Sparta, Wisconsin

Sparta bills itself as the bicycling capital of America. It sits at the end of the Elroy-Sparta Trail, considered to be the oldest rail-trail in the country. The community actively promotes four trails in the immediate area: Elroy-Sparta (of course), the Great River State Trail, the LaCrosse River Trail and the "400" State Trail. Collectively, these provide over 100 miles of trails.

As the main road passes through the town there is a park with a welcome kiosk. The focal point is a sculpture of a man riding a penny-father bike. This is known as Ben Bikin'. The downtown is a couple of blocks from the main road.

One of the attractions in the downtown is the Deke Slayton Space & Bicycle Museum. This quirky museum is mostly a collection of mid 20th century bikes with a couple older models and some astronaut memorabilia thrown in. Street signs in the town include a penny-father bike logo. Smaller versions of the Ben Bikin' sculpture are in front of several businesses in the town.

Sparta is just another small town without a lot to offer. Their embrace of bicycling does however elevate it to a sort of pilgrimage status for dedicated cyclists. If you are a devoted cyclist and are anywhere near western Wisconsin, stop by Sparta and allow yourself enough time to try some of the trails.

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