By Kyra Price, UW Stout Harvey Hall News Service
It’s a nice 40 degrees outside with a slight wind chill. Bikes of all makes are lined up along the brick wall, signifying the day of the St. Valentine’s Hustle Race.
Some bikes have basket attachments, others have off-road bike tires, and a couple bikes even have buggy attachments at their rear.
Everyone is geared up with helmets, fingerless gloves, and various light layers. The participants all seem in good spirits as they converse 10 minutes before go time.
It is now 1 p.m. sharp. Racers are lined up by their bikes at the corner of the intersection by the Market Bar. Cars are still whirring down the streets as the participants gather near the stoplight.
There are about 15 contestants now doing last minute checks with their bikes—pulling the brakes, adjusting their seats, cleaning their treads.
A man with a megaphone asks if they are ready to ride. As he yells, “Let’s go!” he begins pedaling across the intersection. The racers are quick to follow him—a stampede of bikes zoom across the intersection and down 6th Avenue.
The participants turn left on Crescent Street, and they are off! They continue pedaling toward Stout’s North Campus.
The earth is thawing beneath the rubber wheels gliding over the terrain it’s well-equipped for. The mud peeking through the snowy skid marks is a good indicator spring is on its way.
Birds can be heard again against a backdrop crunching earth and gears changing. The contestants continue along the Lake Menomin route.
Some contestants tread carefully—slowing down at the turns before lightly accelerating again—and others shred the off-road trails, eager to be outside in the warming weather.
Each racer fades behind the bare branches of the thickening trees as they continue circling Lake Menomin.
There are 10 minutes until 3 p.m. Nearing the end of the race, three contestants have already biked up, coming to a stop back at where they started.
All the contestants are cruising in from different directions, some from South Broadway and others come cruising down 6th Avenue.
As they dismount from their bikes, they gather outside of the Market Bar to either converse or head inside to refresh.