Biking through the rain
In a heavy, woolen coat
Seems to be insane
I wonder if it floats
Bells on drop bars ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to sing
the Rampage verse tonight
The steady rain that fell on the 12th annual Milwaukee Santa Cycle Rampage may have provided much needed crowd control for what has become a raging holiday tradition. Soaked and sotted Santas packed the three officials stops – The Lakefront Brewery, Great Lakes Distillery and Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall – and spilled onto the sidewalks and scattered gear for blocks, in every direction.
The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin estimates at least 600 riders joined the Rampage at various points.
It was a fantastic spectacle on a gloomy day. (Look below, or click here for a photo gallery).
I joined my first Rampage in 2008 and remember walking comfortably in Kochanski’s dance hall, mingling easily with fellow cycling Santas, as the party wound down. On Saturday, waves of red and white ebbed and flowed in a spirited polka mosh pit. A trek from the North Pole may have been easier than a trip to the bathroom.
I’m not surprised that the ride has become wildly popular since Dave Schlabowske brought the idea from Chicago. It is as much Christmas fun one can have as an adult. It’s hard to duplicate the joy you experience as part of a pack of cycling Santas. People in cars or walking on the street respond giddily and it makes one think riding in a red costume and white beard year-round may solve all roadway conflicts.
Thinking along a similar line, Dave Schlabowske, communications director for the Bike Fed opened discussion about turning the ride into a benefit for the agency.
“In the past the ride has always been just a fun pub crawl to help introduce and encourage people to the idea that it is actually possible to bike through the winter in Milwaukee,” Schlabowske wrote Monday morning. “This year, someone whispered in Santa’s ear that if we reserved Turner Hall or some similar location early enough and booked some bands, the event could help support local cycling in addition to helping a few tavern and cafe owners make some money. As long as making money doesn’t get in the way of making merry, this Santa has no objections.”