Bike touring: The perfect pace for travel.
I just love bike touring -- the kind where you pack everything onto your bike and travel through beautiful places! The physical challenge is rewarding in and of itself, but there are many other things to appreciate. I enjoy the pace and slow change of scenery; driving is too fast (I miss things) and backpacking is too slow (it's hard to get anywhere -- and ugh, the weight!). I dig the feeling of independence I get... I have everything with me to live indefinitely on my bike! And I appreciate the simple rhythm of the day -- pedal, eat, sleep, and repeat -- which leaves energy for panic when you inevitably make a wrong turn. :)
Day trips are fun, too, and helpful for getting in shape for a tour.
Here are some nice Southwest Wisconsin bike routes I designed for day trips and touring. This area offers some of the best conditions in the U.S. for bike touring! Also known as the "Driftless" area, the topography is interesting, the numerous back roads are lightly traveled, the scenery is lovely, the downhills are fun, the small towns can be sweet, and there's a fair amount of camping.
Warmshowers is a large network of people who will host you on your bike tour! There's a one-time registration fee of $30; overnight stays are free! We've stayed at about a dozen places -- especially in areas where there's no camping -- and they've all been spectacular hosts!
I wrote an article to help you choose a touring bike (updated for 2020!).
Want gearing that's more biker-friendly? See my article about using a double instead of the ubiquitious triple.
Adventure Cyclist is an inspiring print magazine geared towards cycle touring.
There's a newish Wisconsin bike touring meetup you might want to join (I'm a member).
Consider joining the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin; they do great bike advocacy work, and you'll get a discount on certain items at some bike stores.
I'm working on a weather website which will be helpful for bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts; this is currently a "draft" (get it?).