RW24: It's Gush Time!

Photo by Peter D'Antoni


So much of life is spent in keeping other people out of it.  Private rooms and houses, private clubs and offices, private roads and beaches–with all of them the point is the same–“This isn’t your property.  It’s mine.  Keep out!”  Does this apply to you and your world?  A person is as big as the circle he draws around himself.
A few people are too small to draw a circle larger than themselves.  Most go a little further and include their families.  Still others draw the line at the edges of their own social group or political party, their own race or color, their own religion or nation.
When a man draws a circle to shut out his brother, he does less damage to his brother than he does to himself.  He puts himself in solitary confinement and he locks the door from the inside.  He denies himself the niches of other men’s experience.  He starves his own mind, hardens his own heart.
The smaller the circle, the smaller the man.  A strong man is not afraid of people different from himself, and a wise man welcomes them.

-Author unknown
Taken from the Outward Bound
Readings book

If my love for Milwaukee wasn’t concrete before Riverwest24 this past weekend, it certainly is now.  Back in May, I wrote about this amazing community event, that just happens to include biking, when my husband and I signed our team up (see Team 242 Must Be Lucky).

Mid day last Friday, most of our team–minus our rock star, Dan, congregated on the East side of Madison to make our pilgrimage to the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee.  On our drive, we were treated to torrential downpours that got me thinking we’d be hovering in the garage versus riding for the first few hours.  But as I mentioned before in my first post about our team, luck was on our side and the sky turned blue fifteen minutes before we hit our destination.

Upon arrival, we had less than 90 minutes to unload our essentials (bikes, beer, food and more beer) at our homebase, Garage 707, sign waivers, eat dinner and get down to the start/finish line for announcements and our first leg.  I can’t begin to explain the efficiency and organization of everyone involved from the race organizers and volunteers to our team and amazing hosts.  Much to my amazement, about 270 teams got started just two minutes past the posted start time of 7pm.  No pushing or shoving, just smiles and elation!

As someone that puts on cycling events, I was utterly baffled by how the organizers pulled this thing off without making a penny.  The dediction they show towards the community and it’s guests is so overwhelming that at times I felt all gushy inside.  To do something like this, without hardly any incidents, is one of the most mind blowing feats I’ve ever seen.  I can only hope other communities around the world use RW24 as a model to bring their residents together.

I’m not normally this sappy–although a few of the guys I ride with might disagree–but I can’t write another paragraph without first thanking our team, Church of the Spoken Wheel, as well as Claudine and Dan for letting two teams crash in their garage.  For about 30 hours, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.  That’s saying a lot since most of us were running on zero sleep, whacky blood sugar levels, dehydration–unless you count beer and espresso shots, and physical fatigue.  Everyone was happy.  Everyone was having a great time and no one was complaining.  We even teamed up with the Garage 707 team to cap off both of our last manifests and we toasted to “next year” with a round of Hamm’s.

Since full trains of thought are damn near impossible in these conditions, I thought I would end with some highlights for me from the race.

-Seeing friends from Madison, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis all in one place to celebrate what living is really about.
-Getting to know information on my teammates at 3am over beer that may incriminate them at a later time.
-Realizing that all of us, even though we’re in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, can still keep up with the twenty-somethings (at least we like to think so).
-Riding to the top of Brewer’s Hill and watching the moon rise over downtown and the river.
-Watching the sun rise at the top of the same hill.
-Meandering over to other yards to kick back and hear how other teams were doing.
-Hearing my name yelled out on my laps and yelling out to cheer on others.
-Having a sense that although some teams were competing to win, in the end, we were all a part of the same team and most of us were there for the same reason.
-Preparing for my last leg and having a teammate pump me up with my favorite Metermaids song.
-Knowing that next year, it will be even better.

*I want to thank my team, the entire Garage 707 crew and every person that donated time and energy into pulling this party on wheels off.  Vive le RW24!

About Kierstin Kloeckner, Bike Fed Board Member

Kierstin is a personal trainer who lives and bikes in Madison and a board member for the Bike Fed. She writes guest posts for us here, but you can read more of her thoughts on how cycling fits into her life at her personal blog Two Wheels From Home

Leave a Reply

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