RW24–my little slice of heaven

I woke up this morning at 7:30–the latest I’ve slept in for years.  I went into the bathroom, rinsed off my face, rubbed my eyes and realized that RW24 2013 was over.  It all felt so surreal, was it a dream or did it really happen?  I didn’t want it to be over.  I had been looking forward to this day since last year’s ride ended.  And this morning, in my somewhat less sleep deprived universe, I knew it wasn’t a dream since I still had a smile on my face and flashes of a images replayed themselves in my head.

 

Me and Dan at the starting line in the rain

I’ve written about RW24before–see my posts Team 24 Must Be Lucky and It’s Gush Time.  Although the premise was the same this year, it is an organic event.  Each year it changes, not for better or worse, it’s just different.  That’s part of it’s beauty.  You never know what to expect.  As our team, Church of the Spoken Wheel, along with team Garage 707, lined up at the starting line, the heavens opened up to what I can only explain as a christening.  It was cold–I mean really cold–for July and there we were, more than 1,000 of us, lined up on Pierce Street, soaking wet, most of us laughing.  A far cry from last year’s temps in the 80′s and yeah, it may have sucked just a little (my clothes never did dry from those first two laps), but we were all in it together.  And that’s what RW24 is about…coming together.

 

Our “home” for a day

As I did a little spin today, I couldn’t help but shake one word from my mind:  Gratitude.  The major reason I’m drawn to this event isn’t just because it’s one of the funnest events in the world–although that certainly doesn’t hurt–it’s because I love what the Riverwest community can do.  Each year, they pull this thing off with very few incidents.  I don’t know how they do it, although I suspect it could be the thousands of volunteer hours, the amazing ride organizers and the support from a very cool community,  but I’m not certain it’s just those things.  I also believe there’s a bit of magic going on here.  A beautiful balance of gratitude and love.  I know there are some pretty outstanding bike events out there that could probably boast the same, but RW24 is special.  Where else can you see a thousand sleep deprived, and maybe hung over, riders with smiles plastered on their faces for over 24 hours?  Where else do you hear a constant song of “thank yous” to all the volunteers donating their time–some of which I think worked almost the entire 24 hours?  And where do you see an event that is so coveted people are willing to camp out the night before, in a city park, to ensure a riding spot?  As I wrote in my blog post “It’s Gush Time” last year, I am once again in awe of everyone involved with putting this event on, as well as our garage hosts, that “gratitude” is the only word I can think of.

 

Wendy, in purple, is one of the ride organizers

Until May Day next year, when I’ll get to sign up for 2014, I will have to rely on my fond memories from this year’s event to help me get through another year of waiting.  Scenes like the fact it stopped raining the moment the announcements were over at the starting line, singing “I Feel Good” at the top of my lungs to a room full of strangers, drinking shot after shot of free espresso courtesy of Alterra coffee interchanged with beer and junk food to make the perfect racing cocktail, sitting under a canopy of Christmas lights–without a thought in the world–at 1am in Garage 707, squatting by the river trying my damnedest to thaw out a frozen t-shirt so I could proudly wear it and cover myself in river muck, having my face painted by a good friend from team Phil is Hard, watching the amazing women and men who chose to ride solo, introducing two newbies to RW24, and celebrating life with a bunch of people I can honestly say I love.  Thank you all for one hell of a day/night!  See you again next year!

 

Dan and Nathan taking a little break between laps

 

Nathan, from our team, and part of team Phil is Hard (Perfecto, Phil, Jonathan and Ben)

 

Dan from Team Garage 707 sporting his favorite cycling wear
You too can be a part of this event, even if you don’t want to ride!
Thanks to Ben from team Phil is Hard, I got just a little prettier
A fat bike sculpture at the finish line
Part of team Church of the Spoken Wheel (Martha, me, Dan and Michael).
Markham is MIA and Nathan is taking the picture. Taken in front of our home base.

About Kierstin Kloeckner, Bike Fed Board Member

Kierstin is a personal trainer who lives and bikes in Madison and a board member for the Bike Fed. She writes guest posts for us here, but you can read more of her thoughts on how cycling fits into her life at her personal blog Two Wheels From Home

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