To be honest, I probably won’t be able to bike to work. You see, it takes about a half hour to get to my office in Franklin via car along the speedy interstate, so I’d have to roll out of bed at the butt crack of dawn just to make it to work on time. It’s. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Now, I feel like I'm a pharisee.
But, just because I probably won’t partake in BTWW, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take my bicycle out for a ride a few times this week to commemorate the movement. Plus, it’ll make me feel like less of a hypocrite.
For those of you in the same boat, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t participate in this week’s event either, after all, BTWW conveniently falls into National Bike Month. Thus, with summer
fast slowly approaching, there’s ample time to take your bike for a leisurely spin around Milwaukee.
So, even if you won’t be peddling to work, why not keep your car in the lot and ride your bike this week to school, the store, or along the trails? You can also try some of the League of American Bicyclists’ ideas. Here’s their list of suggestions.
Last night, in honor of National Bike Month, I escaped to the Oak Leaf Trail, a hidden treasure for local bike-oholics. Throughout Milwaukee there’s a plethora of terrific bike trails that offer a great alternative to sightseeing, as well as, the opportunity to view the city from a different perspective. The best parts, of course, are the off-road paths, which are surrounded by trees and seem entirely un-urban.
I’ve always been drawn to the rustic beauty of such remote trails where in the summertime you’re cooled by the shade of maple trees, and with each mile you transcend, you are warmly greeted by dozens of passing inline skaters, joggers, walkers, and fellow bikers who are all leaving the bustle of everyday life to exercise or find tranquility in Mother Nature’s splendor.
The Oak Leaf Trail, in particular, features over 100 miles of multiple loops through all of the major parkways and parks that are the framework of the Milwaukee County Park System. The loops are composed of paved off-road trails, park drives and regular municipal streets – you can ride north to Brown Deer, west to 124th Street, south to Ryan Road, and east to Lake Michigan.
On Monday, I was able to traverse nearly 40 miles of the wooded, spring-kissed paths from the Kenilworth entrance near my apartment, across new bridges, past the rushing river, and around downtown to Bay View, and then back to the East Side.
The bike trail also goes through Riverside Park, with access to the Urban Ecology Center, and to the Boerner Botanical Gardens, just to give you an idea of how great this trail truly is. According to the Milwaukee County Parks, there’s a plan currently in the works to join the paved trail through Franklin, connecting segments from Drexel to Loomis. Also proposed is an extension running the trail from Drexel to Racine.
Current loops beyond the 71-mile main trail are the 15-mile East-West Connector, which runs from Wauwatosa to West Allis and toward the lake; the 5.9-mile Lake Loop, which is the trail on the lake side of Lincoln Memorial Drive; the 2.7-mile Whitnall Loop; and the 1.7-mile Lincoln Creek Spur. I haven't biked the whole thing yet, but I'm telling you, I will do it. I will!
If you're worried about safety, I think that the ramps – they allow you to get on and off the trails at regular intervals – the street markings, and the sheer number of people on the trails during the day make it feel very safe. Of course, there's risk in anything, but if you're using common sense and hit the trails during daylight hours, your biggest concern will most likely be not trampling or being trampled by others out enjoying the day, like you.
Last night, I made it home just before the sun completely set. While navigating the Oak Leaf Trail, I tried not to coast at all, just peddle fast. With every passing minute, I felt the burn radiate up and down my legs – it felt really good to feverishly work those muscles.
That kind of robust workout is one of the things I enjoy most about bicycling. Another appeal is being completely in tune with nature, no windows or metal frames surrounding me, just the wind tousling my hair and the tree branches whacking my head. Yeah. I like that.
Do you ever bike to work or school? Have you taken any trails for a relaxed ride? If not, what’s holding you back?
I guess if you don’t own a bike, well, that’d be an issue, but keep in mind that there are many places where you can rent bicycles for only a small fee. Check out the Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee Bike & Skate Rental and Ben’s Cycle & Fitness Center for prices. Or if you want to find a bike rental location near you, head over here to see an extensive list!