By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Biking is now an $8.2 billion dollar industry. The Travel Channel recently named upper Midwestern cities Chicago and Minneapolis top cycling destinations, alongside tech hotspots like Austin and Seattle.
With its ever-increasing popularity, can Wisconsin attract top talent and new businesses by celebrating cycling? With 47.5 million Americans identifying themselves as regular cyclists, the question is worth consideration.
While Wisconsin may be better-known for motorcycles, it also has activities for two-wheeled riders who prefer to provide their own power. Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle Corp. is a worldwide leader in cycling technology and has hosted the Trek 100 charity ride since 1990. The Tour of America’s Dairyland racing series draws professional riders and thousands of fans to events.
Cycling currently generates $5.56 million in revenue in Wisconsin. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Educational Foundation, Inc., believes bicycling has a wide-reaching and positive impact on the state. Known as the Wisconsin Bike Fed, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit group advocates for safe, accessible cycling and highlights the economic impact of cycling in the state.
The organization’s annual fundraiser, Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW), is a two-day distance biking event hosted on August 20-21. In a state with little population growth, the event attracts participants who would be desirable future residents: 46% of RAW riders come from out of state, and an estimated 81% of them have achieved a higher education degree.
Riders will pedal through some of the best the state has to offer.
According to the Federation, the 2022 RAW route showcases “quintessential” Wisconsin attractions such as the Elroy-Sparta State Trail tunnels, Wisconsin Dells, the Merrimac Ferry, Trek World Headquarters and the Harley-Davidson Museum. With one- and two-day options, riders can choose a 235-, 165-, 135-, or 100-mile challenge.
The event also allows the state to highlight public transportation options. This year, participants and their bikes can travel to host cities of La Crosse, Wisconsin Dells, and Milwaukee on Amtrak’s Empire Builder.
Over 1,000 riders are anticipated for this ride. All proceeds from RAW will go to help the Wisconsin Bike Fed in efforts to “make every bike ride more fun, safe and convenient.”
Details about Ride Across Wisconsin routes, registration, transportation, and support are available at www.RideAcrossWisconsin.com