“The Bone Ride.” If you’ve lived and cycled in the Milwaukee area long enough, those 3 little words have taken on an almost mythical status. Every year you hear the stories of the 156 mile round-trip ride from Wauwatosa to Madison and think, “I’m gonna do that next year.” Well, too any of those years have passed, it was time to finally check this one off the bucket list. Of course the forecast for sunny skies and warm temperatures certainly made this decision easier.
A little background first. Tom Schuler, former US Olympian, US Pro National Champion, and original member of the 7-Eleven team started this ride 27 years ago. It began simply as a long training ride with a couple of friends. Someone commented that it was a “bone-headed” way to train. Thus the name. 78 miles from his house in Wauwatosa to State St. in downtown Madison, a quick lunch, a photo-op and a 78 mile return to Tosa.
So I made arrangements and played hooky on a Wednesday, along with 150 or so others. At least 100 rolled out from Tom’s house, through Brookfield, Elm Grove and out to the Lake Country. We picked up a few dozen more participants in Pewaukee, swelling the ranks further. Once out in the country, a stiff NW cross-wind kicked in. This caused the group to echelon towards the center-line. Thankfully traffic was light. We tried to separate into 2-3 more manageable packs, but stop signs/lights usually brought us back together. It was a tough start to a long day with that wind. And it seemed the pace quickened the closer we got to Madison. Thoughts crossed my mind like, “I wonder how much it costs to put a bike on the Badger Bus?” But we rolled into Madison in a little over 4 hours, and scattered to various restaurants on State St. for some well-deserved fuel.
We relaxed, ate, drank and re-filled bottles. But after this wonderful 1 hour break it was time for the group photo and the roll-out down State St. It was quite a sight. Back out in the countryside, the stiff head/cross wind became a lovely tailwind. The pace picked-up considerably. It was a struggle to stay on a wheel for awhile there. Even though the miles were flying by quickly, I kept checking the Garmin hoping to see a larger number. After dropping some riders back in Pewaukee, we came upon a police roadblock. Apparently some citizens were miffed to see a bunch of lycra-clad fitness enthusiasts cycling through their town and crowding “their” roads. We were given a stern lecture, then were allowed to proceed. I’m obviously biased, but what is it with people? I just don’t get it. But that’s a subject for a different day. Coming back into town, we rolled down Bluemound Rd. At the beginning of rush hour no less. I couldn’t help but wonder what this stretch looked like 27 years ago.
So the return trip came in at about 3 ½ hours, a good deal quicker than the first leg. We mingled a bit, but everyone was anxious to get home, eat and SLEEP! It was quite a day, I’m so happy to have finally tackled this one. I hope to make it an annual tradition now. So should you.
* Thank you to fellow Team Belgianwerkx teammates Patrick Brock and Bryan Hughes for joining me and wearing the shop kits. They really stand out in a big crowd and promote conversation about Belgianwerkx.
* I must say, given that this was the longest 1 day ride of my life, I need to plug my Ridley Helium SL. What a bike. It just seems to effortlessly climb the hills, and absorbed all of the rough roads that were thrown at us. Initially I wasn’t thrilled about the compact SRAM Red crank that was spec’d. But after Battenkill and now The Bone Ride, I really like it for those longer, hillier rides. I sometimes run out of gears on the fast descents, but my fat ass usually lets gravity do the work.