Energizing Your Future

STIHL Tour des Trees, Days 5 & 6 – July 31 & Aug. 1: Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay to Port Washington

“Hey everyone – it’s Ben Gura checking in again from the STIHL Tour des Trees. We wrapped up this amazing ride on Saturday (which I’ll have another update on), but I wanted to catch you up from the days prior. Talk about a great pedaling – lovely weather and scenic riding. 
Day five was a blast. It was a short 57 miles from Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay. The day started with a once-in-a-lifetime tree dedication. The City of Green Bay and Bartlett Tree Company had acquired a very special tree. What made this tree so special? Well, it actually derived from the only surviving tree from ground zero. While cleaning up the rubble at the World Trade Center in New York after 9/11, the workers found a pear tree that was still alive. It was the only tree that survived the attack. Only a few trees have been grown from the cuttings of the tree and it is very special for a city to receive it. The dedication in Green Bay took place at a park near the Fox River and the library. The City had commissioned a beautiful memorial for the people from Wisconsin who died in the 9/11 attacks. It really was something to see and will be a great place to visit. 
The day’s riding was uneventful – a few nice rolling hills and a view of Green Bay. We had an early stop in Brussels and then a stop at the home of a Tour rider’s friend, for a nice ice cold beer. Lunch was served at a park right of Green Bay just north of Sturgeon Bay. We got into the hotel so early my room wasn’t ready. But I took advantage of the time by doing some laundry. We only get two jerseys so we need to wash them every couple of days. Some people wash their clothes in the sink while others wear them in the shower to wash them. I’m a fan of the guest washing machine that the hotels have. I also had time for a soak in the hot tub, a trip to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and ice cream cone, and some more carb loading. We had a tasty outdoor dinner and enjoyed a polka band while we relaxed a bit. The evening’s activities capped off a wonderful day.
Of course, after a short day you have to make up some miles and day six did not disappoint us on that; it was a short 120 miles to Port Washington. I knew this was going to be a long day so I made sure to be up early and ready to roll. A taco truck feed us breakfast burritos, which was a welcome change from our standard breakfast before we rolled out at 7 a.m. The day started with some long climbs out of Door County but as we made it to Lake Michigan things leveled out. We had a slight headwind but I had a good group of riders that I worked with for the whole day. When you get a group of cyclists together that are willing to share the work of the ride, they can cover miles quickly. Our group ranged from 5 to 10 riders throughout the day. We would each take a turns “pulling” the other cyclists for a few miles then drop back into the pace line. 
Sorry for getting my cycling nerd out but there are a few terms that you learn when pack riding. A pace line is a group of cyclists riding in a line. They ride about 3 inches to 3 feet behind the rider in front of them – and obviously, the closer the better. “Taking a turn” or “pulling” is when you are the lead cyclist in the group. The lead rider splits the wind for everyone else. This helps the other riders rest while the lead is pulling. A good “pull” will set a pace that is comfortable for the group and they stick to it without speeding up or slowing down. In our case it was 17 mph. After the leader pulls, they move to the left and fall to the back of the pace line. When you are not in the front you work about 30% less than the lead rider. It’s the best way to get a lot of miles done quickly.
Our day ended around 3 p.m., with 8 hours in the saddle, just before a severe rainstorm with hail hit the hotel! At dinner we had presentations from The TREE Fund, and the rider awards were handed out. After dinner I had to stop for a slice of pizza. For some reason I have been hungry all week…could be the 500 plus miles on a bike?
All for now, and I’ll catch you up on the finale soon!”