Wisconsin Bicycling Hall of Fame: Phil Van Valkenberg, Advocacy 2017

Phil Van Valkenberg has undoubtedly contributed more to the growth of bicycle tourism in the Wisconsin than anyone else. In 1974, his “Wisconsin Bike Trips, Twenty Tours for Young and Old”, was the state’s first modern tourism guide for bicyclists.

Since then he has produced eight privately published books on bicycling in Wisconsin and the Midwest and seven editions of the Wisconsin Biking Guide for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. In 1981 he developed a computer program to evaluate the suitability of Wisconsin roadways for shared bicycle and motor vehicle use, laying the foundation the system used to create our popular state bike maps today.

Beyond his guidebooks and maps, Van Valkenberg organized a number of iconic races and rides that still attract thousands of tourists to Wisconsin each year. He helped organize the first Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in 1983, which is the now the second longest running mountain bike race in the country.

In 1985 he started the Fat Tire Tour of Milwaukee and later the Steel is Real Ride. Still run by Trail Genius, the rides attract a diverse group of people and are considered annual bucket-list urban rides attracting hundreds of cyclists from a wide range of abilities.