I got into cycling during college. Tennis had been my sport from childhood through high school, but UW-Stevens Point dropped its men’s tennis team just before my arrival in 1993. Some of my Hyer Hall dorm-mates were into mountain biking, and they let me borrow a bike and ride with them on the local trails. In the spring of 1994, I bought my own bike – a Trek 850 – and entered my first race – the Mudder’s Day Off-Road Challenge in Rhinelander, WI. I don’t remember how I placed, but I remember exactly what I wore: cut-off fatigue shorts, a Lush concert t-shirt, hiking boots, and a red bandanna under my helmet. I had a freaking blast.
I continued to ride and race mountain bikes through the 90s. After I graduated and moved to Milwaukee, I gravitated toward the road racing scene where my increasing ratio of fitness to coordination wasn’t such a dangerous and expensive liability. In 2000, I joined a newly-formed Cat 3 team called Spring City Velo. We had a lot of success and a lot of fun. Sadly, the team’s founder, Carl Zach, was killed in a terrible accident during a race on July 4. It was a tragic loss for the entire cycling community. It galvanized our team, though, which we renamed CZ Velo in Carl’s honor. We’re still together, and while the team has grown in size, we’re still a uniquely tight-knit group.
From 1998 through about 2010, I competed in WiSport, the Wisconsin Off-Road Series, the Wisconsin Cycling Association’s road and cyclocross series, Superweek, the Tour of Amemrica’s Dairyland, and various out-of-state events. I upgraded to Cat 1 in 2001 and won the overall Wisconsin Cup Pro/1/2 series. In 2007, I was the Masters state champion in the criterium, road race, and time trial. In 2008, I took third in the time trial at Masters Nationals in the 30-34 age group. The winner was later disqualified after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
In 2007, I was hired as the Marketing Manager for the Hayes Bicycle Group (now Hayes Components). I worked there until 2009 when the recession forced HBG to make a number of lay-offs. Working at HBG was a wonderful experience, and it gave me the opportunity to meet some awesome people from all corners of the cycling community, both in Wisconsin and all over the world. It also gave me the opportunity to serve as a member of the Milwaukee Bicycle Steering Committee – an advisory board convened by Dave Schlabowske back when he was the City of Milwaukee’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. This gave me a glimpse of all of the work being done to make Wisconsin one of the most bike-friendly places in the country.
Competitive cycling began to take a more peripheral role in my life in 2004, when I married my wonderful wife, Kelley. Then it really took a back seat in 2010 when our son, Caleb, was born. I ride a lot less than I used to, and I would call very little of it “training”, but I’m enjoying it as much as I ever have, especially since it’s something that Kelley, Caleb, and I can do together. I did a few ToAD races this summer and finished safely but anonymously in them all. I’m certain that Caleb and I put more miles on his Burley trailer than I put on my race bike over the course of the summer. Sometime down the road I’ll probably return to racing, but for this season of my life, I’m more than content to ride non-competitively. I’ll probably make that the subject of a future blog post.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to bike to work at various stages of my career. While I was at HBG, I had a nice 16-mile route from my home in Wauwatosa up to Mequon via the Menomonee River Parkway and various city streets. Later, when I worked at an ad agency downtown, I would take the Hank Aaron trail from Tosa through Lakeshore State Park and to my office on Wisconsin and Jefferson. I currently work at TOTAL Mechanical, a mechanical contractor in Pewaukee. I’d love to be able to ride to work, but I’m responsible for taking Caleb to daycare in the morning and picking him up in the afternoon. If work, home, and daycare were all closer together, I’d gladly tow him around in the trailer. Unfortunately, that’s just not a workable option right now.
That’s enough about me. I’m thankful for this opportunity that the Bike Federation has given me to educate and encourage other cycling enthusiasts in Wisconsin. I’m working on a post titled “The cyclist’s guide to surviving winter in Wisconsin” that should pave the way for a lot of follow-up posts. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like me to write about, please make your suggestions in the comment form below or email them to me at denny dot yunk at gmail dot com.