Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bike Milwaukee

Every year at this time, young and old alike are looking forward to warmer weather, longer days, and an opportunity to get the bikes out again.  It's the start of bike racing season, as well as recreational rides.  The latest edition of Milwaukee magazine has a feature story about biking that will get you all pumped up.

Wheel & Sprocket puts on a Bike Expo in April every year that is to me the "season opener" for all things bike in Milwaukee.  This year there are seminars on everything you ever wanted to know about riding a bike, no matter what level rider you are.  Learn how to wash your bike, change a flat tire, be inspired to bike more, and find out about the new trail updates.  Of course, there will be a host of vendors and speakers available to answer all your questions.  This is held at State Fair Park April 10-12 and admission is free.  If you have a bike you'd like to get rid of, bring it with you and trade it in for something you like better.  You may never see the selection they bring out for this huge event.  There are truckloads of bikes delivered!

We have a lot of options when it comes to recreational bicycling in Milwaukee.  The Oak Leaf Trail includes more than 100 miles of paved routes through the city- some off road, some on. There is a brand new color map of Milwaukee which includes bike routes and trail links that was put together for the Park People, which will be included in the Oak Leaf Discovery Tour passport this year. Cost for the passport is only $5.  If you haven't done the discovery tour yet, this is a great way to bike from park to park so you'll see more of Milwaukee.  The new map includes places to stop for food and drink.  There is a new KK River corridor mapped out too.  Participate in the passport stamping all summer long and then join the party in fall where you can win valuable prizes to celebrate the parks.  Volunteers from Park People will be at the Bike Expo, but you can contact them directly to get a map or even bulk orders for a reduced price.

Even if you don't own a bike, you can use one for a few hours or more.  Hotel Metro guests have some available for use while they stay in Milwaukee.  You'll also notice bike kiosks about town where you can borrow a Bublr bike using your credit card. $3 will get you a single 30 minute ride from point A to B, and $3 per additional 30 minutes, so ideally you'd bike from one Bublr rack to another where you can pick up another bike once you've enjoyed whatever is in that locale.  They offer another option called Bublr pass. Pay $15 per month for unlimited 60 minute rides.  You can download their app which shows you the location of all the bike racks.
Milwaukee Bike & Skate has multi person bikes and hybrid mountain bikes available to rent by the half hour, and they are open Memorial Day to Labor Day at the Lakefront in Veterans Park. Many of the local bike shops rent bikes, including tandems, so the best place to shop around is through this Yelp link.  The locations are mapped and include addresses and phone numbers so you can call to talk about your specific needs.  

Milwaukee Bikes is an app from Wheel & Sprocket, you can download for your smartphone which includes Oak Leaf Discovery Tour maps, local safety information, and basic biking tips.  

The Wisconsin Bike Fed is a great place for additional information about anything bike related.  You can get a copy of the 2015 Ride Guide through them which includes many of the organized bike rides through the region.  They also have a Facebook page and an event link which is searchable by zip code.  

Maybe you like films and bikes?  Join the Milwaukee Bicycle Community for bike-in movie nights.  During winter, the movies are indoors, but during summer and fall, you can see movies at the Swing Park under the Holton Street viaduct.  This is a social group which includes a variety of other meet ups too.  

Do you have a passion for biking but need some encouragement?  Join a weekly bike ride from one of the local bike shops. Most have some kind of weekly ride so go to the bike shop nearest you and ask or try one of these.  Erik's Rider's Club has a variety of options.   South Shore Cyclery has an event calendar which includes their own rides as well as others. Cream City Cycling organizes rides for all abilities.  Group Ride is a website that has the entire US included and you can search for rides using zip code so if you travel with your bike, or enjoy doing that on vacation, you can find friends. 

Now you have plenty of places to find a bike, ride a bike, and meet up with others.  The motivation will have to come from you.  Enjoy your ride!
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