Wisconsin is a state known for its independence.
So, when the League of American Bicyclists declared a week in May as Bike to Work Week, we just couldn’t follow meekly in line. It’s not that we have anything against the League; it’s just that they are located in Washington, DC, where May is a beautiful month. In Wisconsin May often means just a slushy month for sledding.
We moved our Bike Week back a few weeks to the first week in June and… hey, look out the window! Were we right or were we right?
We also dropped the “to work” part. Our week is just Bike Week. We have all the usual inducements to bike to work, but for us it’s really a chance to celebrate all things bike. So, we’re sponsoring or promoting all kinds of events all over the state: bike to baseball, women’s riding clinics, kids rides, biking to school, a historic tour of the Menomonee River Valley and a whole lot more.
Again, this is Wisconsin, so we take a different tact to encourage people to bike to work with our morning commuter stations. Wisconsinites love a deal, so we offer free coffee, schnecks, bike repairs, bacon, brat patties and even free pickled herring from Ma Baensch in Milwaukee! If that doesn’t get you on a bike in the morning, I don’t know what will.
And, of course, we didn’t even stop at only seven days. Bike “Week” here runs ten days from June 2nd to June 12th. It started with the Clips Beer & Film Tour last Thursday in Madison and the Milwaukee weekend ends with Sierra Nevada Beer Camp on Saturday and the South Side Bike Day and Ciclovia MKE on Sunday. Bike week was sandwiched by beer festivals with bacon, bakery and herring in the middle! You gotta love Wisconsin.
The theme that runs through all of these diverse events is the idea that biking is just plain fun. Bikes have always been somewhat controversial and these days they can sometimes be a political football. But for this week at least let’s just remind ourselves of how much pure fun and freedom cycling represents.
Take a moment this week to remember that instant when for the first time you pushed down on a pedal and propelled yourself forward. Miraculously, you didn’t fall over. And you found that if you pushed down again and again you’d go faster and grow more confident. For many of us this is our first rush of freedom and adult responsibility too. The bike represents the ability to go places on your own but also to move in traffic and thus to have rights and responsibilities with regard to others.
Bike Week is a lot of things and it’s our aim to make it bigger, better and more diverse in its offerings all over the state each year. With a few days left it’s not too late to find your nearest event and just simply enjoy the ride.