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!

Boys & Girls Club Ride Overview

Bike for Boys & Girls Club has been a staple in the Madison community for several years. We’ve only been a part of the tradition for the past couple of years, but we’ve very much enjoyed it and plan on making it a yearly commitment.

Last year we decided to participate in the 50 mile loop as we were trying to get miles in for the ACT Ride (will be participating in ACT 12?? Possibly, stay tuned!) The route was pretty fantastic. All route loops start and end at Edgewood High School on Monroe Street and wind their way through the south of Madison. Parts of the route include sections of the famous Wisconsin Ironman loop as well as some staple roads for roadie/tri training.

The 50 miler gets you south and east of Madison. The 25 miler gets you to the south and west of Madison. We opted for the 25 mile loop this year as we had planned to see friends from out of town that day and didn’t want to be completely knackered. One fun thing about both routes is the stop in Paoli. It’s about 13 miles into the loop, so if you are on the 25 miler it’s essentially half way. The ladies running the pit stop this year were so much fun. They had great music, a great attitude, and we’re fully stocked with water, hydration mix, food, and even had bathrooms available for us! Thanks ladies…I think they were from a sorority??? Anyway…go you!

A few of my favorite things about the B4BGC Ride are:

-Great routes-People at the pit stops are friendly
-The cost for an individual to sign up is $25 and you are only required to raise $75. If you are on a team it’s still only $25 to sign up and you only have to raise $250.
-They don’t really care if you’ve raised all your money, if you’ve registered, you can ride.
-The post ride event is so much fun with a DJ, live music, great food, beer from Cap Brewery, and a section for you and your teammates to sit and enjoy each others company.

Some improvements that B4BGC could make:

-Event bike parking! There were bikes strewn about everywhere in a hot mess. This has been the case the past two years. If someone knows the lead even planner for this event, send them our way as Saris would gladly lend out some event racks for this thing!

-Little SAG support/road crossing support. Maybe we’re spoiled by our experiences on the ACT ride, but maybe not. There were a few dangerous busy roads outside of town that had no one out there helping the riders cross safely. That could potentially be a HUGE liability for them and they should be stationing a volunteer at every major crossing on route.

Both times I’ve done the ride I’ve only seen a Dream Bikes SAG van once on route. It’s not as big of a deal for the shorter loop, but for the 50 miler it would be best to have a couple of vans doing sweep on the course to ensure riders are doing alright.

-Lack of new rider education. Again, we get this drilled into our brains on the ACT ride…follow the rules of the road and make sure you are riding responsibly/predictably! We saw so many inexperienced riders on the route that ended up crashing due to stupid mistakes or people riding really irresponsibly.

It would be really helpful to give a quick rundown to each wave of riders on how to ride, how to call out debris in the road and calling out if they are passing, moving to the side, stopping, etc. There were also a lot of people who were just ill equipped with either bikes in really bad shape or wearing the wrong clothing. This is another thing the ACT ride has been a model for as you always know exactly what to have on day 1 of the ride.

Other than those few t hings, the ride is a lot of fun and is a wonderful way to spend a summer morning/afternoon. I suggest everyone trying the ride at least once. All of the funds stay in Dane County and benefit the kids who are active in the Boys & Girls club.

Check out the video from this year’s ride. Keri and I are both in it for a split second! Also check out www.bike4bgc.org for more info about the ride.