Sunday, August 3, 2014


The final day on Saturday was a glorious day for riding. The weather was as perfect as it could get and the first segment of our ride out from Port Washington to Fox Point, WI was an easy 20 miles. Easy in distance, but our "Flying Sirloin" peleton leader wanted a 23mph pace again so off we went. I could never pull that fast so it has been a great experience cycling at these higher miles per hour and I know I've become a stronger rider because of it. They say there is about 15 to 20% reduction in wattage when you are drafting, meaning it is that easier to keep up. Many other local cyclists were out and about, most marveling at our 80 person peleton snaking through the streets north of Milwaukee. From Fox Point we traveled another 20 miles to the Milwaukee Museum of Art along the lakefront. This is a beautiful structure and provided a nice stop before the final queue up just outside of our ride in. The final ride into Mount Mary University was really cool because we were escorted by Milwaukee police motorcycles (Harleys of course) with sirens blazing. As we turned into the entrance of the univeristy we saw hundreds of people lining the drive clapping and yelling stuff we could only recognize as congratulations. Diane and Kathryn had texted me earlier saying they would be on the right side so I made sure to be on that side of the peleton as we came in. After a week of pedaling 600 miles the best sight was seeing my family there cheering me on. Many other friends came over to say hello, including many I had not see in years. What a great surprise to see a former Purdue classmate, former Care of Trees colleauges and current Bartlett teammates there to simply say congrats. Meant a lot for sure.
I didn't stay for lunch but high-tailed to to the hotel, showered and had lunch outside with my family at a fab place called Cafe Benelux. The best reward for the end of the ride---being with your family.
The evening wrapped it all up with a dinner for the support team and a few of us riders. I enjoyed dining with some of my favorite people, hearing the the stories and knowing I could sleep in on Sunday. Two years ago when I did my first Tour des Trees in Oregon my goal was to just finish each day. This year I was stronger and had the benefit of riding with a tremendous group of riders who made me better. Being up front isn't the reason to ride the Tour des Trees but as my friend Ben says, "flying first class has its benefits." It certainly did.
The Tour des Trees will be in Florida next year. October. Orlando to Key West with an arrival in Key West on Halloween. Likely not something that will fit into my schedule but can you imagine Key West on Halloween for a bunch of riders in spandex. Fits right in.
Thanks for reading my blog if you've made it this far.  Now get on your bike a ride!

THE peleton group at our final stop in Fox Point. Me, Karen Jenkins and Ben "Flying Sirloin" Tresselt.
Warren Hosselton aka Professor Pricklethorn at the Door County Fair on some ride.

Ready for final ride in from Milwaukee Museum of Art. My Pinarello Paris carried the day. Awesome bike with Boilermaker colors, well sort of.

Chuck Kellen from Stihl, Ben, Karen, me, Phil Graham, leader of Graham-nation (one of the top riders) and colleague Jarod Faas of Bartlett Inventory Solutions.

The final walk home from dinner.... Paul Wood flanked by Ben and 6'9" Frazer of Bartlett.
 AWarren and Karen selfie on the scrambler at the Door County Fair.

Lucy (Stihl public relations), Jen (photographer) from Toronto and Aaron (rider) sitting in on the final rider debriefing meeting Sunday morning. Overall, huge thumbs up for this ride.

Milwaukee Museum of Art.  Cyclists getting ready for final ride in Saturday morning.

Port Washington, Wisconsin. Our final overnight before ride into Milwaukee.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saggin' Ben video

Traveling  back one afternoon compliments of our support team. Better than riding our bikes.

Saggin' Ben

Friday, August 1, 2014

120 miles in one day!

Like most of the Tour des Trees riders, today was a personal record for me with regards to miles cycled in one day--120. It's a bit tough when you look down and see your odometer reading 100 miles and then realize you have 20 more miles to go. We had some hills today, enough to make it interesting but not too tough, in fact, fairly easy hills. As we came out of Sturgeon Bay and away from the lake it was beginning to get warm. We then swung east towards Lake Michigan and the temperature dropped 20 degrees as the lake is still very cold. It is so cold in fact that fog lingers and we couldn't see a whole lot past shore.
Our first stop was after 30 miles in Kewaunee along the lake. 32 miles later it was lunch in
Manitowoc. At mile 95 break in Sheboygan followed by our final destination in Port Washington after 120 miles. The last 20 miles were into a nice headwind that pushed us to the limit after pedaling so long. We all just wanted to get to the hotel.
A few of us had drinks after showering and watched a big thunderstorm roll though, including hail, and we all hoped the last of the riders had gotten in before it hit. A few got wet and a few sought cover from the storm but most got in before the storm hit. Our final dinner was also rider recognition and two in my nearly constant peleton garnered awards. Karen Jenkins got best new rider because she hung with our group which consistently came in first each day thanks to lead rider Ben Tresselt. Ben took home the "Legs of Stihl" (best legs) award. Fun night but we were all so tired.
Saturday is the final ride, 40 miles to Milwaukee including our "processional" ride in to the International Tree Climbing competition. No race to Paris across the cobblestones but a ride into Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. Close. I am looking forward to seeing my wife Diane and daughter Kathryn who have been more than patient with my desire to ride the Tour. Hours and hours of training and more than a week away from home--they deserve an award.
I will look forward to not being on a bike for a bit, as will my rear end. These rides tend to make you stronger and you actually leave after a week of riding stronger than when you started. The mornings are easier and the legs don't ache like they did on day one and two. The body adapts and is a miraculous machine if you treat it right. We'll wrap this all up on Saturday!

