Scenic Shore 150 bike ride 2002
one participant’s report
by AD Carson
Dear Aunt Sally,
As threatened, and as is my tradition, I enclose a trip report – a reflection on my experience of the weekend and the ride. I will share with you what you helped make possible, and possibly encourage/discourage you towards participation in this way or some other next year! Surely there will be a next year, health and business permitting. Thank you for your sponsorship in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Scenic Shore 150 bike ride this weekend. Altogether, 538 riders helped raise over $190,000 this weekend. The Society aids in both cancer research and in patient support, and is among the very best of charities in converting your dollars into patient benefits.
* What * a * great * ride * !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had the weather.. We had the crowd.. 538 riders. We had a great route up the coast of Lake Michigan. There is something grand about being an old hand at this I get to give friendly advice at the rest stops, the route seems easier perhaps because it is so well known, and so on this is my fifth run for this organized event. The ride, the company, and the cause continue to be a great joy for me.
Helen drove me and the bike to the start in Mequon, just north of Milwaukee. 7:00 am and all the masochists — er cyclists — are up. Lines to register (and turn in OUR money), lines to put luggage on the truck, lines to the porta-johns. This is a bigger crowd than usual last year there were 400 riders, and that was a new high.
Some very sophisticated equipment is out there for bicyclists fancy light-weight racing bikes, mountain bikes with Y-frames, shock absorbers. All kinds of hybrids. Very colorful too a crayola box of primary colored bikes. And fashion! Black shorts with pillows in the bottom seem ubiquitous, and there is a sea of colorful jerseys. It is the fashion to wear a synthetic jersey that wick away the sweat of riding most have pockets in the back for your banana or water bottle or what have you. There are racing teams all in the same outlandish jerseys, husband and wife (I guess) teams, and families. YVT is by no means the oldest fool in this road I believe I know one octogenarian in the ride. And the youngest person I saw is perhaps 12.
I spend the first minutes of the gathering admiring hardware it’s a male thing. I wonder when all the other riders are going to figure out what I now know – recumbents are better! I would go so far as to say the bikes I have built and now ride are superior for this kind of cruise/ride than anything else I saw on display this weekend. I built my bike with this ride in mind.
Just imagine all the people getting ready stretching out, lacing up, drinking the last from a water bottle, saying farewell to spouses, etc. I did the same of course waving Helen off to her Saturday morning, and getting ready to ride. Just sit on the bike and go! Beautiful morning! 70’s here in Milwaukee, little humidity to speak of, and sunny skies.
The start, MATC campus in Mequon, is just far enough out of downtown Milwaukee (14 miles) to be countryside, and just inland from the lake for us to start our ride with a 2 mile route due east to the lake. There we turn north and, pretty much for the next 150 miles, if the road says Lake Shore Drive, we are on it. Most of the sunny morning is spent watching the lake on our right, and various sparse exurban landscapes on the left segue into corn and dairy farms. Concordia University slips by. On we head towards Port Washington.
538 riders in a bunch it is not. This ride is not a mass start, and it is not a race. People trickle out after 7:30 a.m. in bits and groups. Some of the teams and families ride together. And everybody has a different pace. We have some very experienced racers in the group, and some wholehearted novices as well. Some people pass a lot, some people watch others pass by. One of the joys for a rider like myself is the camaraderie on the road we are all in this together for once in what is normally a solitary form of exercise. The Scenic Shore 250 is, finally, a social event, if you will. As I pass the conversation goes to Hey, how are you doing, I usually get a little fun out of the unusual bike I ride. My Sunflower bike is a home built recumbent you can see in the picture that it is a bit unusual. Across this whole event I counted only 5 other recumbent riders.
Port Washington is the first stop, a small sleepy town about 25 miles north of Milwaukee. This organized ride stops for water terrific volunteers set up way stations every 10-15 miles or so along the route to offer a place for riders to pause for a few minutes and rest. There was water and Gator Aide, plus bread, oranges, bananas – all that energy food. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society musters a terrific band of volunteers – smiling, motivated folks who cheer the riders on, lift the water jugs, do whatever they can to make the rider easier. And the stops do make it easier. I tell the first timers just imagine yourself on a series of modest, 10-mile rides. Do the rides one at a time, rest a bit, then get up and do the next one! Port Washington is the first stop, on the waterfront.
