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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ride for the Arts

This past Sunday, I got up at 4:30 and drove to Milwaukee to participate in the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts, which was scheduled to start at 7:00.  About 7,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities joined the ride this year.  They could choose from a 5-mi family ride; a 12-mi ride; a 25-mi ride; a 50-mi ride; and a 75-mi ride.  Having not put on as many miles this spring as I wanted to, I chose the 50 mile route.

Like all the routes, the 50-miler started and ended at the Summerfest Grounds on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The route was basically an out and back to the Concordia University - Wisconsin campus in Mequon.  (Coincidentally, this is where my step-son Ryan is attending school.)

The start of the route this year was different though than in the past.  This year, route organizers received permission from the State DOT to include the Hoan Bridge, which is part of I-794.  I'm guessing there was a lot of concern about bicyclists on the bridge, which is next to a Great Lake, even though it was closed to vehicular traffic at 5:30a that day (until 10:00a). Organizers were very specific before the start about not stopping on the bridge, no picture taking from the bridge, and don't get distracted by the view.  (We were, I'm guessing, about 10 stories up in the air.)  I heard later someone said it was a success and that no one was blown off (as some skeptics thought might happen).

So, after a short delay to the start (so volunteers could cover up some gaps in the pavement with plywood and carpeting), we got started at about 7:25.  We left Summerfest and turned left to head south on the bridge.  After crossing, we exited, and then re-entered the bridge northbound headed back.  It was about 2.5 miles each way.

Me and a few thousand friends riding across the Hoand Bridge in Milwaukee during the Ride for the Arts. (I am in front on the left, red & white jersey, black & yellow helmet.)
Photo Source: Third Coast Digest (via their Flickr page, linked from the Ride for the Arts Facebook page)
 From the bridge, we rode north through the suburbs to Mequon where there was a rest stop.  The organizers had fruit, bars, water, and Gatorade out for us.  Wheel & Sprocket, one of the sponsors, was also there to help with mechanical issues. 

Upon leaving Concordia, 50-mile riders turned back south to head back to Summerfest.  (The 75-milers headed north to Port Washington and then turned back.)

It was a great ride.  A beautiful day for it.  Temps in the 60s to start, climbing into the 80s. And sunny.  There was a bit of a wind from the north/northwest.  I averaged over 16 mph going north and over 19 mph on the way back! for an average of 17.25.  Which is fast for me. (I normally average about 15-16)  I peddled hard and rode strong.  And I'm glad I chose the 50-mile route so I could ride hard.  (I would have bonked on the 75-mile route going that hard.)

This was the second year I rode this ride.  It's great to support the arts by participating.  It's fun to push myself to ride further and faster in these kinds of events than I do when I'm on the road riding solo.  While I have no illusions of ever being a racer (ok, maybe sometimes I fantasize about it), it's a blast seeing results like I had on Sunday. 

Only downside to the day: The "50-mile" route was really only 43.5 miles.

Next year, I AM doing the 75!

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