Friday, June 15, 2012

I've never enjoyed church...until now

Church of the Spoken Wheel coffee break

I believe most things happen for a reason.  This past winter, while modeling in a winter bike fashion show for Madison Bike Winter, I met Michael Lemberger.  He was the closer and overall show stealer coming in with his 907 fat bike and decked out as he would be for the Triple D winter race.  We chatted a bit but didn't really get to talk until the final party for winter bike-to-work-week.  It was then that we planned an early spring pancake ride with Aaron Crandall, founder of Madison Bike Winter.

A week later, on a cold and windy Sunday morning, we took a little urban spin and gorged ourselves to the point of barely being able to ride home.  On the ride, I told Michael how much I love biking on Sunday mornings--that I considered it my form of church.   Next phrase out of his mouth was "Church of the Spoken Wheel".  I laughed and said that was the coolest title I've ever heard and had to share it with my husband, who was riding up ahead.

A week or so later, I opened up my facebook account and found that I had been added to the actual riding group called "Church of the Spoken Wheel".  I have to say that I was excited but a bit hesitant.  I hadn't ridden regularly in a group for some time.  Although I lead group rides for the health club I work at, it's work and I have to be "on".  In past years I had tried riding with Bombay Bike Club but found the size to be a bit overwhelming (often times over 100 folks show up on rides).  The last time I rode regularly in a group was for racing--ions ago.  After that I floundered.  I didn't want to be a competitive racer anymore but couldn't shake the habit of always pushing in a group.  It wasn't fun.  I actually got pre-ride jitters, almost as if I were about to race.  I wanted more of a weekly social group but didn't know how to find one that "fit".  As I said before, most things happen for a reason.  Whether I was just "ready" for this group or I just got lucky, I have no clue, but I now consider this band of misfits a second family. 

Pit stop in Paoli

 So, to play off the whole "church" thing, our group "leaders" are pastor Michael and pastor Steve.  The rest of us are deacons and some of the other wives will sometimes join us as the renegade nuns.  Our rides are normally on Sundays, however, there have been exceptions.  We mix it up between the East and West and usually cap off the ride with a coffee break.  We're all over the map with different backgrounds, different points in our life about why and when we got into cycling and a crazy diversity in what we do to make money during the week.  It all works.  Michael posted the rules for the group--which are:
We have two bylaws so far, borrowed from the Tarik Saleh Bike Club:
1. Ride bikes.
2. Try not to be an ass.
Simple as that.  We push each other when we're feeling strong and go easy on each other when we're nursing injuries or just simply feel like crap (there is some razzing, however, that goes with this).  Our group size ebbs and flows depending upon who's free.  There are some folks in the group that have never shown up for our rides...I'm guessing they just find humor in our stupid banter on facebook.   We show interest in each other's lives, beyond the world of cycling, and talk about everything from music to trips.

If you asked me last year if I preferred riding solo or in a group, I would have promptly said "solo, or with my husband".  Now, it has flipped--although I still love long rides just with my hubby.  Thankfully, my husband likes riding with this group as much as I do.  For those of you that don't have the luxury of riding with a group or are a bit skittish about joining one, I urge you to keep searching or better yet, start your own.  The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin lists tons of group rides in it's Ride Guide and most bike shops also lead weekly rides from the store. 

A beautiful Sunday ride to Lodi

*I want to thank Michael and Steve for welcoming me and my husband into their group.  Blessed be the Church of the Spoken Wheel!


  1. I used to ride almost exclusively solo, but now usually go with a group (sometimes just 2 of us). We have started a Cable chapter of Church of the Spoken Wheel, same rules!!

    1. I'm guessing that this is Ron! Maybe there needs to be a COTSW chapter everywhere. Happy riding!