There’s nothing surprising about yet another Milwaukee summer event canceling its plans for 2020—but that doesn’t make each cancelation any less painful. Take the Riverwest 24, the 24-hour bike race/neighborhood party/feel-good shindig of the summer that usually takes place in July. Well, it won’t be taking place this year at all. Ugh. In its place, however, organizers promise, well, “something.”

“Friends, to be clear, ‘registration’ for a race, as you know it, is not going to occur,” organizers posted to Facebook last Friday. “What we’re asking that you ‘register’ for this year is to volunteer for our local Mutual Aid projects, helping our community through this. You’ll get your name on the 2020 (symbolic) leaderboard, a t-shirt, an assignment, and a swell in your heart. That’s about all we can promise right now.

“In regards to July 24, we will try to have ‘something’ that weekend, but we don’t know what. Key word is try. It will not be a race and there will not [be] laps and manifests and check points and port o potties. But we will do our best to make you smile.”

Put another way: there won’t be a Riverwest 24 race in 2020, but the spirit of Riverwest 24 will live on. Works for us!

Here’s a longer email organizers sent to riders and volunteers:

Dear RW24 Riders and Beloved Volunteers:

Our organizing team has been meeting virtually over the past few weeks and we want to keep you in the loop as best we can.

We agreed as an organizing team that planning a “race as usual” would not be the best use of our unique energies and skills, especially when none of us can predict the reality of life three months from now…and let’s be honest, this race is germy AF. Now is NOT the time to hand someone a manifest that has been in your mouth since Clarke Street.

As we said in our previous email, the RW24 has always been about building community. Every year the organizing team meets and debates and makes changes that attempt to move us closer to that core value. We keep old traditions and create new ones. We do our best to pull off this crazy project, to have a good time, and to remind each other what can get done as a ragtag group of unpaid organizers, riders, volunteers, and neighbors.

While this year is no different in that aspect, events out of our control have added challenges that we have decided to address head on. We didn’t want to waste our time and we didn’t want to waste your hope. Instead, we are taking stock of what we are good at, and what has been important to us and the event since it was started. We have all spent the past 13 years getting ready for this moment.

Here we go.

Riverwest24 2020:

1) We will not be counting laps or handing out points. This is the biggest change. Scoring is what we spend most of our energy building the infrastructure for every year.

2) We will host a celebration either in person, distanced, or virtually on July 24-25. The details depend on the circumstances as we get closer. We will do what we can do, and we know all of you will do what you can to make this an incredible weekend. It is the People’s Holiday after all.

3) There will be a registration, you can sign up, and you will receive a shirt. In addition to whatever the celebration becomes, we will use funds that typically support all of the normal event infrastructure to support mutual aid projects in our city. We are working out the details on how and when to sign up, but will let you know as soon as we can.

4) We will activate our volunteer base to support critical mutual aid projects happening in our city. We are good at turnout, wrangling, and directing people where to be. We will be listening to and supporting some incredibly inspiring people around the city who have their own projects already rolling. Projects that we hope will have a larger impact with your support.

We all know this is not how the RW24 usually goes down, but every one of us knew weeks ago that this isn’t how life usually goes down. Every one of us also knows that the People’s Holiday is what we make of it as neighbors. But we have time to figure that part out. So let’s focus on today. Let’s focus our collective energy and skills on concrete help NOW where it is needed NOW. By harnessing the energy and passion of our riders and volunteers we can help our community with the many new challenges it faces.

Stay tuned as we release details about ways to put ourselves to work for health, safety, justice, and community, right here at home.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.