After four amazing years, we are moving the start of RAW to La Crosse and the finish to Green Bay. We had amazing growth in registrations early, but our registration numbers were down a little in 2018. Then last year at the finish party, some of our founding riders who have ridden with us every year told us they might not come back in 2019 unless the route changed. That gave us pause.
Since our inaugural ride in 2015, a group of our Founders from La Crosse and Green Bay have been encouraging us to move the start to La Crosse and the finish in Green Bay. In fact, the small group went to the trouble of researching a route, calling their ride “Slaying the Badger” and have been riding it just for “fun” for the last four years!
We loved the idea of a start in La Crosse and riding to Lambeau, but hesitated because that adds 50 miles to the route. We wondered if our riders would make the leap from 175 miles to 225. But with our numbers down slightly in 2018 and so many personal appeals to move the route, we included those questions in our 2018 post-RAW rider survey.
The results of that rider survey could not have been more clear. While everyone said they liked the original route, the vast majority of riders said they wanted a change. We specifically asked about moving the ride to La Crosse with a 225-mile route that finished in Green Bay. We were surprised that the vast majority of riders said we should move to La Crosse with the longer route. Even more of a surprise, most respondents said they would choose a one day, 225-mile option over a two-day option!
Our riders spoke and we listened, and we couldn’t be more excited for the move to the iconic Wisconsin host communities of La Crosse and Green Bay. The longer route now offers two legitimate days of riding for those who don’t want to power through 225 miles in one day. And although it is longer, it has much less climbing, 4,160 feet compared to 6,320 for last year’s route.
The La Crosse start will be at the beautiful Riverside Park, right next to the Mississippi River. We will have a little party in the park on Friday afternoon and evening. There are plenty of hotels and great restaurants that will be offering discounts to RAW riders, their family and friends.
The overnight location in Plover, just south of Stevens Point, includes a party at the beautifully redone Pacawa Park, located right next to O’so Brewing and Great Northern Distillery! Again, there are plenty of hotels right next to the park.
The finish in Green Bay will be on the City Deck along the Fox River downtown. As if that isn’t scenic enough, there is even a hot air balloon event scheduled for the same weekend on the other side of the river from our finish location!
It is bittersweet to leave the southern route. We have made many friends with farmers along our route and businesses and volunteers from our host towns. We cannot thank everyone enough from Dubuque to Beloit to Kenosha for making us feel welcome as we ride through your communities. Our thought is to return to the Founding route from Dubuque to Kenosha in the future, so we will not say goodbye but see you soon.