Reported by Lee Sensenbrenner
On a vacation day as summer ended, Luke Witkowski, Nancy Michaud and Tana Feiner met at their office in downtown Madison to complete the Tour de BCycle -- stopping at all 44 BCycle stations in the course of a day.
Both Luke and Nancy ride BCycle bikes daily as a way to commute to work -- Luke drives partway from Middleton and rides downtown from the west side, while Nancy drives partway from Lake Mills and usually starts her ride from Olbrich Gardens. Tara is a coworker who loves fitness challenges and was recruited to join the ride as the plans were taking shape.
“Taking this on as a challenge is one of the best ways to see the city,” Luke says. “I was amazed how this tour gets you to all these parts of the city you might otherwise never reach.”
They had heard about Tour de BCycle in other cities, then set about planning their own. The route covered about 45 miles, starting downtown and meandering east and west before ending at the Sheraton. They never exceeded the 30-minute trip limit to reach the next station.
“The BCycle bikes make it really easy to get around Madison -- it’s a bike friendly city, and I was amazed how quick it was to get from station to station,” Nancy says.
Both Nancy and Luke own touring bikes -- and Nancy also rides road and mountain bikes. But BCycle bikes offered a different challenge. Plus, as they put on the BCycle mileage, they see their names climb the top rider charts.
“When I first started riding, I saw my name at eight or nine hundredth, then a few weeks later it rose way up -- and then it got to the point that if it was drizzling at lunch, I’d go out for a ride to see if I could gain a spot,” Nancy says. “Riding BCycle bikes has become a competitive thing for me, and I am not competitive at all.”
Nancy got into cycling after a double hip replacement at a young age. It was an activity that allowed her to regain strength.
Luke is an avid BCycle commuter who is always vying for the top rider award and who has become friends with his competitors -- people, he says, he never otherwise would have met.
“I like not having to worry about my own personal bike. I don’t have to pay for maintenance. I don’t have to worry about locking or storing it. It’s incredibly convenient and it’s the best deal around,” Luke says. His friends and family have bought him memberships through 2019, which is nice because planning for next year’s tour is already underway.