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STIHL Tour des Trees, Day 3 – July 29: Ride recap / Wisconsin Dells to Stevens Point


“Greetings again, from Ben Gura at the Tour des Trees! Three days are in the books and it has been an amazing journey so far. Day one started with lots of excitement and energy as 80-plus cyclists gathered at German Fest (Summerfest fair grounds) for the official kickoff. A tree was dedicated and the riders used their energy to help the tree get a good start in a very fun ceremony. The opening banner was cut by a STIHL chainsaw and we were on our way to Madison. We took over the streets of Milwaukee with all of the riders were clad in matching jerseys and helmets representing the Tour des Trees – overall, an impressive sight. As the ride passed Oconomowoc it was clear that this was going to be a difficult day. There was a constant 25 mph headwind with gusts into the upper thirties. I’m a decent cyclist but this proved to be very difficult. There were times where I would be climbing hills and the wind would almost bring my bike to a standstill. Then when I would need to rest on the downhill portions, I had to pedal instead of coasting. It was the most difficult day I’ve had on the bicycle.

Day two had no wind but plenty of hills. We headed west from Madison to Blue Mound State Park and up the hill to dedicate another tree. On the climb up I broke a spoke and my rim constantly rubbed on my brake making the climb even more challenging. The great support group fixed it and I was able to continue the day. We finished a very long 106 miles at 6:30 p.m. that evening. The total footage climbed was over 6,000 feet which doesn’t seem like much until you do it on a bike.
Day three was a great recovery day; a short 86 miles from Wisconsin Dells to Stevens Point. After two very difficult days and over 16 hours on a bicycle your whole body aches, especially your seat…Even though I knew today would be easier it was very difficult to wake up and put on my cycling shorts, jersey, helmet, gloves and cycling shoes. My gloves were still wet from yesterday’s sweat which made them even more pleasant to put on. Overall, day three went well. There was a minor accident in a group in front of me that left a couple riders off their bikes for the rest of the day; fatigue from the previous two days and close riding to one another are to blame. I finished the day’s ride a little after 3 p.m. and I feel great.
Another cyclist told me that their fitness tracker said they burned over 6,000 calories on day two, but this seemed low to me. On a normal training ride I burn close to 1,000 calories in an hour! The Tour does a great job keeping everyone feed and hydrated. Each day starts with a great breakfast that it is typically high on protein and carbohydrates. Once the day’s ride has started we have a rest stop before and after lunch where we can get snacks and water. These stops are short and typically include shoving as much salty food and bananas as you can get in your face before you’re off riding. Along the way, the riders also track down some of their own favorite stops. For me it has been for ice cream – twice on day two and once on day three. Lunch is catered in and again, it’s high in protein and carbs, lots of chicken, potatoes, rice, and fish. 
Dinners typically are the best meal of the day and I always have an appetite. On day one we had a pasta bar ready for us at the hotel as soon as we arrived. This is perfect for a cyclist to help their bodies recover. After the pasta bar we had our official dinner at the UW Arboretum. Most of the cyclists go back for seconds or thirds on dinner just to help recover the calories they are burning. I am averaging two to four chicken breasts per meal.
Four more days and about 290 miles left. Stay tuned…”