Wisconsin has a long tradition of bicycle racing. Super Week has been an internationally known race series for decades. The Kenosha Velodrome is the oldest operating velodrome in the country. The Wisconsin Off Road Series in the nation’s largest state mountain biking series. The WCA Crank Daddy’s Cyclo-cross Series is the largest in the country. Only running since 2009, the Tour of American’s Dairyland already attracts more racers than any other competitive road cycling event in North America.
The Wisconsin Cycling Association is the state’s only USA Cycling sanctioning body and is one of 33 similar USA Cycling Local Associations in the country. In fact, the board of directors for WCA must include the district representative for USA Cycling. Through their ties with the national organization, the WCA helps create a level playing field for racers across the country and provides bicycle racing teams and organizers with important resources such as event insurance, coaching liability insurance, and race officials.
On Sunday, October 16th WCA had its annual banquet. Each year the state racing community gets together to celebrate the a great season of competition and toast the winners in each category, from Juniors to Masters, in the presentation of the Wisconsin Cup & Track awards.
It was an honor when I received a call in early September to speak to the guests at the WCA banquet. The WCA community has been in my mind and heart since the death last year of Jeff Littman who at the time was the organization’s president. The Bike Fed has heard from and received tremendous support from those who knew and loved Jeff. In Jeff’s memory and with the future of cycling ever in mind, we are working day in and day out to make our roads safer and more accessible for everyone.
It was a pleasure to meet some old and several new friends at the banquet. It was no surprise that all of them care deeply about Wisconsin bicycling. My talk centered on many of the Bike Fed’s programs, in particular our Share & Be Aware campaign and our highest legislative priorities including the Vulnerable User’s statute.
Bicycling is an important part of Wisconsin, from our world-class manufacturing industry to the money brought in through tourism and our long heritage of racing, it keeps more than 13,000 people employed and returns $1.5 billion to our state economy. While the financial impact of cycling is important to remember in this economy, the real reason we all ride is for the love of it. Bicycling is part and parcel one of the things that makes Wisconsin a great place to live and visit, as much as it is an integral part of the lives of all of us who define ourselves as “cyclists.”
Whether you are a professional cyclist, a weekend warrior, a daily commuter or a recreational trail user, all of our lives are better for our experiences on two wheels. While we all have our shared love of cycling in common, bicycle racing uses one of the most elegantly efficient machines ever devised to distill that experience to its most basic elements and expose both our human strengths and frailties. Immediate pain and suffering must be weighed against a future goal and our personal gain sacrificed for the greater good of the team. In that process, we make friends, become healthier and grow a community.
Bicycle racing in Wisconsin remains strong in large part due to the efforts of the WCA and all its members, officials, coaches, organizers and teams. Thanks to WCA and the state’s large racing community for all that you do to make Wisconsin bicycling great and Wisconsin a better place to live.