Guest post: My Fitness Journey

Whatever your approach to health and fitness, you may find yourself changing things up over time to improve results or simply to maintain interest. After observing an active winter biking community for a while, I attended the Winter Bike Fashion Show, with very cautious interest. It was fun to see so many different kinds of people share varied methods and reasons for winter cycling, and as you'll see in my story, it provided me that "next thing" to keep me rolling on my fitness journey.

When I tell this story, listeners nearly always ask questions.  I hope that by sharing this, I can make it less surprising, or unique.  I want you to know, and to share with others, that it's never too late to become fit.

In the mid-2000's, my doctor recommended that I begin taking cholesterol-reducing statin drugs due to my high cholesterol count and family history of heart disease.  At the time, I carried 250 lbs. on my 5'2" frame, but my doctor had not yet talked with me about how diet and exercise would reduce my risk. Here I am, about that time, at age 40:

For the first time in my life, I started paying attention to what I ate.  I focused on what I could sustain - there was little that I eliminated from my diet, but ALL of the proportions changed in favor of healthier foods.

I was fortunate to have my partner Susan in my life.  She had been active throughout her life, and helped me introduce regular physical activity gradually, safely, and sustainably.  I still have vivid recollections of my exhaustion after a few short minutes of cardio exercise in those early days.  I started weight training too, excited about the prospect of making muscles that would help burn the fat. Here, too, my limited abilities were simultaneously frustrating, and motivating.

I worked hard, with few visible results for months on end.  But my cholesterol was improving, and I kept at it. At one point, maybe 18 months into my new lifestyle of exercising more and eating healthier/less, my body started changing, and rapidly.  I think maybe my body just finally figured out that I wasn't starving, and could let the reserves fall off.

By the time we moved to Madison in 2006 I had lost more than 50 lbs. My cholesterol ratio was reduced to high normal, eliminating the need for drug therapies. Susan was excited about Madison's bike friendliness, but the compact, walkable, bikeable city was just one of many things that brought us here. Very soon after our move, I traded the little-used, poorly-fitting bike I'd had for a comfy, laid-back cruiser:

I still remember our first ride along the Capital City Trail... we got a couple of miles, to Monona Bay, when I told Susan we'd better turn around to make sure I had the energy to make it home.

[continue reading Deb's story]

Read more

Monday update: Cranksgiving, good news from Middleton, and Winter Bike Fashion Show

This week

Good news to report from Middleton. Kierstin writes:

It passed!

After a ten year push by NE Middleton residents and several city staff, the alders and mayor finally voted “yes” on Wednesday night to secure funds from one tax improvement district to another to start the planning process of creating the NE Connector Trail along Century Avenue. Plans will be drawn in 2018, and the path will hopefully be constructed in 2019. This is a major breakthrough to connect what is currently a “car island” to the rest of Middleton and Madison as well as supply a safe route for children to bike or walk to school. These plans are the first segment connecting Branch St. to Highland. The city hopes to extend it to County Road Q to the east and Donna Drive/Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue to the West.

Good work everyone who wrote in and supported the efforts otherwise!

The news from Fitchburg are less good. A budget amendment to build paved shoulders on Whalen Road did not pass, despite support from Bike Fitchburg, Madison Bikes, and many others. According to news reports, the whole hearing was rather heated because budget issues concerning social services.

On Wednesday, the first public involvement meeting about extending the Glacial Drumlin Trail from Cottage Grove to Interstate-90 happened. We don't have information about how the meeting went, but you can find the presentation slides here

Saturday saw the rebirth of Cranksgiving in Madison. Cranksgiving, an event originally started in the 1990s by bike messengers in New York City, is a combination of a food drive and an alley cat bike race. Participants received a "manifesto" with a number of Madison supermarkets and items to buy there. At the end of the ride, all the food was donated to the Goodman Center's Thanksgiving Baskets food drive. Over 70 people participated! Kudos to Billy Calkins for organizing!

Just before the start of Cranksgiving at Revolution Cycle (Photo credit: Billy Calkins) 

This week

With Thanksgiving coming up, the week is fairly quiet. Madison Bikes, however, has several things in the pipeline.

