My editor asked me to write about my favorite place to exercise on the road. I had trouble choosing one favorite, because there are so many places I enjoy. So I came up with a list of priorities. As any trucker will tell you, the first priority is parking. The truckstop is maybe 100 feet from the trail. Downtown is less than a half-mile from the truckstop. The connecting trails go on for more than 100 miles. That clinched it for West Salem.
The proximity of the trail to truck parking makes West Salem a convenient place to stop for that midday, 30-minute walk or run. The surrounding amenities make those longer 10-hour breaks pleasant. Plenty of trail, if you want that 34-hour restart.
West Salem is located off of Interstate 90 exit 12 in Wisconsin. There are two truckstops off this exit, and there is always plenty of room. The Cenex is located on the north side of the highway and is a stone’s throw from the La Crosse River State Trail, a graded hard clay-crushed limestone trail. The surface is ideal for running or walking. My hybrid bike works great on it. It might be questionable for a road bike, but the surrounding roads work well. This is a bike aware area.
The trail joins the Great River Trail 10 miles west in La Crosse. If you head east 15 miles, it meets the Elroy-Sparta Trail. Sparta claims to be the bicycle capitol of the world. They make a terrific effort to make cyclists feel welcome. Part of the Wisconsin system, these trails charge a daily fee of $4 (the annual fee is $20). It is free for walkers and runners.
Our Ride and Roll group is working on building a map for truckers who exercise on the road. The map at www.rideandroll.me includes this stop. It also includes some great urban rides like Nashville, Tenn. Progress on populating the map is slower than we’d like, in part because we are aware of how frustrating inaccurate information can be to a trucker. Keep checking back, though — and if you’re around West Salem, definitely stop by exit 12 on I-90.