Two Wrights can't be wrong
A ride in Illinois ends, another in Wisconsin lives on; both named after iconic architect
When one hears the name Frank Lloyd Wright, one tends to think of architecture, not bicycles. Wright is considered by many to be the greatest architect in American history. Never prone to false modesty, Wright would only have a problem with the "American" qualifier. He wasn't much of a cyclist. He did like fast cars; and fast women for that matter. So it seems ironic that two late summer Midwest bike rides were named after Wright.
The Wright Ride originated in Oak Park, Illinois - where Frank Lloyd Wright started his professional career. The Wright Stuff Century winds through Spring Green, Wisconsin, where Wright lived as a child and where he retreated to escape the public glare of his scandalous personal life.
Wright's buildings were a lot like a trophy wife: they were beautiful but high maintenance. The homes were notorious for leaky roofs, and Wright never met a budget he could not bust. Wright's designs were ahead of his time and pushed the available building materials to their limits. The Oak Cycle Club felt that it similarly taxed its limits and decided, after seven years of organizing the Wright Ride, to put this year's event on hold. In contrast, the Wisconsin-based Wright Stuff Century is headed into its 34th year, making it one of the longest running rides in the state.
The Wright Ride: A lost masterpiece
After reading a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright, I ran across a flyer for the Oak Park, Illinois, Wright Ride last August. With routes of 15, 30, 50 and 62 miles, I had the option of a short leisurely ride past some of west suburban Chicago's great architectural masterpieces or a metric century to test my endurance.
When I arrived in downtown Oak Park, the only folks stirring were fellow cyclists. At the start, I found myself in a quandary. On one hand, I was raring to go and get some miles under my belt. On the other hand, there are roughly 30 significant architectural landmarks along the way with most located near the start of the ride. Not all of these building are FLW designs, but many pay homage to the prairie style that he popularized.
I resolved to stay on the bike rather than get off and gawk. Since the ride is a loop, I figured that I could retrace my route after I finished.
The Wright Stuff Century: A testament to endurance
In September the Bombay Bicycle Club of Madison hosts the Wright Stuff Century near Spring Green, Wisconsin. This year's ride will start in nearby Mt. Horeb.
The 34th annual Wright Stuff Century will be held on September 2. Cyclists have route options of 30, 64 and 100 miles. Between 500 and 600 riders usually turn out for it, and the longer routes are the most popular. More details can be found at wrightstuffcentury.com.
The Bombay Bicycle Club has over 300 active members and the Wright Stuff Century is the largest ride for the club. All of the club's rides are open to the public.
The full story appeared in the August 2012 print edition of Silent Sports. Don't miss an issue! Subscribe online here.