On Monday, the Madison Bikes events committee will do the final planning for the Winter Bike Fashion Show on December 9. The deadline to apply as a model was on Sunday, but if you have a strong interest in being a model, shoot a quick email to before Monday, 3pm!

Also a reminder that you can still apply to become a member of the Board of Directors for Madison Bikes. And if you're not quite ready yet to join our board, remember that you can show your support for Madison Bikes by becoming a member.

Local mountain bike advocates Capital Offroad Pathfinders are looking for a secretary for their organization. More details here.  

And on Friday, you can join the Bombay Cycling Club for their first fat bike ride of the season

Happy Thanksgiving from me and the rest of Madison Bikes!

Winter Bike Fashion Show: Be a model!

We’re looking for Madison Bikers of all ages who brave the elements and bike into early winter, bike in early spring or even bike year round to share their tips and expertise in dressing for the weather!  Madison Bikes is excited to host the Winter Bike Fashion Show this December 9th from 1-4pm at the High Noon Saloon. There will be food, camaraderie, and of course a fashion show highlighting real Madisonians and their winter weather gear. If you’ve discovered a great solution to keeping your hands warm and dry, or have found a way to keep your toes from freezing, we’d love to have you join the fashion show as a model. Do you have a great tip for avoiding fogged up glasses or for keeping your bike lock dry and functional? We’d love to have you!

We’re looking for:

  • year round bikers to show off their biking clothes and bike gear

  • Shoulder season (late fall or early spring) riders to show off their biking clothes and bike gear

  • Adults and kids (both kids who ride their own bikes, and kids who are transported by bike)

  • Gear for winter biking and demo bikes- how do you adapt your bike for winter riding?

  • We love DIY solutions that make giving winter bike a try easy and inexpensive!

To apply, please complete the following questions and submit to, ideally with a picture of you in your biking clothes and/or you with your bike by 11/19, noon.

  1. Include a description of your clothing/gear and where/when/why you winter bike.

  2. What's your number one tip for people riding in winter?

  3. Do you have a winter biking story that may motivate others to ride in winter?

  4. What is your favorite thing about riding in winter?

Don't hesitate to apply even if you've modeled in a previous Winter Bike Fashion Show. 

Monday update: Winter maintenance, Glacial Drumlin Trail, bike crash analysis

Two quick Madison Bikes topics: Remember that you can now become a member of Madison Bikes online! More details here. And it's now less than a month until the Winter Bike Fashion Show on December 9. We'll send out a call for model applications tomorrow!

Last Week

On Tuesday, the Bike Facility Maintenance Subcommittee of the Pedestrian Bicycle Motor Vehicle Commission (PBMVC) met to review a draft of an updated city-wide Bike Facility Maintenance Policy. This should be presented to PBMVC in November or December. Stay tuned for more details! 

Winter maintenance of the kind we don't want to see

This Week

Monday: The Madison Bikes Board of Directors will kick the week off with our monthly meeting at the Central Library. Did you see that we have a few openings for passionate bike advocates to join us? Also on Monday, join the hearty and fearless MEAThead riders for their weekly ride around Lake Monona starting at 7pm.

Tuesday: On Tuesday, the Fitchburg Common Council will take up a budget amendment (#12) that would reinstate funding for paved shoulders on Whalen Road between Fish Hatchery to Fitchburg Road. Whalen Road is the primary east-west corridor connecting Fitchburg to Verona, and serves as a major commuting route between these two cities, as well as Madison. Read more at Bike Fitchburg.

Wednesday: You’ll have to make some tough choices on Wednesday with four competing meetings to choose from. At 5:00pm, it’s the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board Citizen Advisory Committee meeting with a presentation on Dane County Crashes Involving Bicyclists and Pedestrians and a staff report on a Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress Analysis among other topics. At 5:30, the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee will meet at Bendyworks to begin its review of the People for Bikes Bicycle Network Analysis. At 7:00pm, you can attend a presentation by the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association’s Traffic Committee on the work they’ve done in trying to improve conditions for people walking and biking in the neighborhood (including the diversion test on Mifflin Bike Boulevard). Also at 7:00, is a public input meeting on the Glacial Drumlin extension from the interstate to Cottage Grove.

