A day late because I meant to finish this up yesterday, a dollar short because I was literally a dollar short at the coffee shop we stopped at mid-ride on Saturday, which was cash-only and I had one dollar (a cup of coffee was two). Luckily, there was a bank not two blocks up the road in the tiny town of Cable, WI., but here I am, getting ahead of myself.
Since I started riding up here, Saturday was always ride day: at first it was the fat bike rides on the ice, and then those first few road rides, and now, well, they’re figuring out the scheduling as they go. But since Sunday has turned into Fat Bike Day, I think of Saturday as road bike day, and try to get some sort of a ride in, whether there are people there or not. Last weekend there were people.
Birthday Road Ride
I’m still new enough to town, though, that I’m on only a few email lists, but there’s a guy or two that is kind enough to forward other rides on when they get notice. This was how I found out about Saturday’s ride, twice (long, other, not exactly relevant story). Anyway, the ride this past Saturday was not only a road ride down in a part of the area I’d not yet ridden, but it was also a birthday ride. But not only was it a birthday ride, but it was an eighty-fucking-third birthday ride. 83. 83rd annual. I can only hope to be so active at that age.
I didn’t know Glenn, the birthday boy (well, it turns out I did, but that in a minute), but it was a, “feel free to pass on this email to invite anyone else that might be interested in joining” kind of ride, I’d ridden with a few of the organizers before (so it wouldn’t be a total “who the fuck is this guy?” kind of thing), and so anyway I packed up my shiny new handlebar bag (what felt like a luxurious purchase, but was still time/cost cheaper than a sewing machine and materials–though I do intend to get into that at some point) and followed my “carpool” down to a baseball field in Grand View, WI, where we met up with the group. I put “carpool” in quotes, because I was supposed to ride down with them, but realized that I was not going to be able to stay for the potluck as well, so drove my own pretty self. Joe, the guy I was meeting, did get so far as to start heaving my bike onto his rack, and he gave me shit for how heavy it was. Fuckin’ roadies (I kid, I kid).
We arrived, we bullshitted, we put on clicky shoes, and took the bikes off racks, out of pickup beds, out of the backs of seats-down Subarus. I “met” Glenn, wished him a happy birthday, and realized that I’d ridden with him before, on my first group road ride ever, except then he wasn’t the 83-year-old birthday boy, but rather the badass 82-year-old who was still riding with the lead group even in the ~45-50°F weather. Over the course of the ride, I was treated to various stories from various people about Glenn’s exploits and achievements when he was younger. My favorite was about his skiing the Birkie (a big ass, apparently very important/famous xc skiing race), where a much younger guy had to “wait until Glenn turned 70 before he could keep up with him.”
The ride began more or less uphill, and I hung back with Glenn a minute to talk to him a little and give him company up the first few (by the end he was fine, but I think no matter your age, “warming up” uphill sucks). He’s an extremely friendly and amiable dude, and it was nice to ride with him for a while. I’m far too new in the area to really appreciate how special the kind of a ride is, but it was pretty awesome all the same. He would come up to me at the end of the ride, once we’d gotten back to the cars and all, and say, “Hey, we ride almost every Saturday, you should come out!” Hell of a guy.
The ride took us essentially from Grand View to Cable, WI, and back, and though I didn’t turn on my phone tracker thingy, and Joe, the guy I ended up riding with for most of it, had lost his computer thing the week before, I’m told the ride was about 45 miles, all told. The pace was inconsistent, but in a “let’s let [so and so, this group, etc.] catch up,” friendly kind of way. The coffee shop in Cable was great (plus free refills!), and I dutifully ate my Cliff Bar and Swedish Fish outside before and after coffee. We took a group picture there, too, which was great if only because it made it easier to count just how many people had come out to ride––not quite 20 men and women, of a wide range of ages (I was on the bottom end, as usual), all together in blinding neon-yellow garb.
It was fun, it was (relatively) casual (there were still some haul-ass bits, some “oh, we might be cruising a little fast,” some times where I would mutter “I hate fucking hills, I fucking hate hills,” over and over again, with frequent, “but you said this was the last one!” accusations at whomever was nearest at hand).
Oh, and before I forget, Wisconsin is fucking beautiful. Super fucked up politically, but gorgeous. So many cool little lakes and forest areas and I say all this now because it’s still a little too early for the bugs…
Fat Bike Safari
Of course, by Sunday, it was warm enough for the bugs–we, collectively, swatted away at least four ticks, which are four more than I would like there to be. Oh well.
I’m still not sure why they’re now called “Safaris” other than that “Ice Biking” doesn’t really apply anymore, but they sure are fun. This weekend was a smaller crew – some of whom you could, I suppose, call the “diehards,” who do the trail maintenance and whatever else (OK, they do the trail maintenence, but I helped that one time, and they do most of it during the week anyway, because they’re “retired.”). We did a nice 11-and-change-mile loop around even more lakes, though this time a little closer to home, near an area I’d been to before (though not to these lakes).
The fat bike rides are always billed, and in truth are, as “adventures.” This week was a lot of doubletrack (i.e., ATV and horse-trails), with a lot of fun downhills, some bushwhacking, discussion of various geological / nature features, and enough climbing to make me wish I’d put clicky pedals on the fat bike (which I may very well still do). Oh, and the fucking sand.
Turns out, many of the out of the way forest/logging roads, which are a respectable mix of mud and ice during the winter, turn into sand during the summer. Now, fat bikes are good for sand: you still get some of that “float” effect like you get on snow. That said, like on loose/fresh snow, riding in sand is work, even if only to make sure your pedalling is consistent enough so you don’t get stuck. Danny, feeling lazy and tired after the ride the day before, got stuck a few times. Not so bad, but enough that he was annoyed by it. Anyway.
With all the lakes around, naturally two of our four jumped in (I am waiting for it to be just ten degrees warmer, as I am a baby). We took a nice break at Horseshoe Lake (which, surprisingly, is shaped like a horseshoe), and sat for a while bullshitting and telling stories and debating about water levels and/or how much the logging was affecting them. I still know very little about logging practices and how it affects the local ecology and whatever else, but I do learn a lot hanging out with those guys. Spending so much time in the forest, though, it sort of makes sense.
Here are some pictures:
I unfortunately had to skip out on the after-ride-extra-bsing-over-beers-and-food this week (one of my favorite things about the fat bike rides), but A., and I had some things to do, and then we made these samosas. They were really good. Like, really good. Probably wildly unauthentic. But so good.
It’s been raining basically since the weekend, and it looks as though it’ll continue all week. I don’t mind riding in the rain, but I also don’t mind giving my poor little body a break. Also the book I’m reading right now is really, really good. But more on that later, and so, adieu.