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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Henry Vilas Zoo has a bike team, cool jerseys
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Another year, another bike team, another flashy jersey: This one features a polar bear on a bike, cruising along under an "icycle"-festooned banner that reads, Henry Vilas Zoo Cycling Team. Don't laugh. Polar bears can hit top speeds in the neighborhood of 25 miles per hour without wheels. This one is on a bike and appears to be on a mission.

Anna Reynolds, associate director for the Friends of the Zoo, says the team is the brainchild of Friends board member and avid cyclist Tom Dott. Reynolds herself an Ironman triathlon veteran explains that the team's primary aim is to generate funds for the Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society while conveying awareness of the zoo's mission to a new demographic.

"The first year, we would like to raise about $3,000," says Reynolds, expressing optimism that the goal is within reach. LoadTrek.net has signed on as the team's lead sponsor, and the Wisconsin-based transportation-management software firm's logo enjoys prominence on the new club's jerseys and shorts. Two Men and a Truck, two Culver's franchises, Burman Coffee Traders and Zillman Idea Design (which designed the new team's apparel) have also signed on.

Membership levels start at $75 (Red Panda), which includes the opportunity to join in Thursday-evening group rides, invitations to team events and a subscription to the quarterly Zoo News. Otter memberships run $100 and include a club jersey. Membership levels climb from there to include shorts and bike bibs. Perks at the top $250 Polar Bear membership level include pro bibs and jersey.

"We have 20 members already," Reynolds notes. "I know a lot of them are pretty serious riders," she adds, and many of them may ride out ahead during the group rides, but Reynolds says the team will accommodate slower riders.

Its group rides are scheduled for 6 p.m. on alternating Thursdays beginning May 6, starting and finishing at the zoo.

More information is available online.

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