If you have ever been to Wisconsin to mountain bike you probably have been on the John Muir trails in Kettle Moraine. There are more than 50 miles of groomed cross country trails which range from easy to extremely demanding. However this is not about those trails, we can talk about those another day. This is about what to do before and after the ride. Close to the entrance to the trails is a little town (more like intersection) called La Grange. There you will find the La Grange General Store and Backyard Bikes.
Everything you may need before and after a ride is available in this one spot. The General store consists of a deli, coffee shop and convenience store all in one. Before the ride it is a perfect place to grab an energy bar, ask for directions and get a feel for what you are in for. My usual timing takes me past this spot at about 6am so they are not open yet, but on the way back from the trails it is requirement to stop in a hang out for a bit. After burning off 1000 plus calories on the trails you can work up quite an appetite. My snack of choice is usually a fresh baked egg, cheese and potato casserole. Wash that down with some Alterra coffee and you are good to take on the rest of the day.
There is more to the store than just food though. Attached to the General Store is a bike shop Backyard Bikes. If you are from out of town and need to rent a bike this is your place. They also have a full service shop, parts and new bike sales. I am the type that keeps nearly a complete bike in spares with me, but on occasion I need something for an emergency repair. If you have never ridden the John Muir trails and need some advice on bike setup, this is your place to ask questions. These guys see it all so they can usually give some good advice on how to make your time on the trails more enjoyable.
What you will notice next is this is not just a mountain biking pit stop. Heading into and out of La Grange and the Kettles are some of the best scenic roads around. This means road bikers will pass through here at a pretty steady clip too. Oh and if you are into cars you may want to hang out in the parking lot for a day. Car clubs use this as a meeting place before a drive down the rustic roads. It is not unusual to see Porsches, Ferraris, and Corvettes coming and going through this spot. There is never a dull moment in this little hole in the wall for sure.
The last thing to talk about would be the camaraderie you may get for free at the store. As you bump into fellow riders you can trade stories from the day, ask about trail conditions and usually have a laugh or two. Did I mention they have beer and wine? Yeah save that for the post ride visit. Hanging out for a while at one of the tables outside gives you a chance to socialize and unwind from a ride. I find the entire experience fun and relaxing. So next time you are in the midwest remember to visit La Grange, WI and the General Store. Just don’t miss it when you drive by.