Open Road Press

Touring to Titletown USA

Part III of a six-part series on the Bishops’ bicycle tour on the shores of Lake Michigan

After three days of burning up the miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Debbie and I arrived in Wisconsin. Immediately, the fast traffic subsided. It had been nearly two weeks since we left Sawyer, Michigan, on our bicycle trek around the lake, so we had acclimated to Michigan traffic. At a pit stop just north of the border, a fuel truck with a sharp green-and-yellow paint job featuring the word “Titletown” across its long tank had baited us for what lay ahead.

A Slower Pace

The change in speed provided welcome relief. Most of the motorists we encountered in Wisconsin went out of their way to allow us the entire right lane of the road. Our loads were wide, but they weren’t that wide! Nevertheless, the courtesy, the slower pace, and the beautiful wetlands and crops that had replaced the rough and tumble of the Upper Peninsula gave us reason to be thankful—and enjoy the ride even more.

Bicycle tours have the power to delight you because they change character—often at just the right time. They’re as likely to deliver refreshing surprises as they are unexpected challenges. One such blessing came as we cycled to the gates of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, home of professional football’s Green Bay Packers.

Titletown, USA

TimDebLambeauFieldHow did a sports franchise of such monumental proportions land in this rural setting in a city of only 100,000 people? The stadium tour would tell us.

The American version of football was born in the upper Midwest. The Packers organization help launch the National Football League (NFL), and became one of its early success stories. Over the years, the league realized that Green Bay’s place in its history, as a charter member, was an important asset to its future. Consequently, the NFL created an exception to allow fans to own the franchise, which would help keep the team in its original locale.

The Packers are the only sports franchise in the league owned by its fans. Despite its relatively small population, the Packers have sold out their now 80,000-seat stadium since 1960. This record excludes games played by “replacement players” during the players’ union strikes. If you’d like to become a season-ticket holder, you can place your name on the waiting list, but don’t expect a call–ever! You might otherwise be due for tickets in thirty years, but as people die, they have the right to bequeath their seats to next of kin. Unless popularity of the Packers wanes, you’ll never get off that waiting list!

Enthusiasm for the hometown team runs rampant. At every turn, we saw Green Bay’s team spirit and its identity in its beloved Packers shining forth. Statues of iconic figures and monuments with engraved plaques and photos lined Lombardi Avenue and told the Packer story. We visited business establishments that were clad in team memorabilia. Homes displayed Packer colors, uniform numbers, and messages each with its own significance in Packer lore. We loved Titletown, USA, especially by bicycle.

We’ll head to the ferry that crosses Lake Michigan in our next post.

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