Black Bear Adventures. Our tour director's company.

The ride approaching Kewaunee. Fog hanging over the very cold lake.

Lunch under the northern white cedars in Sheboygan.

Karen, best new rider and Ben, best legs.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Best day on the Tour

Today was a "short" 57 miles from Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay. It was a fairly flat ride and I hooked onto a peleton that was hammering it out at about 23 mph average. That's fast for me but I stayed protected in the pack and hung with everyone. We began the day with a tree planting at the 9/11 memorial in Green Bay. Bartlett had a "survivor tree" sapling shipped to Green Bay for the planting. Bartlett has been involved in propagating the "survivor tree" and this tree in Green Bay is one of the first to be planted. It was a nice way to start the day and certainly I felt proud to be part of Team Bartlett during this event.
Our first stop during the day was in Brussels and the Countryside Diner, owned by our Wisconsin host Thom Kraak. It's a dive but so are most places in this part of Wisconsin. Part of the character of the state. Thom was great to host us there and then at his farm house down the road. I split early from the rest stop and rode alone to find speedster Ben sitting on the back porch having a beer. No beer for me but off we went to our lunch stop. Wisconsin cycling is sort of like deja vu but in a good way.
Lunch was in Sturgeon Bay at the base of the Door County peninsula where my family has spent years vacationing. Some call it the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" but I just call it Door County. Sturgeon Bay is known for shipbuilding and much of that still exists today. Lunch along the Green Bay shore of Lake Michigan was great. Optional riding loops were not taken by most as many wanted to use this as a rest day in preparation for 120 miles on Friday. My Achilles tendon was aching by mile 50 as I was probably over my head hammering miles with the 23mph+ club but that is how you get better, right? That part of my body that actually sits on the hard seat also has been screaming. Cyclists have a special lubricant to ease the chance of saddle sores and it has certainly helped but not totally kept the irritation away.
So being finished by noon, and with no rooms available yet at the hotel, left us no choice but to find a nice waterfront spot with beverages. We cycled over, found our spot at a Sturgeon Bay marina and discussed the day. A few texts brought over some fellow cyclists as well as money and the sag wagon to take us back to the hotel as we did not want to drink and cycle. You see most cyclists only carry a bit of emergency cash in their saddle bag so our invitation text also explained that we were "card-less and cash poor." Cyclists to the rescue.
Dinner was a rather long bus ride to a place that scared us. When we exited the bus many of us said, "where have we just been dropped?" There were zombies and grim reaper types walking around as part of a promo for the Haunted Mansion in Brussels. Yeah, its only July but they need to get their marketing going now I guess. It is voted, "Wisconsin's favorite northeast region haunted attraction."
A great dinner was followed by a polka band, attempts by some at dancing, and thank yous to our mechanics Wheel and Sprocket who leave us Friday.
Big day Friday as we ride Sturgeon Bay to Port Washington along the shore of Lake Michigan.
Our dinner host. Scary place.

Cyclists' haven after a short day of riding.

9/11 Survivor Tree and Team Bartlett who faciliated the tree procurment and shipping ($600 to ship this precious little guy from New York!)


Essential cyclist equipment.

Stihl media intern and recent Miami of Ohio graduate Lucy who will see her intership end Friday and will be unemployed. Hopefully for just a short bit as she has media talent.



Notice the blurred background and sense of speed.


Home of the hashbrown sandwich.

