It’s My 4-Year Milwaukeeversary!

It's My 4-Year Milwaukeeversary! // Run. Crave. Conquer. blog

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Four years ago, my dad and I loaded a tiny trailer and drove to my new home: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’d lived in Ohio my entire life, so moving to another state was huge, even if it was still in the Midwest. I didn’t know a soul in this city, but I was excited to start my first big-kid, post-college job here, and I took it as a good sign that my first day of work was Halloween—AKA my favorite holiday.

Humboldt Park in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood
Humboldt Park in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood

That crisp Sunday morning when my dad headed home, I was truly on my own—well, with a Craigslist roommate—for the first time. I went for a run and discovered a bike trail just a mile away that stretched along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. As I listened to the rhythm of my breath over the lulling lake tide, I felt like anything was possible. Like I had a clean slate. Like every rejuvenating cliché there is. I didn’t know then that there would be nights that coming winter when I felt so lonely that all I could do was cry and drink wine and force my roommate’s cat to love me. That making friends after college is harder than it should be, especially for an introvert like me. But eventually things got better, and Milwaukee became home.

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View from the bike path near my first Milwaukee house

Even though I grew up near Cleveland, Milwaukee’s the only city I know from the inside out. I can tell you where the best tacos are (Cafe Corazon), what bars to avoid (anything on Water Street) and which frozen custard joints are worth visiting (Kopp’s, always). And I can give you directions almost anywhere. Maybe this is because it’s the first place I’ve explored as a real, mostly functional adult, but probably because it’s the first place I’ve explored by bike.

Green Machine, my first bike in Milwaukee
Green Machine, my first bike in Milwaukee

I’ve always had a bike for recreation, but I never used one as a true mode of transportation before living here. Shortly after moving, I started dating someone who didn’t own a car and traveled everywhere on two wheels—even in Wisconsin snowstorms. He helped me build Green Machine, a single-speed bike with a sturdy Motobecane frame and a distinct Ninja Turtle sheen. I learned how to ride fearlessly on city roads, dodge potholes and turn left in heavy traffic. Parking at summer festivals became free and easier than ever. Best of all, I got to know the city at street level. Not in a car, boxed off from my surroundings, but with the wind slapping my cheeks pink, taking in the yeasty smell of breweries and appreciating abandoned warehouse buildings of Cream City brick.

Taken on my old bike commute to work
Taken on my old bike commute to work

Last year I retired Green Machine for the Silver Steed, a snazzy Fyxation with gears that’s perfect for commuting. My new ride inspired me to bike to work more often, and I saved a ton of gas money—seriously, you should try it.

The Silver Steed aside my roommate's bike
The Silver Steed aside my roommate’s bike

To bike a city is to know a city. And as I’ve gotten to know Milwaukee, I’ve found a lot to love. Cheese curds, obviously. Plus bike-in movie nights, kite festivals and plenty of outdoor biergartens. Sure, there are days where I grow restless and dream of uprooting to New York City or perhaps Portland—Maine or Oregon, either’s all right with me—but most of the time, I’m content to discover the undiscovered around me before I clear my slate again.

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About LWynalek

Writer. Runner. Cat lover.

6 Responses

  1. Last year at the beginning of November, my husband and I moved across the country from the midwest to Vancouver, WA (across the Columbia river from Portland, OR). It has been an interesting year with many firsts-first job as a nurse, first trip to California, first time owning a house, first year of marriage…It’s amazing what a solid move across some state lines can do for ya 😉 La Crosse, WI is on our list of places to permanently place roots one day. I had a fun time reading through your posts. You have a great writing style & blog!

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