New paved bike trail at Lapham Peak
Great for casual bikers, excellent for serious skiers
A few weeks ago my wife Betsy and I decided to take advantage of a perfect autumn day - 70 degrees, no wind and sunny. The only question was where to hike. We finally settled on the mountain bike trails west of Highway C at Lapham Peak south of Delafield, Wisconsin. Its rolling, fairly open terrain seemed like the perfect choice.
When we got there, was I in for a surprise. After crossing Highway C, we found ourselves confronted by a 10-foot-wide newly laid asphalt biking trail. Then I remembered that I had read in The Bike Doctor's newsletter about a new T-shaped paved trail connecting the Glacial Drumlin and Lake Country bike trails with a side spur to Lapham.
Obviously for bikers, this new connector trail opens up many miles of opportunities. The flat Glacial Drumlin is in stark contrast to the hilly, at times, Lake Country Trail. Now the avid biker can enjoy segments of both on the same day. The total mileage of the Glacial Drumlin is 52 miles (13 of which are paved) and the Lake Country Trail adds 13 more miles one way mileage.
But the real gem lies in the middle - the new Lapham Peak paved bike segment. It is smooth and constructed over rolling terrain; a nice mix of the other two. While this connector is a little short for an avid biker - estimated round trip of about 6 miles - it's total length can easily be extended on one of the other two trails.
And the unpaved mountain bike trails on the west side of Highway C offer more options. These trails are perhaps the easiest mountain bike singletrack in southeast Wisconsin and ideal for family biking. Therefore, they are well within the ability of casual bikers who use the new paved section.
So while it is obvious that the new paved Lapham section is a boon for bikers, you may wonder what it has to offer cross-country skiers? As Bike Doc Tom Klein recently discovered, it's rolling terrain provides ideal conditions for roller skiing. Its moderate hills break up the monotony and provide more resistance for a tougher workout.
Best of all, there's no car traffic. For that very reason, many skiers have migrated to the paved portion on the eastern part of the Glacial Drumlin trail over the last several years. But as many of you know, the Glacial Drumlin is very flat.
So now there is a hillier option. Just swing over to the Lapham paved bike trails, or even start at Lapham's parking lot. And while the new Lapham loop is relatively a short biking loop, it is almost the ideal length for roller skiers. Do laps if you like.
And if you want more hills, just head up and down one of the steeper climbs on the new paved Lapham trail and then turn around when you reach the bottom on the other side. You can use these hills for interval workouts and make them as intense as you desire.
In fact, a couple of the downhills are steep and long enough to require some method of scrubbing speed. Remember, there are also bikers and walkers sharing the trail, so full speed descents not only put a roller skier in jeopardy, they are also a danger to other trail users.
I only recommend two methods to control speed downhill using roller skis on long faster hills. The first is walking part way down the hill. The second option is to use a brake and/or speed reducer. In fact, I consider walking and installed brakes and speed reducers to be the only safe option. While some accomplished roller skiers can control their speed using other techniques, such as dragging one ski or riding one ski in the grass and one on the pavement, these are moves limited to more advanced skiers and I do not recommend them to anyone.
But if these hills are not enough and if you want something longer and steeper, heading to roads where you have to share the pavement with cars is not the only answer. Some of the longest and steepest climbs in the state are just across Highway C on the normal Lapham Peak ski trails.
Here are a few suggestions for training on the normal Lapham ski trails. Hill striding, preferably with poles, will do the job, easily bringing you to your desired heart rate. In fact, for non-runners, the terrain of Lapham offers an ideal dryland workout. Simply pick a loop and use the hills to reach your desired intensity and fast or slow walk in between.
Some of the shorter stretches are steep enough for anyone and ideal for above race pace strength and power training. Bound or stride to get to your desired intensity. If you only skate, you can easily imitate skating with feet angled out.
The options on the Lapham ski trails are many. You can stick to partial loops or do the entire 11K outer loop. The Wall is as steep as any Olympian wannabe needs, and the southern climb from the lighted trail to the very top is one of the longest in the state.
So with those options, from roller skiing on the new paved trails to hill work on foot, Lapham is truly a one stop serves all destination for the serious cross-country skier looking to get into top shape.
Lee Borowski is a past USSA Nordic Coach of the Year, Badger State Winter Games Athlete of the Year and the coach for several junior, senior and collegiate skiers of the year. He has also coached many master skiers who have won both national and world championships. Borowski is the author of several books and articles, and producer of four videos on cross-country skiing technique. He runs the website thesimplesecrets.com.
To order Borowski's "NEW Simple Secrets of Skating" or "The Simple Secrets of Striding," demonstrated through footage of Olympic and world champions, and available on VHS and DVD, send $25 plus $1.75 shipping to Lee Borowski, 4500 Cherokee Drive, Brookfield, WI 53045. Wisconsin residents add $1.27 tax.
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