100 miles to Green Bay, cranes and roadkill badger

Wednesday was a nice 100 mile ride from Steven's Point to Green Bay. The terrain was fairly flat with some nice hills thrown in along the way. It was a safe ride with no reported accidents! I enjoyed be pulled by a strong rider, Ben Tresselt most of the day. He is a powerful rider who churned the miles for our peleton of 4 riders. One of our first stops was for gelato in a little town called Iola. It was early for gelato but the bananas foster flavor was too hard to resist. Several tree plantings along the way at lunch and other rest stops. One rest stop was at a libary in Seymour and they had dozens of kids there to welcome us (biggest thing to happen in town in years) and it was quite cute. The kid had made banners for us an placed them on the tables for us to see. Seymour is the "home of the hamburger." Not sure why but when the mayor addressed our group we wondered if she was "Mayor McCheese." We did see the Hamburglar in the back of the police car so all were safe.
Along the road we saw a couple of sandhill cranes in the field and a roadkill that looked like a big skunk. We were going so fast no one wanted to stop for roadkill but I later realized it was a badger  not a skunk. Too bad my first badger sighting had to be in the form of roadkill.
We had a tree dedication near the Green Bay Packers football field for one of our riders, Sam's,  best friend's son. Ben, the young man, was permanently disabled in a car accident and is now bound to a wheelchair. The tree dedication for him was our most emotional yet.
Dinner was at Lambeau Field and it was impressive. They have quite the modern facility and we all enjoyed it, even if we weren't Packer fans.
Thursday is a ride from Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay in Door County. We have an optional loop up the penninsula which many will do as well.

Steven Geist from Swingle tree on left and Don Tolkacz, GB Packers tour guide and brother of good friend Tom Tolkacz, owner of Swingle.

Sam Van Maanen on left, Ben and his family.

Some football  field.

Dinner inside Lambeau.

Gelato stop!

Sandhill cranes.

Newly constructed atrium at Lambeau.

Professor Pricklethorn.

More massage.

Our great mechanics!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Active recovery day...yay!

Today was our "active recovery day" aka an easier day after 2 hard days. We rode from the Dells to Steven's Point. 90 miles but flat and flat was good today. The winds died down until the last 3 miles to the hotel when they were howling right in our face, 30mph again. Unfortunately we had two accidents today on the ride. Both as of the result of riders overlapping wheels in the pace line, someone swerving and going down. One helmet split in two (better than the head) and another rider scrapped up. Fortunately all riders involved are OK and will likely ride tomorrow.
We paralleled the Wisconsin River most of the day and it provided a nice visual respite from the farms. They grow a lot of veal up here. Every seen how? Its why I stay away from veal.
We had a very nice event at the University of Wisconsin Steven's Point which is one of the top arboriculture/urban forestry schools in the country. We've hired many students from "Point" over the years. Dr. Bob Miller was there, coming up from North Carolina to see the riders and be part of a tree dedication in his name. He's a legend in our industry and still a spry great guy. Lot's of Point beer all around although I have become partial to hard ciders. They make "Cider Boys" hard cider and it is good stuff. Gluten-free you know and hey, its fruit. The apple/peach was quite good.
Next up the ride to Green Bay from Steven's Point. It will be "bumpy" but sort of downhill for the 97 miles. We are all hoping to finally have the wind at our backs but no guarantees.
Part of Team Stihl. Thomas on the right is an engineer from German and he's been nicknamed
"Big Diesel" for his ability to pound out the miles.

Bob Miller in the middle.

Frazer recounting his cycling accident.

UW Steven's Point Old Main Hall.

I am using every legal supplement to stave off cramps and sore legs.

Waiting on a slow moving train.

Ben, Phil (top riders) Jo (support), Paul (tour director) and Mike from AZ.

Dr. Bob Miller dedicating his tree with Point Beer. Fitting.

Big climbs, 106 miles and a ferry....

Monday was the "queen stage" of the tour, the toughest. It lived up to its billing. 106 miles from Madison to The Dells. We gathered at the state capitol building in Madison for photo ops. This is the most beautiful capitol building in the country as its architecture was taken right from the US Capitol.

We had some incredible climbs including a 12% incline up to Blue Mounds State Park.  It was in Blue Mounds that we dedicated a tree to the late father one of our great support people, Thom Kraak. That was a nice touch as his father grew up in that very area.

The winds did not lay down, but they did change, to the exact direction we were cycling--maybe they dropped to 15mph, maybe. Many people had to "sag" today and that is OK. My group got off the road around 5:30, just in time for dinner at 6:30. During the day we had to cross the Wisconsin river via ferry which was a nice break and although it wasn't excitement it was a great change of pace. Our overnight was at the ancient Chula Vista resort in The Dells. Likely one of the first water parks ever built. It was OK but lack of internet service delayed this blog.

My legs were absolutely screaming at the end of this ride, especially the tendons on either side of my knees. Our tour masseuse did great work on those tendons as well as the rest of my battered body. Although extremely painful a good massage after a day of riding makes you feel so much better the next day as all those toxins get flushed out of the muscles.

On the country roads between Madison and The Wisconsin Dells. Grinding it out.

My fellow Alliance for Community Trees board member Karen Jenkins from Savannah Tree Foundation. Her first Tour.

State Capitol building in Madison. Copycats.

Peleton of cyclist on the ferry.

Here comes the ferry. Warren Hoselton, Toronto Parks supervisor. Canadian comedian and great guy.

Our overnight. Chula Vista Resort. This is the prettiest picture I could find.

Crushing it. Or rather, the ride is crushing me.