Riding the Fox Cities – February Edition

Last Saturday was a great day to ride in the Fox Cities.  I joined nearly 100 other riders to partake in the rare opportunity to bike across Lake Winnebago.  The event was organized by the FCCA and attracted riders from well beyond the Fox Cities, including riders from Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio.  This is the second year that riders have taken to their bikes to participate in the Bike Across Bago event and the word has spread.

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The group gathered at the starting point at Paynes Point Hook and Spear Fishing Club in Neenah.  The ride would leave Paynes Point on the West shore and head to Bobbers on Faro Springs Rd. on the East shore before returning back.  After a few instructions and a few lucky winners of the Bar Mits giveaway we headed out on the ice road.  As the group stretched out on the road, it seemed that there were bikes as far as the eye could see.  After capturing a photo, it was time for me to join in on the fun.

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I rode with various groups and individuals as we crossed the ice.  Many riders saddled up on fat bikes or skinny studded tires.  Some riders had standard tires which required greater control…and at times greater padding.  Despite a few slide outs, the overall atmosphere was very relaxed and fun.  The ice road had little vehicle traffic which allowed more of a social aspect than would typically be allowed on a road group ride.  The Apple Pie Ville stop mid-way on the road might have helped add to the social atmosphere too.

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The Bike Across Bago event coincided with the Walk Across Lake Winnebago event.  The walkers started on the opposite shore and walked one-way to Paynes Point.  Soon after Apple Pie Ville groups of walkers and cyclists became co-mingled on the ice.  The end result was an ice road where walkers and cyclists were the majority.  It was neat to be a part of it.  Before I knew it, I had crossed the lake and found myself at the bottom of Faro Springs Road facing our very own piece of the Niagra Escarpment.

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I started into the climb and felt the burn.  But it felt great at the same time.  I was having fun, getting exercise, and knew the return trip down the hill would be a thrill ride.  I reached the top and took some guilty pleasure in watching several other riders finish their climb.  Then I was off to Bobbers bar, the turn-around point, for some “hydration”.  Many riders had already arrived and some walkers had not yet left, so Bobbers had a great conversational buzz.  This was a fun pit stop before making the return trip.

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The return trip across the lake provided more great riding, conversation, and of course another stop at Apple Pie Ville.  I even ran into Oboi and Jamal from Chicago Slow Roll getting a late start.  I was sad to see the ride end, but I soon found myself back on shore where we started.  I rode back to my car with a few others and we talked about our plans for next year.  This is definitely going to be on my schedule.

This was my first time participating in Bike Across Bago.  Riding across the ice was definitely the unique and fun experience I had expected.  However, there was also something unexpected about the ride.  It took a while to figure out exactly what that was.  Then it occurred to me.  I felt free.  I was surrounded by other riders and walkers – all having fun.  I realized I had let down my guard.  The ice was like a big protected bike lane.  I felt totally carefree and safe – ironic for a ride on ice that is often deemed “never safe”.  I wish I could experience this every time I commute to work by bike or ride with my family.

As a member of the Fox Cities Cycling Association, I hope to help create opportunities for other cyclists to have this same experience.  Want to help make the Fox Cities a great place to ride? Consider becoming an official member of the FCCA.  Looking for family-friendly rides?  Check out our Events page for year-round events.

Scott Hietpas

 

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