Saturday: On Saturday, the Tour de la Familia Latina will be back in force to show that Madison paths are spaces for everyone to enjoy. And then at 1:00pm, you can have fun and help out at the same time by participating in this year’s Cranksgiving event, an alley cat/food drive.

Sunday: Finish the weekend off with an Ibis Cycles Demo sponsored by Bell Joy Ride and Revolution Cycles. A special ladies group ride begins at 1pm.


For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to


You can now become a member of Madison Bikes online!

A select few of you--those who attended our annual party at the High Noon Saloon in September--already are members of Madison Bikes. But now everyone can join our organization! Just click here for more information and sign up! Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Why should I become a member?

By opening up membership we want make our organization stronger. Having you as members will amplify our voice, as well as ensure that our advocacy efforts have broad community support. And your financial contributions will help us keep the lights on and have the resources to make things happen.

What does it cost to be a member?

We want to be an inclusive organization and not prevent anyone from joining because they cannot afford it. Therefore we have a pay-what-you-can membership model: You fill out the membership application and only then do you select how much you want to contribute. Don't have any idea what a reasonable amount would be? Well, those who attended our annual party, contributed $20 or more.

How long is my membership good for?

All the way through December 2018. We'll let you know when it's time to renew.

What do I get out of it?

Sorry, no funny socks, whimsical ties, or t-shirts, at least for now. We're a small, 100% volunteer-run organization and direct our efforts as much as possible toward making biking better in Madison. What you will receive:

  • Our weekly calendar highlights of bike advocacy issues and events via email.
  • You'll also be invited to our Annual Madison Bikes Membership Party (usually in late summer).
  • And maybe most importantly: That great feeling that comes from making a positive difference in your community!

Am I already a member?

If you attended our annual party and signed in there: you are. If not, you are almost certainly not a member yet. You can also check your email inbox if you received a "Thanks for Becoming a Member" email from us. If you're still in doubt, email and we'll figure it out.

I don't want to become a member but still support Madison Bikes. Is that possible?

Not a problem. You can still donatevolunteer, or sign up for our email updates without being a member. 

Join the Madison Bikes Board of Directors

Want to become more involved in local bicycle advocacy?

Madison Bikes is looking for people who are dedicated, passionate, strong communicators, good compromisers, organized, and able to commit a significant amount of time and energy to promoting biking as a priority in the city of Madison. There are no paid staff and everything we do—from fundraising to advocacy to communications to events—is done by our volunteer board and volunteer committee members.

Our current board of directors

We are currently accepting applications for up to six seats on the Madison Bikes Board of Directors.

Our organization is committed to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic board committed to equity in our work. We strongly encourage applications from minorities and women.

The Madison Bikes board is an all-volunteer working board. At a minimum, we expect board members to:

  • Attend our monthly board meetings (6-8pm every third Monday of the month)

  • Participate in one or more of our committees and attend their monthly meetings

  • Have passion for our organization’s vision: Making Madison a city where anyone can ride a bicycle conveniently and comfortably to any place in the city and neighboring communities year round.

Other responsibilities can include:

  • Contributing to our blog

  • Attendance at various city-held meetings (public input meetings, City Council meetings, local and regional transportation committee meetings)

  • Contributing to fundraising and organizational development efforts

If you are interesting in joining our board (or have questions), please send an email with the following information to If you would like to nominate someone other than yourself, please forward this to them and ask them to apply.

  • Full name & email address

  • Why are you interested in joining the Madison Bikes board?

  • What would you bring to the board?

  • Which committee/committees/officer roles interest you?

    • President

    • Vice-president

    • Secretary

    • Treasurer

    • Advocacy Committee

    • Events Committee

    • Communications Committee

  • Have you served on any other non-profit boards/committees (including Madison Bikes) or have similar relevant experience?

  • Do you think you’d bring a perspective or help represent groups that aren’t currently represented by the Madison Bikes board of directors?

