Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Riding in this Year’s Milwaukee Santa Cycle Rampage

Thanks for this guest post by Sheboygan Santa.

Yes, Bumble’s bounce, but this one never hit the ground thanks to the safe ride support provided by the Milwaukee and Wauwatosa Police Departments. 500 people joined us for the inaugural ride down the green bike lanes on North Avenue in East Tosa!

Ho, ho, hey der yous guys! On the fence about whether you’re gonna ride in the Milwaukee Santa Cycle Rampage this Saturday? Time to get off the fence, commit to the ride. Here are my Top Ten Reasons why you should do it:

1. You Need a Bit of Goofy Fun In Your Life.

Naughty or Nice?

Fans of Old Time Radio recognize this classic intro:

“Tired of the everyday grind? Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all?…We offer you….ESCAPE!”

That’s exactly what the Santa Cycle Rampage offers. Something very different from the everyday grind. A chance for some goofy fun. A chance to forget for a day all the political nonsense, occupational strife, and pressure of everyday life, and to remember that we only pass this way once, so we might as well enjoy the ride. And the “romantic adventure” part? Well, a gal/guy can dream, can’t s/he?

So, what does Santa say before telling you a joke? “This one will sleigh you!” 

2. You Need to See How Enjoyable Winter Cycling Is.

Bike Fed Deputy Director Dave Schlabowske founded the Rampage 16 years ago at a time when winter cyclists were a rare breed. One of the goals has always been to promote winter cycling in a fun way so people see how easy and fun it can be. And its succeeded and grown tremendously. Think of the Santa Cycle Rampage as the gateway drug to winter cycling fun. If you haven’t tried it, you are going to be amazed.

I’m so strong I could lift a reindeer with one hand. But you know, it’s very hard to find a one-handed reindeer!

3. You Want to Support the mission of the Wisconsin Bike Fed.

If for some inexplicable reason you are reading this and you aren’t a member of the Bike Fed, shame on you, and fix that right now, by joining here. The Bike Fed has made great contributions to growing cycling, and making it safer and more enjoyable. But there is much more to do. The SCR is one of the major ways the Bike Fed raises funds. Show your support for the important work of the Bike Fed by joining the Bike Fed and by participating in the SCR (members get a substantial discount on the SCR registration fee).

What reindeer can jump higher than a house? They all can! Houses can’t jump! Ho!

4. You Want an Opportunity to Be Creative, or See the Creativity of Others.

As photos from prior years show, there are a lot of creative people in the Milwaukee area, and the SCR is your chance to display how creative you are. This is your chance. What are you going to go as, that no one else has gone as? What twist on tradition have you devised, or what novel/festive way are you going to decorate your bike? Or, if you just want to blend in and enjoy the show, that’s easy to do too. Just go online (or to Walgreens) and buy yourself a $15 santa suit, and you’re good to go. Nothing fancy is required.

I used to have two reindeer, and I called one Ed and the other one Ed! Know why? Cause “two ‘eds is better than one!” Get it? Ho! Ho! Ho! Two ‘eds!

5. There’s Nothing Like the Santa Cycle Rampage Any Place Else on Earth, and You Can Be a Part of It.

Although the idea has spread to other cities from Boston to Fort Wayne, national cycling media agree, the Milwaukee Santa Cycle Rampage is something special. Wisconsinites know how to enjoy themselves, and know how not to take themselves too seriously. We can un-self-consciously wear a cheesehead, and we can un-self-consciously go out and ride around town spreading holiday cheer dressed like Santa with a few thousand of our newly found best buddies.

Say what do you give a reindeer with a hangover? “Elk”-a-seltzer! Ho! Get it Son, I said “Elk”-a-seltzer!

6. You want to Spread Holiday Cheer.

Perhaps now more than any time in recent memory, we could all use a bit of holiday cheer. This is a rare opportunity to do that on a bicycle. Seriously, as the Santas go by—ringing bells, singing holiday songs, handing out candy canes and shouting “Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!”, “Feliz Navidad!”, or “Happy Holidays!”—motorists smile, pedestrians whip out their phones to get pictures, and little kids wave back with wide eyes and big smiles. You want to be a part of that.

So, what nationality is Santa Claus? Polish, North Polish that is.

7. You Are Someone Who Enjoys a Beer (or Other Beverage) With Other Cyclists.

There is ample opportunity for this at the end of the ride or at any of the many other Santa Gathering Places around town. There are some cyclists that the only time I see them is at the Santa Cycle Rampage, and it’s always fun to talk with them. And this is also a great opportunity for you to make new friends. Who knows, if you are single, you might meet even fall in love! There are people who have met on the Santa Cycle Rampage, talked over a beer and got married!

