On the last Friday in July, I am usually getting my bike and gear, costume included, ready for what some Milwaukeeans have come to call “The People’s Holiday” – the Riverwest 24. It is one of my most favorite holidays of the year, but sadly this year, I, like the 2,000 other annual participants, won’t be riding.
This 24-hour volunteer-led bike race started in 2007 and goes through Milwaukee’s Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. It is a celebration of community, with points scored for every lap completed, but also offering additional points for each bonus checkpoint completed. Bonus checkpoints are opportunities for the riders to engage with their community directly through activities like sifting compost with Kompost Kids, purchasing food items for the Riverwest Food Pantry, cheering on the kids at the Kids 24 (a quick 24-minute bike race), or painting a map on one of the local schools’ concrete.
Participants also have the opportunity to eat dinner together before the race and breakfast together early Saturday morning at All People’s Church. The Riverwest 24 offers a plethora of ways for riders, volunteers, and viewers to build community and to recognize how wonderful that community is.
This year, the Riverwest 24 leadership team made the difficult decision, like many other annual events, to not host an in-person race. However, they are still finding ways to support and uplift Milwaukee and continue to build community. Individuals can still register as a participant and receive a custom t-shirt, designed by local artist, Alex Scott. All of the funds raised by the race this year will be distributed to local organizations – Ayuda Mutua MKE, Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), Milwaukee Freedom Fund, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), Mothers for Justice United, Wisconsin Voices, and Diverse & Resilient.
While pre-registration is closed, you are still able to purchase a shirt and support these local organizations today from 2-7 p.m. at Garden Park, located on the corner of Bremen Street and Locust Street. Masks are required and hand sanitizer and washing stations will be provided. To learn more about this year’s Riverwest 24, visit their Facebook page.