  • Anything else you’d like to share with us?

To be considered for our upcoming board elections, please submit your application by 11/24. Note that we will also accept applications on a rolling basis until all our board positions have been filled.

Our executive board will review all application submissions and follow up with all applicants with next steps.

Weekly calendar highlights for November 6, 2017


We need  more neighborhoods where people can bike. The Cap Times is sponsoring a discussion on Wednesday about how to build more great neighborhoods

Monday, November 6

  • The first of this season’s Meathead rides rolls out from Fords Gym (2114 Winnebago St). This no-drop ride leaves at 7 pm and includes the Lake Monona Loop with an optional loop through the Arboretum. These rides are weekly on Mondays through March 6.
  • At 4:30 pm the City of Madison Finance Committee will meet in room 354 of the City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Boulevard. The committee will discuss three items of interest. The full agenda can be found on-line. The items that may impact bicyclists are:
  1. Amending the 2017 Bicycle and Pedestrian Capital Budget to transfer $100,000 of existing GO borrowing authority between major programs Bikeways Program and Sidewalk Program.
  2. Amending the 2017 Capital Budget of Engineering Major Streets, Neighborhood Traffic Management and Pedestrian Improvements and Authorizing the City to accept funds from Don Miller for the installation of a pedestrian island on Tokay Boulevard.
  3. Accepting the Judge Doyle City Staff Team Report, Selecting the Madison Freewheel Bicycle Co. as the Operator for the Madison Bicycle Center in the Judge Doyle Project on Block 88 Subject to the Negotiation of a Final Contract, and Directing Further Actions

Tuesday, November 7

  • The Madison Bikes Communications Committee meets from 5:30pm – 6:30pm at the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St. in the Sunset Lounge. If you are interested in attending, Let Harald know, in case we need to change rooms. 
  • Cap Times panel discussion - How can Madison build more great neighborhoods? This should be of interest to many bicyclists, because transportation choice in general, and a good environment for bicycling is one of the characteristic of a great neighborhood. RSVP at the Facebook invite. It will be held at the High Noon Saloon, 701 E Washington Ave, 6 – 8 pm. 

Madison is one of the most rapidly growing cities in Wisconsin, which puts pressure on city government, neighborhoods and developers to channel that growth to places not only with essential city services but also with crucial amenities like grocery stores. So, what’s the best way for Madison to build great neighborhoods? The Cap Times has assembled an outstanding panel to discuss that question. City government reporter Abigail Becker will moderate the panel, whose members are: Michael Ford, an architecture instructor at Madison College whose work on the intersection of hip-hop culture and architecture has gained nationwide attention; David Mollenhoff, Madison historian and a key player in the 1960s revitalization of the Marquette neighborhood; Tariq Saqqaf, the city of Madison neighborhood resource coordinator;  Heather Stouder, the city of Madison planning division director; Sheray Wallace, Meadowood neighborhood activist The event is free. Afterward, city of Madison staff will conduct small-group listening sessions for those who want to stay to gather input for the Imagine Madison project, which seeks community opinions about how and where the city should grow. The panel talk is the latest installment in the 2-year-old Cap Times Talks discussion series. 


Wednesday, November 8

  • Middleton Budget Hearing – Funds for Century Avenue Bike Accommodations. At 6:00pm at Middleton City Hall, 7426 Hubbard Ave, Middleton. Kirestin Kloeckner has been very active on this issue, since she bikes this road every day and has had several very scary encounters -- including being run off the road. Her request is for people to speak up for a safer road that is the only option for bicyclists in this area of Middleton. Although this is outside the city of Madison, Madison Bikes has written a letter of support because this is an important connection for the region, and for people trying to get into an out of the city.

Kierstin's request: Please take a moment to either swing by the hearing at 6pm (and make a public comment) or write to the alders and mayor and help us get a bike path along Century Av. in Middleton. We need the vote to approve the planning stage next year and building stage the year after. If we don't get the word out, this path could be dead in the water.


Saturday and Sunday November 11 - 12

Join Russ Hopkins of Container Collective Bikes at The Cargo Bike Shop for a two-day workshop and build yourself a custom single-speed or multi-speed bike frame out of sustainably grown and harvested bamboo. The Cargo Bike Shop will work with you to turn your new bamboo frame into your perfect complete bike with a variety of build kits -- from stock to full-custom. Two-day weekend workshop is 9-5 both days. All the coffee you can drink courtesy of Cafe Domestique. Frame building materials are included, you simply need to show up. No prior experience with bicycles or construction of any kind needed - All construction is done with simple hand tools. More information at:


Sunday, November 12

The Madison Bikes Executive Committee meets at the Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St, from 5:00pm – 6:30pm


New bridge, new pavement, and few meetings this week

Photo courtesy of Joel Patenaude

Last week, the bike network got one more connection in the form of a bridge over McKee road near S. High Point Rd. The bridge is part of a path that will run from Valley View Rd south to Verona and meet up with the Military Ridge Trail. Parts of the trail are already built, and this new bridge is a big addition. You can see the plans for the entire planned length as well as updates on construction on the city’s website.

Also last week, a bumpy and cracked section of the Wingra Creek Path that runs from Olin Park under John Nolen Drive and a bit west was repaved. It’s always nice to have smooth, fresh pavement, and we appreciate the city keeping our paths maintained. 


Nice, smooth pavement on the Wingra Creek Path

Grant has created a new Facebook group to keep everyone updated on the Atwood St Reconstruction. You can find it here.

There aren't too many city meetings this week. I guess that's what happens during the 5th week of the month. Remember you only have two more days until the end of the month, and that means the end of your chance to fill your Madison Bike! Bingo card! Thanks to all the businesses that participated and all the people that biked. I discovered some new places and had a lot of fun. 

City meetings this week

Tuesday, the City Council will be accepting the final plans for Crazy Legs Plaza and Wingra Park. Both of these locations are important to bicyclists, because the SW Path passes through Crazy Legs Plaza, and Wingra Park is an important bike connection on the south side of  Monroe St. This is part of the Monroe St reconstruction, so you've probably heard about the meetings and open houses to discuss these plans. But if you are sure what they are doing, you can find the plans on line or attend the Council meeting at 6:30 p in the City-County Bldg

Wednesday, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board will have a presentation on bicycle and pedestrian crashes in Dane County. The meeting is at 6:30 PM at the Madison Water Utility Building, 119 E. Olin Avenue. We'll try to get an update on this project and see what they found. If anyone attends, maybe you can give us a report. 

If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to

Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (10/23/17)

Last week

The week started out with a meeting of the Madison Bikes Events Committee. Their big focus is the upcoming Winter Bike Fashion Show on December 9. Stay tuned for details and mark the date! Also keep in mind that Madison Bike Bingo is nearing its end. So go out ride, support local businesses, and collect stamps and prizes. If you still need that special events stamp, check the Bike Bingo Facebook page for announcements (and read below about the Spooky Roubaix ride).

Tour of the Latino Family/El Tour de la Familia Latina (Photo credit: Baltazar De Anda)

Saturday saw both good and disturbing things: The Tour of the Latino Family/El Tour de la Familia Latina had another successful ride, with over 30 people of all ages attending. However, the group was repeatedly harassed during the ride. You can watch the account of Ananda Mirilli, one of the participants, on Facebook.

If you can't watch the video, here is a transcript of what Ananda has to say:

I was disheartened by the rudeness, the impoliteness. I was reminded of how I am other, even though I’m a citizen, I was reminded of my status as an immigrant. This bike tour is intended to make black and brown folks, people of color, visible on the bike paths, and it was obvious to me that as we’re doing that, we were disturbing people. We had a group of 30+ folks from different age groups, mostly brown folks, a lot of children with us. And as we were biking to the east side, we had people tell us to move, being rude to our children, swearing at us. And those were not cyclists, they were just regular folks, mostly white older women and white older men, just swearing at us and our children, and telling us to get off the path. So if you’re surprised by this, check yourself and think about the times you have actually done something to disrupt Madison normative. And if for whatever reason you don’t belong or you don’t look like the people that you see everywhere—which is mostly white folks—the impact and then resistance for us to become visible. That is a real thing. I was just really sad […] that this happened in front of our children and with our group. We’re going to continue to do that; I’m going to continue to come to the rides. I encourage, if you’re a person of color, please join us. We need more of us, to really disrupt the image of the Madison bike paths. The bike paths are not only for white people, or for white folks who know how to bike. This is for all of us. We need to make sure that we’re visible. Please check yourself and think about the ways you can disrupt the Madison image of whiteness. Thank you.

