While not everyone will have the goal of riding across Wisconsin, the ability to bicycle safely is integral to a livable community.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed is grateful to AARP for their sponsorship of Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW) as part of their Livable Communities outreach throughout the state. While not everyone will have the goal of riding across Wisconsin, the ability to bicycle safely is integral to a livable community. In too many communities, it can be impossible to get around if you don’t have a car. In too many communities, sidewalks are few and far between. For too many years, transportation policies have mostly served people using fast-moving vehicles rather than public transit, bicycles or their own two feet. But a street that’s safe for a 70-year-old to cross to shop is safe for a 7-year-old walking to school. Complete, smartly planned streets and transportation options are great for people of all ages.
This year, 58% of the cyclists riding the epic 225 mile Ride Across Wisconsin are between the ages of 50 and 80! RAW participant – and AARP member – Mark Green (65) is riding RAW for the first time with his daughter Nicole. They rode their first century together five years ago and found that was just the start of their shared cycling adventures. Says Green, “ Like any other challenge, once it is accomplished you will start to look for the next achievement. Some people are already conditioned for rides like RAW, but we have been training consistently and building our way up to it. Anybody, no matter their age can achieve anything they commit to and train for.”
Green attributes the popularity of RAW with riders over 50 to the overall increase of bike riders in general. He participates in weekly rides with local bike shops and there are many riders over 50. Green says, “Many of us are looking for an enjoyable way to stay physically fit and we enjoy the sense of accomplishment and the social aspect”
The Bike Fed asked Mark Green:
What inspired you to register for the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s 2021 Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW)?
Several years ago, Nicole and I read about RAW in the Bike Fed Ride Guide and thought it would be fun but didn’t truly consider it until it moved to the middle of the state. Since it is a little closer to home, we were moved to participate. In 2019 we volunteered at the rest stop in Black Creek to observe the activity and see if we could gain some insight from the riders. After talking to many riders that year and hearing their excitement, we signed up early in 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic erased the event last year but gave us extra time to prepare and we are extremely excited to participate this year.
How have you and your daughter been training for the 2021 RAW?
Last year we continued to train as if the ride were taking place, now we feel confident we can complete the ride. With every weekend free last year, we biked more than we have ever biked before. We even completed three century rides completely on our own, packing our own nutrition and stopping at gas stations to replenish water. This year we have been biking as much as our schedules allow. So far, we have completed one century and try to consistently increase the length of our training rides. We are aiming for two more centuries in the next two weekends with slightly shorter rides on adjacent days.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
Riding together with my daughter Nicole and ending the ride as a team. I am also excited to have Stefanie, my other daughter, drive along the way to share the excitement and meet us at the finish line. We look forward to the comradery with all the other riders and sharing the adventure along the way.
Ride Across Wisconsin is a fundraiser for the Wisconsin Bike Fed. The Bike Fed and AARP have the shared goal of creating more liveable communities. The formula for what makes a community livable isn’t particularly complex. For the most part, the features and needs are fairly simple. In a livable community, people of all ages can go for a walk, cross the streets, ride a bike, get around without a car, live safely and comfortably, work or volunteer, enjoy public places, socialize, spend time outdoors, be entertained, go shopping, buy healthy food, find the services they need—and make their city, town or neighborhood a lifelong home.
If you are interested in Riding Across Wisconsin – but aren’t ready for the challenge this year – be like Mark and Nicole Green and sign up to volunteer here!
Or, new this year, you can ride across Wisconsin on your e-bike! Just let us know you are riding an ebike when you register and we will provide charging stations and/or battery swaps along the route. The Bike Fed and AARP recognize that e-bikes provide new opportunities for people of all ages to get out on a bike for pleasure, to commute to work, or to run errands around town. Or to do something epic like Ride Across Wisconsin!