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Pete’s Garage builds a community of cyclists during Tuesday Night Ride

By Janelle Fisher
Staff Writer

GREEN BAY – If you stop by Pete’s Garage, located downtown Green Bay, on a Tuesday evening between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you’ll likely see a gathering of 60-70 cyclists in the parking lot preparing to head out on a Tuesday Night Ride.

Tyson Schwiesow, who owns Pete’s Garage with his brother Kurt, said Tuesday Night Rides – which the shop has hosted for three years now – are group bicycle rides aimed at building community among local riders.

Rich family history
Schwiesow said bikes – and group bike rides – have run in the family for three generations.

“The name Pete’s Garage comes from my great grandfather, Pete Lorenzen,” he said. “He owned a motorcycle and bicycle shop and he actually did a bunch of group rides. This was in the early 1900s that he owned the shop, and this was in the south of Chicago.”

Pete Lorenzen, great grandfather of Pete’s Garage Owners Tyson and Kurt Schwiesow, organized group rides at his motorcycle and bicycle shop in Chicago in the early 1900s.

Today the family tradition of participating in group rides still runs strong as Schwiesow recalls the rides he and his brother participated in growing up.

“There is this big double century ride that we would do – it’s 100 miles down the Scioto River Valley,” he said. “So, we’d start in Columbus, Ohio, and we’d end up in Portsmouth, and we’d sleep there that night and then turn around and ride 100 miles back. And my brother and I would do this when we were in grade school. We were fifth, sixth, seventh graders and we were doing these rides. We actually took my dad down and did that ride four years ago.”

Schwiesow said cycling is something that has always brought his family together, and that it also has the potential to bring communities together.

“Every family has their thing, right? And for some reason cycling is ours,” he said. “These hobbies, interests, activities can bring families together but also communities together.”

Building community
The top way cycling brings communities together, Schwiesow said, is through group rides like the Tuesday Night Rides at Pete’s Garage.

“I think as far as cycling goes, group rides are always sort of the core of any kind of community,” he said. “And obviously our shop isn’t the only shop to do group rides, but I do think at this moment in time, we’ve got the largest and kind of the broadest [in the area.]”

Schwiesow said Tuesday Night Rides have enabled him and other participants to connect with others in the area who enjoy the same sport.

“Kurt and I have been riding for so long and we’ve been racing for so long and we know a lot of people in town that ride, but not everybody,” he said. “This has been a really nice way for me to meet new people who maybe embrace the sport a little bit differently… I think probably people who attend that ride would say the same thing – that it’s a way to meet people.”

With so much variety in the world of cycling, there can be several barriers preventing someone from getting into the sport, but Schwiesow said he hopes the Tuesday Night Rides make people feel welcome no matter what gear they’re using or how they ride.

“We want to be friendly and try to foster the sport a little bit and try to be a little bit more welcoming because there can be a certain level of arrogance – especially to road cycling – where if you don’t dress just right and have the right gear, the concern is that then you’re not a real cyclist. Of course, that’s patently false.”

To best accommodate a variety of riders, Schwiesow said riders split off into three groups during the Tuesday Night Rides based on experience and preferred pace.

The A group is the fastest and farthest group, covering 35 miles and averaging 18-20 mph.

“The A group is going to be anybody that has done a ton of group riding or racing,” Schwiesow said. “It’s like mini races, or training races to a degree.”

Participants ride in three groups based on experience and preferred pace during Tuesday Night Rides.

The B group is a little more relaxed, covering about 25 miles and averaging 16-20 mph.

“B group is, you’re still riding in a tight group but it is a little friendlier,” Schwiesow said. “We will purposely stop at set areas on the route [to make sure no one gets left behind.]”

The C group covers about 20 miles at an average pace of 12-14 mph.

“C group is much different,” Schwiesow said. “The idea there is just slower and it’s geared towards maybe someone if they’ve had a big weekend of racing or training and they just want to ride easier or they’re new to the sport.”

Schwiesow also said that anyone is welcome to join the Tuesday Night Rides, and that he and his brother are always willing to show newcomers the ropes and help them find the right group to ride with.

“All you need is a bike and a helmet,” he said. “Come down and either try to find me or find Kurt. Let us know you’re new to the ride. We will make every effort to make sure you’re in the right group. We will sort of shepherd you. And, it’s a very welcoming group. Don’t be intimidated, just come on down and enjoy the ride.”

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