To breakfast and beyond: Riding for fun and a causePosted by admin on 7/22/11 • Categorized as Summer 2011
Through a revolving cast of Beloiters, friends-of-Beloiters, and over a decade of riding, a bicycle group known as “the Mythical Beasts” has maintained a couple of constants: They have a lot of fun, and there’s usually food involved.
“Our rides almost always involve food,” admits Kathy Greene, one of the group’s original members and an associate professor of education.
Members probably need a steady stream of sustenance to supply energy for their hobby. Some bike several thousand miles over the course of the summer, including an annual two-day, 150-mile ride along the shores of Lake Michigan.
The Mythical Beasts formed in the late ’90s, when Greene, Associate Dean of Students Teresa Leopold, and several other Beloit College faculty and staff members were looking to train for a long, organized ride. They found the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Scenic Shore 150, a fundraising ride for patient aid and research efforts that takes place every July between Mequon and Sturgeon Bay. The group adopted its name the first year, after Greene brought along a booklet of temporary tattoos depicting unicorns, centaurs, and griffins for members to wear, though at least one biker was under the impression that Mythical Beasts was a reference to the fact that “we’re beasts out there.”
“It’s a nice tradition, and we’re raising money for a good cause,” says Pablo Toral, associate professor of political science and Mouat Junior Professor of International Studies. “Every year, we’ve been able to raise between $2,000 and $3,000, at least.”
Toral joined the group when he came to Beloit in 2003 and has participated in the Scenic Shore 150 for the last three years. He’s a huge fan of the group’s gradually intensifying biking-to-breakfast training tradition. As soon as Wisconsin spring weather allows, the Mythical Beasts start taking increasingly long Sunday-morning bike rides to their favorite breakfast destinations. Early on, they might start with an easy ride to Beloit’s north side, but eventually they fan out to nearby small towns.
The group’s participation in the Scenic Shore 150 is also steeped in tradition. Riders tend to stay at the same hotel on Friday night, and dine on a Friday night fish fry. Some members camp out with a view of Lake Michigan on the night between the two days of the ride.
When they’re not biking to breakfast, the Mythical Beasts enjoy one another’s company as they ride around the countryside. Beloit, they’ve found, is a bike-friendly place.
“Beloit is a perfect setting for biking,” says Greene. “It’s the most beautiful place to ride.”
It’s also known for its accommodating drivers. “When I was in grad school in Miami, I couldn’t bike anywhere,” Toral recalls. “I almost got killed a number of times. But when I came to Beloit, I realized that drivers are fairly reasonable around here.”
Though they all enjoy biking, friendship is also a large part of what binds this group together.
“It’s a very congenial group, accustomed to looking for excuses to get together and do things,” says Kohnstamm Professor of Chemistry Brock Spencer, who puts in several thousand miles on two wheels every summer. “It is not competitive—the competition is finishing the Scenic Shore ride, and finishing in a time that you’re comfortable with.”
Spencer estimates the group will have about 10 people riding in the 2011 fundraiser. And though the big ride is a goal they all keep in mind, the preparation is just as rewarding.
“It’s fine to get out and have a ride in any case, but it’s nice to have a group of people around to do things with,” Spencer says. “It’s become a tradition, and it’s a good way to get together with friends and do what we like to do, which is take long bike rides.”