Saturday, February 23 was the day a few necessary ‘wheels’ lined up to ride a route that only fish, muskrats, and canoes will be able to traverse in a few weeks time. Making Oshkosh and the surrounding area home, means we have no shortage of waterways. Nestled in the center of the states largest water system, we are surrounded by lakes, rivers, and streams. When frozen, the options for ride routes grows exponentially. So what to do on a rainy, sleety, snowy, Saturday? String some terrain together!
Departing from Winneconne, our group of 8 dumped onto Lake Winneconne. The conditions were not ideal, but better than a stick in the eye. How difficult, well, our first five miles needed our first 3 hours of riding. Six inches of freshish and not ideal snow made traversing the eastern and northern perimeter of the lake the most difficult of the route. Luckily, our fisherman friends laid some tracks with 4-wheelers that made the ride a bit like bumper-bowling, you’re going to get there, but you might bounce around a bit. We hit Lake Poygan and followed the mouth of the Wolf River northwest to the intersection of the Rat River. Take a scribble and stretch it out, that’s the Rat. As the crow flies you can damn-near shout from the start to the end of this part of the ride and hold a conversation. The river winds in and about on itself like every good stream does, not enough to make its own path of least resistance, but strong enough to leave its mark. You can see on the above map how condensed the route got. When riding mid-pack, I was able to see friends out in front and behind. While demanding, the river provided the gift of what long-distance friends do, showing that your companions are always there, even if separated by distance. So, was this a race, or did we just go have fun? Well, it wasn’t anyones first load of pumpkins. Stringing a loop like this together is all about having a blast. Proof:
Winding northbound down the Rat River, we eventually hit civilization. The gentle hum of our motorized transportation brothers and sisters caused us to snap back into reality and steered us towards the need for additional refreshments, a chair, and water. We impressed some bartenders with our studded tires and wowed some locals with our adventure. Yup, I felt like Kobe. Nothing could bring me back down. Nothing but the gentle grind of a Central Wisconsin road climb on a fat bike that is. I mean it wasn’t bad, it was just awakening is all. But hey, gotta connect the route to our WIOUWASH safe haven somehow, right? Cty II was our link to a quiet, 3% max grade finish. Frozen gravel trail rides just like it sounds. Fast like concrete! Sprinkle some mash potatoes on top and its still choice trail, just slowed up a bit. But at the end of our magical and perfect day in the saddle was a warm hug from Bare Bones Brewery.