¡Que Viva el Día de los Muertos!


¡Que celebración!

In the Bike Fed’s first featured ride going into the cold season, our staff, volunteers and calavera painted attendees made this a hugely successful fundraiser. Some 75 riders (with Madison Police Department escorts) took to the streets in a bike procession that would celebrate life and death and the rich contributions to Wisconsin from the Hispanic community. This Day of the Dead Ride along with the Polish Moon Ride, are the Bike Fed’s first efforts to organize some signature FUNdraising rides in Wisconsin. Look for a couple additional new rides in 2015 too.

Our recipe for our new rides will continue to build on the unique rides with fun themes that made the Polish Moon and Day of the Dead successful. For the Day of the Dead Ride, we banked on families and a diverse community coming out for the calavera face paint, two bands, cargo bikes carrying a tuba player among other great instrumentalists and great food from Colectivo and Tamaleria el Poblano (and other great restaurants on East Main Street).

A lively trio of guitars that make up Mariachi Corcel (thanks to The Alvarado Group for helping make this possible) greeted registrants for an hour of registering for the ride, getting face paint ready, enjoying some food and drink and then embarking on a 9-mile tour of Madison, with Day of the Dead themed stops along the way. Thanks to the police escort, kids and parents parents alike were given the chance to feel the freedom of strength in numbers and generally open streets during a bustling Saturday afternoon ride. All the while, a quartet from Forward! Marching Band played while riding on cargo bikes, brought smiles to their faces and those that heard and saw the group ride pass by neighborhoods, parks, the zoo, and around the capital square. Photos of this joy are available to enjoy thanks to our recumbent bike/trike ambassador and generous Bike Fed photographer, Darryl Jordan.

From the square we took in a view of lake Mendota from the top of Wisconsin Avenue at Langdon and circled around State Street’s Freakfest as it setup for an evening of more bikes, music and a Halloween revelry. From there to the South West Trail, riders were helped to pause traffic to get the group into Forest Hill Cemetery and the loop around to Edgewood College and the art exhibit “La Vida y los Muertos” where many could see the footage of Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca, Mexico and take in community made altars.

Musicians and cargo bikes were asked to lead from Edgewood for the last few miles of our ride, now feeling fully ready to set the pace with more confidence playing their instruments while also riding on the back of cargo bikes! Passing by the zoo, Monona Bay, Brittingham park and up the West Main street bike boulevard, we returned to Colectivo and our outdoors start and finish to enjoy more food, drink (Atol!) and many specials in the neighborhood by nearby restaurants.
For next year, we hope to have more ride marshals throughout the group and to have our musicians set the pace for the entire ride, more time for face painting before the ride, an official after party for people to continue to get to know each other and enjoy the magic of the Day of the Dead. Below are the organizers’ reflections on the inaugural ride. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comment sections below for ways we can improve the 2015 Day of the Dean Ride.
The date: We were lucky to have beautiful weather, but the day can be cold and rainy. Still, the date for next year will revolve around a continued partnerships with community groups who organize city-wide Day of the Dead festivities.
The route: Participants pedaled 9 miles in an hour and a half, which seemed just right given the number of people with kids. I think we will keep the distance the same or allow a split so some people can go the longer route and others the shorter route.

The time: The timing of this ride seemed quite good though we may consider starting the ride a bit earlier.

The music: Mariachi beforehand and marching band during the ride worked great, but we’re open to more recomendations! I would love to have one or more accordions on the ride. I could imagine 2-3 accordion players on the ride given how long the group is.

Capped registration: Emphasis must stay on the fun, not the funds. Lots of folks told us they see huge potential for this kind of ride. Just as the Polish Moon Ride, I think we will cap the ride at 450 or 500 and see how that goes. Priority registration to Bike Fed members partner organizations around the Day of the Dead theme will come first and then fill up with others!

Community involvement: Organizing this ride strengthened many relationships with community groups and promises of increased support and interest in increased community involvement. We can continue to tie this into the Walk or Wheel Challenge as well as families involved in Fire Up Your Feet as a celebration of the end of these events. We are also meeting with the organizers from UW and Edgewood student populations to coordinate with them.

Additional Business Involvement: Let us know how to get more businesses involved in bringing more layers to the celebration! Costume stores for art supplies and activities? Groceries to highlight authentic Hispanic foods that they are putting on their shelves from local vendors?!

See you next year on Madison’s Day of the Dead Ride!

And let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions on how we can improve the ride next year.

Thanks again to Darryl Jordan for all the great photos. You can see more of Darryl’s images at the Bike Fed’s Photoshelter site.


3 thoughts on “¡Que Viva el Día de los Muertos!

  1. Maybe consider starting/ending the ride in the cemetery? That would really get to the core of what the Day of the Dead is all about–communing with those souls who are no longer with us, letting them know they are not forgotten.

  2. Really glad we stopped at the art exhibit at Edgewood. Some of those memorials were quite touching.

    I would definitely volunteer to haul a musician on the ride next year.

  3. This ride ROCKED – so full of win! Love this direction the Bike Fed is going in.

    I wonder if, in pricing events like this, The Bike Fed can create opportunities to reward and incentivize membership more. If there’s a substantial member discount, 1) the Bike Fed may register more new members at the events; 2) it may help grow membership generally, if people think “look, if I do 2 or 3 paid Bike Fed events a year, my membership pays for itself in event discounts.”

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