Let’s Ride: Annual Bike Week events celebrate Valley cyclists
You can get nearly anywhere in Eau Claire on a bike if you have the right skills and ambition. The first step to becoming a frequent biker is getting acquainted with Eau Claire’s bike routes, which is easy during Bike Week, a free week-long celebration of all things cycling. Each year in the first week of June, the Wisconsin Bike Federation (WBF) hosts Bike Week, which occurs all over the state, with cities like LaCrosse and Madison hosting their own events. This year, Eau Claire’s Bike Week is June 4-10.
“Try to find as many ways as you can to get on a bicycle. Push the envelope – do things you wouldn’t normally do.” – Jeremy Gragert, Eau Claire City Council
Eau Claire’s branch of Wisconsin Bike Week tries to get the community acquainted with bike routes and proper bike maintenance, Jeremy Gragert, a city councilmember and bike enthusiast, said. Gragert co-founded Bike Chippewa Valley and co-created the Chippewa Valley Bike Map.
Biking is a significant economic driver in the Chippewa Valley, Gragert said, so Eau Claire uses the events to show off the city and get the community excited about cycling.
Traditionally, Bike Week kicks off on Tuesday in front of the Local Store at 205 N. Dewey St. in Eau Claire, where local bike advocacy groups inform attendees about all things bike-related. This year, bikers can get a basic bike safety check and Soul Brewed Coffee will provide free coffee.
New this year is Saturday’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, which is hosted by Chippewa Off Road Bike Association. Beginning at 10am at the Eau Claire County Expo Center pavilion, this all-ages event is meant to encourage kids to try mountain biking – and they can bring their families along, too!
Friday of Bike Week, the Chippewa Valley Museum will roll out their “Biking into History” summer ride series. This free bike tour highlights the historic bridges in Eau Claire. This event and others exemplify the creators of Bike Week’s desire to have educational events, Gragert said.
If community members want to keep up the Bike Week spirit all year, there are many ways to do so. In 2015, Gragert collaborated with other members of Bike Chippewa Valley to create the Chippewa Valley Bike Map, a guide that marks all the bike routes in the area, ranked from easiest to hardest to bike. He hopes the map inspires locals to get on bikes if they normally wouldn’t.
“Try to find as many ways as you can to get on a bicycle,” Gragert said. “Push the envelope – do things you wouldn’t normally do.” He also recommends advocating for bike-friendly businesses and streets throughout the year. Bike Week, Gragert said, is meant to help the community improve in terms of bike-friendliness.