Different Spokes

Stories of Madison's bike diversity. Hear what it's like to...

service manager at DreamBikes in Madison

Work at DreamBikes:

I fix bikes that come in for repairs and refurbishments. The work is fun—until you run into a part that’s broken or frozen. Road bikes are just fun, and kids’ bikes are great because the kids are so excited to pick them out—they’re just all over the shop. We’re a nonprofit; we get bikes donated and we refurbish them for resale. The proceeds go to the workers first and then back to the Boys and Girls Club. We get people that are coming here for the cause. A lot of people are here more for us than the bikes.
JaCorian Rice, service manager at DreamBikes


Compete in the Ironman:

I’ve become such a bike geek that I’ve traveled to France a couple times for the Tour de France. And parts of the Ironman [Wisconsin] course feel like it. When you get into Verona and onto Main Street, there’s a barricade holding people back, an announcer and people screaming. It truly is what you experience in France. I almost cried the first time I saw it. It’s a really special moment.
Pat Gallagher, program director at 105.5 Triple M and cycling enthusiast


Ride a Unicycle:

Unicycling is like biking in that there are a multitude of different styles: long distance, mountain biking, artistic biking where you compete, street styles. The stuff I like best is long distance and mountain biking. For long distance, you use a really big wheel; it’s how you get a more reasonable speed. You actually have handlebars and brakes; it’s about comfort and control. You’re always pedaling and a lot of times you feel like you’re almost floating when you’re on a smooth tarmac. The national and world competitions have multiple events, including a 10K and full marathon, and thissummer at the Unicom World Unicycling Championship in Italy, they’re introducing a 100K. The races I’ll be doing are all the mountain biking and distance events.
Scott Wilton, a founding member of Madison Unicyclists and the 10K world champion


Ride a tandem bike:

My husband and I have been married for forty-five years, and we ride 3,000 to 5,000 miles a year. Tandem biking is a partnership. You’re pedaling together, you choose a route together. You work together on the bike and you have to trust each other.
Joan Laabs, co-president along with husband John, of Couples on Wheels, the tandem bicycle club of Wisconsin


Go downhill mountain-biking: 

You’re riding bikes you can’t pedal very well uphill. You start at the top of the hill and ride to the bottom as fast as possible. Then you walk up the hill, talk to friends and then go take another run. You’re riding over rocks; getting comfortable being in the air takes some getting used to. The highest jump in Madison is six feet off the lip, and the lip is five feet off the ground. I’ve been doing it a long time so it’s not scary anymore.
Tom Holaday, board member of Capital Off Road Pathfinders and UW–Madison student




greasy gears performersCommute by bike: 

I commute two to three days a week, sometimes daily in the summer. It’s just shy of twenty miles one way [from Sun Prairie to the west side of Madison]. The route itself is primarily bike trail or bike lane; there are only about two miles of the twenty where I need to be on a street. It’s really simple. I treat my commute as exercise. It’s kind of my alone time, a meditation time or a time to think and reflect.
Eric Albers, customer service lead at Saris


Perform with the Greasy Gears:

We ride around in a group on street bikes and a few small BMX bikes called scrapers—and then we jump off our bikes and dance. We take our inspiration from ’60s go-go dances. We perform at Ride the Drive and the Willy Street Fair and do guerrilla performances. The costumes are a fun part of it—wigs and boots and glittery things. We really are about encouraging women to get out there. We’re a club, a group of women having a good time.
Ann Bell, Greasy Gears performer


Katie Vaughn is managing editor at Madison Magazine

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