Okay, I feel like I say this a lot, but the Ride on the Wild Side is one of our favorite traditions every year. You see, my husband, Chris, is a biker. He grew up riding BMX and has since grown into more mountain biking and road biking. He tries to get out on his bike multiple times a week and for at least one long ride on the weekends. Let’s just say that the bike schedule consumes our lives a bit. Anyway, because of that, the Zoological Society’s annual Ride on the Wild Side event is truly one for our entire family. It’s bike riding for Chris and the Zoo for me and Noah.
The Ride on the Wild Side is an annual event that features four different bike routes that you can choose from, based on how much you want to ride. The longer distance rides are a 10-mile, 17-mile or a 27-mile ride. All rides start at the Zoo and continue north along Menomonee River Parkway and the Oak Leaf bike trail. There is also a special 2.5-mile Critter Caravan through the Milwaukee County Zoo.
The event also includes a continental breakfast before the ride with your standard coffee, danishes, fruit and individual packages of yogurt melts for the kiddos. The swag bag is pretty standard little advertisements for the sponsors.
Noah has been loving riding his Strider bike around the house, driveway and neighborhood so we opted to do the shorter 2.5 mile critter caravan ride. I was a little nervous about this because 2.5 miles seemed pretty far for him and I wasn’t sure how he would do. I was also pretty worried about how he would do going up the big hill past the new otter exhibit – which is huge. But we risked it anyway. We thought he would love to stride around the zoo and we figured if it didn’t work out we could just walk.
There was nothing to worry about. He did amazing!
One of the fun parts about doing the Critter Caravan was that we could stop at different animal exhibits throughout the ride. Noah really enjoyed the quick stop to say hi to the different animals.
Post-ride there is a Bike Corral to store your bikes and a little Kid Zone with games, face painting and other fun activities for the kids. They also have a Kohl’s Wild Theatre show to enjoy. Then, you can spend the morning walking around the Zoo and seeing the different animals.
Bonus: the event also includes lunch! If you stick around until 11AM, they have a hot dog and brat lunch from Klement’s Sausages and treats from Cedar Crest Ice Cream (love the local sponsors).
Overall, we had a blast at this year’s event and we didn’t regret for a second doing the short ride this year with the kids. The other neat thing about the Critter Caravan is that you can actually circle around the 2.5-mile route as many times as you want during the race time (which is about an hour). I heard a couple of the older kids saying it was their fourth or fifth time around. I could see that being a pretty fun time.
If you’re also curious about the longer ride, we did the 10-mile ride the last two years. It’s a really nice ride – but the hills can be a little brutal if you’re not ready for them (which I never am). Here’s a few photos from previous years to give you a look at the fun of the longer rides…
I almost cried when I pulled up these 2016 ones. Where has this little boy gone!?