Wisconsin Bike Summit & Saris Gala Review

The last two weeks were a whirlwind of bicycle madness! I spent two whole weeks prepping the Saris Gala silent auction on top of the many months leading up to event working on donation asks and promotional efforts.

Not to mention that the Wisconsin Bike Fed decided to host their annual Bike Summit the same day as the Gala. It was a good call, but made for a pretty stressful planning of both ventures. I was asked to present on the women’s panel by Kierstin of Two Wheels From Home/Madtown Maidens, she’s also on the Bike Fed Board. I COULDN’T SAY NO!

I'm talking with my hands.
I’m talking with my hands.

For the women’s panel I decided to talk about how to increase the population of women cyclists by hosting rides and events. It’s a topic I felt comfortable with and hoped it would open up the floor for the following presentations as I had to go first. I was among some pretty awesome ladies including India Viola from We Are All Mechanics, Jillian Imikoski  from the Bella Donnas, and Kelly Peterson from Madison Bike Polo. Below are my slides from my presentation and I obviously went more in depth with my topics than what was listed.

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Each presenter was limited to 15 minutes on their topic, but I could have talked for at least an hour on hosting events. I love event planning and promotion, so I geek out anytime I get the opportunity to share my passion.

Unfortunately once my presentation was over I had to make my way back to Saris to get set up for the gala. I’m really curious as to how the other presenters did. I guess there’s always next year!

From what I did see, which included Mayor Dave’s opening remarks and the general layout of the summit, the event seemed to be a great success. There was a show of hands for first time summit attendees and the majority of the room were first timers, including myself. There were tables from different Bike Fed supporters including one from Saris Cycling Group, Fyxation, and of course the Bike Fed. There were a couple of others, but I was short on time and didn’t get to investigate.

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From mayor to citizen and now executive director. It’s Dave!

One of my favorite takeaways, besides presenting of course, was the awesome new t-shirt they were selling at the Summit. Chris Aalid has done some fantastic work in the last few months for the Bike Fed. Keep up the good work my friend!

I couldn't quite capture the colors with my phone, but you get the idea.
I couldn’t quite capture the colors with my phone, but you get the idea.

Onto the Saris Gala. The Gala for me ends up being mostly work, but I still enjoy every minute of it. Setup starts along with the work day at 8am and continues right up to the start of the event. Part of my job was setting up tables, placing linens, staging all the silent auction items aka merchandising, placing bid sheets, and making sure all the volunteers knew what their jobs entitled.

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Rachel is perfecting the art of placing linens.
More tables, more linens, more lights!
More tables, more linens, more lights!

The whole event went really smoothly. Registration for volunteers and attendees was quick and easy. The overall flow around the room was great. The food was fantastic (thanks Lombardino’s!). Phil and Dave were great presenters and Pat Gallagher was (as always) a fantastic emcee.

Overall I think it was a great success and the total dollar amount raised (as of right now) is estimated to be close to $108,000! That’s the most any one Saris Gala has ever raised, so thanks to everyone who opened up their wallets and helped us make the event the best damn bike party in the state!

Extra special thanks go out to everyone at Wheel & Sprocket. They made all the registration and check out go so smoothly. Amelia & Julian we’re super helpful and we always appreciate everything they do for the event.

I also want to thank my team of silent auction volunteers! You guys are the best crew ever and I had so much fun spending the night drinking, laughing, and talking up item auctions with you! Theresa, Nic, Sarah, Lisa, and Keri…you’re all rockstars 🙂

Sarah, Nic, Theresa, Cassandra, Lisa, & Keri
Sarah, Nic, Theresa, Cassandra, Lisa, & Keri

Rachel also deserves an extra special thanks for being my work wife and keeping me sane during our two weeks of being stuffed in a conference room with bags and auction items surrounding us. We made it through!

The 10th year anniversary of the Saris Gala is said to be the last. I’m sad to see it go, but am looking forward to a possible break for next fall.