Bicycling isn’t just a fun summer activity. The great Jewish physicist and cyclist Albert Einstein viewed it as a metaphor for life in general.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving,” he said.
Dr. Menachem Graupe of Mequon, in an interview about his own cycling enthusiasm, recalled that “Einstein used to bike ride because he never learned to drive a car. He never figured out how to drive the car but he figured out a lot of other things.”
Perhaps bicycling also may have helped Einstein think better. Milwaukee East Side resident Steve Weinstein said it definitely helps him do so.
“I got into bicycling because it is a phenomenal way to relieve stress and provide self-therapy,” Weinstein said in a recent interview. “It’s a wonderful time to reflect, whether on Torah, finances [or] work.”
Weinstein also is a bicycle collector. He owns two standard-looking bikes, a recumbent, two racing bikes, an adult tricycle, and two antique cruisers with white-wall tires that he uses only on special occasions.
Bicycling also is an activity that can be as much social as individual. Joe Kasle of River Hills has organized five annual “Tribe Rides” for local Jews and is planning a sixth for this coming September.
In an interview, Kasle said, “It’s always a treat when people show up and even after all these years, I’d have no idea who they were. It’s the only time of the year that I see them, but I make a connection.”
He said that the Tribe Ride has attracted 40 to 75 participants, depending on weather.
Attorney and Bayside resident, Daniel Goldberg, connects his passion for bicycling with his legal career.
“My practice involves speaking to bicycle clubs and organizations about rules of the road, cyclists rights and responsibilities, advocacy issues, and community involvement,” he said in an interview. He also has a bicycling website, http://wibikelaw.com.
For Graupe, Weinstein and Goldberg, there’s an essential family component to bicycling. “I like it because it can be one on one with the kids or the whole family,” said Graupe.
Weinstein’s family situation is different, as both his children are young adults living in different states. This leaves time for Weinstein and his wife, Barbara, to reinforce their marriage through bicycling on their tandem.
“We try to get out a couple times a week on the tandem,” he said. “It’s a wonderful time for the two of us. It helps us work together. It’s great communication for the both of us.”
And when the Weinsteins visit their two out-of-town daughters, they make sure to ride bicycles in their respective cities.
Bicycling allows people to explore outside Milwaukee. Weinstein has bicycled in 23 states, including Alaska.
His favorite annual ride is the “Five Borough Bike Tour” in early May, when “35,000 to 40,000 bicyclists tour all five boroughs [of New York City].” Weinstein has ridden across the Verrazano Bridge (connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island), the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Goldberg has also biked in many different places, riding 5,000 to 6,000 miles per year and has been doing so for the past 20 years.
Bicycling also allows whole families to enjoy new adventures. The Graupes take family trips to Mackinac Island, located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.
According to Graupe, officials on that island “don’t allow cars, only bikes and horseback. There are bicycles everywhere. [We] leave the car in the parking lot, take the ferry across, and wander around the island for a few days.”
Back home in Milwaukee, Graupe and Weinstein noted there are numerous bicycling events for everyone.
Weinstein particularly enjoys one sponsored by the New Belgium Brewing Company. This “New Belgium Clips Beer & Film Tour” is scheduled to take place at Veterans Park on Aug. 15, and benefits local non-profit organizations.
The Graupe family participates in “Ride on the Wild Side,” the one day during the year when cyclist can ride in the Milwaukee County Zoo. This event is scheduled for Sept. 15.
For a list of more events and bicycling interests specific to Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Bike Fed organization, of which Goldberg is an integral member and where Weinstein sits on the board of directors, http://wisconsinbikefed.org.
According to its website, Bike Fed is asking Wisconsinites to take “The Wisconsin Bike Challenge.” The challenge, which began May 1 and runs through Sept. 30, asks Wisconsin residents to log their biking miles on-line in hopes of beating last year’s collective one million miles.
Bicycle riding in the city of Milwaukee will become even easier, as attorney and Shorewood resident, Bruce Keyes, is helping coordinate bicycles that can be shared throughout Milwaukee.
In a program called Midwest Bikeshare, Inc., by paying annually or daily, members can access a bicycle at any time from kiosks throughout the city. Similar systems are in place in New York, Minneapolis, Denver and Washington D.C.
Keyes was also instrumental in creation of the Hank Aaron State Trail. Keyes noted, “All of my charitable activities are about community building; from synagogue, to my decade long involvement in getting the Hank Aaron State Trail built, to the Menomonee Valley, to Bikeshare.”
All of this bicycling has translated into healthier bodies. Graupe and Weinstein mention they feel more physically fit, and Graupe added that bicycling can make a whole family healthier.
“My kids, who don’t like to exercise, will think nothing at all of an eight mile [bicycle] trip for a scoop of ice cream,” Graupe said, “and they have the greatest time in the world.”
Joshua Becker (joshuabecker.info) is a Spanish teacher for Shorewood Public Schools and a freelance writer.