Featured National Bike Challenge League: The Town-Gown Showdown

June 23, 2015

Megan McCloskey, National Bike Challenge coordinator


Three passionate participants of the Town-Gown Showdown

Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? That’s what makes the National Bike Challenge so much fun, which is why we like to keep track of all of the Leagues taking part in the Challenge. Leagues are a great way for multiple companies or teams to create mini competitions within the Challenge. This year, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the Town-Gown Showdown.

Gordie Bennett, the Sustainability Director at the Milwaukee County Government, initially created the Town-Gown Showdown. Since there are a lot of colleges and universities in Milwaukee, Gordie thought it would be fun to have a local government versus college competition. He was excited to start the League, but even more excited by the turnout once the Challenge started. “I’m just flabbergasted and amazed at how successful it’s been. I would give the most credit to respective organizations involved,” he says.

The other organizations involved are the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). All in all, the League encompasses 172 riders. Although the League is new this year, many riders involved have been using the Challenge for some time now. MMSD has used the Challenge over the past few years and when approached by Gordie to join the League, saw it as a great opportunity to take their involvement to the next level. “The League has upped the ante for us a bit, making the Challenge seem really local and personal. We know and work with many of the people on the other teams. My husband is on the UWM team, for instance, and I can’t let him leave me in the dust!” says Karen Sands, Manager of Sustainability at MMSD.

This type of friendly competition is just what makes the Town-Gown Showdown so successful and fun to be a part of. To get their respective teams going, each organization set out to promote the Challenge through word of mouth and newsletters. Since biking is important to all three groups, it wasn’t difficult to get people involved. “Biking is an important alternative in our urban environment. The beautiful weather from late spring until fall in Milwaukee opens up this two-wheeled option that is also better for our health and pocket books,” says Kate M. Nelson, Chief Sustainability Officer for UWM.

With such a great start to the League, Gordie has some big plans for the rest of the Challenge. He recently announced the “Golden Tricycle” Town-Gown Showdown Trophy, which by the looks of it, will be passed back and forth for years to come. To showcase how much fun they are having, we will leave you with these last words from Karen, “We love our frienemies on the other teams, but we’re going to smoke them by the end of the summer!” Check out the League’s leaderboard to see where they stand.

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