By Mark Wilson
The Scenic Shore 150 is a 2 day, 75 miles each day bike ride from Mequon Wisconsin (just north of Milwaukee) up to Sturgeon Bay in Door County. A good friend of mine decided to ride this year with his sister’s team, another friend and I decided to take him up on his offer to join in. The team, in various forms, has done the ride the past few years, so they had a better idea what was coming. Having remembered roughly one year ago that I actually enjoy riding my bike and the occasional suffering that goes along with it, I thought it sounded like fun.
One of my personal takeaways from the ride: The Scenic Shore 150 isn’t about you, your pace, or ability. It’s all about a bunch of riders coming together to raise money for a good cause. You see people on all types of bikes (a couple recumbent bikes and at least a couple tandems), all sorts of riding levels, and all sorts of connections to Leukemia and Lymphoma. Everyone is there to have a good time, ride their own ride and to enjoy it all (at least mostly, Wisconsin has a few hills.)
Day 1: Mequon to Manitowoc
At the start of the ride, the weather forecast was calling for rain. The clouds looked like any moment they would just open up. Thankfully, the cloud cover made for a bit cooler ride, and the rain never came. The first segments were in more populated areas we still had glimpses of Lake Michigan and some great scenery and a bit less shore than anticipated. After the first couple of rest stops, the sun started coming out and we had much more regular views of Lake Michigan. It was a fantastic route. Every rest stop was stocked full with various energy bars, trail mix, those prepackaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with no crust (I will not name them though I had more this weekend than the previous ten years combined), and super enthusiastic volunteers. Periodically, there were various cheering stations for people to cheer on the riders as they went by. It was cool to see everyone along the course and another reminder to get out of your head and take a look around. At the overnight in Manitowoc there was a pretty sizeable area to sit back, get some food, shower, take a swim in Lake Michigan, as well as free beer, more snacks and food.
Day 2: Manitowoc to Sturgeon Bay
Having spent the night on a sleeping pad laid out on a tile floor (apparently “did you bring back ALL of it” is a relevant question to ask a friend when they return the tent you loaned them), Sunday morning started slowly. Thankfully after packing up our gear for transport to the finish, we had a solid breakfast and coffee to speed things up. We got started earlier than the day before to be sure we made it to the finish before the route closed in case we ended up riding slow on the second day. While the first stint was slow, we didn’t lag behind; Not that we were trying for any records - we just wanted to catch the rest of our group in between rest stops.
The route for Day 2 was even better than the first day. More biking along Lake Michigan and some hills! Though we didn’t really know exactly where the hills were coming, the distance between rest stops dropped by about half for a portion of Day 2 so that was a decent clue. The climbing still didn’t stop us from making an impromptu stop at a brewery for a quick post lunch sample. Continuing from Day 1, our group of three spent the time in between rest stops working to close the gap to the rest of the group. We pushed the pace a little faster than earlier in the day hoping to catch up before the finish in Sturgeon Bay, but it was not to be. No matter, we packed up our bikes, changed into non-sweaty clothes, got some food, and waited to board our ride back to Mequon.
During our post ride meal, my friend remarked that the cycling community is a lot like the Ultimate Frisbee community. Having met playing Ultimate, we all knew what he meant: Everyone loves what they do and there is a strong sense of connection to anyone else who decides to try it out. Another one joining the cycling ranks!
A little over a month has passed since the ride. Having met a few new friends, cyclists of all experience levels - all enjoying the ride - I plan to ride next year and would encourage anyone to consider riding as well. Whether you have a connection to blood cancer or not, it’s a fun ride, a great way to raise money for a good cause, and a way to remind yourself to get out of your own head occasionally.
Mark Wilson is an engineer, lover of all things with two wheels (motor and human powered alike), and amateur coffee roaster. He races Cyclocross for The Chainlink and thinks fun cycling socks make a great gift.