YP Week “Moving Bicycling Forward” event in top floor of the US Bank Building with Trek CEO, John Burke

Update: This event is now SOLD OUT. I plan on recording John Burke’s presentation, as well as other parts of the event, and uploading the video online shortly after.

Newaukee is hosting YP Week again this year, which runs from Saturday, April 12th through Saturday, April 19th. Join us again for the “Moving Bicycling Forward” event on Wednesday, April 16th on the top floor of the US Bank Building, featuring keynote speaker John Burke, CEO of Trek Bicycles.

From YP Week’s website

“Meet us at the top of the US Bank Building for a breathtaking view of the city and learn about Trek Bikes and the future of biking in a modern city. Lunch will be included in the program, but a registration is required, be sure to include your email.

This program is $10 and lunch is included — come hungry to learn! A reservation is REQUIRED for attendance. There are limited spots for this program. ! Parking info here: Parking Info

Speaker Information
John Burke began working at Trek Bicycle in 1984 and has been president of the company since 1997. In addition to leading Trek, John served as chairmen of President Georg W. Bush’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. John is a founding member of the Bikes Belong Coalition, now People For Bikes, which seeks to get more people on bikes more often. In 2013 John became a published author with his first book, One Last Great Thing, the story of the amazing life and lessons of his father Dick who founded the bicycle company. An avid cyclist and runner, John and his wife Tania live in Madison Wisconsin.

Event Sponsors
Foley and Lardner, LLP
Robert W. Baird

Community Partners
Wisconsin Bike Federation
Vulture Space
Wheel and Sprocket
Midwest Bike Share

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Milwaukee Bike Polo Club Fundraiser on Saturday, 4/19

Click here for more information.

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Spring Bike Fixing Workshop on Saturday, 4/5

The Center Street Free Space, located at 703 E. Center in Riverwest, is hosting a Spring Bike Fixing Workshop on Saturday, April 5th. Come check out the space and tune up your bike for spring/summer, help others do the same, and just hang out with some new friends.

They could also use some help getting a few recently donated bicycles fixed up to get their bicycle library off the ground.

“Bring your bikes to fix up! Expendables you should bring with you (chains, tubes, etc.). A bunch of parts will be available, such as: cranks, pedals, derailleurs, brakes, forks, bars, stems. Post pictures and descriptions of the bike(s) you plan to bring and what parts and tools you can contribute/bring with!

Tools that we have and will bring:
-Pedal wrench
-Crank puller
-Truing stand
-Cup/Cone wrenches
-Crescent wrenches
-Torque wrenches
-Spoke keys
-Headset wrench
-Pin spanner
-External bottom bracket splined installer
-Various freewheel removers
-Allen wrenches
-Tire irons

If you have it, bring:
-Any of the above things (more tools is better)
-Bike stands
-A larger variety of freewheel removers
-Anything else you can think of
-Acoustic guitars, etc.”

The CSFS is a “Library, show/event/meeting space, screenprinting workshop, and general hang out place.” For more information, check out their Facebook page or contact them at centerstreetfreespace@riseup.net.

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Vulture Space: Call For Artists For Bike To Work Week

Call For Artists:

Vulture Space is looking for bicycle-themed artwork to be sold/raffled at the upcoming Bike to Work Week event, “Art for Bike’s Sake”, a fundraiser to support, encourage, educate and party.. all in the name and for bikes! The event will be held at the new Anodyne Cafe, located on 3rd & Bruce, on Friday, May 16th from 5-9pm.

If you want to submit artwork, or have any questions/inquiries, please get in touch! Completed artwork is due by Thursday, May 1st.

Contact Info
Evan Pack, evan@vulturespace.org


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Milwaukee Underwear Bike Ride on Friday The 13th (Full Moon)

Save the date..

The Milwaukee Underwear Bike Ride is back for it’s fifth summer of monthly rides. The first one lands on a full moon, Friday, June 13th.

More info coming soon..

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My day running around the Eastside Music Tour

(Artwork by Matt Chic / Night Light Comics. Contact me for screenprinted posters, stickers, and coozies)

My day started at around 8am, waking up feeling anxious with a million things to get done. Not too different from every other day this past month. I had to get down to Brady Street early to start setting up the tent and staging outside of Hi Hat, Casablanca, and PAs at a bunch of different venues.

