By Judy Steffes Special to Published Sep 23, 2006 at 6:37 PM
Some quick facts you wouldn't know unless you were riding on my handlebars:

I clean my bike chain every night and pump up the tires each morning to help get the best ride for the day.

I should be taking more pictures. I've had two flats so far. When the tires go flat, it sounds like when you open a bottle of root beer Ting soda. I used to like root beer Ting. Worst problem so far has been replacing my rear rim. Having to build a wheel, more on that story later.

When men ask about my ride, 99 percent of the time they come up and inspect my tires. They often push on the tire to see how hard it is. Then they say "You ride all the way here on that?" My response, I say "Yeah, I ride most of the way and then I get off sometimes and push some."   

When I normally start a tour, I get a little backed up. I'm sure it's a combination of things. Lack of water, increased stress and anticipation. It's actually a pain, bad pain in my back until everything's cleared up. This last time it took three days, and then I was on the road in the middle of nowhere. So I had to MacGyver a toilet in the wilderness.   

During a ride my hands will go numb. It's called biker's palsy. Sometimes it makes your hands so useless it's hard to shift. My feet are the next thing to go. Toes get all cramped around 80 miles. Then I have to take a break, just to get off the pressure point.

My chain is starting to slip. May have to replace before I get home. During my tour from Wis. to Canada my chain stretched five inches because of pulling the gear up hill.

I have this sports bra that is too old to remember. It's seen better days and the back has been eaten up by sun and sweat. During every trip to the laundry I eye it up to throw away and for some reason it always gets thrown in with the rest of the dirty laundry and if it comes out in one piece it's good for one more day of wear.

Favorite city so far this tour has been Albingdon, Va. Lots of historic buildings, beautifully converted train depot to Arts studio, cave system that runs underground throughout town, Barter Theatre that lived up to its name years ago when they took trade for admission. Some of trade included a live hog and a dead rattlesnake.  

Most colorful person was Earl, the dope at the diner who told me to "Go Greyhound."

I have about 70 lbs. of gear AND I've even cut back. I had to choose between shampoo and conditioner so I left my Aveda Rosemary Mint conditioner and I really miss it. I've also cut my toothbrush in half and I rip my maps apart whenever I complete a section. And whenever anybody puts a staple in a receipt ... all I can think about is the extra weight.   

Most WONDERFUL people have been artist Nancy Johnson from the Arts Depot in Albingdon and Mary and Jim, who took me home for breakfast in Paris, Ky.

Most beautiful downhill was just after the Appalachian Trail... about 10 miles without pedaling.

Fastest downhill was just into Kentucky at about 42 mph. But then "along came Ting."

Best church stay was at the United Methodist in Albingdon. Lovely couch in the youth room, great CDs and stereo, clean bathroom, no bats, a fan to help put me to sleep, and easy doors to rig so I could come and go as I pleased ... even though Pastor Nicole set my curfew at 6 p.m.   

The best biking is in Wisconsin.  
Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.