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.

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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.

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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!

Women & Bicycles makes Progress- Repost

Women & Bicycles

Women & Bicycles is a new  program coordinated through the Wisconsin Bike Fed and supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, in an effort to bring more women to bicycling as riders, leaders, and advocates.

We’ve reached out to our network of women and ask for volunteers to serve as Roll Models to encourage women to try riding who may not be riding for one reason or another. Women across Wisconsin are volunteering as Roll Models, offering gatherings in the formats of meetups, workshops, and group rides.

In La Crosse, rides, social conversations, and workshops have been successful. We have focused on new riders, creating events that will encourage everyone  to feel welcome. Women enjoy learning from each other. The Fix a Flat Clinics have been very fruitful.  We look forward to offering a basic maintenance clinic soon.

Cassandra Habel shares her enthusiasm in Madison and talks about her adventures.

The Women & Bicycles program has been off to a wonderful start in Madison! When approached to be a representative, I wanted to develop a cohesive way to bring together all of these fabulous resources we have in our city for women to get involved with cycling. Team Luna Chix have been around for roughly 6 years hosting no drop bike rides, clinics, and special events for women in Madison. I of course wanted to enlist their help and as well as the help of the existing Bike Fed staffers in the Madison office. My website/company, Spoke Haven, has also been a big part of promoting the program.

Together we have put together a monthly, hands on fix a flat clinic that is hosted at the Bike Fed’s office here in town. We’ve also promoted a monthly Taco Tuesday ride that happens the first Tuesday of the month. It’s a wonderful social ride for all levels of riders and allows us to not only get to know each other, but we also discuss ways for us to branch out, reach new riders, and talk about issues such as infrastructure projects that affect us as local cyclists.

We’ve recently launched a Facebook page dedicated to the Madison division of Women & Bicycles that allows us to share upcoming events, photos, and allows for women to openly discuss all aspects of cycling.

For our rides and events, we utilize the website Meetup.com. This allows us to keep track of event attendance, announce upcoming events that get automatically e-mail blasted to members, and allows us to have more control over who is attending rides. Our job is to great a safe, healthy, and positive riding experience for women. Having the ability to control who gains ride info for our events is key in making sure we can maintain that environment. Not that we don’t love the special men in our lives, we just want to make sure all women identified individuals know they can be a part of this unique group and just be themselves.

Another added benefit to the Women & Bicycles program is offering ride buddies for ladies who have interest in events such as charity rides or special ride events. So far this year we’ve had a group at the Bike for Boys & Girls Club ride, Ride 2 Recovery, Bike MS, the ACT Ride, Ride the Drive, and we’ll also have some ladies at the upcoming Chocolate Chase as well as the famed Tyranena Oktoberfest bike ride. So many women have said they would participate in these events more if they actually had a friend to ride with!

So far my work with the program has been really fun and fulfilling. I can’t wait to offer more workshops, training clinics, and special events for the ladies this winter. We’re also looking to continue to grow next year reaching more riders and offering up more ride options and opportunities for women to get on bikes!

In Oceola,The St. Croix Valley Region, Wendi Lindenmuth has enjoyed the network of women she has created. She has inspired women to ride together on mountain bikes, road bikes, share social conversations, join workshops, and inspired women to work on advocacy efforts.  Wendi  is overwhelmed by the number of women who appreciate been connected to other women who ride bicycles.

If you are looking for a group to join, check and see if there is a group close to you.  Stay tuned, we will be expanding our program next year.

Women & Bicycles is a statewide program from the Wisconsin Bike Fed, empowering women across the state to ride.
Read more about the program »