Elfie Selfie on a Santa Rampage

I’m not an athletic person and I’d rather perform a one-man show to an audience of a thousand strangers than bike 20 miles. I also hate being cold — which is hilarious to hear coming from a Canadian. If I could, I’d hibernate through winter under a feather-down comforter and a cup of hot chocolate. So when my dad asked me to join him on a 20 mile “Santa Rampage” bike ride though Milwaukee on December 6th, it puts me way out of my comfort zone. So I said yes. Under one condition: That we would dress up as a family.

Most people dress as Santa for the ride. We decided Dad would be “Underwear Santa,” my mom would be Mrs. Claus, and I would be an Elf. It was only after this demand that I found out this bike ride was from bar to bar. Drunk Santa’s on bikes? I’m starting to warm up to this bike ride. It’s 9:00 am on Saturday morning, overcast, and hovering right around freezing. We meet the Santas at Cafe Hollander, which is coincidently my favorite place for brunch, and we down a beer for breakfast — as a family. We meet up with a few friends of my parents, and get pedaling to the first stop: Lakefront Brewery.

It is COLD. At least we are biking with the wind, however it is all uphill. My legs burn from pedaling and my fingers burn from cold. I had not considered how the child’s Elf costume I had wore might stand up against the elements. While I’m glad that it’s not raining, I am not glad that we were following my dad when he took a wrong turn. But a wrong turn usually means a good story, and this one turns us right into a fire truck. Obviously amused by our costumes, they ask what we are doing. I explain we are headed to Lakefront Brewery with the rest of the Santas and invite them to join us.

Wrongs turns lead to good stories. And firefighters.

By the time we reach the brewery, the Firefighters have beat us there. I have snot running down my nose and I’ve forgotten how to walk properly, but the free beer token feels like a gift from Santa. As more Santas show up, I realize that I should have been more creative in my idea for our costumes. Beer in hand, I decide to ask for a picture with every crazy costume I can find. Before we leave, I take an Elfie Selfie.

Elfie Selfie

With the free beer fuel up and feeling returning to my toes, we hop back on our bikes and head to the next stop: Great Lakes Distillery. Now the sun is shining, but it isn’t much warmer. Most of this leg of the ride is – you guessed it – uphill. I’m sore but not incapacitated yet. And the friendly strangers we meet on the way help keep my spirits up (and the thought of spirits at the distillery). Nearly every one we pass gives us a wave, some yell Merry Christmas! We yell it back. Some of the jollier Santas give out a Ho Ho Ho! At the distillery, we have some of the finest Bloody Marys in Wisconsin and eat salty kinda-burnt popcorn. Sitting at the table with my parents, I see a familiar looking Santa. It’s my former client Kevin Hardman, Marketing Manager for Bublr Bikes (Milwaukee’s new bike share program that I helped brand and launch). I grab a quick pic with him for Twitter and away we go.

The next stop was Kochanski’s the Polish pub not far from the distillery. But Mrs. Claus had to get back to the North Pole to start decorating and baking, so we started the long leg home. Somehow, this was also uphill, because apparently everything in Milwaukee is uphill. And now we are facing the wind. It’s a full 10 mile bike ride back, this time, no stops. We hopped on a bike path, which I thought was a good idea until I realized that 1) it’s along the river, and it’s colder along the river with no buildings shielding the wind; and 2) there are no stop lights on the bike path, no reprieve. I wouldn’t want to stop even if there were, because the wind off the river is ripping right through the elf felt. I have to hold on to my hat more than once.

Back at Hollander by 3:00, we order a real brunch. Obviously we all pick the warmest things on the menu: coffee and Hot Mess Skillets. We look like the North Pole just went through hell as we chow down. Back at home, I’m doing fine until about 5pm when the pain is so bad I can’t even get up to get the Ibuprofen. I hobble to the bathroom and down two pills. I then curl up on the couch with a heating pad, hot chocolate, and Netflix. Finally, something in my comfort zone.

By the time we reach the brewery, the Firefighters have beat us there. I have snot running down my nose and I’ve forgotten how to walk properly, but the free beer token feels like a gift from Santa. As more Santas show up, I realize that I should have been more creative in my idea for our costumes. Beer in hand, I decide to ask for a picture with every crazy costume I can find. Before we leave, I take an Elfie Selfie.

With the free beer fuel up and feeling returning to my toes, we hop back on our bikes and head to the next stop: Great Lakes Distillery. Now the sun is shining, but it isn’t much warmer. Most of this leg of the ride is – you guessed it – uphill. I’m sore but not incapacitated yet. And the friendly strangers we meet on the way help keep my spirits up (and the thought of spirits at the distillery). Nearly every one we pass gives us a wave, some yell Merry Christmas! We yell it back. Some of the jollier Santas give out a Ho Ho Ho! At the distillery, we have some of the finest Bloody Marys in Wisconsin and eat salty kinda-burnt popcorn. Sitting at the table with my parents, I see a familiar looking Santa. It’s my former client Kevin Hardman, Marketing Manager for Bublr Bikes (Milwaukee’s new bike share program that I helped name and launch). I grab a quick pic with him for Twitter and away we go.

The next stop was Kochanski’s the Polish pub not far from the distillery. But Mrs. Claus had to get back to the North Pole to start decorating and baking, so we started the long leg home. Somehow, this was also uphill, because apparently everything in Milwaukee is uphill. And now we are facing the wind. It’s a full 10 mile bike ride back, this time, no stops. We hopped on a bike path, which I thought was a good idea until I realized that 1) it’s along the river, and it’s colder along the river with no buildings shielding the wind; and 2) there are no stop lights on the bike path, no reprieve. I wouldn’t want to stop even if there were, because the wind off the river is ripping right through the elf felt. I have to hold on to my hat more than once.

Back at Hollander by 3:00, we order a real brunch. Obviously we all pick the warmest things on the menu: coffee and Hot Mess Skillets. We look like the North Pole just went through hell as we chow down. Back at home, I’m doing fine until about 5pm when the pain is so bad I can’t even get up to get the Ibuprofen. I hobble to the bathroom and down two pills. I then curl up on the couch with a heating pad, hot chocolate, and Netflix. Finally, something in my comfort zone.