Riveredge ride ready to roll

Nature center to mark 30th anniversary of ride on June 26 with event that was a key fundraiser prior to the pandemic and a reunion of sorts for participants
Ozaukee Press staff

Sunday, June 26, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Riveredge Nature Center Bike Ride, and organizers hope that an event that suffered during the pandemic will once again be a key fundraiser for the Town of Saukville center and a reunion of sorts for participants.

“It’s the friends and the camaraderie that participants have built with other riders over the years that keep them coming back,” Kim Pemble, interim director of the nature center, said. “And we have new riders, too.”

“Last year, I sat with two different groups after the ride,” he continued. “The first group was repeat riders, and they were wearing jerseys from previous years. It’s almost a friendly challenge to see who’s got the oldest T-shirt that’s still wearable.”

Shortly after the ride was started three decades ago, it became not only a popular event with riders who ranged from moms and dads with children to avid bicyclists, but an important fundraiser for Riveredge.

But then came the pandemic, and in 2020, the in-person event became an “on-your-own” ride.

Riveredge brought the traditional event back last year, but it wasn’t quite the same, in part because key elements — like live music — were missing, Pemble said.

That will return this year with a performance by Blue Highway, along with multiple courses riders can choose from.

This year, Riveredge is offering five routes of varying lengths — eight, 17, 27, 42 and 56 miles.”

This is in an effort to attract people of all backgrounds, from young families with toddlers to the avid biker looking to test themselves. Riveredge accomplished that this year by giving “kids in tow” free admission to the event.

Before the pandemic hit, the fundraiser grossed nearly $30,000, but half of that paid for the cost of hosting the event. According to Riveredge’s Marketing and Communications Specialist, Amy Casey, fundraisers like the Bike Ride are important because Riveredge relies on individual donors for 80% of its revenue.

Riveredge also has sponsors, like West Bend Mutual Insurance and Commerce State Bank, that make events like the Bike Ride possible.

Every year the event draws riders from throughout the region, coming back for both the ride and the sense of camaraderie, which also motivates its army of 50 volunteers needed to put on the event.

“Some of these folks have been volunteering with us for many years,” Joan Haznaw, assistant events and volunteer manager, said. “And there is talent that comes back every year to put this on. We also have brand new volunteers and then folks who have been with us anywhere in between.”

Haznaw believes Riveredge’s inclusive atmosphere is what drives its volunteers.

“I recognized that Riveredge gets into people’s hearts and souls,” Haznaw said. “They want to give back, and there’s an ownership of Riveredge that really shines through and people say, ‘How can I help?’”

At the end of the day, Pemble said the event, and Riveredge as a whole, is “all about the Riveredge kids of any age — zero to 100.”

The start time for the Bike Ride varies by route. The longer routes start at 7:30 a.m. but the nature center tells riders they should start no later then 10 a.m.

Registration for adults is $50 prior to the event but will climb up to $60 the day of. Registration includes a t-shirt, the bike ride route, stocked rest stops, a picnic lunch and an after-party following the ride. Children under 12 can ride for $15 regardless of when they register.

To register for the Bike Ride, visit www.riveredgenaturecenter.com.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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