I grabbed a drink and some vegan bakery from Brewed Cafe, one of the places I miss most since moving away from Brady. Little did I know this is all I would eat for most of the day.

(photo by Pat A. Robinson, “Eastside Music Tour” Tap Snaps)

I continued making the rounds at the spaces hosting shows, checking in to see how everything was coming together. We had bands checking in in the early afternoon, and were supposed to start running our box office for ticket pick-up and day-of sales at the Hi Hat at 3pm. People were already popping in and asking about tickets, calling the bars, etc. so that 3pm quickly turned into a 1pm.

I think the feeling of “this is really happening” hit me when I checked back in at the make-shift venue we turned Casablanca into for the night, and watched WHY? soundcheck with “Strawberries”.

It was only mid-afternoon, but things were going smoothly and the street was starting to come alive. The snow was coming down thick, but I knew it was going to be a good night.

Altos started the day off strong in the 88Nine heated outdoor stage. The last time I saw them was as an expanded 18-piece, performing a live score to the silent Russian cinema classic Earth at the 2013 Milwaukee Film Festival. I’ve been itching to see them again since, and they played some great new material. Watch them play part of “Sing (For Trouble)” in a great video that was filmed and produced by Lee Matz (Milwaukee Business Journal), featuring live footage and interviews from throughout the day.

Though the street got more and more packed as the day progressed, I feel like playing an early set is enjoyable as a band – you get done playing, load out, and can just enjoy yourself with no responsibilities or places you have to be for the rest of the evening. I know some people played two or three different sets throughout the day (ahem, Myles Coyne).

That was definitely the case with Altos, as I ran into them multiple times throughout the night. We all enjoyed a nice, intimate set from Twin Brother at Brewed Cafe. They finished their set strong with “Blood Money and Treason”, the title-track of their late 2013 release.

(Twin Brother at Brewed Cafe, photo by Steve Roche)

I was able to catch a few songs at from Midnight Reruns at Up N Under. Jetty Boys, their Good Land Records label mates, had to cancel last minute, so Midnight Reruns started late to help fill the time leading up to Direct Hit! at 9pm. As last year should have proved to us, the venue unfortunately doesn’t really care about this event (or supporting the local music scene), and neglected to staff a sound guy again. They were a hassle to work with last year, and treated both the bands and myself like shit. This proved true again this year year when the owner kicked Brett Newski and his band out of the venue, refusing to let him play and telling him to “never step foot in here again”.

Mike Maimone from Mutts put on a great set at Wolski’s, one of the first shows they’ve had there in years. I didn’t even know they’ve ever had shows there. He played a set full of gruff yet catchy piano-ballads that awakened the spirit of Tom Waits. Mutts had a weekly residency at a venue in Chicago this past February, where Mike invited Kane Place Record Club, Vic And Gab, and The Delta Routine down to play. Thanks for showing Milwaukee some love and support! While watching him, I finally felt like I had a comfortable grasp on things, and was able enjoy a beer before racing off to the next venue.

(Mike Maimone at Wolski’s, photo by Steve Roche)

Earlier in the afternoon I had to run over to the upstairs of Rochambo to sort out some sound issues, and Higher Education Records started the show off with what would be a packed-all-night venue. I was able to swing back to catch part of both Eye.See.You w/ CSYSYK and Dana Coppa & Speak Easy’s sets. The packed second floor felt as if it could collapse at any minute, and I stood atop the cooler in the makeshift Pabst-and-whiskey-shot bar in the corner for a better view. I know that WebsterX killed it, but unfortunately had to miss him perform with Fresh Cut Collective, who performed four times that night – backing Dana Coppa & Speak Easy, WebsterX, and Klassik, as well as a Fable And The World Flat set.

(Fresh Cut Collective just released “MKE: A Music Sampler” online, featuring tracks from Fable And The World Flat, Klassik, Midwest Death Rattle, BLAX, and WebsterX)

(WebsterX at Rochambo, photo by fb user Channing Sabir Tooth Tiger”)

Part of the reason I missed WebsterX is because half of the guys in Hewn flipped their trailer while driving through some rough weather on their way in from Madison. I got the call letting me know they had to cancel, and was just glad to hear that everyone was alright. They were one of my favorite sets to see last year at Nomad, and I know they were upset to have to cancel. Shortly after I got another call – they simply wouldn’t take no for an answer, and figured out a different ride the rest of the way into Milwaukee, borrowed gear from Midwest Death Rattle (thanks!), and still played a late set. Fuck, talk about commitment.