What’s red and white and gives presents to gazelles? Santelope! Ha! Santelope!

8. You Want to Support Indigenous Milwaukee Businesses and Encourage Their Support for Cycling

One of the reasons why other groups get the support of businesses is because they are visible and congregate at local businesses (think motorcyclists, snowmobilers or Bucks fans). The Santa Cycle Rampage is a major opportunity for cyclists to show their numbers and strength, not to mention supporting some great, local establishments along the way. You can help!

What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus? That would be Crisp Cringle.

9. You Want to Dance (but Wear a Fake White Beard While Doing So, So No One Knows That’s How You Actually Dance)!

There are ample dancing opportunities for the Santas to dance at Lakefront Brewery or to polka to their heart’s content at Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall (“Everybody Polka, whoop, whoop, whoop!”).

Say, did you hear that one of Santa’s little helpers was depressed? Yeah, they said he was suffering from low elf esteem.

10. Registration is Only 20 Bucks!

For this much fun, the event would be cheap at twice the price. And you can get a cool hat, scarf, shirt or sweat-shirt for just a few extra bucks. And it all helps the Bike Fed. If you don’t live in Milwaukee, it’s a great opportunity to visit and ride the town. Register now at this link. And if you can’t afford $20, well then God bless you, and if you are able, come ride with us anyways, as we don’t turn away anyone.

You aren’t afraid of Santa are you? There’s a term for that you know: Claus-tro-phobic.

Sheboygan Santa and a couple fellow holiday hecklers.

Final advice or comments to the first-time Santa: It can be a long day, so pace yourself (especially if you’re drinking, and remember, those pitchers at Conejito’s aren’t filled with Gatorade). Safety first; it’s not a race; be cognizant and courteous to other cyclists and drivers; we don’t want any injuries out there that could ruin someone’s day. This is a family-friendly event, so act and speak around kids appropriately. Make sure you have your tires pumped up, and that your lights working if you are going to be out after 4:00 (it gets dark early).

Although there are many who go as Santa, this is not a Christmas ride, and the event attracts a wide variety of holiday-themed attire. All are welcome who have the holiday spirit. We want you to try this, so even if you don’t have a costume, or don’t want to pay to do the official ride down North Avenue, ride your bike out to the closest of the many Santa Gathering Places near you to see what it is all about.

This Sheboygan Santa now lives in the Milwaukee-area but has the good fortune to bike and hunt all over the state. On Saturday, be sure to look for him, introduce yourself, and say “hi” to him, his magic kielbasa and his friend Bucky-the-Reindeer. And—if you are willing to help World Bicycle Relief as well—be sure to drop a few bucks in Sheboygan Santa’s World Bicycle Relief collection can on Saturday, to help support the worthy work that the WBR does internationally. Sheboygan Santa hopes to see you on Saturday, “Well den, Merry Christmas Yous Guys, Merry Christmas!”

Santa Cycle Rampage, Saturday, Dec. 3rd

7 am – 9 am – Pre-ride check-in and day-of registration at BelAir Cantina Tosa, 6817 W. North Ave.  Stop here before you ride to check in, get your wrist band, and pick up free candy canes to hand out to kids watching along the ride. BelAir will also be offering a special breakfast with fun prizes. Stay tuned for more details on how to win!
9:30 am – Ride leaves from Cranky Al’s at 69th and North Ave.
10:30 am – Ride ends at Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N Commerce St. (open to Santa and his helpers from 10am – 12pm)

See the list below for other Santa Gathering places to enjoy holiday cheer before and after the ride. Keep in the loop as we add more Santa Gathering places and announce special offers for Santa’s helpers on our Santa Cycle Rampage Facebook community and Facebook event page.  If you have a favorite cafe or tavern that wants to be listed as a Santa Rampage gathering place, ask the owner or manager to email daves@wisconsinbikefed.org

Register Now »

Please save yourself some time at the Rampage check-in that morning and sign the waiver online by clicking the button below.

Sign the Online Waiver to Ride »

 Below is the official list of Santa Cycle Rampage Day sponsors for morning gathering places and post ride parties. Note that some of these businesses have limited hours for Santas because they have tours and other events.

2016 Santa Gathering Places (Your neighborhood holiday haunt not listed? Ask the proprietor to email Santa Dave to get on the list!):

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

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