Spoke Haven Co-Owner Now Bike Fed Board Member!

10302249_10201606965728297_815258664114874884_nA quick congratulations is in order for Cassandra who was elected to be a Wisconsin Bicycle Federation board member! Cassandra has been a long time bicycle commuter, enthusiast, and advocate. Her leadership and active role in the cycling community helped create Spoke Haven, engage more women in our local cycling community, and become a vital resource when it comes to all things cycling.

Her three year term begins in January 2015 and plans to continue to work hard and dedicate herself to the Bike Fed’s mission.

2014 Wisconsin Bike Summit & the Saris Gala: Part 1

The 2014 Wisconsin Bike Summit & Saris Gala have come to an end. While I’m sad the whirlwind of events and planning is over, I’m happy to have my life back to normal!

My participation in the events always starts a few months before. One of my jobs is to assist the Bike Fed (as a representative of Saris) with obtaining high quality donations for the silent auction, raffle, and live auction.

Two weeks prior to the event I get pulled into a conference room with a computer, projector, and a butt load of donation items that need to be packaged together. The packaging is the easy part. It’s the assigning a package number, creating a bid sheet, creating a display sheet for each package, inspecting each individual sheet, printing the sheet, and having to put the sheet in a frame or on a clipboard that is time consuming and slightly soul sucking.

The reality is though that the work isn’t that bad and it’s completely satisfying to see all the hard work come to fruition and to see people’s excitement each year during the event.

This is my third year working with Saris and the Bike Fed on these events and I hope to continue to help the event in its success.

Moving on…
The Wisconsin Bike Summit is awesome. Last year I presented and only got to stay for my presentation, but I managed to carve out some time this year to stay for the majority of the event.

Since I was attending a bike summit, I decided to hook my trailer up to my Soma (double cross) and roll on down to Edgewood College. Edgewood was our gracious hosts this year and I can say with confidence that they were much easier to work with than the Inn on the Park. Nothing against the Inn, it’s just that Edgewood has a more welcoming vibe. Not to mention better options for parking and exposure to impressionable college kids who seemed pretty interested in what all the hoopla was about.


I promptly parked my bike in the provided event parking racks and headed into Preston Hall. I checked in, picked up my name tag, and stuck an awesome “I BIKE. I VOTE” button on my shirt. When I entered the main auditorium I was greeted with a gaggle of my Saris co-workers from the commercial parking department as well as our CEO, Mr. Chris Fortune. Hellos were traded and I then headed over to grab some delicious Colectivo coffee, fruit, and a pastry. A few more familiar faces in the crowd prompted hellos and the opening remarks began.

Dave Cieslewicz (executive director of the Bike Fed, ex Madison mayor, and all around cool guy) talked for a bit before introducing Chris Fortune, who then introduced Michael Johnson from the Boys & Girls club of Dane County. Michael shared some great stories about how he became involved in cycling and what the local cycling community has done for the Boys & Girls club with their annual bike fundraiser.


After the opening remarks, the first break out sessions started. The Women & Bicycles session was on of the first of the day and ended up being in the auditorium. Myself, Carolyn Dvorak (leader of the program), and Krista Crum of Madison B Cycles each presented. Each of us covered different topics on women’s cycling with some cross over, but we each brought some great information to the table.

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My focus was on what we were doing with the Women & Bicycles program in Madison. I discussed our Women’s Cycling Meetup, the Taco Tuesday rides, workshops, and partnerships with key businesses and groups.

After our session was done, I had the opportunity to chat with a good amount in people who were interested in my work and the work of the program. There were lots of great audience questions regarding how to encourage women riders, how to get women of color involved in cycling, and how to keep busy moms biking.

There was a second women’s session after our session in the auditorium, so I stuck around and watched the presentations. Renee Callaway moderated and presented. She spoke about cyclocross and getting women involved with the local race scene. Heidi Ploeg discussed her experiences of bike touring across the US as well as in the Netherlands. Amanda Schultze discussed the state of women’s cycling regarding to marketing and product development. She also showed some examples of market research she, as well as her Trek colleagues conducted and what the results were. Last, but not least, Kathy Mock discussed the Wisconsin High School Cycling league and how their program is reaching young girls/women who wouldn’t normally be involved in traditional school sports.

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Each of them had very different presentations, but all were incredibly informative and was glad to see such a fantastically diverse number of topics being covered relating to women’s cycling.

Once session two winded down, there was a box lunch and special guest presenters. The award for the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s Youth Advocate of the Year award was awarded to Dennis Taylor, a 12 year old from Milwaukee. Dennis was recently hit by a stolen SUV and the driver fled the vehicle. Maintaining a positive outlook, Dennis decided to help raise funds to install speed bumps in his quiet neighborhood. The Bike Fed has also helped to get Dennis set up with a new bike and gear for riding!

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The featured guest presenter of the day was ex Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. R.T. helped establish Minneapolis as one of America’s premier cycling cities. His presentation helped instill faith that Madison and other Wisconsin cities can still work at obtaining Platinum level bike city status, even with a Republican majority. Minneapolis faced similar challenges when Michelle Bachmann was in office.

After lunch I ended up tying up some loose ends before the Gala set up started. I also had the opportunity to chat with Director Dave himself as well as the wonderful Peter Gray (bike advocate and midnight rider) and Jay Ferm from Planet Bike.

One of my favorite aspects of the Bike Summit is being able to socialize and bounce ideas off of other advocates. The networking aspect of it is huge and often leads to some really great collaborations.

I look forward to being a part of the 2015 summit and encourage everyone to attend the summit. If you are a cyclist in the state of Wisconsin, there’s no excuse NOT to attend!

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 ImikoskiĀ  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.

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.

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 šŸ™‚

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.

Event: Madison Bike Winter’s 3rd Annual Fashion Show

This one almost flew by us! Madison Bike Winter is hosting their 3rd annual winter bike fashion show at my old shop, Machinery Row Bicycles on Willy St. Learn how to stay warm and safe while out on the road/paths this winter!
Locals Planet Bike will be hooking attendees up with some sweet raffle prizes, so be sure to stop by on Sunday from 5-7pm. You know we’ll be there!