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Imagine living where a great road or mountain bike ride in a national forest can start at the end of your driveway. Wisconsin Bike Fed member Wendy Stein lives in such a location in Washburn, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay.

Wendy loves the boost cycling on her road and mountain bikes gives her physical and mental

“I like to be physically active. I’ve always enjoyed the speed and quiet rhythm of road biking,”
Wendy explains. “Cycling is a great aerobic workout that you can make as hard or easy as you
like, depending on how you feel that day. Cycling also offers a great way to explore and enjoy
nature. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a lovely place to ride my mountain bike,
and it’s only a mile from my house!”

When it comes to enjoying nature, cycling helps Wendy pursue another passion. “I’m an avid
birdwatcher, and it’s amazing how easy it is to come across birds as you ride! People think you
need to walk quietly, but you can hear and see a lot on a bike.” Wendy often takes her
binoculars on rides to spot even more birds. “I like early morning rides because it’s cool and
quiet, and that’s when birds are most active.”

For years Wendy has shared her love of birding and bicycling by helping to lead “Birding by
Bicycle” trips for the local Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival.

Wendy (second from right) with one of the “Birding by Bicycle” tour
groups during the Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival.

Wendy also enjoys exploring routes. “If traveling by car with my bike, paved trails are an interesting change — I’ve biked the Willard Munger State Trail near Duluth and the Gitchi-Gami State Trail near Tofte, Minnesota.”

To broaden her cycling options, Wendy is considering a fat-tire bike. “Although I already have the two bikes, I’d like to get a fat bike, but I’m concerned it would interfere with my passion for cross-country skiing and time for snowshoeing. My husband says we already have enough toys,” she smiles. In the summer, gardening, hiking and paddling her kayak and canoe compete for her time.

Wendy at the finish of her first American Birkebeiner, the 50K cross-country ski race.

“When I was working, biking was my preferred exercise after work. I’d bike six miles to work and then take the long way home — get in 15 to 20 miles. Then I’d ride 20 or 30 miles on the weekend. Now that I’m retired, I don’t worry about mileage, but I do like to ride an hour or two. It’s fun to track miles for the season or year,” Wendy adds.

She’s also logged longer rides. “I’ve done the Grandview Firehouse 50 and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival’s Short & Fat race on the Birkebeiner Ski Trail. That was a challenge for me! The Superior Vista Bike Tour is a nice ride here in Washburn. Years ago I biked the 500-mile GRABAAWR (Great Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River) with friends, riding and camping for a week. I hadn’t done a long ride like that before, but that was a fun adventure!”

Safety while riding is a priority for Wendy. “I carry pepper spray to discourage aggressive dogs,” she says. She also carries a personal safety alarm that can emit a loud sound and bright flashing light as an extra bit of reassurance.

“I joined the Bike Fed because it promotes silent sports and the healthy, lifelong activity of cycling. Cycling is something almost anyone can do at almost any age. I think it’s important that the organization works to educate young folks about cycling and implements helpful programs such as Safe Routes to Schools.”

Wendy Stein, Bike Fed member since 1991

“I like how Bike Fed cooperates with other events. I recall attending the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Madison. The Bike Fed was there to support attendees who were traveling on bikes, such as my husband and me. We camped in Madison and biked to the Fair – which was a bit scary for us as we rarely bike in big city traffic.” Wendy explains. “Bike Fed volunteers were at the Fair parking bicycles and offering their expertise on local bike routes!”

To keep Wendy and her bikes on the roads and trails, she relies on her local bike shops for major maintenance. “I air up my tires and oil my chains, but I support the shops for most maintenance and getting new equipment.” Wendy continues to ponder if that might mean a new fat-tire bike to explore her favorite forest roads year round someday.

– By Doug Freeman, Bike Fed volunteer writer of the “Wisconsin Cycling Lives” series and retired radio broadcaster and communications professional at UnitedHealthcare, Associated Bank and Advocate Aurora Health. Doug looks forward to chatting with more members for future profiles.

Feature image at top: Wendy with some of her North Woods fun-in-winter toys.