There are some events in my life that I've been afraid to recreate, worried that the magic will have worn off the second time. I am terrified of going back to Rome, weary of partying until dawn in Chicago, and until yesterday, a little nervous about riding in Milwaukee's own Santa Cycle Rampage again.
I admittedly had a different experience this year. I talked the ride up to several of my friends, including relatively novice bikers, Ben and Becky, who I spent most of my day with. Last year, I'd lost Monica and Joe on the ride and met and partied with lots of randoms. I seem to get more trouble when I'm unleashed on my own, so maybe it was a good thing the Bs kept me in line. :)
Ben and I met up at U.S. Bank early so we could get some cash for the day. It turned out we didn't need much of it, as Santas get some sweet drink deals. This first stop was handy in realizing that somewhere on my ride up to North Ave. I'd lost my flimsy Santa hat. I think it was karma from blowing off the two guys on Farwell who asked me to take a picture with them. I'd been running late, so I said no. Santas who say "no" lose hats. A stop at CVS on Downer became necessary, so I as not to be shamed by the other Santas. I picked up the number above in part because the dangling snowballs notified me that the hat would be staying on. They also provided much amusement throughout the day...because there's never too many "dangling snowballs" jokes.
While waiting for Becky to arrive at Cafe Hollander, we filled out a raffle ticket for the Bike Federation of Wisconsin and grabbed a Fat Tire from the keg--ah, the first beer at 10 a.m.
We also scoped out some of the decorated bikes, like the one above. I think that this is a goal for 2010 for sure.
The magic for me this year came in the form of seeing the absolute joy on my friends' faces as we began riding through the Eastside spreading cheer.
Down Farwell to Brady and then over the Marsupial Bridge, we traveled to the next stop at Lakefront Brewery, where a contingent of Santas who had ridden in from Wauwatosa awaited us. The numbers were now 200-250 strong, and the Santa population dwarfed the civilians there for an early tour.
Local Acre, on tap, but in a pinch, I went with the delicious Pumpkin Lager.
We headed out around noon for the downtown part of the ride. 250 Santas strong, we went up Water Street, passed the Red Arrow Ice Rink (we stopped the skaters), up Wisconsin Avenue (some folks threw candy canes at pedestrians), and over the 6th Street Viaduct. This truly is the best part of the ride, as people just love seeing that many Santas .... on bikes!
Great Lakes Distillery. Again, a super awesome local business supporting this fun event. Wisconsin recently passed a law allowing them to have samples, and they are rocking that like nobody's business. They had free Santa punch or Candy Cane Vodka Coffee, as well as sample tastings of their liquor. I tried the punch, which I believe had their artisan grappa in it as well as a whole lotta deliciousness. Ben and I also sampled their two types of Absinthe - vert and rouge. I have to say the green fairy did it for me more. I also got to try their Pumpkin Seasonal at long last.
Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall. While we had a fun little side street detour, we did miss the highlight of many Santas' day...
Beer Runner blog.
Point and stood in the food line, forgetting that there was nothing I could eat.
Rumpleminze off of a ski? Well, this is Wisconsin, my friends. And since when I blogged about it last year, I neglected to provide photo evidence, I enlisted Virginia to capture the beauty of the SHOTSKI on camera.
We still had one more stop after this too! After polkaing and another point, we grabbed our bikes to head to the last stop at Cafe Centraal. Somehow I lost the Bs, who ended up halfway to Tosa following some westside Santas. Whoops. In the interim, I filled my stomach with some vegetarian chili and some WATER (brilliant), before grabbing another Fat Tire off the Santa keg.
Despite grand plans to bike with an illicit pack of middle-aged Santas down forbidden routes (for which we'd risk $250 tickets), I ended up riding good old reliable KK home. I somehow lost the Bs again, keeping up with my friend Jeff's well-lit bike, as my front guppy headlight got snatched in Bay View. Totally bummed about that. It's gotta be bad karma to steal from Santa! This put me in a salty mood, and I passed out at 6, hoping to make it to a Christmas party later that evening.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m., bummed I missed the party, but glad I spent another year Santa cycling-- even if the "magic" shone through in different ways.