Spin City: Tales of Triumph, Adventure and Love on Two Wheels

Seven cyclists share why they ride, their favorite local routes and the joy biking brings them.

It was during last summer’s forty-mile Dane County Honor Ride to benefit the Ride2Recovery veterans’ charity when Hughes felt something wasn’t right.

“At some point during the course, we were rehydrating at a stop,” he remembers. “I got off my bike and I said to myself, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s different.’”

Without any pain, and unable to pinpoint the trouble, he made it to the finish line and called it a day.

Three days later, his right arm now numb, Hughes called in sick to work. Ending the call, he says, “Something told me to take my phone out of my right pocket and put it in my left pocket, so I did. Then at 6:15 a.m., I had a stroke. By myself. All alone in my house.”

The moment was burned in his memory: “I felt my whole right side of my body shutting down. You could take a marker and draw a straight line down from the top of my head to my toes.”

After thirty-six hours in the hospital, he headed home. The tests were conclusive, said his doctor. “It’s only because I was biking and I was strong that I lived. He told me, ‘You’re healthy, but you’re not healthy.’”

Almost four weeks later, his doc gave him the green light to ride one mile. “I rode three miles that day. That weekend I rode around Lake Monona,” his favorite route. “At five weeks, I rode the same forty miles that damn near killed me.”

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