Wisconsin Bike Fed Winter Carnival Overview

Friday was the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s first Winter Carnival and it was great! Ray’s is already a fun atmosphere, but add a bunch of advocacy folks, a DJ, carnival games, good food, even better beer, and you have one kick ass bike party!

The event took place from noon-9PM. There was free riding from 12-5PM, which we missed because of work. We got there around 7 and checked in to the volunteer table. Volunteers got a free drink ticket, free food tickets, and a pass to come back to Ray’s to ride another day. Talk about a sweet deal!

We also heard Ray’s opened the park up to the Fed for nothing but a little free marketing. For a facility that huge, that was very generous of them.

The first priority was heading to the beer table. They were serving some great Riverwest brews, which seemed to fit the theme as when we headed to the silent auction, there were lots of entries to the Riverwest 24 race up for grabs. The rest of the silent auction items were really great. There were frames from Fyxation, a complete Butcher fixed gear freestyle bike from 1/8th Inch, a Manitou fork, Sun Ringle wheelsets, Answer handlebars, a sweet Bike Fed themed poster, recycled bike tube jewelry, cheese baskets, restaurant gift cards, and lots more! I purchased two sets of tickets (11 for $10) but came away empty handed. No hard feelings though. It goes to a good cause.

Other highlights of the event were the gold sprint competition, a BMX demo, and a speech from Kevin Hardman (Executive Director of the Bike Fed) where he announced a new magazine the Bike Fed has put together. If you are a member, you’ll see one in your mailbox soon. Everyone else, you can find one at your local shop or buy one online.

The turnout to the event was good for it being a blustery Friday night. I would imagine that if they made this a yearly event, it would gain some popularity. Also setting it on a weekend day would get more people in the door.  Overall it was a well organized, awesome event and I can’t wait to see if they do it next year.

*The fancy camera was in tow, but the wrong battery was inserted. iPhone was all that was available. Sorry 🙁 Good news though, the B&H fairy came and dropped off a sweet new high capacity HD card for video and lots of photos! Hopefully we can utilize that at our next event.

Holiday Shopping: Keep it local, Keep it Made in the USA, Keep it Made in Wisconsin!

Yes, it’s that time of year again where all you see on TV and online are BLACK FRIDAY uber sales ads. We’re not here to tell you where to find the cheapest of anything. For us it’s more about supporting the up and comers or the folks who keep jobs in our fine state and contribute to growing our local economy.

Wisconsin is a mighty lucky state because we have a booming bicycling industry. We wouldn’t have such great riding if we didn’t have  Trek, Pacific/Schwinn, Planet Bike, Hayes/Sun Ringle, Fyxation, 1/8th Inch (aka Wheel & Sprocket), and many more cycling companies big and small. The only bummer about those companies is that they don’t do a whole lot of manufacturing within our state. A lot of it is simply either product development, customer service, or sourcing from other countries. (Don’t get me wrong. They are still creating jobs for people, but manufacturing has a long history with our state and it’s sad to see there’s not much of it left.)

Trek’s only actually MADE IN AMERICA bikes are the most expensive Madones, TT bikes, and I think one Domane series. All the rest are manufactured in Taiwan and assembled here. There’s some cloud over people who still believe Trek is able to offer $500 bikes that are made in the USA. WRONG. No company could offer bikes for that cheap (yes, $500 for a bike is considered cheap nowadays, sorry to break it you!) . If they did, they’d go out of business almost immediately. $500 barely covers the cost of steel/aluminum tubing and that’s not even counting the components to get you riding.

Schwinn/Pacific hasn’t been made in the US for YEARS. The days of Chicago made Schwinns are long dead and they were bought up by big box bike supplier Pacific, who also owns Cannondale. I don’t know if any Schwinn is made in the US anymore. Cannondale I think has a few that are.

Moral of the story…research before you buy and before you scoff at the $1500-3000 price range of a custom made bike in the US, know that cost of labor in the US is much greater and the cost of steel/aluminum,titanium tubing as well as sourcing carbon and molding it is SUPER expensive.

On to the point…there are a few companies base here that actually DO manufacture their goods right here in good old Wisco. We like to support them because they develop products, manufacture products, host customer service at their facilities, and are huge supporters of advocacy in our state.

We won’t get into the complete history of the Waterford company, you can find that on their website. They were basically born out of the ashes of the original Schwinn company going bankrupt.

Waterford makes custom steel frames for consumers and Gunnar is the brand they use for production style frames. The company had also been building bikes for Terry Bicycles, the all women’s brand, who later was bought out by another company so gone are the days of a good by women, for women USA designed and built bike. I’m sure Waterford could reproduce something similar to what Terry was asking of them.

Waterford also builds the famous Rivendell frames. The guys at Riv give them the specs and Waterford crafts their sometimes strange, but beautiful designs.

I personally dealt with Richard/Marc while planning for the Saris Gala and they are very generous people who have a great love for what they do and for supporting cycling culture here in Wisconsin.

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Oh how we love Scout Bags! Scout master Seth runs a small, but efficient operation. His web store features a selection of pre-made bag designs, but he’ll gladly work with you on getting something done up in customer colors. I had approached Seth/Scout Bags about getting something sent over for the Saris silent auction and ended up ordering a bag from him. He was so nice and he’s local (Wausau, WI), how could I not have?!

I had my Timbuk 2 swig stolen out of my car last this past summer while out on a training ride and was feeling naked not having a good everyday bag to carry around misc. items. Once I gave my demands Seth quoted me a couple week lead time due to a few orders he was currently fulfilling, which ended up being perfect for me as I earned a commuter incentive that allowed me (Cassadra) to get some money towards the purchase of some commuter goods.

The bag showed up at my office right around the time he had quoted me and I was blown away. The quality is excellent and the size of the bag (the Tomb model) was big enough to lug around a lot of gear, without being TOO huge for my girly frame.

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Selle An-Atomica has been churning out fine leathery goodness since 2007. They have a cult like following for people who were looking for something similar to a Brooks saddle, but with a cut out for the sensitive areas. The beautiful saddles are manufactured right here in good ol’ Wisconsin and are currently on holiday special for $99. For an amazing leather saddle, that’s quite the steal!

That’s all she wrote for now. We’re always on the look out for more made in Wisconsin and Made in the USA products. Send us some of your favorites!