Milwaukee hosts 24-hour urban bike race
In January, Jeremy Prach participated in the Baja 1000, an off-road, 48-hour motorcycle race through the dessert from Tijuana to Los Cabos, Mexico. The intense experience inspired him to recreate a smaller version of the race -- for bicycles instead of motorcycles -- in Milwaukee.
Prach, along with the help of multiple volunteers, launched the Riverwest 24-hour Bike Race or "RW24." The race takes place Friday, July 25 from 7 p.m. until Saturday, July 26 at 7 p.m.
The 5-mile course runs through the streets of Riverwest. Multiple blocks will host parties -- including Riverwest's first 24-hour block party on Fratney Street -- during the race to contribute to the celebratory atmosphere.
Participants can race in one of four categories: Solo, Tandem (two riders on one tandem bike for the entire race), Team A (up to six riders sharing one bike) or Team B (up to six riders, each riding their own bike.)
Multiple corporate teams are signed up, including ones from Fuel and Comet Cafe.
The person or group who completes the most laps determines the winner, who receives a trophy.
Participants are encouraged to stop biking to sleep or eat, and two meals are included during the event: dinner at the Riverwest Coop and breakfast at St. Mary's Czestochowa.
The cost is $15 per person to participate in the race. The entry fee covers the cost of food, water bottles, T-shirts and outdoor toilets which Prach paid upfront himself.
"I'm hoping to break even," he says.
Also, potential riders can download a charity form from the Web site and raise money on their own to donate after the race.
RW24 has very few rules. Prach stresses the need for riders to respect the neighborhood and the simultaneous block parties going on during the race. Also, he encourages rider to wear helmets and does not condone drinking during the race.
Humor is important to Prach, so every two hours, racers will have the chance to earn extra "bonus" points. For example, if a rider stops at the Heroine Salon in Brewer's Hill and shaves his or her head, his / her team gets an extra 10 laps. Also, Great Lakes Distillery will host a scavenger hunt and the winner receives extra points.
Prach credits friend Chris Fons with the original idea for the 24-hour bike race, and recognizes Paul Kjelland, Mike McGarry and Kelly Hillard as driving forces behind the event. Before he started planning the event, Prach received the go ahead from Ald. Nic Kovac, the Milwaukee Police Department and the mayor's office.
"This is totally legit," he says.
Prach, who sports a "Let me be humble" tattoo, says much of his inspiration to plan RW24 comes from his love for the neighborhood and his strong belief in community.
"We're taking back the night. These are our streets and we're not afraid to be out at night (in Riverwest)," says Prach. "And it's about knowing your neighbors, and being polite to them, and that reduces crime."
Prach is an MPS teacher, owns multiple properties in Riverwest and serves as the president of his block club. He is married to Kara and has two sons, Loyal, 5, and Merit, 7 months.
Prach is certain the event will become an annual event. "Next year, it's the RW25," he says.
This race is gonna be AWESOME. Thanks so much for putting this together guys!
Scojo | July 18, 2008 at 4:37 p.m. (report)
Thats right. All those black clad anarchists roaring around at 2am on their bicycles waking up the neighborhood! And we thought Harleys were loud and annoying in the middle of the night...
This is fantastic. As a UWM researcher studying the Portland Bicycle Master Plan, and how it can be applied to Milwaukee, I am pleased. This is what Portland calls an "encouragement" event. One day Milwaukee will have the finest bicycle commuter infrastructure in the world. And it will be due to public citizens like Mr. Prach. Forward!
Jamba Juice | July 16, 2008 at 3:15 p.m. (report)
Just a heads up to all the "bikers" out there especially those with fixed gears. The police are cracking down and writing tickets like mad this summer....they dont belive that a fixed gear can stop properly without hand breaks, and anyone who rides one can tell you they can stop on a dime. Also, they are cracking down on obeying traffic signals but i am with that one....you want equal rights on the road? Then obey the signals and signs.
let's hope this is a success. i mean for both the bikers and the neighborhood, who hopefully won't be disturbed at 2AM. did you hear that black-clad "anarchists?"
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