Hi, I'm in Madison. The existence of TransWisconsin and http://www.unnamedepic.com
has stimulated me to realize there is lots to do here in my home state that never occurred to me before. So I've begun to nerd out:
One option you already know - The state trails. Rail trails. Pretty, thousands of miles everywhere, but flat flat flat. http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/trails/.
Check out the "Facts and Figures" link for a concise list. On that list there are 4 that are marked for ATV use but not bike use - bikes are implied, you just have to share with ATVs.
Another reference is Tourism's "Wisconsin ATV Guide" http://www.travelwisconsin.com/pdf/atv_guide.pdf.
Another reference is WDOT's WISLR road database. It includes a GIS layer with a 'surface type' attribute, so you can identify and map the unpaved roads. Contact me if you want to know more.
There are also county trails on county forests. 9 Mile is an example. I haven't begun to examine other county forests yet. Too many counties!
"Jewels" to stitch together via dirt roads/ATV trails/state trails might include: the CAMBA trails up north, Levis-Trow, 9 Mile, Stump Farm, John Muir/Emma Carlin, CamRock, and Blue Mounds. Forgive me if I forgot a cool one.
I fantasize about winter snowbiking on the vast snowmobile trail network that evaporates each spring. See Tourism's "Snowmobile Trail Map" http://www.travelwisconsin.com/PDF/snowmo_map_2007.pdf.
The trouble is that these trails are substantially on private property, invented and maintained by local clubs http://www.awsc.org/
that annually (or supposedly annually) negotiate snowmobile-only easements with every individual landowner. Quite awesome that they've been able to herd so many cats! I spoke with a DNR warden today. He said any of the multiuse state trails and county trails would be fine. As far as the others go - It is conceivable that a concerted effort on the part of a club of cyclists could negotiate with the snowmobile association to be included in their easements for particular trails. He was of the opinion that the association would want $$ for that sort of cooperation, that they have a history of 'pay to play'. I don't blame them, for all the work it takes. He gave an example where in recent years ATVers have used certain trails for winter ATVing, who negotiated fees with the snowmobilers for that. Anybody got any better straight dope on this subject?
See ya out there, Mark