The Wisconsin coastline is a serene and beautiful setting. The route takes us through Dairy farms, horse farms, along tourist roads and way stops. Sometimes you can’t get close to the lake private property and all, but always we come back to it on the carefully chosen (and well marked) route. In Saturday’s sunshine, it is a great and recurring view. Not too many alewives on the shore, either. We pass in the morning through Oostburg, Stop at St. Mary’s Parrish Church (for water), and ride to the waterfront in downtown Sheboygan for lunch.
The Scenic Shore organizers feed us this is a terrific organization. Sandwiches and sodas, chips and fruit anything you could want including a nap in the shade. Nice park! A local Milwaukee company has sponsored and is manning the lunch station. This ride has an abundance of corporate and commercial sponsors a lot of the material and logistical support for the ride is donated which means that my dollars and yours didn’t buy it, which means those dollars go to the cause first!
Anyway, great lunch, thoughtfully planned about 45 miles into the first day. Somehow it makes the afternoon easier to know that there are only 30 more miles to go until day’s end.
I was feeling pretty good through the day too – the mileage wasn’t too hard – seems like I would come up to every rest stop eager to continue, nothing seemed to bother me – I was sailing right along all day. I think some of that was familiarity at any given point on the route I know now what to expect, what is next, etc. Some of it was the weather – a better day for riding we have never experienced on this ride in 5 years! Some of it is just me – a happy fool doing what he loves to do.
The Saturday ride ends in Manitowoc, Wi. on the small UW branch campus. YVT is just fresh enough to be sorry the day’s ride is done – I could go on a while yet! Better to stop with everyone else, though – dinner and shelter are here. I finished the day’s ride around 2:30 pm – 75 miles easy, with stops, in 7 hours. Easy enough for anyone to do, if you do the math.
Activities for the evening – spaghetti dinner catered by a sponsor (Mama Mia’s), a raffle, speeches, a DJ playing musty rock and roll, socializing, movies for the restless, a bonfire on the beach. Mercifully the announced karaoke did not get off the ground. Speeches – we heard from a leukemia survivor detail the help he had from the Society. We heard the vital statistics I quoted above on fundraising. Prizes are announced for top fundraising individuals and teams. There is a Team Jillie of 28 riders who is always in the forefront of support and fundraising – they have been on the ride for years and were organized first around the cancer fight and now around the memory of a relation [see below – three year old niece].
Many people disperse into local hotels for the night. Quite a few camp out on the grass – there is a huge lawn running down to the lakefront beach on the UW-Manitowoc campus – I didn’t count, but there were perhaps 100 tents on the grounds. About 100 of us brought sleeping mats and did our camping on the Air-conditioned floor of the school gym. I am in that crowd. My strange bike does not fit on the storage racks outside, so I brought it into the gym with me for the night.
Helen says no one would steal it anyway – just picture someone trying to ride away on it and falling on their face!
Sunday. Someone turns on the lights in the gym around 6:00 am! You should see the tired folks stretch and roll in protest. Except for a few. Personally, I am Mandel trained enough now to wake naturally at 5:30 I am already packing when the lights go on. Breakfast out in the tent again, way too little coffee on hand for the demand, but the day starts peacefully enough.
The sky is overcast. Clouds all around, and the darkest and most ominous of these are to our north along the shore. The weather reports call for scattered showers and high heat and humidity on Sunday. I think the shower is – in the park, just north of Manitowoc! Hoy! These rides are like soccer and football, though – the ride goes on, no matter what! As on Saturday, people start out in bits and groups. I take off singly at 7:00 am – watching those clouds, worrying about it with the people I pass and those who pass me on the route.
The day starts with a long level stretch of shoreline road in Two Rivers, WI. 7 miles of civilized shoreline – places and storefronts to maybe hide under should the dark sky let loose. And the showers start – just a little, flirting with us, not really bad enough to make me want to stop. I start to get a little wet. I regret my decision not to bring the fender that fits over the rear wheel on my bike. — when I feel that wet stripe starting on my backside from the wheel spray. Ah well, wet is wet!
But it is not REALLY bad enough to stop. The first rest stop for the day is just at the end of Two Rivers. Those of us who bother to stop at all are wondering what the weather holds to our north. Should I go, should I wait? This really is a last chance to hide from the rain, the route from here goes about 8 miles through Point Beach State Park no shelter there.
