Long Live RAW, 2016 Ride Across Wisconsin Update

Pure Wisconsin

Based on the overwhelmingly positive comments, RAW 2016 will use the same route (with a couple minor changes) and be on the same weekend, Aug. 26th-28th. The big news is that we will be offering a tw0-day option with an overnight stay in Beloit. Our model for this ride was the Seattle to Portland Ride. STP raises money and grows membership for the Cascade Bicycle Club, and it sells out 10,000, with 2,700 people choosing the one-day option and the rest riding over two days.

Beloit hit it out of the park with their rest stop, so we are confident they can throw a good mid-ride party that night too. We are only in the very early talks with Visit Beloit and the Stateline Spinners, so look for more details in the coming weeks.

We want RAW to get huge too, but we are capping registration at 1,200 next year so we don’t experience to many growing pains. The main reason we started RAW was to create an epic, fun ride that promotes our great state of Wisconsin, but we also want to raise unrestricted revenue for bicycle advocacy and grow our membership so we have more political muscle. We are confident we can do that, but we are wary of taking on too much too quickly.

Oh what a feeling to finally cross that line!

This year we issued 492 bib numbers and only sagged 8 riders. That is a testimony to everyone who signed up having grit, but also to our great ride support and a fabulous route that gets easier as you get closer to the finish. With our inaugural RAW in the books and still getting rave reviews, people are clamoring for information about next year.

We won’t fix what isn’t broken, so for at least one more year, RAW will begin in Dubuque and follow scenic, low traffic roads 175 miles to Kenosha. Next year the track will be done being resurfaced, so as we ride past the Washington Park Velodrome, riders will be encouraged to take a ceremonial lap around the “Kenosha Bowl,” which opened in 1927, and after 89 years, it is the oldest operating velodrome in the country.

The start line at 6:25 am in Dubuque. Next year we will start half an hour or an hour earlier since so many people were ready to roll by 6am. Photo by Peter DiAntoni

We are starting in Dubuque, because we need a start location with plenty of hotel rooms and the route across the southern part of the state is shorter. There are just over 13 hours of daylight at the end of August, which should allow most riders to finish with daylight, but please bring lights! We will have law enforcement support, but all riders are expected to follow the rules of the road at all times. Anyone caught violating will be disqualified.

We are in early planning stages for the 2017 RAW and we already have interest from La Crosse about hosting the start for the two years from now Ride Across Wisconsin.  Given this is only our second year and the ride is sure to grow exponentially, we are keeping the route the same to reduce logistical changes.

We won’t know which famous cycling celebrity athletes will join us next year, but Trek Factory Racing has promised to bring some big names again. Jens did say he looks forward to coming back, but we won’t know his schedule for a while either. Fingers crossed on the Jensie…

Jens and some Trek employees ride past a pastoral Wisconsin scene east of Walworth.

Although most everything went well, we did learn a few things and will make the following changes for 2016:

  • PDF rider checklist with important event details, times and locations that can be downloaded and printed early

  • Because of the registration cap, we will offer advance registration for Founders who signed up for RAW this year, then Bike Fed members, then general public. We will send an email to Founders and members when the online registration is open.

  • Advance packet pickup

  • Have food available prior to loading motor coaches Friday at Kennedy Park in Kenosha

  • Add additional merchandise such as a RAW t-shirt, socks, hat, perhaps a backpack, etc.

  • Move the start location to Main Street to be closer to the hotels in downtown Dubuque

  • Earlier start, 5:30am instead of 6:30am

  • Keep packet pickup open during the presentation in the Five Flags Theater

  • Offer a bag pick-up at RAW hotels

  • Offer a bag drop in Beloit for one-day riders who want to change clothes partway through the ride

  • Advance warning about rest stops on route: “Rest Stop 1 Mile”

  • More bathrooms at early rest stops

  • Better distribution of food, example: Beloit ran out of protein for the last groups but had lots of vegi wraps left and Monroe had too many turkey wraps

  • Provide official alternate route for follow vehicles to reduce traffic by riders

People have been asking if they can purchase the RAW t-shirts the volunteers were wearing, so we are taking orders until November 1st, when we will have them printed and ship them.

If you didn’t purchase your limited RAW Founder’s jersey and bib short, please place your order before October 1st when the Borah Teamwear Ride Across Wisconsin store closes. We will have a new kit for 2016, along with other RAW merchandise. We are also now selling RAW t-shirts on the Bike Fed’s online store until November 1st. The t-shirts are tech-Ts, made of a wicking fabric. The fit is loose rather than body conscious.

