If this report seems moderately disjointed it is because both Gomez and I wrote reports and I bailiwicked them into this conflagration.
About twenty fat-bikers from SE WI and NE IL assembled on the shores of Lago del Michigami for the much anticipated Full Moon Beach Ride Redux along the stretch of beach from Port Washington to Harrington Beach State Park. I say much anticipated, because this ride was planned way back in August, when we were wearing shorts and sandals to the beach. We were all layered in wool, poly-pro and gore-tex, to help us enjoy a beautiful winter’s eve, with temps, in the 20’sF. Sunset and moon-rise were only about 15 minutes apart on the ride and nature’s splendor was set at eleven as we rolled down to the water. Same basic route as last week’s Mustache Ride.
Milling about in the parking lot before the ride there were old friends to get reacquainted with and new friends to make as we talked fat-bikes, winter riding, commuting and a host of other topics. Gary had a set of beautiful MK Fenders wood fat-bike fenders to show and tell around before we mount them up for an extensive test. Greg handed out fat-bike.ocm stickers and delivered “Ride Like A Pirate” t-shirts to those who coughed up the $$$. And riders generally talked about what gear and clothing would be appropriate for the 20-ish mile ride ahead.
With everyone geared up and ready, we headed to the beach. As soon as we dropped off the pavement onto the beach I knew this was going to be a different beach ride than last week’s race. Twilight ablaze in the southern sky we rolled north into the darkness on remarkably smooth and hard frozen beach. The sands almost pavement-like texture stood in stark contrast to the last two weeks ventures out on the same stretch of beach. The firm footing coupled with a healthy tail wind made for virtual pleasure cruise of soft pedaling. The group was taking a more casual pace event though our ground speed with the firm sand and slight tail wind was fairly quick.
Like all casual beach rides the ability to ride in clumps with riders able to roll several abreast meant that conversation was easy and lively with banter running the gamut. At one point, Greg, Tony and I were just cruising along chatting through our beards and all of a sudden Tony just endo’d and disappeared behind us into the dark. We circled back and collected our fallen amigo, trying not to snicker (too much).
The ride on the way out basically broke up into two groups depending on one’s pace. I was in the rear group as we stopped for a bit to air up Tony’s rear tire, chugged a PBR and continued on at what Gary referred to as our “Turkey Day Parade Pace”
Most water crossings were frozen over, the main exception being Shell Creek, and there was the hint of shore ice beginning to form; a portent of great things to come along this section of shoreline.
As we rounded the point before the turnaround point we could see the tail lights of a group waiting ahead with a lone headlight coming back to meet us. “We’ve been waiting for a while” was the report. After explaining the minor delay we rejoined the group near the turnaround.
We stopped for a rest and a small beach fire while conversation ensued along with the lightening of several backpacks and rack trunks of beer for a bit of hydration before we headed the final bit north before jumping up to the top of the dunes in the park for a bit of night time single track before dropping back down to the beach for the return trip south.
The moon’s accent from the horizon was, at this point, veiled behind dappled clouds but was a welcome sight as this was, after all, a Full Moon Ride!
While groups began to head back south, those of us remaining were alerted to the fact that Russell, not normally the ride ruiner, had lost his little camera in a small black pouch. Too bad the beach in this area ls littered with coal that washed up on the shore meaning just about everywhere you looked, there was a small black lump! After some searching in vain around the area where the group had stopped and checking near the area Russell had a small OFF, I decided to roll north again along to the beach to the spot where Russell had said he first noticed the camera missing; near the spot we entered the woods at the North end of the park. As I rode north I noticed that this side of the point was almost completely clear of little black lumps of coal. ALMOST! As I neared the spot where we’d entered the woods, I saw a lone lump of coal catch in the swinging search pattern of my Light and Motion Stella 600’s. Well, I’ll check this one last lump before I head back as I was now totally alone on the beach. Eureka! It was a camera in a little, dark blue pouch. I had to figure it was Russell’s and not some other random beach user. Yes, I believe Russell was happy!
Just after the “FINDING”, we noticed that the clouds had completely dissipated and the Full Moon was now out in all it’s December glory and we basked in Lake Michigan Moonlight. That’s what I’m talking about!
The ride back was a bit of a different animal than the ride out. The wind had picked up a bit and was in the face, there was that beautiful full moon now riding high in the sky; the clouds completely gone. The group had broken up in part due to the camera search and in part because, with a home destination the goal, the group did not have to hold anyone back that really wanted to roll. I ended up riding most of the return route alone chatting with a few who passed me and catching a few others but, as I was riding without lights to enjoy the full moon and not wanting to bask in the “light-pollution” of those who chose to remain illuminated I settled into the rocking chair and just rolled. I love riding simply by the light of the moon, in fact that is the whole reason for the Full Moon Rides, and my solo journey back was one of the best rides I’ve had this year.
Gomez says “Greg rolled up to me and suggested I turn off my light. The moonlight was all the light we needed…..well, that and the x-mas lights that I had rigged onto my front rack. The light shone off the water and the sand growled under our Larrys in an eerie didgeridoo mumble.”
Turns out I was not done finding lost items on the beach. Even while riding in the light of the full moon sans any artificial light, an odd shape caught my eye a few miles from home. Shoe it said. SHOE COVER, I said. I picked it up thinking it was unlikely that it had simply washed up on shore and was probably an orphan looking of its sibling. Sure enough Josh had lost it and received cold toes for the effort. More learning about footwear for winter fat-bike rides!
For this ride I could not have made better clothing choices. Medium weight Foxwear pants, wool snowboard socks and Keen Winterport boots on the bottom, Polypro t-shirt, Smartwool medium weight jersey and Foxwear Retro-X jacket on the top, with a Loki on my dome and Planet Bike Borealis Gloves rounding out the “Kit”. The ride out, with the wind had me opening up the jacket to vent a bit but I was glad for the warmth on the return into the wind with the wind-blocking nature of the Polartech fabrics doing their jobs well.
Everyone having returned safe and sound with just a few cold toes and fingers to reminding us that the right gear is important, we headed to out “go to” eatery in Port Washington, Tello’s Cafe, for more camaraderie, grub and grog! Couldn’t have ended on a better note.
If you get the opportunity to join us for a Full Moon Beach Ride, please do! Just a heads up, our next Full Moon Beach Ride will be April 6th. Keep your eyes peeled for more info. These fat-bike ralleys are the best of times. We hope to see you all at one of our’s soon……but if you can’t be at our’s….we’d love to hear stories from your fat-bike ride(s)!
las bicicletas gordas, me gusta,
crazy, cats….its Sven and Gomez in a blender with ice and a twist of lime
Nice summary of a nice ride. The squeak of the sand under the tires was the first time I experienced it. The sand banks that were undercut coupled with my not so great lights almost made me wipe out as well but I recovered and just slowed up a bit. After these past two rides I have been impressed at how well these fat bikes can just roll over things, creeks, rocks, trees, sand and their grip on ice, much better than my boots by the way.
It’s seriously hard to believe you could have more fun on a cold(ish) December night in WI. I’ll toss another prop up to Lou at Foxware for the incredible clothing as I returned completely comfortable. Thanks to the “slow” pack for waiting for the slow poke. It’s generally the reason I carry the beer 🙂 Next time, I’ll start with a bit more than 6psi in the rear.