(Hewn’s trailer flipped over in a ditch)

I was able to catch part of both Maritime and Kane Place Record Club at the outdoor tent. It might have been the sold-out all access wristbands keeping people from packing that tent, but you missed out if skipped either of their sets. Maritime played a rare basement show in Riverwest the last time I saw them, which was a blast, but it was nice to hear them well-mixed with full sound. The band’s wives and children were in attendance, which is not an odd-sight at any of Maritime/The Promise Ring’s shows as of late. They played a setlist of familiar songs, and a couple new unrecorded songs. Kane Place Record Club played a soulful, energetic, and confetti-filled set that filled the entire tent with smiles. They are one of my favorite bands to see in the city, but their live show does them better justice than any of their recordings. Nonetheless, I still love their 2013 self-titled release and wish nothing but great things for these guys.

(Kane Place Record Club, photo by Megan Zarnott)

Sat. Nite Duets played to a packed room at Roman Coin, which proved to be the case for everyone else that played there that evening. I didn’t even attempt to push my way to the front, the sounded great from where I stood. All I could see was the drummer playing atop a pool-table-turned-stage. This band never disappoints. Even though “Electric Manland” just came out at the end of last year, I’m anxiously waiting for the next full length.

After dealing with a couple other responsibilities on the other side of the block, I was biking back to Roman Coin again to catch Soul Low’s set when I was stopped by Mama Digdown’s Brass Band marching down the street to a growing crowd dancing and following along with them. They marched for blocks, playing all the way as they entered The Garage and took the stage for their set. Easily one of my favorite moments of the night.

I snuck away a few songs in, making my way over to De La Buena, the first band I was able to see at Casablanca. A last minute addition to the festival, they had everyone smiling and dancing throughout their set. I picked up on some uncertainty from the owner as we were completely rearranging his upstairs in the morning, but was relieved to see him enjoying himself once everything came into fruition.

I made it back down to the outdoor stage to catch P.O.S. The tent was starting to really fill up, and certainly would have been at capacity if everyone who bought an all-access tickets decided to go to their show. They were one of the last sets of the night, and with plenty of room in the tent, we last-minute decided to let anyone with a wristband into the show. P.O.S frontman, Stef Alexander, is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. I found myself so wrapped up in his set that a younger, more reckless me front-flipped off the stage.

Right after P.O.S’s We Don’t Even Live Here came out in fall 2012, Stef had to cancel a tour supporting the album due to some health complications he was going through. In response to the set back, he successfully crowd-sourced a new kidney for himself that fall. He finished his set on Saturday by announcing that this would be his last song before getting his kidney transplant five days later, which was met with the excited, supportive screams from the entire crowd. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had goosebumps from the feeling we all shared at that moment.

(video shot/edited by Brendan Jones – Stef, “Wish me luck, I’ll see you guys in a few months!”)

I raced back over to Casablanca to catch the end of WHY’s set. It’s hard to put words to how good it is to see this band play live. Despite a couple unexpected sound issues, they put on a great show as always. The last couple times I’ve seen them play was in Madison, and I’m glad they finally made their way to Milwaukee. Josiah Wolf was a sweetheart and traded some EMT screenprinted posters for a few dated WHY? screenprinted posters, and hooked me up with a tshirt and copy of “Elephant Eyelash” on vinyl. I ran into Stef again, who had rushed over hoping to catch the end of their set too.

It’s nice seeing a festival full of artists that truly enjoy and support each others music. That’s probably an even better description for Milwaukee’s music scene as a whole.

I wrapped up at Casablanca and raced over to try and catch the end of Juiceboxxx at Roman Coin, but he had unfortunately just finished. Though I missed his set, I was able to catch up with him and some friends after. To get above head-level, he shouted into his mic atop a bar stool, then eventually from on top of the bar itself. (sorry if he accidentally knocked over some tap handles, Donna)

On to my next venture – Hosed On Brady for Enabler. As I showed up, I ran into my friend Jeff Lohrber (guitarist/vocalist) was already unloading. Enabler’s set had got shut done early set by the owner. They were the last of four bands to play at Hosed On Brady, a tiny tavern just off of Brady Street. Some light moshing and movement in the crowd during what is otherwise always an intense, heavy set from them caused the owner to pull the plug. She had never seen a band like Enabler, and was clearly caught quite off-guard. Hell, Jeff accidentally hit some guy watching their set with his guitar and he had blood dripping from his face, but happily told Jeff that they were the “best thing he’s ever seen”.

