There’s a big bunch of water that dominates central Wisconsin, the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir to the west and Lake Dubay to the east, and in turn they are served by the Big Eau Pleine River. Together, they dominate the landscape that sits in front of the ATW route across the state. One option is to keep tracking east to Knowlton, keeping the water on the left hand side of the road then head north. Another option is to head north first then keep the water on the right. And the third option is a mix of the two and cross the great expanse of water at one of its three bridges.
But first there’s the Little Eau Pleine River to deal with and as the rollout tracks north east on a lumpy climb, State Highway 97 crosses the river just before two miles. As the road continues rising, it hangs a left at three miles and starts heading north, thereby answering the question of which option Mark Beaumont took back in 2017 when he faced this dilemma.
The climb continues to five miles where the road crosses the east/west junction of Eau Pleine Road at the highest elevation of the stage. That’s followed by a descent that never quite manages to give up all of the elevation gained, but it does deliver Highway 97 into Stratford at the junction with Highway 153. As H97 carries on further north towards Athens, ATW takes a right onto H153 and starts heading east.
Having earlier crossed the Little Eau Pleine River, this time it’s the turn of its sibling waterway, the Big Eau Pleine River, at eleven miles, which is roughly halfway through the stage. That guarantees that the road will run north of the reservoir, ie option two from the top of the show, and that basically sets the tone for the rest of the stage.
Highway 153 is perfectly flat and straight from seven miles at Stratford, through Bradley at ten miles and across Fenwood Creek at twelve miles, to Halder at seventeen miles where the road starts to take the merest hint of a curve right. That bend continues all the way to the finish, but when the road arrives at Marathon County Forest Burma Road Unit at seventeen miles, it starts to run downhill to the finish at Pier Lake, which incidentally is the lowest elevation of the stage.
Distance: 23 miles / 37 kilometres
Ascent: 233 feet / 71 metres
RGT Magic Road: cFiNesQMdyDt
Max elevation: 1298 ft
Min elevation: 1161 ft
Total climbing: 233 ft
Total descent: -247 ft
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