Winter Bike Challenge Kickoff, Nov. 3rd at Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee

After the gorgeous fall weather most of Wisconsin experienced last weekend, it is hard to imagine that Old Man Winter is right around the corner.  Bicycle use is way up since I started riding all year 15 or 20 years ago, but many people still put their bikes away once the flakes begin to fall. To help make the thought of winter commuting more fun and encourage more people to give it a try, read the blog post below by Jason McDowell and the crew from the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective, who are starting a Winter Bike Challenge and are having a kickoff event at Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee. 

Five months…

That’s about the length of time it seems to take Wisconsin winters to wind up and die down. Seasons are officially only three, but if you told any Milwaukeean that winter lasted from November to March, you’d find few who would disagree.

Five months is a long time to be holed up without fresh air. “So many winter activities in Milwaukee focus on being inside that we forget to explore our great parks and neighborhoods,” said Bike Collective volunteer Sam Dodge, “I can only take so much Netflix before I need to strap on my boots, grab my bike, and pedal through some fresh powder.”

Finding motivation to ride a bike in the frigid off-season can be difficult, and maybe even scary, so the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective devised a way to make winter more fun with their premiere Winter Bike Challenge.

1 season. 5 days. 25 selfies.

The Winter Bike Challenge is not about keeping track of the miles you accrue, it’s just about getting out and having fun until your toes get cold, and then you get to go back inside. It is an as-competitive-as-you-want-to-be photo scavanger hunt that sets forth 25 mini-challenges to be accomplished between the months of November and March. The rules are simple: Pick up a Challenge Board, take a picture with your bike in interesting places around the city, and tag them on your favorite social media account.  The Challenge Board with official rules will be distributed at the kickoff event at Great Lakes Distillery on November 3rd.

It’s easier to get out and about when there is someone to encourage you through friendly competition. “I’m looking forward to meeting up with people who are interested in the same things I am,” said volunteer Ben Calvopina. “During the long winters I feel isolated but this event gives me something active to do and should provide some good laughs with cool people.”

Volunteer Brett Coalmer agreed: “It will be nice having a fun reason to overcome my self-created barriers to biking in cold/inclement weather.”

At the end of the Challenge, participants who stick every selfie to their social network will be entered into a drawing to win an exclusive Winter Bike Challenge mid-weight cycling jacket. The design will only be available this year. If you are not chosen among the winners, but still want a trophy to prove your mettle, there will be an opportunity to get the jacket at normal price. Underlined but: you must have completed the Challenge Board.

Sounds fun. How do I start?

Join the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective for the kickoff on November 3rd from 6:30-9:00 at Great Lakes Distillery, located at 616 W. Virginia Street in Walker’s Point. Participants can pick up the Challenge Board, the annual Winter Bike sticker, and a winter survival guide. Additionally, there will be drink specials, a chat with other challengers, and special guests teaching how to properly layer up to fight the cold, and take care of your bike in snowy, icy and salty conditions.

“I like biking through the winter, but the weather does present some challenges.  I expect the Winter Bike Challenge will help make my winter riding experience more fun while adding an extra incentive to keep riding through conditions that might otherwise have me staying at home,” said volunteer Alex Snyder. “We hope participants will be surprised at what they can discover about themselves with a few new friends and a little extra motivation.”

Get more details about the event here on the Bike Collective website  or RSVP on Facebook.

Support the event

This event is made possible by the wonderful people at Rebel Converting and Bike Fed board member, Attorney Daniel E. Goldberg of Both are steller cycling supporters. If your company also likes cycling, and is interested in sponsoring the event, you can email the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective at Sponsorship includes 5-months of social activity and advertising, a logo on the jacket, a spot on the challenge board and much more.

Thanks to Jason for sharing Milwaukee Bike Winter plans. If your community is having doing anything special to help more people pedal through winter, email me a 300-500 word description of your plans, include an image and the Bike Fed would be happy to publish it on our blog. – Dave Schlabowske

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.

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