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Visitors to Old World Wisconsin in Eagle try out vintage bikes.
Visitors to Old World Wisconsin in Eagle try out vintage bikes. / Photo courtesy of Mike Morbeck

EAGLE — Old World Wisconsin's newest interactive experience, ‘Catch Wheel Fever!,’ opened to the public this past weekend to great enthusiasm from guests. The hands-on experience captures the excitement of the 1890s cycling craze that swept the nation. ‘Catch Wheel Fever!’ will be open every day that the museum is open, at no additional admission charge.

Guests of all ages explored the reproduction 1890s bicycle repair shop. They climbed aboard the replica adult-sized and child-sized high-wheel bikes to have a photo taken, just as early riders once did. Many put on period apparel for their photo op. They tinkered at the workbench, discovering the similarities between technology from over a century ago and today's, and even learned cycling lingo of the era.

The centerpiece of the experience is the hop-on reproduction tricycles, where children and adults can pedal around a track and catch some wheel fever firsthand. All of these activities are available daily.

Dan Freas, Old World Wisconsin's director, summed up the success of the opening weekend: "We are delighted by our guests' response to ‘Catch Wheel Fever!’ There have been lots of smiles and plenty of laughter and ah-ha moments for guests of all ages. We saw many people visiting for the first time, so are thrilled that this is also the entry point for our rural Midwestern 19th-century and early 20th-century immigrant experience."

More on cycling: Cycling news from around the state | Your cycling photos | Create a map for your next cycling trip

‘Catch Wheel Fever!’ complements the book ‘Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State’ published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

More information is available at

‘Catch Wheel Fever!’ is available every day the museum is open for regular daily visitation, at no additional charge. Hours open to the general public for 2014 are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day and Thursday through Sunday September 4 through October 31. Adults: $16, children 5 to 17 are $9, with children under 5 free, students/seniors are $14 and families (up to two adults and two or more dependent children 5 to 17) are $43.

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