The thought of biking 150 miles from Mequon all the way to Sturgeon Bay, WI might be an intimidating thought. But with a little training, comradery, and a well-organized event by the LLS volunteers, an Elite team of bike riders, many first timers to complete distance, biked just that.
As we build our team again this year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s two-day Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour, I get to reminisce with fellow riders from last year. I’m hoping my experience along with a few others I included in this blog will hopefully entice you to join our team this year and be a part of a great ride and great cause!
Training for Scenic Shore 150
Preparing for the ride was at least half the fun. Getting to lead rides outside for the members and getting to know them better was my favorite part. The build-up to the event, the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming weekend created easy conversation among us. We shared past riding experiences, biking issues, equipment purchases, and more. The bond of this group began.
We each had our own story. Mine includes my sister and daughter who I mentored through the training and the ride. Neither had completed a ride of this distance before. My daughter was especially devoted to completing the ride for her father who is now 9 years cancer-free after fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She is signed up to do it all over again this year.
Stories from the Ride
The weekend of the event, however, was the true experience. Meeting up with the team for a picture moment at the starting line after we loaded the sag wagons with our belongings was an opportunity to check in with our newly formed group from the training rides. We didn’t have to ride together to be able to feel like we belong to a team. Socializing at the rest stops every 10 miles and sharing our crazy weather biking experience the first day allowed us to again feel like we belong to a team.
Finishing the first day was rewarding, not only because we knew we were halfway, but also because the weather was challenging. As many riders chose to give in to the assistance of support vehicle rides to the finish, my daughter and I chose to stay the course. We didn’t want to give in. One of the riders began calling them the Grim Reaper vans as they would follow us to see if we wanted to give up. As the winds picked up and the rain was sideways, we turned them down and finished the challenging Day One on our own two wheels.
One of my favorite parts of the ride was camping on the bluff of Lake Michigan. Not all riders camp outside. Some stay inside the college campus spread out in every room, hallway, and nook they can find. Others have booked hotel rooms nearby and utilize the convenient shuttle service. In past years, I have experienced the most beautiful sunrise upon opening my tent in the morning. I am hoping for that same experience this year. I enjoy camping. It’s interesting how a small town is created each year by all the tents and people. From large wedding-sized tents for dining to smaller team-sized tents for gathering to all of our little camping tents dotted along the grassy bluff, it’s pretty amazing.
After socializing with our team, sharing the day’s adventure, meeting others we met along the route, drinking craft brews, and downing a hefty pasta dinner fit for a king, I looked forward to disappearing into our tent and listening to the waves of Lake Michigan thinking that tomorrow’s weather would treat us better. As many riders go back to their hotels, the rain had stopped enough to allow a decent camping experience for those of us sleeping on the beautiful bluff of Lake Michigan.
The next day proved to be more forgiving as we had hoped. The sun came out the last half of the ride. The winds were kind and the finish line was near. Our last 10 miles was sweet. There are moments when you think to yourself “glad it’s almost over.” Other thoughts conflicted with “I can bike more….the weather is so nice now.”. A high begins to build as the finish line is coming closer, anticipating completing the 150 miles all the way to Door County. As we cross the finish, volunteers at the finish line put the large bike-chain-framed medal around your neck and a finish line photo is taken. I hug my sis and daughter as they tear up surprised they could ever have completed anything like this. We’ve made it.
Testimonials from Other Riders
There are so many great stories and memories to share from all the riders on our team. Here are only a few:
“On a personal level, this was close to my heart with my wife being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins and Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2017. Even though the ride provided enough challenges with my badly injured knee and the weather, these obstacles could not be compared to what Lisa has been through. The whole weekend was well-organized and provided a lot of fun memories. Glad to be part of this again this year!” – Greg Bowler
“I had always wanted to do the Scenic Shore 150 but was intimidated by the distance—the farthest I had ever biked was about 30 miles recreationally—but what helped me get over my initial apprehension was the fact that Elite had a team of other members participating and training along with me. The Saturday group rides and comradery that came along with them pushed me to take my training seriously while still having fun doing it. Then, pulling up to the starting line with hundreds of other people on bikes was a bit surreal, along with the beautiful lakefront and countryside scenery I experienced mile after mile. After Day One, I couldn’t believe I had just biked 75 miles and that I was going to do it all over again the next day. It almost seemed too easy….well, on Day Two I was definitely sore! But the weather was nicer and everyone else’s energy was so high, it was contagious. Rolling across the finish line helped me prove to myself that I can accomplish nearly anything that I put my mind to, train for, and have the support of friends and family along the way.” – Tiffany Hock
“It was so exciting getting 56 riders from all 5 Elite Clubs for such a great cause. We rode many Saturdays together making new friends and fellow riders. And of course, after our rides, we stopped at coffee shops or somewhere to have a beer and visit at the end of our rides. We put together a beer-tasting fundraiser for the team and everyone who participated received donations to their personal fundraising goals. But above all, it was a very rewarding cause and we all persevered the “monsoon” and wind for 2 days of the ride.” – Christy Beckman
Yes, the weather was not the best last year. However, a well-organized event made up for that. We had more than enough food, performance snacks and drinks, not to mention the complimentary craft beer following Saturday’s ride. The support crews are amazing and are on the route when you need them.
Experiencing the challenges of weather and distance together, we bonded and all knew our experience was easy compared to that of those fighting their battle against Leukemia and Lymphoma.
Our team raised over $26,000 last year. This year’s goal is $30,000 and great weather to boot!
If you’re interested in registering to ride or donating to this year’s team, visit eliteclubs.com/scenicshore!
Written by Pam Koch, General Manager of Elite Sports Club-Mequon