This is unacceptable. Let us work together to make sure that this does not happen again and people of color can safely ride on Madison's bike paths and streets. As Ananda says: The bike paths are not only for white people, or for white folks who know how to bike. 

This week

Imagine Madison is an initiative to gather public input on the update to Madison's Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan encompasses things such housing, transportation, and parks, and is an important long-term planning tool that will "be an action plan that guides decision making and investment." This week marks the beginning of phase 3, which aims at prioritizing strategies, identifying ways to implement them, and determining where growth should be prioritized. You can make your voice heard at these three community meetings, each from 6-8pm

  • Mondaythe Atrium at Village on Park (2300 S Park St), Atrium Community Room
  • TuesdayLussier Community Education Center (55 S Gammon Road)
  • Wednesday: Goodman Community Center (149 Waubesa St) 

The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission has their monthly meeting on Tuesday. Some of the items on the agenda:

  • The Bike Resource Center at the Judge Doyle Square Project. As we've reported previously, Freewheel Community Bike Shop is being recommended as the operator.
  • Crazylegs Plaza and Wingra Park: As part of the Monroe Street reconstruction, Crazylegs Plaza and the entrance to Wingra Park are getting redesigned.
  • Updates on the reconstruction of Atwood Avenue and South Gammon Road
  • Reviewing the traffic signal priority list, which determines where the city is going to install traffic lights
  • Presentation of the 2016 Traffic Report (bike count data starts on page 44)

Plan for a redesigned Crazylegs Plaza near Camp Randall

Both the Madison Bikes Advocacy Committee and the Middleton Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Transit Committee are going to meet on Wednesday. Contact if you'd like to attend the Madison Bikes meeting.

On Friday night, join Cafe Domestique for the "Scary Roubaix" ride. Meet at 6pm at their shop and ride the Badger State Trail to the Stewart Tunnel south of Belleville. Spooky! This will also be an opportunity to get your Bike Bingo special event stamp. Check out the Madison Bike Bingo Facebook page later this week for details.

Friday also is the date of the Bike Fed's Saris Gala, their big annual fundraiser at Union South!

And on Saturday, it's time to Bike the Art again. Meet at 1:30pm at Union South or along their route. More info at

Finally, People for Bikes, a national bike advocacy organization is conducting a community survey to assess how bike friendly cities are. Please participate and offer your opinions on biking in Madison.


Madison Bikes Calendar Highlights (10/16/17)

Last Week

Congratulations to Badger Rock Middle School on winning the "Riding for Focus" grant. The grant provides 20 bikes to incorporate into the school’s curriculum to get kids moving. You can read more in this Cap Times article.

This Week

Monday: Come to the Madison Bikes Events Committee meeting at 6:00 at Barriques on Atwood. Preparations for the Winter Bike Fashion Show will be on tap. Read more about how you can help out here.

Tuesday: The Common Council meeting will be very focused on budget deliberations. Among the items up for discussion is funding of the new Director of Transportation position. Mayor Soglin said that he thinks a Director could be in place sometime after July 1 of next year.

On Thursday, there will be a mock public meeting as part of a capstone course for UW Madison Engineering students. They’ve been working on a Park and Bike project. Stop in and help them with their project and perhaps some of your feedback can make its way back to city staff.

Saturday: Baltazar will be back in town and leading another run of El Tour de la Familia Latina - The Tour of the Latino Family.

For details on any of these events, head to the Madison Bikes calendar. If you have an event that you’d like added, send the details to


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