He’s almost there . . .

around the world on a bike (virtually)
Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press Staff

Mark Schueller never planned to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle.

But when knee pain let the 75-year-old Town of Grafton resident know that jogging wasn’t for him anymore, he tried a stationary bike.

After reaching about 10,000 miles on the exercise bike, Schueller realized he was getting somewhere but nowhere in particular.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked himself. “I think everybody needs to have a goal.”

Schueller set a lofty one. He would ride the equivalent of around the world at the equator—24,772 miles—on an exercise bike in his basement and a road bike on local streets and roads.

Now, he is a little more than 200 miles from his target. He said he expects to finish his journey in several weeks.

Schueller bikes religiously on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, usually from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. When he started, he traveled 12.5 miles per ride and later upped it to 13.5. It totals more than 150 miles per month.

Schueller, who said he is “an avid stretcher,” stretches 20 to 30 minutes before he heads to his Schwinn Airdyne.

He records his distance, but he doesn’t care how fast he is going or how many revolutions per minute he logs.

Schueller does monitor his effort level. According to a device on his bike, he wants to stay in the 2.5 to 3.1 exertion range for a good workout.

He tracks his effort over the years.

“I always try to judge my physical well-being to the time I did before,” he said. “It amazes me that I’m able to maintain it.”

Schueller wears gloves for a better grip on the handle bars, which move back and forth as he pedals, and puts a towel on the bike seat for comfort.

He has a couple of other vital pieces of equipment: A headset and ABBA’s “Gold” album of the Swedish pop group’s greatest hits on his phone. Among the 15 songs are “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Fernando” and “Knowing Me Knowing You.”

“ABBA pumps me up,” Schueller said. “The music is very peppy. I love the beat.”

In front of the bike is a stand on which sits a nondescript battery-operated clock to keep track of Schueller’s time. Behind the clock is a large piece of paper with a perfect circle drawn on it. Dots mark the major cities

Schueller has traveled past, including their how many miles he has gone and the date.

Schueller grew up in St. Paul, Minn., and reached the city virtually on his exercise bike in July 2014. He reached Tulsa, Okla., where his brother lives, at 35 degrees latitude, in September 2016.

Schueller has had fun, but he admits he isn’t always in the mood to exercise. “I’m not the least bit bored, but sometimes I’m not highly motivated,” he said.

He keeps at it, however. After he stretches and starts slowly pedaling, “I get right back into the groove,” he said.

Schueller’s wife Judy has come to expect him to regularly ride.

“If I don’t do it, she’d wonder what’s wrong with me,” he said.

Schueller is on his third Schwinn Airdyne. “The beauty behind the Schwinn is that the front wheel has a fan in between the spokes that blows air at you,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

Two Schwinn “dead soldiers” that he wore out sit in the basement near the working bike.

 After each ride, Schueller is soaked with sweat and “takes in as much water as I can,” showers and goes back to his day. Or he takes a nap.

“I’m 75 years old. I’ve earned a nap or two if I want,” he said.

Schueller’s miles haven’t all come in the comfort of his own basement, however.

He rides a bike outside as well. Recently, his daughter visited from Sun Prairie and the two completed a 30-mile ride through and around Port Washington.

Schueller said he has covered about 2,000 miles outdoors, which he added to his around-the-world total.

Schueller has been biking more than 25 years.

Once a five-mile-a-day runner,” he started jogging when he lived on a small farm near Coon Valley in the western part of the state and continued when he moved to Mequon.

One day in 1994 when he was running with his daughter Rose, he felt a pain in his left knee. He told her he had to stop.

Rose kept running and Schueller walked home.

“I was lucky. It was kind of a warning sign,” he said. “I never trusted that knee again.”

Schueller had a Schwinn bike in the basement and “just started riding the doggone thing and I never got off,” he said.

He hasn’t had a knee problem since.

Now that he’s nearing his goal of biking around the world, he is fielding questions from his family.

“Now they ask me, ‘What are you going to do next?’” he said.

He knows one thing.

“I’m not going to go around (the world) again,” he said, but added it’s only 8,000 miles to circumvent the moon.

Stopping is not an option.
“I really don’t want to retire. It’s good for my mental and physical fitness,” he said. “I’m 75 and I just don’t feel it. I’m grateful for the health that I have.”




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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