Training for Dirty Kanza 200 or looking for some long miles in the saddle? The annual “Bone Ride” could be your next ride. It happens annually on the 3rd Wednesday in May. You can even mark your calendar now for next year because it’s been going on for 33 years, rain or shine!

The ride was conceived by Tom Schuler and he runs it to this day. In the 1980s, Tom and his teammates from the 7-Eleven Cycling Team used this 160-mile ride to train for the upcoming season. There is no registration, just show up and ride!

Ride logistics

What: The Bone Ride is a 160-mile ride from Milwaukee, WI to Madison, WI and back. There is an option that is 125 miles if you leave from Velo City in Pewaukee, WI.

When: Third Wednesday in May.

Where: The ride leaves at 8:00 AM from 1601 N 57th St, Milwaukee WI, 53208. I recommend that you arrive at 7:30 AM to get organized and roll at 8:00 AM. There is an option to leave from Velo City in Pewaukee, WI: 203 W Wisconsin Ave, Pewaukee, WI 53072. I’ve never started from this location, but I estimate that the group reaches this point between 8:45 and 9:00 AM. Next year I’m going to start from this spot because the roads between the starting point and Velo City are full of cracks and potholes.

Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27494263

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Bone-Ride-62995443077/

The scoop

There is not much information available anywhere about the ride, so I will summarize what I know from participating in it for a few years.

There is SAG. In 2018 and 2019, there were two vehicles that provided support. They can help with mechanicals, carry support equipment for the stop in Madison, and motor pace if you get a flat. Everyone pitches in $10 for the SAG vehicles, so bring some cash.

Everyone rides out to Madison at an easier pace, between 18 and 22 mph. If you plan to stay with the lead group coming home, do not spend time at the front going west. Everyone stops for lunch in Madison for 30 – 45 minutes. The “fireworks” start on the way back, heading east. That’s when we get broken up into groups of various speeds. It’s when the hammering begins.

The group does not stop for flats or mechanicals, so be prepared to fix the problem yourself if something goes wrong and SAG is not around. The fastest group maintain speeds between 25 and 35 mph on the flats. The hammering continues all the way to the very end (baring the last 3 miles of stop lights and car traffic).

Pro tips

  • Arrive 45 minutes early, parking fills up early.
  • Bring $10 for the SAG vehicles.
  • The roads leaving Milwaukee for the first 15 miles are terrible, with man eating potholes and large cracks. Consider leaving from Pewaukee instead.
  • If you plan to ride with the lead group, don’t work much heading west.
  • No one stops for flats or mechanicals. If you get one, be prepared to fix the problem or wait for SAG.
  • Carry plenty of water. Coming back, everyone seems to run out and the lead group does not always stop. I carried (2) 32 oz bottles and ran out of hydration in both years.
  • Coming back expect a cross wind that changes throughout the day.
  • REMEMBER SUNSCREEN. With the weather being cold in this area for so long, it’s easy to forget that on a sunny day you can get sunburn. I forgot sunscreen in both years and fried my left leg coming home from the setting sun.

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