Friday, December 13, 2019

Remembering The Washington County Bicycle Club

Here’s Jimmy on a WCBC ride in 2014. (Denny Bolinger photo)

Five years ago today, the Washington County Bicycle Club voted itself out of existence. Nothing has sprung up to take its place on the road, and locally-organized group rides are now exceedingly rare. But there’s hope, says Jim Scharrer, who was perhaps the WCBC’s most enthusiastic member.

“I have wondered if the old WCBC group would like second Saturday show-and-go rides during summer,” Scharrer said recently. “And maybe there would be interest in a Thursday night ‘Bikes, Bands and Brews’ ride starting and finishing at Music on Main in downtown West Bend.”

Since the demise of the WCBC, Scharrer has continued to ride locally as a member of Milwaukee’s Cream City Cycle Club.

“They schedule Washington County rides every year,” Scharrer said, “and they are great at planning camping and touring events.”

Milwaukee’s Bay View Bicycle Club also makes occasional visits to Washington County, and the Ozaukee Bicycle Club includes our roads on almost all of its weekly rides. But Scharrer says it’s not these dedicated road clubs that offer the greatest potential for growth.

“Metro Milwaukee Mountain Bikers has filled the (Washington County) bike club gap,” Scharrer says, highlighting the group’s strong advocacy for the development of Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area as a true mountain bike park. “And there is a great high school mountain biking program/team. Maybe some of these riders will find their way onto the road.”

Offering an extensive mix of on-road and off-road options, the newly-adopted Washington County Bikeway & Trail Network Plan also offers hope for the growth of local cycling, Scharrer says.

“The Washington County plan has benefits for all types of cyclists. Washington County and the surrounding area has some great low-traffic, well-maintained country roads. The Eisenbahn State Trail developed into a handy, safe way to access those scenic side roads from West Bend. Now, the county plan ties in perfectly with the Route of the Badger. Tie this into Dodge County and the progress being made on the Gold Star Memorial Trail connecting Mayville to Beaver Dam and the Wild Goose State Trail, and wow! Thanks to the people advocating and helping to connect all the trails.”

Enthusiasm for the bike park project at Glacial Blue Hills has led to a popular mountain bike ride there on Tuesdays, organized by Pedal Moraine. The new network of paved bike paths in the county plan may lead to group rides of a very different kind, something that is neither mountain biking nor traditional road riding. Whatever may come, as long as people are enjoying themselves on bikes, you can be sure Scharrer will welcome it. But when asked about his most enduring memory of the old Washington County Bike Club, he recalls perhaps the most hard-core ride in its history.

“The Alps of Ashford Ride!” Scharrer remembers: October 10, 2009. “Snow flurries, hills, more hills, scrapping the cuesheet and following bike tire tracks in the slush, post-ride beers at the Riverside Brewery … good times with good folks!”

It was like that sometimes, and maybe it could be like that again.

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