Sunday, September 14, 2008

Running with the Bikers!

We suspected there may be a problem a month or two before the race. We had booked airline reservations and made plans to run the Lake Country Half Marathon in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; however, when we attempted to make lodging reservations there was a problem – a BIG problem. There was nothing available – or, in those rare instances something WAS available, it was to the tune of $250-$350/night, with a minimum stay of three nights – paid in full, in advance! As it turned out, our race weekend (29-31 August), just happened to be the same weekend as the huge Harley Davidson 105th birthday party (biker, babe and booze fest) in the Milwaukee area (home and corporate HQ for Harley). Oconomowoc is about 30 miles west of Milwaukee – and well within the “nothing available” radius. We finally got reservations about 50-60 miles from the race location – and about 80-90 miles from Milwaukee. Luckily, when we arrived in the area on Friday, we called around and found one motel that had just had a cancellation – and it was only 15 minutes from the race. Despite it hardly being a Marriott (or a Comfort Inn…or a Super 8….or even a Motel 6) it worked for a night.

As for the race, it was a beautiful day for a run and a very nice course next to and around a couple of picturesque lakes that surround Oconomowoc (between Madison and Milwaukee). There were no PRs, but both Karen and I had very good times (in relative and historical terms) and enjoyed the race. Karen’s niece, Sarah, accompanied us from Chicago and was our “Rachel-care” for the day – which worked great. The day before the race we visited the World Circus Museum in Baraboo (home of the Ringling Bros). Pretty interesting place with a couple of good shows – and particularly interesting since we both read “Water for Elephants” a few months ago. After the race, we decided to check out Milwaukee to see what the bikers were up to and because I had never been there. It would be hard to describe the number of bikes and bikers we saw in the next 6-8 hours! They were everywhere! On the highways, on the city streets, parked along curbs and across parks and lawns by the thousands. The estimate we heard was about 80,000 bikes in the area for the weekend – and I have no trouble believing it. It was interesting to see – but I also thought noteworthy that the biggest sponsors of the events were Miller Brewing and a huge Gentleman’s Club in Milwaukee….hmmmmm. After our lunch in a pretty famous German restaurant in Milwaukee (Maders) we’re pretty certain we saw one of the entertainers from the latter sponsor gearing up to take center stage on the street festivities going on in front of the restaurant! (Can you say enhancements?!)

No real revelations on the run – but the Circus Museum was interesting for the light it shed on the American Way of life for decades from before the turn of the century until probably well after WWII. It is truly, for the most part, a bygone era – but I don’t think it is one we should forget. How we lived, how we played, how we got around, the communities and cities, and how they celebrated events such as the circus calling - all gave us a legacy – and one that shaped our culture for probably a century. We certainly don’t need to relive the past – but studying and remembering it can only serve us well in the present and into the future. Take a minute and read something historical – you might be surprised how interesting it is!

Oh….and one other little historical note – Wisconsin was State #21!


Carl & Karen said...

Good recap, as usual sweetie! And another great race. Here's to #22 this weekend!

Love, Karen

princess jen said...

I used to love the circus, but as I continue to learn more about the animals and realize how difficult a life it is for them, no matter how "humanely" you treat them, I just can't stomach it anymore. But I'm glad the museum was interesting and you had a good time.

The Andersens said...

i didn't know you guys went to a circus museum! that is really cool!! and that's pretty lucky you guys got a closer hotel for the night of your race...80-90 miles...sheesh...that woulda been a long drive!!
sounds like a fun weekend!! congrats on #21!!

Mythreesons said...

I remember always being just a little amazed at the huge gathering of bikers when we would go to Laughlin for the Annual River Runs. It was so loud and kind of cool to see hundreds of bikes up and down the streets and parked everywhere you went. But I don't care what anyone says... it was never a very "upstanding" looking crowd. I was always very nervous and would hang onto Jared very closely. Oh, and we don't go anymore. It just got too uncomfortable. But it's always cool to see at least once and it sounds like you had at least twice as many bikes as I was used to seeing. I think their sponsors says it all! Sounds like a fun experience thought and the circus museum sounds cool. How on earth are you supposed to prounounce that city, though? Good luck tomorrow morning!

Super Daysh said...

WHOA! 80,000!? That is crazy. I can't believe there were so many- and that you picked the perfect weekend to go- too funny. Glad you had a good race and enjoyed the sights, the bikers, babes and booze.... ;)