The owner called the police after a not-so-positive exchange with the band, which wouldn’t have happened if they could have just finished their set. Some drunk asshole also tried choking Jeff after their set, but was pushed off and rushed out. In the brief scuffle, the guitar neck of Jeff’s Les Paul was broken. On top of some personal turmoil that Jeff was going through, this was his last night in town after seven years living in Milwaukee, and this show was acting as his unofficial going away party. It’s hard enough getting everyone in the band in one city to practice or record, so the band primarily finds itself altogether only for a tour. They’ll be back in town June 1st, Milwaukee – make sure to catch them again then.

Outside of a few friends DJing for the remainder of the night, there was no more bands playing that night (Update – Brett Newski’s show was rescheduled for a late set at Nomad). I checked back in at the outdoor tent as it was being broken down, gathered my things, and officially checked out from my day’s responsibilities.

I met up with my girlfriend, and we left to meet up with our friends in Hewn. We all had a hotel room at the Hilton downtown, the same place P.O.S, WHY?, and Juiceboxxx were all staying. I bumped into JB again as we took taking the elevator up to our room, neither of us knowing his TMJ4 on-air performance would go viral a few days later.

We finally met up with the Hewn fellas and closed the hotel bar, then headed back up to our rooms. We hung out and had a few more drinks, then a few of us went outside to smoke. This quickly turned into a snowball fight and making snow angels, followed by running around the hotel and riding escalators. I got lost from the others, and may or may not have tried getting on the rooftop. I had left my phone and room key up in the room, and couldn’t remember my room number for the life of me. The guy at the check-in desk was being rude and refused to give me my room number, but I luckily caught the guy delivering our chinese food in the lobby and waited with him, knowing my girlfriend would be down shortly to pick it up.

I won’t lie, the rest of the night was kind of a blur.

I woke up the next morning in the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in some time, definitely needing a few more hours of sleep. A somewhat normal Sunday ritual, we made our way to the Riverwest Public House for a bloody to start our day. I ran into Joey Turbo, who had the same thing in mind. I was back to work at 3pm, and back to getting a normal night’s sleep for a chance.

Again, I want to thank everyone that was involved in making this happen – bands, venues, volunteers, sponsors, organizers, and you for attending.

Overall, this year was a huge success, but there’s always room for growth and improvement. I’m already thinking ahead to next year’s festival.. Two days? Expand to another neighborhood? We’ll see..

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My bicycle was stolen today, and it made me realize how much I love my neighborhood

The first summer I lived in Milwaukee, I had a brand new bike stolen out of my apartment when I was on the road with my friends’ band. I’m sure many of you reading this know the feeling, and it unfortunately happens to people more times then I care to say.

Today, I was in a rush and foolishly left my bike unlocked while running into the Riverwest Coop for a minute. I’m in there often and know most of the staff/volunteers by name, so didn’t think much of it especially given that it was 10°, but that’s all it took.

I came outside to no bike, or the Stevemobile as my friend Sam likes to put it, and my heart just sank. It must’ve been a joke. I ran into the street just waiting for a friend to come riding back with my bike, but no one came. I ran back inside and asked if anyone had seen someone leave with it, but no luck.

I immediately called my friend Ayton at Truly Spoken Cycles, and while I got on the phone to make a police report, he already put out the alert to facebook-land. I started walking home, and ran into my friends Sean and Colin who were out riding for Flavor Cycle, and immediately went on the bike-hunt for me. I ran inside and grabbed my girlfriends bike to start making laps in the neighborhood. I zig-zagged all the surrounding neighborhoods, then decided to start exploring west on route to Dream Bikes, the next nearest bike shop that somebody might try selling it at.

It was there that I had a chance to get on my phone to share a photo of my bicycle online, but a handful of friends, neighbors, and complete strangers were already on it. One of those strangers called me, and put me in touch with his neighbor who both saw and took a picture of a few kids with my bike in front of her house. She had shared the photo on the Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) page, and a few friends – Jeremy Prach, one of the Riverwest24 organizers, and Ruth Weill with the RNA – steered my direction there. I emailed the lady who made the post to please call me, thinking it was simply a siting, then raced over to Wright and Dousman, just a few blocks from where it was stolen.

