Bicycle Underground Update

This week I have a few big and a few small underground bicycle events to promote around Milwaukee and Madison.  I remain hopeful that I can get advance notice of some other events going on around the rest of the state.  If you have a cool, non-traditional ride planned for the upcoming week that I did not mention, let us all know via the comments below.  If you have something planned a bit further out, send me the low down via email to dave.schlabowske (at)

I don’t have hard and fast rules about what constitutes an underground ride, but I can give you some guidelines.  The ride should not be a club typical century or weekly training ride.  Those rides are awesome, but we already list those on the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin calendar and events page here.  The ride should ideally be something a bit different.

First on the list is tonight’s (Thursday, 7/28) “Girly Ride” in Madison.  This social ride has been going on since the early 90s.  People begin gathering around 9pm by Williamson Bicycle Works on West Washington.  The ride leaves closer to 9:30 for a conversationally paced pedal around Lake Monona, approximately 13 miles. People are encouraged to bring a helmet, lights and a beer to share.

Also tonight is the MKEBKE monthly group ride in Milwaukee.  This regular social ride will have a bit of a different focus from usual . With the Riverwest24 starting just under 24 hours later, the ‘format’ of the ride will be a little more relaxed this month. Riders should meet at 9pm at the Riverhorse on Center and Pierce, right at the start/finish line of the Riverwest24. The ride will just be practice laps passing all four checkpoints for the RW24, so ride at your own comfortable pace, whether by yourself or with others. Come and go as you please, and save up some energy for the long weekend ahead.

Moving west about 90 miles to Middleton is the Capital Brewery Cycling Club Thursday (Saturday and Tuesday too) ride. All rides begin and end at Capital Brewery and many of the routes are detailed on their cycling club website. Tuesday and Thursday rides start  at 6:00pm. The club partners with Trek who provides sag support on the evening rides. Saturday rides depart at 9:30am.  Tuesday and Thursday rides are about 20 miles, unless you ride the Short Pour Tour, which is a 10 mile route on the Pheasant Branch/US Hwy 12 bike path. Saturday ride distances vary, ranging from 40-60 miles.

Next up is the Madison Critical Mass Ride, which happens on the last Friday of every month, no matter the weather.  Interested riders should meet at 5:30 pm where West Washington where it meets Capitol Square.  Where the ride goes after that is decided by whoever shows up. Critical Mass is a celebration of cycling as transportation that emphasizes bicycles as a mode of transportation. Why?  Have a blast sharing the road with people who love bicycling. Experience the Joy of socializing in the invigorating space created by human-powered transportation. Hook up with folks interested in making our city streets more people friendly.

This Friday at 7pm is the annual start of the now famous Riverwest 24 Bike Race.  The RW 24 is a true 24 hour bike race through the streets of Milwaukee’s wonderfully diverse Riverwest neighborhood.

Me after my shift last year. I found a quiet chunk of gutter at the end of my shift to take a short break. This photo is by David Bernacchi.

Riders can enter a variety of categories in either as teams of different sizes or ride solo.  You can ride hard and race to win or ride slow and enjoy the vibe.  The event started to help strengthen the sense of community in Riverwest and encourage cycling in an urban environment.  It is impossible to describe how cool this is.  You can certainly get a feel for it reading about my experience last year, but the only way to really get it is to go there.  Whether you race, ride, volunteer or just watch, you owe it to yourself to see this powerful and fun event.

Last, but most definitely not least is Saturday’s  the Tour de Fat in Humboldt Park in the Bay View neighborhood on Milwaukee’s south side. A total carnival of all things fun you can do with bicycles (and beer).  The TdF is a family friendly event from the costumed bike parade (registration at 9am) to the closing performance by the powerful and hilarious Mucca Pazza.  In between are tons of other great performance artists from high wire to bands.  You can get a feel for it by reading my coverage of last year’s TdF here.

The highlight of the day is when a person trades a car for a custom bicycle.  They are still looking for a volunteer to go car-free, so take the plunge.  Post a short video, photo with text or written word on their Facebook and you could win a $3,00 custom bike. The event raises money for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, so I will be there helping to set up Friday and all day Saturday.  If you didn’t get in to the RW 24, come on down and spend the day. Watch wonderful Mucca Pazza below.


Remember, if I missed something going on in your hood, let me know via comments below.  I will add it if I have time before the event.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

2 thoughts on “Bicycle Underground Update

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *