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Oak Leaf Familia seeks to grow Milwaukee's cycling community

Oak Leaf Familia; Instagram

As spring arrives, cyclists take to the streets and trails of Milwaukee, powering through the city using good old-fashioned leg power. For some, it's a necessary activity — a way to get from point A to point B. Others might be looking to burn calories or explore the area or just ride around aimlessly, losing themselves in their surroundings.

A new cycling club in Milwaukee had those multiple purposes in mind when they started up recently, as well as a higher purpose. Founded by Eric Kleppe-Montenegro and Sergio Rincon, Oak Leaf Familia emerged from a shared passion for cycling and a desire for greater Latine representation in the cycling community.

During their solo rides and extensive cycling experiences, the pair noticed that despite Milwaukee's rich cycling culture and vast infrastructure, there was a noticeable absence of groups specifically representing their community. To address this, they created Oak Leaf Familia to encourage more Latinos, immigrants and refugees to take to the trails and roads. For them, it's not just about cycling; it's about representation and community building.

The club's name, Oak Leaf Familia, is derived from the Oak Leaf Trail, a unique and cherished piece of Milwaukee's trail infrastructure that runs right past our Radio Milwaukee studios. Eric and Sergio wanted to ensure more people from their community could fully experience the trail, which had previously been a limited resource for many, confined to certain neighborhoods. By promoting the Oak Leaf Trail, they aim to highlight Milwaukee's cycling opportunities and encourage a broader appreciation of this valuable resource.

Beyond cycling, Oak Leaf Familia focuses on connecting with the broader community and raising awareness about important issues, both locally and globally. The team believes that every action, including riding a bike, has political implications, especially for marginalized communities. They emphasize the importance of cultural competency and staying informed about global issues affecting immigrants and refugees.

One significant international connection is with the Gaza Sunbirds, a para-athletic cycling team in Gaza. The Sunbirds represent Gaza on the global stage, including the Paralympics. Recently, they have taken on a new role: distributing aid to starving people in Gaza. Oak Leaf Familia sees these cyclists as kindred spirits, sharing similar passions and struggles, and emphasizes the need for solidarity and support.

For more details on Oak Leaf Familia’s inception, mission and future connections with the Milwaukee community, listen to my interview with Eric and Sergio using the player at the top of the page, and visit Oak Leaf Familia on Instagram to learn more about their efforts and get info about their next group ride.

One more reminder: For just a few more days, you could enter to win a brand-new bike we’re giving away at the end of this month, courtesy of our friends at Fyxation. All you need to do is make a donation of any amount to Radio Milwaukee between now and May 31. For more information and photos of the very handsome bicycle you could win, head over to our membership page.

88Nine Asst. Program Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee