As I mentioned before, last weekend my brother and I did UPAF’s Ride for the Arts. The ride is considered one of the nations’s largest one-day recreational bike rides. This year was the 30th year of the event, which has raised more than $6.7 million for the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF). That’s quite an accomplishment! Thanks to everyone who sponsored us! And if you meant to, but didn’t you still can here.
Dick and I selected the 25-mile ride. There are also 5, 12, 65, and 75 mile routes. Since they all started early in the morning on Sunday, I drove up to stay over night on Saturday. It was pouring so hard on my drive up that I couldn’t see anything and at one point traffic slowed to 10-miles-per-hour. I was afraid that the weather would be bad on Sunday, but it actually turned out perfect. Not too cold, not too hot, no rain.
We got up early on Sunday and just ate something very light. I had an English muffin and Dick had a banana. The grounds of Summerfest were the starting point and there was free parking, so we loaded the bikes in my brother’s new truck and headed up. Here’s my brother making sure his bike is in good order. He’s had issues on past rides with pedals breaking off and stuff.
And here we are at the start line.
Maybe next year this photo will have my dad in it too. He and my brother have done the ride the last few years and I haven’t been able to. Wouldn’t you know that the year I’m free my mom and dad are on vacation. One year we’ll all do it together.
The start line was right at the Italian Community Center, where I think I attended a wedding once, but it was 10+ years ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be, so I’m not 100% sure this is the place.
Anyway, there were a lot of people taking turns talking on the microphone. The only one I listened to was the one that promised ice cold Miller at the finish line and told us that one of the sponsors donated 5,000 hotdogs for us to eat when we were done with the ride.
No one with a bike really cared what anyone on the podium was saying. We just wanted to go already!
The 25-mile bike route initially went through Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and then south through the lakeshore communities down to Grant Park and back. This is roughly the route:
View UPAF 25 Mile Ride in a larger map
The 25-mile ride had 3 oasis stops where you could rest, get some water, and have something to eat like apples, bananas and granola. The first oasis was on the edge of St. Francis at about mile 5 or 6.
Some people flew by without stopping, but a lot were ready for a rest. In hindsight, I think the first 5 miles were the most difficult for me, so I definitely welcomed taking a break!
We saw all kinds of different bikes.
Some people pulled kid trailers behind them for 25 miles. I don’t think I could have done that.
This oasis had some people off to the side playacting.
At first I didn’t get why, but then I remembered… the arts. We were basically raising money to fund these guy’s programs, so they decided to entertain us.
The next oasis didn’t come until the halfway point, down in Grant Park. Here there was a guy playing all kinds of stringed instruments. When I walked by he was talking to a bike rider about guitar playing.
The last oasis was at about mile 20 or 21 and was at the Coast Guard post. By this time there wasn’t much for snacks left, but it was good to get off the bike one last time and make a pit stop. The last few miles were kind of hard, but I just kept my mind on the prize: Ice cold Miller and hotdogs!
And here we are at the finish. I wasn’t sure before the event if I could ride for 25 miles. My brother convinced me I could, so I signed up. My trainer suggested I take some spinning classes to prepare, which I never got around to doing. And I meant to ride my bike a bit to get used to it this season, but the weather and my foot injury prevented that.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that before this 25-mile ride, I’d been on my bike for all of 5-10 minutes this year. I was pretty sore the day of the race, but the next day? Not really. I thought I would be dying, but I wasn’t at all. I guess this is testament to the fact that I really am in the gym 3-4 times every week. It felt good to do the ride, like it was an accomplishment, and it felt great that I wasn’t dying afterwards.
After the ride, we put our bikes back in the truck and headed in to the Summerfest grounds to join in the Finish Line Party where there was live entertainment with performances by local Milwaukee musicians and members of the UPAF.
There were a lot of sponsors giving away snacks. This guy was handing out Kangaroo brand pita chips.
The best Miller I ever tasted.
This was a pretty pitiful hotdog, but it was free, and I was so hungry it tasted delicious.
My brother and I also split this plate of appetizers from Saz’s. Sour cream & onion fries, mozzarella sticks, and white cheddar cheese curds.
After eating, we walked around the grounds to see what was to see. This is what was to see:
Pedal Tavern? I wish I’d taken that the 25 miles!
We didn’t hang around too long. I went back to the house, took a quick shower, drove to Chicago, took a quick nap and headed to the airport. I had to fly to Utah that night for work… but that’s another story!
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