Ironman Wisconsin Bike Scouting Trip

A thing we’ve heard is that the Ironman training schedule can be hard on a couple. That may be for someā€”it certainly is a lot of hours, especially as we get into these really hard workouts 6-8 weeks out from the race. And maybe I’m the wrong one to be writing about this and you should ask Erica in private how it’s been. But to me she’s nothing but supportive. To wit, for our wedding anniversary weekend this year, she suggested we spend it in Madison so that I could do my long bike ride of the week riding a loop of the Ironman Wisconsin bike route. Of course, we also ate at two of Madison’s finest restaurants and she got a lot of choreography done while I was out on the road, so it wasn’t some hardship tour. The point is that I love her and she’s sweet to me.

And the other point is that I was able to kinda, sorta ride a preview of the bike course. Something like the Chicago Triathlon with its loops of a closed-off, straight-as-an-arrow Lake Shore Drive, it’s not that big a deal to get on the course ahead of time. But the Madison Ironman has two features that made me want to get up there ahead of time. First of all, and more on this in a second, it has a lot of turns, which I assume will be well marked on race day, but I still wanted to be a little familiar with. And more importantly, it’s got lots and lots of hills. LOTS. We don’t have hills down here in Chicago, at all, and I wanted to get on the hills both to work out those muscles and skills and just not to be shocked by them on race day.

Ironman Wisconsin provides not just a map of the route but also turn-by-turn directions. The helpful folks at Wisconsin Brick Adventure have kindly combined those into one sheet with the addition of information about where you can easily make a pit stop at a Kwik Trip and where the hard hills are on the route. But what none of those provide is distance information for each segment between turns.


(Oh yeah, I’ve started using Strava to track my rides. Be my Strava-friend!)

Do you see each of those spikes coming off the loop? Those are where I missed a turn and then pulled my phone out to check the map after realizing that the route had gotten way too easy after a few miles. And that big straight line at the top is where I missed an important turn on Old Sauk Road and ended up miles and miles out of my way when I was already over my scheduled hours for the week. (The green line is where I should have gone.) I actually starting backtracking and then decided not to be a hero and just get back to the hotel. Erica and I drove the route the next day and even with both of us watching and my previous day’s experience, we still missed one of the turns.

So, I am really glad that we made the trip. Even with my missteps, I managed to ride three of what are considered the four worst hills and none of them was un-possible. Hard, yes. But I never had to walk, so there’s that.

And here’s my contribution to the effort: turn-by-turn directions WITH distances between turns. Some stats first: over 80 turns*. Max distance without a turn: 5.1 miles. Average segment distance: 1.28 miles.


  • South on bike path to Sheraton Hotel - 2.0 mi
  • RIGHT Rimrock Road - 0.6 mi
  • RIGHT E. Badger RD - 0.6 mi
  • BEAR LEFT Ski LN (I would say “continue onto”) - 0.5 mi
  • RIGHT Oregon Road (I would say “continue onto”) - 0.6 mi
  • RIGHT McCoy Road - 0.8 mi
  • BEAR LEFT Syene Road - 2.2 mi
  • RIGHT on Irish Lane - 0.8 mi
  • LEFT on Caine - 0.5 mi
  • RIGHT Whalen Road - 5.1 mi


  • WHALEN AT OLD COUNTY PB, continue West - 0.7 mi
  • RIGHT County M - 0.3 mi
  • LEFT Locust Drive - 0.2 mi
  • RIGHT Bruce Street - 0.5 mi
  • LEFT Paoli Street (HWY 69) - 0.6 mi
  • RIGHT Valley Road - 1.3 mi
  • RIGHT Sugar River Road - 0.9 mi
  • LEFT Marsh View Road - 0.4 mi
  • LEFT County G - 3.0 mi
  • RIGHT Messerschmidt RD - 1.8 mi
  • RIGHT Route (WIS) 92 - 4.5 mi
  • RIGHT 8th Street - 1.2 mi (to County S, Kwik Trip is 0.5 mi after turn)
    REST STOP: KWIK TRIP on left
  • RIGHT County S - 0.7 mi
  • LEFT Witte Road - 1.8 mi
  • RIGHT County J - 0.5 mi
  • LEFT Garfoot Road - 1.0 mi
  • LEFT Mineral Point Road - 0.1 mi
  • RIGHT Garfoot Road - 4.0 mi
  • RIGHT County KP - 1.0 mi
  • RIGHT Bourbon Road - 0.8 mi
    REST STOP: KWIK TRIP (ON LEFT from end of Bourbon Rd)
  • RIGHT County P - 1.0 mi
  • LEFT Stagecoach Road - 1.5 mi
  • RIGHT North Birch Trail - 0.8 mi
  • North Birch Trail turns LEFT and becomes Old Sauk Pass Road - 1.3 mi
    UP 2nd BIG HILL
  • Old Sauk Pass Road turns RIGHT and becomes Timber Lane (don’t follow the Spray Paint that says HOME and leads you to the left onto Old Sauk Rd again) - 4.0 mi
  • LEFT Midtown Road - 0.8 mi
  • RIGHT Shady Oak Lane - 1.6 mi (pass driving range)
  • LEFT County PD - 0.2 mi
  • RIGHT North Nine Mound - 0.8 mi
  • LEFT Cross Country Road - 1.2 mi
  • RIGHT County M (Main St, Route 69) - 0.8 mi
  • LEFT on Verona Ave (Business18/151) - 1.1 mi
    REST STOP at intersection
  • RIGHT on Old Hwy PB - 1.0 mi
  • RIGHT on Whalen to continue Loop, left to return to Madison.


  • LEFT Whalen Road
  • LEFT Caine Road
  • RIGHT on Irish Lane
  • LEFT Syene Road
  • Syene Road bears RIGHT and becomes McCoy Road
  • LEFT Oregon Road
  • LEFT Ski LN
  • Bear RIGHT to E. Badger RD
  • LEFT Rimrock RD
  • At Sheraton, LEFT Bike Path
  • FOLLOW Bike Path to Monona Terrace

* It gets tricky with some of the “turns left and becomes”.