As the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down last year, people of all ages were left with no other choice but to rethink their approach to work, travel, shopping and socialization.
And while most regularly scheduled gatherings were either postponed or cancelled altogether, some thought outside the box, reimagining or creating new events.
Enter the new Bike Brookfield Week — a salute to Brookfield, neighborly camaraderie and nature, redeveloped from a popular (and crowded) 10K cycling event into a multi-day, interactive and self-guided ride through Brookfield where participants have up to one week to travel to 20 designated stations throughout the village.
Originally created in 2015 as a community bike ride through Brookfield and the Salt Creek Trail, the event, which is co-hosted by the village of Brookfield and nonprofit bike advocacy group Cycle Brookfield, typically drew around 400 people.
It was created to encourage recreational biking, teach people learn the importance of bike safety and demonstrate how traveling through Brookfield on two wheels can put a whole new perspective on travel and exercise.
“Though we’re no longer having the 10K, we just want to showcase the best of Brookfield and hopefully encourage people to get out by bike in their town,” said Christopher Valadez, Brookfield resident and founder/vice president of Cycle Brookfield.
Similar to last year, Bike Brookfield Week 2021 kicks off Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7 a.m. outside The Compassion Factory Art Gallery and Studio, 9210 Broadway Ave.
There, cyclists will scan a QR code revealing a map of other stations across town and embark on either a day-long or week-long journey to the various spots on the map, depending on how eager they are to hit as many spots as they can at once.
Though some of the stops along this year’s route may be similar to last year, Valadez said event organizers wanted to add an element of surprise and don’t want to preview all of the exact spots and details of this year’s route.
“We’re being intentionally a little mysterious because we want folks to explore and get to know the town,” he said. “We’re not revealing all the stations across town, but we are driving them to some of the stations of our partnered businesses with free perks, like free art classes and free snacks.”
Participants of all ages have until Friday, Sept. 17 to finish the route, though Valadez encourages people to sign up early. The first 200 finishers will receive free Bike Brookfield T-shirts.
At the conclusion of the event on Sept. 17, Cycle Brookfield and Bike Brookfield organizers will meet at 6 p.m. at The Compassion Factory, where grand prizes will be given to select participants and the group will embark on a trip across “Park Your Ride” spots across town.
Park Your Ride is the inaugural village-wide art project featuring uniquely decorated bikes displayed across Brookfield through the end of September.
Despite having to tweak Bike Brookfield in 2020, Valadez says last year’s week-long event saw just over 200 participants complete the entire map, with upwards of 100 more people who at least visited one or two Bike Brookfield stops throughout the course.
“Last year, we really saw families leverage the opportunity we were trying to create, which is just to be out on your bike all week long and enjoy Brookfield,” Valadez said.
Aside from enjoying the neighborhoods, Valadez also hopes children and families will sign up for the event as a way to both savor the season and learn new safety tips along the way.
“We’ve endured some hot heat and humidity over the past few weeks, and September is a great time to get out and ride your bike,” he said. “With kids back in school, many of them are heading to school on bikes, so if this event can help them learn a new route or a safer route, then the mission of this event is served.”
In addition, interested cyclists who may not have access to a smartphone or be tech-savvy can stop by The Compassion Factory for a paper copy of the Bike Brookfield map.
At the end of Bike Brookfield, Valadez says he hopes people consider becoming a member of Cycle Brookfield, which not only hosts other group programs throughout the year, but has also recently started a membership program which includes discounts and freebies at various supporting businesses and local establishments.
“We definitely encourage folks to become members of Cycle Brookfield because not only does that allow us to continue hosting events like this, but we also have member perks.”
For more information on membership rates, Cycle Brookfield and Bike Brookfield 2021, visit cyclebrookfield.com.