A group photo after we completed our two-day course.
A group photo after we completed our two-day course.
The lot we practiced on felt just like the Milwaukee streets we all know and loathe.
The lot we practiced on felt just like the Milwaukee streets we all know and loathe.

Learn the motorcycle basics with Ride Alive

You know what's fun? Riding motorcycles.

Over the weekend I was one of 10 participants in Ride Alive Motorcycle Academy's Basic Rider Course. Ride Alive offers different course options to accommodate a variety of schedules. Classes are available at their Bay View location Monday through Friday evenings as well as during the day on Saturday and Sunday.

They also have a location off of Good Hope Road, which features women's-only classes.

I opted for the Saturday/Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule after a few tedious hours of researching beginner rider courses. I looked at a variety of classes in the area, all priced in the same range. After comparing a few, it appeared that each class would help me meet DMV requirements, so I was looking for the class that would teach me the most.

Fortunately, a friend recently completed the Ride Alive course and had nothing but great things to say. This sealed the deal for me. I signed up about a month before I actually took the class. I'd suggest scheduling out a month or more prior, as there are only 10 spots available, and some weekends filled quickly.

The class was easy enough to find (after I drove past it twice). I arrived about 10 minutes early and began filling out the required paperwork (waivers and emergency contact). The class officially started at about 8:15 a.m. As I somewhat expected, I was the only girl. I had contemplated the all-women’s class, but I live so much closer to the Bay View location.

The degree of student experience was pretty balanced in the class. Some riders had been riding motorcycles for years, while others had never ridden before.

Two different instructors led the class - Ted and Kitty. They truly meant it when they said we would be starting at the very beginning. The first three hours covered the basics. We discussed different bike types, riding gear, Wisconsin state laws, and where specific controls are located. After a few hours of feeling like I was in information overload, we moved outsid…

Read more...
Sky High is here to stay.
Sky High is here to stay.
Sky High and Polansky have produced an almost cult-like following that's easy to understand.
Sky High and Polansky have produced an almost cult-like following that's easy to understand.

Sky High skate jam

It's not every day a local business reaches a milestone like its 25th anniversary, but that's just what happened for independent skate shop Sky High this past Saturday. The all-ages celebration brought out both younger and older skaters, proving that this Bay View staple is here to stay.

Born and bred in the Milwaukee area, Sky High first opened its doors in 1988 in Racine. Originally owned by George and Dimitri Dimitropoulos, current owner Aaron Polansky was hired initially as an employee. Polansky bought the shop in 1999 and moved to the current Bay View location in 2004.

When I moved from Minneapolis to my first apartment in Bay View nearing the end of summer 2011, it was hard not to notice the amount of people donning Sky High T-shirts and tanks. I'd driven past the location several times, but like many, mistakenly thought it was a pipe shop. It wasn't until I finally made some friends that I realized not only was Sky High indeed not a pipe shop, but learned what a difference the store and Polansky had made in the local community.

Growing up in a small town north of Milwaukee, I can easily recall the impact and the struggle that went in to the creation of the first small skate park in town. It's clear to anyone that spends time around Sky High patrons, that it is so much more than a skate shop.

Sky High and Polansky have produced an almost cult-like following that's easy to understand. Starting with the Cass Street skate jams that have since migrated to a block party style jam next to the shop – Polansky seems to have his hand in events and project specifically designed to inspire today's youth and the community. Over the years the shop has partnered with other local businesses to increase exposure of community projects and involvement. Even the back of the shop features the Sky High Gallery promoting artistic ventures beyond skateboarding.

Saturday's skate jam was packed with a raffle, Abstract Ramp Contest, and BBQ provided by Odd Duck. All proceeds wen…

Read more...