I thought I was going to have to take it back from the thieves, and my friend Sean was on his way over to help me. When I got there and checked my phone, I was comforted with her response of “I have it”, her address, and an invite to simply “come on over”.

She had my bike!

I (like I should’ve in the first place) locked up my bike, and walked up her steps and was greeted by Don Nelson, who you may know from Foundation Tiki Bar. He was his always friendly-self, and welcomed me into his house. His wife Erin was inside holding their baby, and I was greeted by their overly-friendly black poodle, Poppy.

They had noticed a few kids walking with the bike, then saw them trying to get into a few cars along their block as they doubled-back. They noticed it had a Riverwest24 spokecard and was too big for the girl riding it – a pretty clear indication that it wasn’t theirs – and snapped a photo. Don stood on his porch watching them pass a second time, and they ditched my bike in the middle of the street and ran off towards the river. He went outside and got the bike, and stored it safely in his backyard for me.

Don bought his house thirteen years ago, and it was the ugliest one on the block, a real fixer-upper. He now boasts a warm, comfortable home, and is someone you’d love to have as a neighbor.

It was from his home that I biked a few blocks to mine, ghost-riding my girlfriend’s bike alongside me. I walked down the street to get a coffee at Fuel Cafe, and as I’ve typed this all, have been approached by a few concerned friends and acquaintances asking me about what happened.

It made me realize that I’m proud to live in the Riverwest neighborhood, and that I have a lot of the friends and strangers that I’m happy to call neighbors. There is a real sense of community here, and you can’t put a price on that. Life would have gone on without my bike, but it warms my heart to see that there are people here who go out of their way to look out for their neighbors. I love this neighborhood, and everyone I know in it.

Bicycling may be just a ways to commute for you, or a fun hobby, but I’ve always thought of it as a fun, healthy way to bring people together and help create and grow a sense of community in our city.

So what should I take from all of this? Maybe nothing, maybe just happy that I recovered my stolen bicycle, and that no one was hurt. But it’s more then that. It reiterates for me that we should all live more compassionately and take care of one another, and I hope to pass that along to you.

If you ever have your bike stolen, there’s a few things you can do to help recover it;
- Make a police report with a full description of your bike
- Find a photo of your bike, and immediately post share the photo with a description on any/all of your social networks. People will help spread the word.
- Contact all area bicycle shops with the same information.
- Post up a stolen bicycle ad on Craiglist’s “bike for sale” section, and keep an eye on there for someone trying to sell it.
- If you live in Milwaukee, utilize the MKEBKE.com Facebook group. It will reach a wide audience in little time that will help keep an eye out for you. We’re also working on creating a better stolen bike resource to help reunite people with their bicycles.

To prevent bike thefts, make sure you;
- Lock your bike properly with a strong, secure lock (not a cheap cable lock). Kryptonite and Abus both make great locks that have warranties, and you can also register your key and order replacements.
- Make sure you minimally lock your frame to a secure location. Some street poles are loose and can be easily pulled out of the ground, and porches can be broken if someone is really determined to get your bike.
- If you can, bring your bike in your house whenever possible. If you’re leaving it locked up overnight, or even just for a few hours, it’s much safer in your house.
- If you have a larger lock and/or cable, lock up your tires as well. This especially holds true if you have quick release tires. If you can only lock one tire, lock up your back tire, it’s more expensive to replace.
- Some people register their bikes with the city, but having a photo of your bike and/or yourself with it will be helpful in the unfortunate circumstances that yours is stolen.

(Stuporbowl 2013 in Minneapolis)

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Milwaukee to San Francisco, Beaver Boys featured in GQ Magazine

Brian Dillman and Eric Kremin have made quite a name for themselves in the past few years. Since meeting in Milwaukee six years ago, their bike polo team, the Beaver Boys, have conquered the title of North American champions the last two years, and the World Championships both in 2010 and 2013.

Residents of San Francisco since 2012, these two men have been relentless in their passion and growth of the sport. If they haven’t already proved it to a die-hard hard group of players and fans over the last few years, they’re bound to prove to everyone else that they’re the “best damn bike polo team in the world”.

