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!

Madison Bike to Work Week

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Saris Freedom- Made in the USA

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A post about the Saris Freedom rack seemed appropriately timed as they currently are running a Fourth of July themed sale. As you can tell from our bio page, we have a pretty tight knit relationship with Saris Cycling Group. Yes, one of us works there and that may make us a little biased. That doesn’t mean we are obligated to do any posts about their product and we wouldn’t if we didn’t like them. Notice we aren’t posting about the Saris Sentinel rack (it leaves some things to be desired).

We’ve had the opportunity to use a few Saris products for an extended period of time. The Bones 2 trunk rack, Bones 3 trunk rack, and the Freedom 2 hitch rack. All 3 products have performed amazingly! The Bones 2 had been used for 3 years until the new black Bones 3 was released. We then said goodbye to the Bones 2 and installed the black beauty in its place.

Over the past year we’ve had the opportunity to take the Freedom 2 bike hitch rack on several trips. It’s been used around town as well as on a couple of long distance trips up to the Twin Cities and northern Wisconsin.

Some of the key features that we love:

-It’s one of the lightest weight tray style racks on the market

-It accommodates step through style and kids bikes (you can fit a very wide variety of bikes on the rack)

-You don’t have to lift the bike high off the ground

-There’s not need to tilt the rack up when not in use, the center column tilts to the side

-When the rack is installed, you still have access to your hatch/trunk

-It fits 1 1/4″ or 2″ hitches

-Easy out of the box assembly

-Cost, it’s one of the cheapest tray style racks out there

-IT’S MADE IN THE USA!!!

BONUS: Saris now makes a recumbent bar for super long wheelbase bikes or recumbents!

There are a few cons we also found on the rack. We want to make sure we’re giving a fair and honest write up.

Some of the things we dislike:

-No ability to add on additional bike holders (Saris has a 4 bike Freedom in the works)

-You sometimes have to lower the seat post or even remove a bottle cage to get 2 adult sized road/mtn bikes to fit properly

-The first time fitting 2 bikes on the rack takes a few minutes to get set up (You have to make sure the wheel trays are in the correct position and the center cradle needs to be lined up to attach to your bike frame)

The list of pro’s outweighs the cons by a lot, which has made this rack one of the Saris’s newest best sellers. If you’re in the market for a new bike rack, we highly recommend it. With the under $200 price point, you can’t really go wrong with a Made in the USA, Made in Wisconsin product. Saris also boasts a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defect. They also try to make all of their racks with easily replaceable parts, should you lose a knob or a strap at any point.

The Freedom is on sale at your local dealer or online at www.saris.com/freedom.

Happy Riding & Happy 4th of July!!!

Madison CycloFemme Photo Dump

We had a fantastic time at the Madison CycloFemme ride. There were 35 riders at the event total. Not bad for our very first one! The event coinciding with Mother’s Day always seems to be a gamble as far as attendance, but we were glad to see over half of the actual RSVP’d women attend.

The weather was in the low to mid 40’s and a bit chilly, but we made it all 18 miles with no issues! Lots of riders were new to the group environment, but seemed to enjoy themselves. It puts smiles on our faces thinking that we have given these women a chance to experience cycling in a fun and social environment.

CycloFemme will hopefully open the door to more events like this and maybe even a recurring Sunday morning monthly ride. We want to thank all the women who came out to the event. It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we hope to see you in the future!

A HUGE thank you goes out to the Froth House and their staff for hosting us. We also want to thank Saris Cycling Group for donating a parking rack for us to use at the event as well as a Bones 3 rack for the raffle. Thank you’s go out to Hoo Ha Ride Glide, Team Luna Chix, and to everyone who helped promote the event.

Last, but not least, we have to thank CycloFemme and Girl Bike Love for creating such an amazing movement to try and get more women on bikes. We’re grateful for the effort and the inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women (who are mamas) in our lives and go ride a bike!