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Santa Rampage ~ Milwaukee ~ 2011

photo by K8

The first time I ever met Sven and Puck was at either the Fat-Tire Tour of Milwaukee or Santa Rampage. We’re blessed with a rich and diverse cycling culture in Wisconsin…from the Cyclocross National Championships or the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival – to the Tour of America’s Dairyland or the first ever ‘Rails to Trails’ trail built, our state really has something for everyone on two wheels. Thankfully, that also includes Bicycle Pub Crawls. Santa Rampage is a holiday extravaganza that takes place in cities across the continent (and MKE). Riders from 21 -81 dress in holiday costumes – from Reindeer to Father Christmas….and a whole lotta cheep santa suits, in between. My first Santa Rampage was in 2008 and I’ve attended every year since. Milwaukee is a great cycling city, with some incredible bars and restaurants. The plan, for this year, set rendezvous points around the city at posh cycling friendly pubs, from where all of the groups would converge on LakeFront Brewing at 11-ish.

santa loves fat-bikes

photo by G Smith

Our group started in Bayview at one of my favorite places in MKE, a restaurant called Cafe Centraal. Cale is in from California, so I lent him the Moonlander, while I rode my red Pugs and Bethany rode her Mukluk. We decorated the Pug and the Muk with lights and garland, but left the ML all stock and stark, like a lump of glittery coal. By the time we got ready to ride up to the brewery and meet up with all the other Santas, the whole Bayview Santa Syndicate was in the house. Greg and Tony, with a 4-foot Santa riding shotgun on his Xtracycle, were coming down from Cafe’ Hollander along with another hundred or so Santas and I don’t know where Puck started, but he was dressed as Satan Claus and riding a snow-blind Pugs all decked out with lime green rims and do-dads!

Satan Claus - Photo G Smith

photo by Cale

I camped out in front of the brewery and sat back and watched people ogle the new Moonlander. The next thing, I knew, we had a (??? Check out December’s Contest!) of fat-bikes all leaned up together and mis amigo, Colin was passing out bottles of  beer while flasks of whiskey were passed and ‘the good times rolled’. Don’t worry, Mom…..It was well past noon (in NYC) and after all, it is the holidays! Inside, the brewery was a madhouse! There had to be over 300 santas in there, sipping good craft beer and enjoying themselves immensely. Outside there were bikes stacked everywhere. The local fox news van was parked out front and a Milwaukee Journal photographer took a shot of your’s truly with a mop on my face. So many friends all having a great time, celebrating the holidays, by riding bikes! With my messenger bag crammed full of more coldies from Colin, we headed out to the next stop – The Rehorst Distillery!

fat-bikes at Santa Rampage

photo by G Smith

I broke off from the pack and followed a smaller group that rode along the Riverwalk. Nobody had shoveled the River-Walk, so it was still wintery along there and the lead rider wiped out on a grate, but the Pugs got me through – always upright and out of sight – up to the 6th street roundabout and down to the distillery, where it was wall to wall, holiday cheer! There was a food truck set up outside the distillery and it turned into quite a parking lot party! Rehorst makes all sorts of fun stuff like….({[absinthe]}). I gave away all of the beers that Collin had stuffed in my bag and hung out with more two wheeled friends. This was the last stop that I saw Greg, because we headed back to Centraal while he and many others mader their way to Kolchanki’s Concertina Bar and eventually back towards home via taverns and pubs around the city. Our ride to Centraal was sprinkled with honks and cheers from apartment windows and Milwaukee motorists, bus drivers and pedestrians. It’s not every day that you see santa clause on a fat-bike! We never got an official count, but we guess that there had to be somewhere around 20 fat-bikes at the ride.

Back at Centraal, we drank delicious Belgian ale and ate fresh donuts with rasberry yogurt……..and had lots more FUN! Eventually, the entire restaurant was filled with santas and at one point somebody rode their bike through the bar, to resounding cheers from the crowd! Santa Rampage also collected donations for the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, so its not all fun and games……just mostly fun and games, as it were.

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