Brian and Eric recently caught up with GQ Magazine who wrote this article on bike polo and the Beavers Boys. You can read the original article here, or read it in it’s entirety below.

(From left to right: Joey Halvorsen, Brian Dillman, and Eric Kremin. Photo by Matthew Reamer)

“Atop their bicycles and in the throes of competitive hardcourt polo, San Francisco’s Beavers do not resemble beavers, or typical professional athletes, or even really men. They look instead like a trio of boys – their knees perpetually bloodied, their cheeks pink with exertion, their bangs slapped across their foreheads in sweaty noodles. Like boys, they shove and tease and threaten. Like boys, they’re skeptical about their own vulnerability and curious about their capacity for pain. They boast and chide and believe in the perfect infallibility of their judgments. They hoot and gloat when they win, and they sulk miserably when they lose.

Right now, they are very far from losing. It’s a warm August night in Minneapolis, and the team – Brian Dillman, Joey Halvorsen and Eric Kremin – is halfway through the final game of the fifth annual North American Bike Polo Championships. The only thing standing between them and their modest spoils (a small cash sum, a homemade trophy and a one year’s supply of bragging rights among the 50 or so other teams here tonight) is Seattle’s Guardians. Beloved in the tightly-knit but rapidly growing bike polo community, The Guardians are lauded for their scrupulous adherence to the sport’s unwritten codes: they do not throw elbows, talk shit or milk the clock. They are fan favorites here, cheered on by many in the crowd who fear that the sport is becoming too rough, too competitive, too ugly.

They are also, at the moment, getting their asses soundly and pitilessly handed to them by The Beavers.

This is because Kremin, Dillman and Halvorsen have very little nostalgia for polo’s subtler proprieties. After years of playing together (first in Milwaukee, where Kremin and Dillman met, and now in the Bay Area, where they picked up Halvorsen), they’ve developed a formula. They play fast and rough. They train hard and “clock in” during tournaments, avoiding alcohol, parties and most social interaction with other teams. Most importantly, they execute an uncannily flexible game. On the court, they’re chameleons – capable of assessing and hammering their opponents’ weak spots with lethal immediacy.

These qualities are what make them both the most exciting team for an outsider to watch, and the most intolerable for many other die-hard polo disciples. If The Beavers, with their elastic strategies and win-at-all-costs mindset, could help the sport make its first foray into some form of mainstream recognition, they’re also its biggest scapegoats – a trio of braggarts intent on uprooting the gritty communality that birthed polo in the first place.

Before going any further, here’s where some basic, technical stuff about American hardcourt bike polo might be of service to the reader. Teams comprise three players, each carrying a three-foot mallet, usually made of light metal and outfitted with a hard plastic head. One end of this head is hollowed out and intended for ball handling; the other is flat, for shooting. Players ride free-wheel bicycles with a front brake and one low gear for prompt acceleration. Games are to five, or to whoever holds the lead after 12 minutes elapse. The sport is played on a regulation-sized roller hockey court – and would in fact resemble hockey, to some degree, if hockey players wore fewer pads and were capable of reaching 30 miles per hour in about three seconds. Each match begins with a “joust,” a sort of macabre hybrid of a jump ball and a game of chicken in which the speediest member from each team sprints from behind his goal toward a resting ball at center court. Player-to-player contact is permissible, which in most cases works to The Beavers’ advantage. They describe their style of play as “gritty, slappy and grabby.

For better or for worse, tonight’s final is a textbook example of Beavers polo. Dillman, who is six-five and deceptively agile, boomerangs out from behind his own goal and scores first. Kremin, a six-two defenseman, follows up 30 seconds later. From there, Dillman goes on a tear. He scores twice more, putting The Beavers up 4-0 with two minutes left to play. At this point, The Guardians tumble into full-blown panic mode. All three of them swoop toward the Beavers’ goal, but it’s a desperate miscalculation. Halvorsen, the smallest and quickest, scoots a pass behind his opponents, setting Dillman up for a fast break. He coasts across the court and taps in the tournament-winning goal. The Beavers hop off their bikes, discard their gloves and hurtle into each other’s arms.

Here’s where something bizarre happens. In your average sports team victory montage, this is where you’d cue the legion of friends and love interests to stream onto the court, doling out back slaps and cheek kisses. Instead, as Kremin cracks open a bottle of champagne and begins spraying his teammates with foam, the crowd goes silent and sort of dissolves. No one rushes in.

