Trip 2.0 to Milwaukee in July proved much more enjoyable than Trip 1.0 to Milwaukee in May. Reasons? Presence of warm weather, sun, lots of people... and a complete absence of teeming swarms of tiny black Lake Michigan flies of a pernicious and pestilent variety not known to ISWE's home roads of central Indiana. In July, with nary a bug in sight, the sights of Milwaukee unfold. Above, we see the ISWE Brommie at Stop 1 on our trip, admiring Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum's Quadracci Pavilion in fully unfolded form.
Next to Calatrava's wing/bird/ship thing (actually attached to it), we discovered a bit of an Indiana connection in the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center (WMC). The WMC was designed by Eero Saarinen. Americans probably know Eero Saarinen best for his design of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, but fans also know Eero and his father, Eliel Saarinen for their architectural work in Columbus, Indiana (featured in a past ISWE ride). We've ridden circle after circle around Eero's amazing North Christian Church and Henry Moore's Large Arch sculpture, which perfectly frames Eliel's equally amazing First Christian Church. Eliel is especially admirable for having somehow convinced a bunch of conservative Indiana farmers and factory workers to go along with his plan for such a innovative, contemporary design in 1942! As ISWE persistently endeavors to convince people to go for innovative, contemporary, small-wheel and folding bikes, we always hold Eliel in high esteem.
Stop 2: Shop visit at Crank Daddy's Bicycle Works. On ISWE rides, we always like to stop at an indigenous shop or two to check out the small wheel stock. Finding? No small wheels at all. This came as a surprise because Milwaukee is packed with urban apartments. Small apartments, small bikes. Perfect match. Hmmm? I'd think they would sell quite a few. But what's this? Not only did they have no small wheel bikes, they had a couple daunting, big-wheel behemoths instead, Specialized Fatboys. Holy cow were these things big! Those are whopping 26" x 4.6" tires. Who would want such a beast? The guy working at the store, that's who. Apparently, these things are actually fun to ride and can "go places other bikes can't," e.g., snow, sand, or mud. Points conceded, but there is one place they can't go that the Brommie can and that's inside the trunk of the VW Jetta :)
People often think of small wheel bikes as oddities. How could you ride that? Normal bikes have 26" wheels, right? Wrong. Small wheels are just about everywhere in the form of BMX and Freestyle bikes. This is proof positive of the durability, practicality, and usability of small wheels. Perhaps no other bikes take more abuse than BMX and Freestyle bikes. Ride down stairs, jump them off a wall, or pound them into the concrete of a skate park and they just keep on rolling. More later on this topic!