Monday, April 7, 2014

Reinventing the "girls weekend"

You've got to know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away
know when to run.

-Kenny Rogers

All last week, I got into the terrible habit of checking the weather at least once a day.  My obsession was with Friday the 4th.  Was is going to rain?  Was it going to snow?  Sleet?  And, oh dear god, please let the relentless wind abate!  My stomach did little summer-salts seeing the wind go from a 17mph headwind to a 26mph headwind to the risk of freezing rain with a headwind.  You see, Friday at 9am, a good friend of mine, Laura, and I were to embark on a bike trip to Milwaukee--about 100 miles each way from our places on the far West side of Madison.  We both knew we could deal with cold and long miles, but I started second guessing myself when thinking about pushing into an exposed wind the entire way.  

In the end, with the temps hovering just above freezing, and a light drizzle forcing the cold to our bones, we chose to get a ride from my husband to Lake Mills--about 30 miles East of us--to begin our journey.  We knew we'd be going the entire distance on our way back, and also knew we'd be riding quite a bit when we hit Milwaukee, so we allowed ourselves to take the "easy" way out.  Somehow, to our surprise, and possibly a little magic worked by my cycling friends in Milwaukee, the winds shifted and we had a tail/cross wind the entire first day.  Yeah, it was cold, and no, we didn't appreciate the mini mircrodermabrasion we received from sleet once we came close to MKE, but it was still a great ride.

On the New Berlin trail, just outside of MKE, it started to sleet

We hit the fairgrounds much faster than we expected--fueled by hot soup and fresh bread made by a little cafe in Waukesha on Broadway--and proceeded to check out the Bike Expo, put on by Wheel and Sprocket.  The moment we stepped into the building, the reunion of bike friends began.  It was great seeing folks I don't get to see regularly, and in some ways, it felt like a WI Bike Fed board meeting since I saw so many current and old board members.  It was even better getting the chance to introduce Laura to some of this community.

After the sensory overload, we met up with a former cycling friend from Madison, who recently moved to MKE, to ride back into town.  Phil, a former bike courier and current record holder for the fastest lap at RW24, was all too kind not to push the pace to the Schuster Inn where we were staying.  With our bikes loaded down, and a few miles behind us, we must have seemed like sloths to him.  

I can pick out a few hazy details from that first night in Milwaukee.  First, there was greasy Chinese food.  The kind you probably wouldn't want to eat on a daily basis, but also the kind that sends shivers of pleasure to hungry, cold, tired cyclists.  There was a shared bottle of wine.  There was a phone call by MKE friends asking us to come out and play--in our blitzed out state, we said "yes".  There was a drive back through Waukesha--wait! didn't we just bike through here?--to go sing karaoke with other RW24 friends.  There was laughter...sooo much laughter.  

The Schuster Inn on 32nd and Wells--they were very kind to us cyclists!
In our sleep deprived state, we managed to wake, stuff our bellies with an amazing breakfast at the Schuster Inn, and bike over to the Riverwest neighborhood for a little urban spin and a practice lap on the RW24 course.  The sun was out, the breeze was much lighter than the previous day, the temps had risen and we were happy.

Teaching Laura the RW24 loop

Dan, one of the two friends who house of for RW24

Following a peaceful rest, so as not to become zombies, we rode down to Alem--one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants--where we met Tristan and Carolyn, the owners of Coast In Bikes, and Tom Lais, a winter and gravel riding kindred spirit.  Are you beginning to get the gist this trip was just as much about food as it was biking?  Good for you!  You've cracked the code.

After an impromptu bike repair at 9:30pm--thank you Tristan and Carolyn!--we rode silently through the city guided by street lights and our bike lights.  Of course we should have been good and gone to sleep right away knowing we'd have to wake early to ride, but hell, this was a girl's weekend, and just like old slumber parties, we stayed up far too late chatting and giggling.

Thanks to Tristan, Laura's rack didn't fall off!

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need

-The Rolling Stones

Almost home!
I wish I could tell you we had a tailwind the entire ride back.  We didn't.  We rode with a headwind/crosswind the whole way--starting with our first mile.  We rode it though.  Laura joked that our asses would look like raw hamburgers after this--true, but the important thing was we were still joking around.  We were tired, sore and so very happy to get off our bikes and yet we both were smiling ear to ear.  

For me, this was the earliest century I had done, and in total, we rode 205 miles in three days carrying weight.  For Laura, this was also her earliest century, and was her first taste of bike touring.  I'm just hoping the bug has bitten and she's up for more adventures like this!

We made it back to Madison!
This trip wouldn't have been nearly as pleasurable without seeing/spending time with great friends.  Thank you Phil, Dan, Claudine, Michael, Kristen, Scott, Kelly, Joan, Tom, Tristan, Carolyn and Steve (for offering to do an emergency pick up if necessary).  Most of all, thank you Laura for turning me into a teenage girl again!  You made this weekend awesome and there's no one else I would want to endure a big headwind with more.


  1. It was great to see you! And to meet Laura. :) I will only be riding by car when I come to visit in Madison.

    1. Claudine, as long as you pack a bike in the car, all is good! Looking forward to seeing you May 1st!