It is official, Milwaukee’s 12th annual Santa Cycle Rampage was off the hook. I wasn’t sure what to expect when a handful of west side Santas and I rolled down to Cafe Hollander on Downer Saturday morning. But despite the rain and temperatures in the forties, there was a pretty decent crowd by the time we headed off to rendezvous with the rest of the more than merry makers at Lakefront Brewery. Our generous hosts at Lakefront handed out more than 500 chips and cups for free beer.
Given there were quite a few Santas who didn’t take chips, by our estimates, we figure between 600 and 700 Santas, elves, reindeer, presents, and dreidels braved the unseasonally nasty weather. The out-of-state contingent seems to be growing too. I met people who came in from Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. Because the crowds seem to be growing, next year’s Rampage my have to be organized differently. There just aren’t any places that can handle 1,000 Santas. Never fear though, by the magic of Christmas, Santa’s helpers will put together another fun ride next year. Stay tuned here and to the Rampage Facebook for more details, but save Saturday, Dec. 14th as the date for the 2013 Santa Cycle Rampage.
This year there was also a lot of discussion among the Santas about making the event a fundraiser for the new Milwaukee Chapter of the Wisconsin Bike Fed. 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. 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.
If you skipped this year’s ride, you can get a feel for what you missed by looking through the Bike Fed’s Santa Rampage Flickr set here.
You might also start a Santa Rampage in your community. No matter what, you really owe it to yourself to come ride with us next year, it is just about the most fun you can have on a bike. Hey, 700 Santas can’t be wrong!