The heck with it Just go on! And of course, about a mile or so into the park, the bottom lets out! Whoosh! Heavy rain! Wind in my face! Utterly miserable riding weather! Oh me. Riders passing by envy me the windshield on my bike. I donno – Actually, this is the first opportunity I have taken to test the hydro-dynamics properties of my current ride. I imagine it does help somewhat. But have you ever seen a sleek sports car cutting through a heavy rain? All that spray flying UP from the windshield over the top of the car? Well, my head and helmet are right in the path of that spray! That windshield is a WIND shield, not a water shield! I got wet for sure! And the heavy rain lasted all through the park. I got wet, real wet.
But hey, it wasn’t hot, it wasn’t humid. Yet. The rain did let up just after the park. Pavement was still very wet, but no more from the sky, anyway. The second rest stop was drying out – people were ringing out their socks, wiping off their glasses, etc. My ace in the hole for rest stop #2 was a dry shirt! A luxury envied by those nearby, but difficult to share. Boy did that feel nice!
The day dried out from there. Lunch is at 50 miles on day two, in Algonquin, WI. Same fare as Saturday, and plenty of it. The lunch stop is where you get the best impression of the ride – all the variety of folks on the event. People stop for longer here – difficult to eat your fill and jump right back on the bike, for sure! Conversations – how is your ride going? Where are you from? This and that. This is the pleasure of the ride for me. I met Mr. #1 fundraiser, congratulated him. He is from New Berlin.
The afternoon on Sunday got hot! Not only that, but this is the only place on the ride that you really encounter some hills to climb. Roller coaster terrain up and down through the Door County dairy country. Algoma is where we leave Lake Michigan too to cut across the thumb of Wisconsin towards Sturgeon Bay. The only blessing of the changing weather is a mild South wind. This is blowing us along towards the finish. I spend the late afternoon leapfrogging with another rider – Jay is younger and stronger than I am clearly – he pumps up those early hills ahead of me. But I (remember the windshield) gain headway on him in the downhills momentum is a wonderful thing. It isn’t a race, but we have a passing conversation. As the miles wear on I think I wear him down a bit – clearly he is working harder later, and I pass him a final time into the last rest stop.
The good part about that last rest stop is that there are only 8 more miles to go, and it is all flat and due north into Potowatomi State Park. I know that, and share that lore with others at the stop they are pretty tired, some of them, and relieved to hear it. Of course there are a couple of tough nuts too What hills? they say! To each his own. It is pretty hot and humid by now.
But I can sail to the finish! Due north, and that tail wind to push me along. On level ground I usually manage to poke along at 17, 18 miles per hour. On the last leg I was getting 21, 22 mph! It went by too fast! I wasn’t ready for the day to be over. But with everyone else, I was glad to get to the end or the ride I guess. My energy was fine I could ride on a while. Ah well.
The organizers put on a party in the park as well. Live band playing Give Me Three Steps, but that cut out in the middle in a fight for amperage the cookers in the picnic shelter, or the band’s amps can’t power both! Burgers, brats, corn on the cob, beverages! Cool, and lots of happy, tired people. Many of whom take a celebratory dip in the bay.
My ride ends here with a rescue by Helen. She has come up from Milwaukee in the car to share the picnic with me. This gives me a shotgun seat in the car going home, rather than a seat on the bus, and no wait for the truck with the bikes at the other end. Rather civilized! Other years I have been pretty tired at the end of the ride, and often (in the days of upright riding) saddle sore. Not today I feel great! Rested and ready to take on some more! Donno why. The best of the ride home is shelter from the humidity. Sunday was truly a hot and sticky day.
Thanks for sponsoring me to this valued experience. I enjoyed it immensely for itself, and I am glad we together had a chance to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Response: 14 Feb 2003 – “Team Jillie” – e-mail from Niels van Wieringen
Sally, – My brother Mike and I began Team Jillie in 1993 in response to the death of our niece Jillian Inge Topel. She was three years old at the time of her death. Our family was so impressed with the care she was given at Children’s Hospital, we felt we needed to give something back. We do the Scenic Shore 150 and the Trek 100 bike ride for the MACC fund. Our team has grown steadily over the years and now includes many friends and another brother, Rick. It’s always nice to read positive comments about this ride and the great experiences people have had. Our goal in being in the forefront of this ride is to get as many people involved as possible. I often tell bike riding sponsors, I’d rather ride with you than be sponsored by you. This used be called a Cure 2000 ride in the hopes we could cure Leukemia by the year 2000. Undaunted though we trek on. The best part of the ride is all of the great people you meet along the way and the enduring friendships you make. I hope to get our team’s website back online soon so try to look for it in the future. Have fun and enjoy life.