Energizing Your Future

STIHL Tour des Trees, Day 7 – Aug. 2: Port Washington to Milwaukee

“Hey, it’s Ben Gura again – and I am so happy to say I am writing the final day’s blog while sitting comfortably on my couch at home! I made it safe and sound with only a couple of mechanical issues on the bike. My legs are sore but in a good way – and the rest of my body is happy to be off the bike. 

The last ride day, Saturday, was bittersweet. Everyone was excited to be finished and to ride into the closing ceremony, but also disappointed that we would have to leave all of these new friends we made. The 40 miles went way too fast. I spent the first 20 miles with the fast guys just to see what it was like to put the hammer down and it felt great! The last 20 was a slow processional with a lot of chatter. It presented a great opportunity to say thank you to all of those I had ridden with throughout the week.

At the very last mile, the Team Wisconsin riders moved to the front of the pack to lead the way to Mount Mary College. This is where all of our friends and family had gathered and where the international tree climbing championships were being held. As we turned into the college entrance, the entire road was filled with people cheering and clapping for us. It was a really nice moment to see how happy everyone was to see us. Among those cheering was my family…now that made me smile!!
After hugs and kisses from the family and a quick round of pictures we had the final presentation. The TREE Fund thanked the sponsors and identified the 10 ten individual fund raisers. Team Wisconsin was the top fund raising team which was our goal! The Tour des Trees raised over $500,000 for The TREE Fund this year. I didn’t hit my goal but I am so happy at how close I came. I want to take an opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who donated to The TREE Fund! It really means a lot to me and your support really does help the trees.
A highlight from this year’s Tour was witnessing the dedication of over 23 trees, and a record number of educational events featuring Professor Elwood Pricklethorn. As riders, we tend to focus on the miles and occasionally we forget about the trees. But every tree that the Tour dedicates is a benefit to the community, environment and ecosystem. Every tree will provide oxygen to a cyclist, a shady spot to rest and a break from the wind. The trees are the reason we ride!  
My favorite part of the Tour was the educational events for the kids. Tour rider Warren Hoselton – aka “Professor Elwood Pricklethorn” does an outstanding job engaging the children and helping them understand the importance of trees. I heard that the Tour entertained over 300 kids during this year’s events. That’s 300 kids who now have an appreciation for “planting the right tree in the right place,” understanding what trees give to the community and hopefully having a desire to do more with trees as they get older. Who knows… maybe one or two of those kids will be foresters when they grow up!
The final tree dedication was at the Mount Mary College grounds, following the presentations. This tree dedication was particularly special because my family was there and my daughter, Morgan, and son, Jake, got to see how silly a group of adults could be. What a great way to end the week! Thank you again to ATC for sponsoring the lunch and educational event in New London. The Tour des Trees really matches our corporate values and I hope that ATC will become a long-term sponsor of this great event.
And thanks to all of you for letting me share my experiences with you during the past week. I’m now fairly certain: this Tour will not be my last…”