that appeared in the August 2011 issue of the print magazine.
It was no accident that Silent Sports, this magazine, took root in central Wisconsin 28 years ago last month. Sure, founding editor Greg Marr happened to live and work in Waupaca. But he also played on the canoe friendly Crystal and Waupaca rivers, the Chain O’ Lakes got him into rowing a scull, the myriad hilly rural roads lured him out onto his bike, and the Iola Winter Sports Club and other nearby Nordic ski trail systems got him ready (or at least willing) to tackle the American Birkebeiner year after year.
The Waupaca area encouraged Marr to try his hand at all these sports and emboldened him to start a publication for other people like him who loved to paddle, pedal, pole and ponder the outdoors throughout the upper Midwest.
I was just 14 years old when Marr went to press with the premiere issue in July 1984, but he had the likes of me in mind. Not having a driver’s license then, I’d bike from Mount Horeb to Madison via the Military Ridge State Trail to spend many a summer afternoon browsing in downtown comic book and record stores. On trips with family and fellow scouts, I paddled from sandbar to sandbar on the Wisconsin River, starting in and returning to Sauk City, and a couple times drifted down the endlessly twisting Kickapoo River.
Dad started me classic skiing at an early age, so I’d clamp down the three-pin boots and make tracks through the neighbors’ yards to the county park and back. And as an admirer of my marathoner for a father, I started finding my own distance running legs, the ones that would carry me through high school.
I barely recall my one brush with Marr when picking up a copy or two of Silent Sports at Canoecopia, the annual paddlesports extravaganza in Madison, years before arriving in Waupaca in February 2004. Only when I took the helm of the magazine, after Marr had passed away while skiing the previous December, did all my athletic interests converge again.
This time the magazine inspired an exploration of its birthplace, rather than the locale spawning the publication. Over the last seven-plus years, the Cronies Outdoor Adventure Tribe, an informal group of bikers and skiers in Waupaca, got me dabbling in mountain bike racing and trail building. Marr’s friends got me hooked on the Birkie, so I came to rely on the ski trail grooming at Iola, Standing Rocks and Hartman Creek State Park and. Pounding hundreds of miles of pavement in and around Waupaca year round got me through at least a dozen marathons. And the wooded and rugged ten-mile stretch of Ice Age Trail cutting through Hartman prepped me for the three off-road ultras I’ve run to date.
New home for work and play
I already miss that terrain just three weeks after moving my family, and the editorial office of Silent Sports, two hours south to Middleton, which is adjacent to Madison. Yet I’m excited by all my new venues for running, biking and skiing in the greater Madison area and Dane County. I’m home again, but I’ve returned an even greater fan of the silent sports opportunities that exist here than I was when I left some 15 years ago.
Right away I discovered Enchanted Valley Road, my gateway to much of western Dane County and road riding nirvana. I hit 40 mph on that long downhill but pay dearly for it with a 7 mph, nearly mile-long climb up from the bottom. Dad, who now lives on the southeast side of Madison, still rides 30 miles a day but admits he rarely gets out of the big chain ring. That’s changed since we’ve started riding together west of Middleton.
Moving back to Dane County means I get to ride with my dad regularly.
What muscle memory I may have from growing up in Mount Horeb is coming back slowly. Slower still is my progress up the even more daunting hills between there and New Glarus on weekend rides with my brother-in-law. The vast views from those ridgelines, of verdant fields and woods and blue horizons, are stunning as we catch our breath and shift gears for the steep descent to the next stop sign.
If only to ride with Dad and Adam on such wonderful roads, the move was worth it. But I also get to ride with my nearly 7-year-old son in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy and the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. He’s a little young yet to handle the Pleasant View Bike Park, but that doesn’t mean his old man can’t get his thrills on the pump track. When family aren’t available to ride, three days a week members of the Capital Brewery Cycling Club are. And the liquid replenishment enjoyed at the brewery post ride can’t easily be beat.
Come winter, I’ll appreciate even more the fact that my new home/office is only a few miles from the Blackhawk Ski Area and Gov. Nelson State Park, both of which have grooming equipment thanks in part to fundraising by the Madison Nordic Ski Club.
Since Marr started Silent Sports, Madison-area readers have counted among the magazine’s most passionate and numerous supporters. Clearly they have a lot of assets – from beautiful parks, well maintained bike lanes and trails, to active clubs and popular events – to rave about. I look forward to enjoying all the above and contributing to their preservation and expansion.
As the worksite of this magazine’s designers and its press, Waupaca will continue to play a key role in the future of the magazine. I will still travel there monthly, squeezing in a run or bike ride on a favorite route between meetings, no doubt. And of course I’ll be back for the Waupaca Area Triathlon and Hartman Creek Trail Run this summer and fall.
Waupaca revived my love of self propulsion. And that beautiful part of Wisconsin did the same for countless others by fostering this magazine for 28 years. Out of appreciation for that fact and to see it for themselves, I hope more folks will visit, with their bicycles, canoes, kayaks and or skis in tow.
The new mailing address for yours truly – where letters and other snail mail correspondence should be sent – is Silent Sports, P.O. Box 620583, Middleton, WI 53562. Email can still be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can also be found on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/silentsportsmag) and Twitter (http://twitter.vom/SilentSportsEd).