For the last few weeks, the last thing I think about, before I go to sleep, is called Big Eau Pleine. It’s a park up in Marathon County, Wisconsin that I’ve frequented over the years. While I’ve ridden my bike there, it isn’t what I would call a mountain bike destination. Big Eau Pleine (BEP) is a penninsula that juts out into the BEP Reservoir and recently has me thinking and dreaming about its beach and snow riding possibilities. What wouldn’t be considered a very exciting MTB ride has my imagination completely engaged for more than one kind of Fat-bike adventure ride! That’s a very important aspect of fat-bike rides…one doesn’t have to head to a mountain bike mecca to get a full ear to ear grin on a fatty.
I took the very next opportunity that I could, to get out and explore the shoreline of this gorgeous little spot. After a weekend containing much merriment and tomfoolery, I headed up to the Wausau area to take care of a little business and then get my pugs out onto some BEP beach. For the last few weeks, I’ve been riding one of Surly’s new Big Fat Larry tires up front and I knew that this would be a good place to test it out. I camped near the beach in the South Unit of the park, trying to find some shelter from 30 mph winds out of the west. As soon as I hung my hammock, I jumped on my bike and headed out onto the beach. I knew this wouldn’t be like Lake Michigan beach riding. I knew there would be lots of trees down and potential for some hike-a-bike sections. Things got interesting right away with nice ride-able rock gardens mixed with a ribbon of sand and silt that ranged from 2- 15 feet wide. Beautiful low slung afternoon light lit up the a beach littered with thousands of acorns and the tracks of all the forest animals that have come out onto the beach to drink and dine. Pretty quickly I rounded a point and those westerly winds were hitting me in the face and producing white caps out on the Res. After a few miles of undulating shoreline, I hit a boggy inlet that I knew would be the perfect test for the new Big Fat Larry. The sand gave way to dark black mud and clay…..the kind of stuff that I would steer clear of ever walking on, for fear, that I would sink up to my knees and lose a shoe. I down-shifted and spun onto the mud-flat…..sinking in a bit, but stayed going, pretty well. My rear (endomorph) slipped a few times, but I was able to get around this particular bay without dabbing or sinking! The new big fat larry passed this test with flying colors. At times, I had to hike-a-bike over fallen trees, and in two spots had to hike around some rocky sections, but got a great ride in and around about a third of the park before I turned around and backtracked back to camp (with a tailwind!)
Back in Camp, with the sun casting long shadows, I busted out a cold one for some post ride – pre-dinner refreshment! Not just any beer……according to the can – “America’s Best Tasting Beer”. Somewhere back in the 70′s I had my first beer ever and it was (to the best of my recolection) an Old Milwaukee! Much to my delight, it hit the spot. Good cheap beer and more film for my imagination to play over and over in my head……next time I’ll need to add some snow into the story. The big fat larry reports will continue as will the dreams of Big Eau Pleine.