In a small town, memorable naming occasions occur only occasionally.
One is coming up in Cambridge.
On Sunday, Aug. 1, Phil Van Valkenberg will earn his well-deserved place alongside other local residents whose names grace community centers and high school football stadiums.
Ground will be broken that day for a new off-road bike path that will extend northward from Cambridge to within a mile of the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, with a future vision to finish that final piece.
The trail will also, that day, be formally christened the Phil Van Valkenberg CamRock to Glacial Drumlin Connector Bike and Hike Trail.
The new stretch will extend northward from U.S. Highway 12-18 through The Vineyards of Cambridge neighborhood, to State Farm Road. Beyond that, on-road directional signs will take users the rest of the way to the state trail.
At England Street in Cambridge, it will additionally tie into an existing off-road trail that runs southward to CamRock County Park.
It is costing more than $400,000 to engineer and build the new stretch, with significant financial support from Dane and Jefferson counties, the state of Wisconsin in the form of a state stewardship grant, and many large and small local contributions.
We can think of no one more worthy that Van Valkenberg to receive this trail-naming honor.
He grew up in Cambridge and his parents long owned a downtown shoe store.
Van Valkenberg organized his first ride – around Madison’s Capitol Square – in 1973.
For decades he then crisscrossed the United States and Europe on a bicycle, leading group tours and writing eight books about biking in Wisconsin and the Midwest, seven official state biking guides for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, a rural bicycling planning guide for the state Department of Transportation and countless columns and articles about his lifelong passion.
In 2017, he was an inaugural member of the Wisconsin Bicycling Hall of Fame.
Bicycling dignitaries from across the region, and the state, are expected to converge on Cambridge on Aug. 1 to honor Van Valkenberg.
We encourage community members to join in the festivities set for 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Cambridge Winery, 700 Kenseth Way.
It will include complimentary soft drinks and hors d’oeuvres, live music by the Trophy Husbands, of Cambridge, and a silent auction. The actual groundbreaking ceremony is at 3 p.m.
We extend our warmest congratulations to Van Valkenberg, and our thanks for his lifelong contributions to bicycling.
We join the Cambridge community in expressing deep appreciation for the four years of hard work that an ad hoc committee, now a fledgling non-profit, has put into envisioning the connector route.
And we look forward to, someday soon, it being finished off-road all the way up to the Glacial Drumlin State Trail.