Cycling for the trees

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

As a 12-year-old, Michael Frankhauser was determined to save up for his first road bike.

He succeeded, but the bicycle was so large, his feet didn’t come close to touching the ground – forcing him to stop next to buildings or trees to dismount.

“Money was tight, so I figured out how big I thought I was going to be and bought a bike that would fit the future me,” the Galloway resident said. “I actually rode that bike halfway through college.”

Now Frankhauser will embark upon a 583-mile journey through Wisconsin to promote another passion of his – tree health.

Frankhauser will participate in America’s largest fundraiser for tree research, the STIHL Tour des Trees, July 27 through Aug. 2. He will join nearly 100 cyclists who have committed a week of their summer to ride the nearly 600 miles on bike and raise a minimum of $3,500 for the Tree Research & Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund).

“Trees play a huge role in our lives, but because they are everywhere, and sometimes are seen as a nuisance, they don’t get credit due for the good they do – which results in a lack of research relative to other things that are more highly valued,” he said.

As an arborist, Frankhauser wants to do what is best for the trees he works in and on.

“The TREE Fund sets up research that addresses the issues we see in the field,” he said.

Last year, the STIHL Tour des Trees raised $600,000 for the TREE Fund. The itinerary changes each year, and recent tours have explored Illinois, Virginia, Oregon, New York and the city of Ontario.

This year’s tour traces a loop through eastern Wisconsin. The cyclists will overnight at Madison, the Wisconsin Dells, Stevens Point, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Port Washington.

Along the way, they’ll stop to dedicate dozens of new trees donated and planted by local nurseries.

To prepare for this year’s ride, Frankhauser spends his mornings riding before his children wake up.

“I have been riding a few hundred miles a week, which I hope will help,” he said.

Now he says he just needs help with raising funds so he can meet his financial goal.

“I can ride my bike, I can take care of trees. I need help with the fundraising,” he said.

Once he returns home from the trip, he also plans to continue to work toward his goal of developing a line of wood bikes. With the trees he removes, he already makes his own furniture and flooring.

“My dream is to have a manufacturing facility where we take yard trees that would be taken to the dump and turn them into bicycles,” he said.

Though he does have one more short-term goal that must be accomplished first – making it home in time for a new addition to the family.  Along with a 3-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son, Frankhauser’s wife is due with baby No. 3 about a week after the tour.

To donate to Frankhauser’s fundraising efforts, go to www.crowdrise.com/STdTTeamOhio/fundraiser/michaelfrankhauser.

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