Monday, March 16, 2009

The Joker & Cycling Heaven: A Milwaukee Area Group Ride With Team Extreme

There’s a joker on every group ride.  I love him, in a bromance kind of way.  With impeccable timing, the joker’s the one who “accidently” drops a 4 letter bomb at the top of the climb to Holy Hill.  He’s the guy who wonders out loud why a road would be named Amy Belle and how promiscuous she might have been in a rural Wisconsin tool shed.  He’s the one who stands on the pedals before a ripping downhill, bursts into an Irish accent and liltingly shouts “time to bomb down frickin’ Donegal.”  Inappropriate but innocent, the joker keeps the ride alive.  The joker makes late winter’s cropless windswept farm roads and the first four hour ride of the season bearable.  It is just one of the reasons I try to hook up with a local ride when I travel.

When you travel with your bike, there’s no need to pour over maps, ride by yourself, and stop every few miles to make sure you’re on track.  Next time you travel, email a few local clubs or teams wherever you’re going and inquire about riding with them.  Cycling is a social beast.  Name a cyclist who doesn’t enjoy riding with new people.  Just be honest about your ability and remember that you’re a guest on someone elses ride.  This past weekend I hooked up with Team Extreme Cycling in Thiensville, WI for their regular Saturday ride from Extreme Bike & Ski to Holy Hill and back.  It all started with a simple email from one cyclist to another.

To: patrick@teamextremecycling

Got your email from the website.  I’m a cat 3 rider in Cincinnati.  I race for BioWheels bike shop here.  My family’s in Mequon and I’ll be in the Milwaukee area Saturday for a reunion.  Was wondering, since you look like you’re located in Thiensville, if there’s a group ride on Saturday that I could latch onto.  

From: teamextrememtnbike

Hi Joe - Thanks for the email. (Here’s the info on our group ride Saturday.)  Hope you can make it.

Saturday March 14 Afternoon Edition Group/Team Ride

Departure Time: 1:30pm

Departure Location: Extreme Ski & Bike (the Shop)

Route: Holy Hill and Back including the Rustic Road Sections (40-45 miles); no drop!

I did make it.  The ride with Patrick & Team Extreme to Holy Hill was the highlight of the weekend, no offense to my family party which was the focal point of my trip. 

The ride met at Extreme Bike & Ski in Thiensville, WI, a great shop, well stocked and for lack of a better term extremely friendly.  I would never have discovered it had I not ventured out of my cycling travel cocoon.  As the riders gathered, chatted, filled bottles and tires, I realized I was a few cents short of enough cash to pay for a CO2 cartridge.  Kindly, the woman behind the counter re-rang it up with one of the team guy’s discounts and all was good.  When’s the last time something like that happened on your road trip?  I was just one of the regular guys on the regular group ride.  Its little things like that that’ll make me pop in there next time I need something or recommend the shop to someone I know in the Milwaukee area.

The bike path behind the shop led to the farm roads just north of Milwaukee’s suburbs of Mequon, Germantown and Richfield.  They were flat by Cincinnati standards, but had enough curves to keep it interesting.  I barely remember seeing any cars till our double paceline crossed over the freeway.  The pace was perfect, just hard enough where the guys at the front were working hard, the guys behind could talk and the joker could poke fun at joggers and innocent landmarks.  The gradual incline of the farm roads gave way to the rolling hills of the lake country surrounding Milwaukee that make up a stage or two of the International Cycling Classic a.k.a. Superweek.  Hogsback was a favorite that bombed, rolled and twisted its way between the farms and Holy Hill.  The highlight was the climb to Holy Hill, 900 vertical feet of switchbacks topped with a cathedral in the boondocks.  Holy Hill is cycling heaven.


Joe Biker said...

Madtrix? Come in Madtrix Mark? Can't believe I rode with the Team Extreme boys and didn't know you were on the same team til I saw your mug on their blog this morning. F! Next time I'm in town we'll ride together for sure. Unfreaking believeable small world.

old 'n slow said...

That lady behind the counter was most lilkely the shop's owner (Karrie). I race for this shop on their mountain bike team and we know full well how well the shop treats us. Glad you could share in our 'team' atmosphere.

Speedster22 said...

Joe - Thanks for ridin' with us. Great time and you're more than welcome to ride anytime your back in town! Absolutley awesome write up and blog. It has now become a daily read for me --