The Beavers, now the best bike polo team on this continent, are left holding only each other. They rejoice at the top, kings of a tiny, specific kingdom. They appear fatigued and ecstatic and achingly, unequivocally alone.

If you are like most Americans, you’ve probably never heard of The Beavers, The Guardians or competitive bike polo in general. You are very likely unaware that the sport, in its first iteration on grass, was featured in the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. You didn’t know that its modern, hardcourt version was developed in Seattle 90 years later by a cadre of off-duty bike messengers looking to kill time between assignments – or that it’s now played in dozens of countries, including Ukraine, Thailand, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Brazil, India, Japan and Australia.

Perhaps most crucially, though: you don’t understand why thousands of people across the world would forfeit their own time and dollars (in the Beavers’ case: most of it, and about 15,000 of them every year, respectively), to compete in a sport that’s basically unknown, unappreciated and perpetually penniless. 

It’s this last question that The Beavers are grappling with tonight. A month after their win, we’re sitting in the offices of DZR Shoes, where Dillman, 27, daylights as a sales manager. Located above a Chinese restaurant in a tucked-away alley near San Francisco’s financial district, the place is some combination of retail space, dorm room and tree house. There’s an enormous roll-down projector, rows of carefully positioned sneakers on raw wood shelving, and a cluster of pricey-looking bikes tucked into a rack. There’s also a generous stock of liquor atop an old fridge, a “repurposed” street sign or two, and a grimy fish tank burbling in one corner. The Beavers sip Tecates and review Vimeo footage of their championship win, which Dillman is projecting from a nearby computer. 

“I don’t love the shit out of winning,” he begins. He has a swimmer’s build, a mop of wavy, dirty-blond hair and the hokey vestiges of a Minnesota accent. “I hate losing so much that that is what I win – that I’m not down and doubting everything about my life because I lost a polo tournament.

He pauses for a moment, sips his beer. “A lot of my happiness in life is dependent on winning in polo. Which is ridiculous, perhaps, to some people. But that’s what it means to us.

Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done,” Kremin continues. He’s 24, with Windex-colored eyes, pointy features and a reputation on the court for even pointier elbows. “You’re so ashamed of it. That’s our Monday when we don’t win. You’re at work the next day, just like, ‘Fuck! That sucked! That sucked!’

Kremin and Dillman met, playing pickup, in a freezing Milwaukee parking garage six years ago. They won their first world championship in Berlin in 2010 (they each have a forearm tattoo to prove it), then spent the next couple of years rebuilding after their former teammate, Joe Burge, left the sport. They found 19-year-old Halvorsen when they moved to San Francisco in 2012. Since then, they’ve been dissecting competitors with surgical precision. They’re heavily favored to win the sport’s fifth annual world championship, which is slated to take place in Florida about two months from tonight.”

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VIDEO: “Cranks & Beans” featuring Rusty Chain Cafe

It was a little over a year ago that my friend Cohl Wiesbrook-Peterik built his bicycle-towed, mobile pour-over coffee shop otherwise known as Rusty Chain Cafe. It was around then that we met up for an interview on MKEBKE.


Since then, Cohl has pedaled his bicycle and hand-ground Anodyne Coffee beans all around the city. You may have passed him or enjoyed a coffee at a number of different parks or events – the Marsupial Bridge Media Garden / pop-up swing park during the Riverwest24 or summertime bike-in movies, the Milwaukee Underwear Bike Rides, Urban Garage Sale at Turner Hall, or 4 Seasons skatepark.

Currently, Rusty Chain Cafe is based downtown out of Vulture Space, where Cohl both volunteers and serves coffee / stores his cart. Swing by for a coffee, tune up your bike for free, or lose in a game of chess to Evan (aka Mama Vulture).

Logan Reynolds recently travelled to from Portland to Milwaukee for a short visit, where he filmed and edited a mini-documentary entitled “Crank & Beans” with Cohl about Rusty Chain Cafe. You can watch the video here. Enjoy!

You can check out a bunch of other videos that Logan filmed and edit on his Vimeo page, including a short cut from his BMX film “This Is The Spot” featuring Cohl and fellow Milwaukeean Anthony Malvasio. (my favorite scene; Cohl at 1:56)

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