24 Hour Pedal Party

 I need to get in shape. On a pleasant spring afternoon I rode with Paul Kjelland and Mike McGarry, two of the event organizers of RW24, along the route of the upcoming 24-hour Riverwest bike race. They wanted to check for potential kinks and checkpoint changes. Mike, whose baseball cap proclaims “Kick Butt!” is kind enough to lend me one of his bikes, a 1970’s ten speed called Falcon. The route is a criss-cross tour of Riverwest. It starts from the middle, near Center Street, heads north almost as far as Capitol, and then shoots south to the Beerline. There are five checkpoints scattered throughout. The race will begin at 7PM on Friday, July 25 and end at 7PM, Saturday, July 26. The team in each category with the most laps wins. Our Tour de Riverwest took thirty or forty minutes, although we weren’t burning rubber. Especially me. The RW24 started more or less as bar talk between Kjelland, McGarry, Chris Fons and Jeremy Prach (see Neighbor Spotlight, page 6). It has evolved into what Kjelland calls “…an opportunity to create an event everyone can participate in.” “Challenges” will be thrown down to make the race more interesting. Teams will score extra points if they participate in the challenges, many of which will involve Riverwest businesses. Several block watch groups will also be celebrating the race with block parties. There are four different classes, each with a different tone. “We are trying not to make it an elitist bike race,” Kjelland explains. The classes are: Solo (one rider on the same bike for entire race), Tandem (two riders on a tandem bike for entire race), “Team A” (up to six riders sharing one bicycle), and “Team B” (up to six riders with any number of bicycles). There will be a trophy and prizes in all classes. You must get a “manifest” punched at each checkpoint, and the checkpoints must be completed in order. A completed manifest equals one lap. All of this is being recorded for the ages. A crew of film-makers has been following everyone involved with the event since their first meeting. Joseph Strand is one of the filmmakers working on the documentary, and he explains why he thinks the RW24 saga will look good on film. “There is conflict and success, and it makes a good, cohesive story. I immediately liked the home roots aspect of it. I’ve seen very successful events start like this, and I think the community has responded really well.” Here are some things to keep in mind, from the race organizers: -Forms are on the website – There is a $15 fee to sign up, but this includes a T-shirt, water bottle, a voucher for a spaghetti dinner at the Riverwest Co-op and pancake breakfast at St. Casimir. -You must be 18 or over to be in the race, due to curfew and liability. -Helmets are not required but strongly suggested! -Lights will be required after dark hours. -Although there is no way for the Riverwest 24 to enforce traffic laws, the Milwaukee Police Department can and will. The organizers also add, “Don’t be a jerk! Respect the community. That is why we are throwing this race, because we love our neighborhood. RW24 reserves the right to disqualify any rider who is disrespecting our neighborhood or the race.” Now is the time to tune up your bicycle, slam a glass full of egg yolks (or vegan substitute), crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and get ready to bike until the sun sets…and rises!