"Du-u-u-de!" the Bicycle Crank halloos from my handlebar-mounted left side-view mirror as he pulls into my Trek's slipstream. "Hear the results from the Bike to Work Week 2010 Commuter Bike Challenge?"
I shake my head. No.
"OK, then who do you think took the top two spots for the number of employees who commuted by bike during Bike to Work Week?"
"Hmmm," I hedge, grasping for a few seconds to think it through. "Wild guess: UW-Madison and Epic Systems."
"Close!" he says. "Epic took first, with 115 employees participating and 3,564 miles logged during Bike to Work Week."
Figures, I tell him, considering the Verona software giant has a substantial workforce that skews smarter, younger, more motivated and resourceful than most of us.
Second, the Crank informs me, was UW-Madison's Division of Information Technology, with 66 staffers logging 1,314 miles.
"Well here's the thing," I respond. "All you need to win those two categories is a big employee base." Unless you've got two or three employees commuting between Milwaukee and Madison via the Glacial Drumlin State Trail every day, I observe, small businesses don't stand a chance.
"Thus the other two categories," crows the Crank. "Highest average number of days biked per employee registered for Bike to Work Week, and highest average number of miles logged during Bike to Work Week."
Kind of levels the playing field, I agree.
"You'll never guess, so I'll tell ya," says the Crank, his cranky faade broken by a Cheshire Cat grin. "Despite some unfortunate weather, the hardy and devoted bike commuters at Henry Vilas Zoo averaged five days of biking to and from work during Bike to Work Week -- two-tenths of a day more than the Madison Water Utility bikers averaged. And they averaged 153.9 miles ridden to and from work over the course of Bike to Work Week more than 60 miles ahead of runner-up Planet Bike's two-wheeled commuters."
Mighty impressive, I nod.
"Wait, there's more," the Crank enthuses. "According to the press release from the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, more than 2,275 bike commuters representing more than 250 Madison and Milwaukee employers rode a total of more than 100,000 miles to get to and from work."
The Crank pauses for a second. I check the side-view mirror. There is a distant look in his eyes, as if preoccupied by deep thoughts or profound calculations. The latter, it turns out. The next time I check my side-view mirror, his eyes are as big as the front wheels of penny farthings. "Dude!" he exclaims at last. "You know what 100,000 miles amounts to? That's four laps around the earth's equator."