Kenosha and Racine WI, all the way to Milwaukee 4/10/11

former American Motors factory, Kenosha

Growing up as the son of a Rambler dealer, I always liked to talk cars with my Dad.   He frequently talked about how Ramblers were unique.  He described how these cars were different from cars of the Big Three.   They were smaller, they had reclining seats, they had vacuum-powered windshield wipers!   One key difference, he would point out, was the Ramblers were only made in one place, which was not in Detroit.   That place was Kenosha, Wisconsin.   As  I left Lake Forest IL early on a Sunday morning, I looked forward to honoring my Dad’s memory on a pilgrimage to the place that I had heard about when I was young.

I also was going to go through Racine, which is the hometown of the father of my buddy Tom Constantine, and this was also somewhere I had always heard about, but never seen.

Through Illinois, there is a bike path the whole way from Lake Forest to the Wisconsin border.   This bike path then continues on and off, mostly on,  through Kenosha,  then Racine, all the way to Milwaukee.  This whole distance is about sixty five miles.   Most of this path follows a former rail line.   It is paved part of the way, and fine smooth gravel in other parts.   For early April, the weather was astonishing; high in the low eighties and brilliant sun.

When I got to Kenosha, for all my sentimental feelings about it, what is now a Chrysler engine plant is not really much to look at.   Like other old factories, it comes right up to the street.    There was hardly even a sign saying what was in the collection of buildings.  I has been continuously producing cars or car parts since 1902.

There was also a blustery wind that blew from the south, pushing me along.  Bicycling and wind have a life metaphor; riding with the wind makes everything seems happy and fun,  but riding against the wind is a true grind.   Luckily on this day I had wind with me all the way, and I knew I was going to take the Amtrak back to Chicago the next day, and not have to ride against this stuff.

Because of the lucky tailwind, and the probability of rain the next day, I wanted to get all the way to Milwaukee that day.   I also had delays with flat tires that morning.   Consequently, I did not have enough time to circle around Kenosha and Racine as much as I would have liked.   Both towns seems very clean and organized.  Maybe it is the German heritage.    Biking in Wisconsin is great, and I am already making plans to go back to Wisconsin some day, and seeing stuff I missed, like the Johnson Wax building in Racine.

Wisconsin street

I rode on that afternoon into downtown Milwaukee, with the wind at my back.

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