Finally, we want to thank everyone again, beginning with RAW the Founders who took a leap of faith and signed up to ride when we had so few details. We also need to thank our sponsors who supported a new event with little guarantee they would get positive press. Of course we also want to thank everyone who helped make the day a success, from individuals, to the groups like the Stateline Spinners, Team VeloCause (many of whom worked rest stops when they would rather have been riding), the members of the UW Whitewater Cycling Team, The members of IMBA’s Wisconsin Mountain Patrol (who even went back at night to find a lost wedding ring), the host communities (particularly Dubuque, Beloit and Kenosha) and of course, the hard working crew from Wheel & Sprocket. You all worked extremely long days and everyone, paid or unpaid, went above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you all!

Stop when you get to Lake Michigan! Photo by Jeffrey Phelps

Thanks again to all our 2015 sponsors.

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.

15 thoughts on “Long Live RAW, 2016 Ride Across Wisconsin Update

  1. If you really want to include a broader spectrum of bicyclists, you would consider having a FOUR or FIVE day option. Some of us, probably a majority of bicyclists, are not into endurance cycling. Riding at a leisurely pace for part of a day and enjoying the sights and businesses of host communities along the way might be an option for families and others who just like to bike to get from one place to another. It might be worth looking into for 2017 to see how much interest there is. While I suppose racing, endurance, and fitness bicyclists might be more prone to be activists, a lot of bicyclists don’t measure their love of cycling by most miles covered, most hills climbed, most gallons sweated. Doing a slower ride including some of our great bike trails (which would fit nicely with a start from La Crosse) might pull in a more diverse biking population.

    • Cathy, the Bike Fed went from no rides two years ago to now having two major rides in our stable: the family friendly Polish Moon Ride and the Ride Across Wisconsin on the other end of the spectrum. We added those specific rides first because even in a state with 400 rides and even more races, there were no other rides like them. We do plan to add a couple more Bike Fed rides to fill in the middle. A multi-day ride like you describe is one idea, but there are many such rides already, so ours would need to have a different spin.

  2. Would you consider offering transportation from the finish back to the start town? I live in Dubuque and was unable to do the ride in 2015 because I couldn’t get back to Dubuque when I finished.

    • Hi Eric,

      We did offer that this year through Shuttleguy. About 8 people took his shuttle back to Dubuque. We will certainly do the same in 2016.

  3. Is the still a chance that you will make an unofficial furnishing list of the 2015 RAW ride? I am very curious about knowing some of the riders I rode with. I most certainly will attend next years ride and after having come solo to the event this year, I would like to hook up with some of my riding partners for the 2016 edition. Thanks for putting on a great event.

    • Hi Stephen,

      We will be publishing a suggested training program soon through Peak Performance Professionals. This summer we will also have a training weekend in Hazel Green so people can test their legs on the actual hills of the course a month or so before RAW. Stay tuned for details on both. We will email everyone who is signed up and share that on social media.

  4. Thank you for putting on a great ride this year. There were many positive aspects of the ride that will be fondly remembered. HOWEVER, we rode the two day ride and on day 2 were not permitted to ride a lap on the velodrome. What a disappointment. The T-shirts I purchased all say 175 miles and one lap. So now that is not true. That was a major selling point for the ride and went unfulfilled.
    Also, we were lead to believe that we would get a beer stein again like last year. This too was a disappointment. The glass mugs were far from the cool steins of last year.
    The ride was expensive and I do not think I will ride next year unless more accurate advertising of the ride is carried out.

  5. #702 ….Enjoyed the ride this year 2016. Volunteers did an awesome job. If I had one negative thing to say. The Jensi Pasta feed needs work. Whenever you have a buffet setup that’s $25.00, the food better be exceptional. When I sat down to eat; my chicken was raw in the middle!! Then getting this small plate of salad was bland. One choice of dressing, and a bottled water. It’s no wonder why half the riders deferred to eat elsewhere.

    • Thanks for the feedback Jon. We struggled with that dinner. Originally it was going to be a farm to table meal, like our catered lunch, but the price, with the cost of the room put it at $50+ our cost! So we scrapped that and tried to keep the cost down. We didn’t make any money on that dinner, it only just paid for itself and the room.

      One idea we had was to return the Jens Q&A to the really cool vintage theater next door. It only seats around 700 people, so not everyone could get in, but maybe that is OK. The first 700 people to sign up get tickets to the Q&A, but everyone gets to ride with Jens and the Trek Segafredo pros the next day.

      What do you think?

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