Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snow and Santa

Last night a group of us went snow biking after attending a fish fry at Lakefront. At Lakefront, we were seated with a guy from Germany (I think) who sold cheese making machines to companies. He was in town for business (surprise) and was sitting alone, and our table of 7 was seated at his table (the smallest tables there are for 8 people). Well, that's about all the story there is with that, but cheese making machines? I think that's a pretty good story as-is.

After we were stuffed and toasty warm, we headed out into the bitter cold. I think it was about 13 or so- not terrible but pretty dang cold. I wore my fleece lined CX skinsuit, with lycra leggings (no fleece lining) and an elbow-length shirt that was vaguely spandex-y underneath it. One pair of light-weight knee-length wool socks and Lake boots for the ol' feetsies and leather driving gloves with lobster claw gloves over top for my hands. It was cold to begin with, but once we got moving I warmed up.

It's nice to know that I haven't lost my dressing skillz, even though I've been a sissy lately. This year since I haven't been commuting, I've started viewing the weather like normal people. Biking in the cold? When it's wet out, too? No way! However, rides like this remind me that it's not uncomfortable once you dress right.

In any case, conditions were a little chilly but very, very nice. The snow on the river trials is packed down and made for nice riding. Slippery, but nice enough. We're anticipating that they'll soon be no fun- the warmth today should have done a number on them, and there's some more weather coming up that'll change them, too, like fresh packy snow.

But enough word wandering about my outfits, dinners and bike rides. Well, more on bike rides. Today was the Santa Rampage, which is a big pub crawl on bikes. Oh yeah, and everyone dresses up as Santa. Heck yeah! This was the first Santa Rampage I've went on, and let me tell you, it's great. I've been on Critical Mass rides with a lot of bikers, but nothing compares to riding in a big group of Santas. Riding down the streets, reactions were pretty awesome. People honked, waved, yelled "Merry Christmas!" People rolled down their windows and shot photos as they passed, and pedestrians ran out into the median to take pictures with their phones. It was great fun until we got pulled over by a cop.

Yep, the fuzz. Since we were a large group, the tail end wound up running stop lights. The front would always stop for them and we waited up for those who got slowed down, so we were being quite good. We took up one of two lanes of traffic (legally that checks out), and were being as courteous as possible when the rear finished crossing on a red light. Drivers waited and didn't really get too upset. Could you get upset if you were forced to wait through one light for this?

(Image by Gary Lake)
Most people just waved, honked, and took the light to gawk at the 100+ Santas on bikes. but it's true, running lights is wrong and unsafe. So we stood around for a few minutes while the organizer talked to the cop. A supervisor or two got called to the scene of the crime and a few more minutes of talk ensued. After a while, the organizer stood and made an announcement: we were to ride two abreast and stop for all lights. While we were filing back onto the street, I passed by the supervisor, who offered to the Santas to throw the 'grinch' (the cop who pulled us over) in jail for pulling us over.

I pieced together later that the supervisor basically told the cop to chill out, and that the ride has been going on for years and it never hurt anyone. I think the cop is in for a pretty good teasing. I think he pulled us over to cover himself- if something were to happen and he had seen us and not done anything, he could get in trouble. All in all, nobody got beaten with a billy stick, so it wasn't too bad.

Luckily, the whole incident was easily forgotten. We pedaled on to the next bar, and the rest of the riding with incident-free (thought the cop did follow us to the next bar). After that we split up and rode in smaller groups and kept under the radar. Lakefront set us up with free beers (and let me trade it in for a free delicious Maple Root Beer!) and Concertina Bar in Southern Milwaukee had a live polka band and free chili and 'The Christmas Story' playing on the TV.

It was a great day, but we were all pretty bushed by the end (around 3PM). A small group of us went to Botanas for some tasty Mexican food after the last bar, which got a reaction from the wait staff. We had gotten to feeling normal amongst all of the other Santas, but striking out on our own reminded us that Santa suits aren't the normal 'out-n-about' attire.

Anyhow, with that, I'll sign off. What with riding around for 5 hours and getting pulled over by the cops while dressed in a Santa suit, it's been a full day. Tomorrow is the bike swap, and maybe I'll get a few Rampage photos of my own up on here.

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