Great Britain’s Bradley Wiggins won this year’s Tour de France by riding his bike over a course that covered 2,173 miles from Liege, Belgium to Paris.
Now imagine him having to ride that same course back to where he started.
That’s roughly what 32 riders from around the world are attempting to do over 64 days as they cycle across the United States as part of Cycle America’s Coast-to-Coast tour from Seattle to Boston.
Those riders who began the tour on June 16 reached Beaver Dam today from Baraboo on the sixth stage of the nine-stage, 4,200-mile course. The total course covers 13 states as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.
Although the route varies year-to-year, Beaver Dam has been a popular staging area for the better part of the last 25 years of the event.
“It’s been a route that’s been changed, but Beaver Dam has been one of the main staging areas,” said organizer Greg Walsh, whose mother and grandparents grew up in BD. “The event has stopped in Waupun a few times when there’s been construction in the area.”
Riders on the course vary in age from 17 to people in their 70s.
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While a majority of people are from the United States, there are riders from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
Tim Brant-Coles, who lives in Hampshire, England, is riding for a philanthropic cause. He is riding as part of a charitable effort for Help for Heroes, which raises money for wounded British soldiers as well as veterans.
“We’ve raised $15,000 (or around £10,000), which was our target,” Brant-Coles said.
Brant-Coles has cycled since he was 17 and has traversed the Pyrenees Mountains as well as most of Europe. After Cycle America, he will return to England and cycle 1,800 miles around the United Kingdome for his charity.
He says riding offers a different view of the United States and England that most people never see.
“It’s a great way to see the states,” Brant-Coles said. “I’ll bet I see more of the states than (most people) do.”
Cost of the event is roughly $90-100 per day but can vary by stage. Riders can choose to only go one or two stages or can go the entire course.
“We ride for six days (in a row) then take a rest day,” Walsh said.
Peter Hartwig, a senior at Texas A&M, is a volunteer on the course and is one of two mechanics on the course should bikes break down.
Last year as an intern, he experienced the event for the first time and around December knew he wanted to do it again. He said he gets a chance to ride the course about every other day.
“You get back to reality and you realize that you don’t get opportunities to do this very often,” Hartwig said. “It’s so rewarding.
“This time, I have a friend doing it. It’s like a Cycle America family.”
The riders camped overnight at Beaver Dam High School, but left this morning on their way to Plymouth. From there, they will make their way to Manitowoc and ride the ferry to Luddington, Mich.
“Everything we own goes with us,” Hartwig said. “It’s a bit of a rolling circus. It works like a well-oiled machine now.”