Fall is probably the most popular time for people to ride in Wisconsin. The leaves change, the temps drop to a comfortable 50-60 degrees, and there’s often a lot of fun brewery sponsored bike rides.
The Tyranena Oktoberfest ride is one we’ve been meeting to take part in, but it never really synced up with our schedules. This year as soon as the ride was announced, we signed up and put it on our calenders. Nothing could stop us from riding our bikes and ending with delicious food and beer!
Tyranena offers three ride distances that afforded a little something for everyone. There’s a 30, 50, and 70 mile option. We were pretty gung ho to do the 50 mile route up until about Tuesday or Wednesday of last week. (Side note: Wisconsin weather is extremely bi-polar in the Fall and Spring months. It had been 80 degrees and the next day it was 40. That’s a pretty big difference!)
The forecast was calling for snow and rain for Saturday, so we decided 30 miles would be the best option as we didn’t want to ride 50 miles with snow chunks pelting our faces or end up riding with wet chamois. We were pretty happy with our decision as it was pouring down sleety rain. Our clothes were already drenched as soon as we finished taking our bikes off the car rack and knew it was probably not going to be anymore pleasant as the day rolled on.
We met up with some friends at the start and headed out. Within the first 5 minutes we had to pull over and add some layers of gloves. Our feet and hands probably suffered the most. I was pretty well prepared though.
On my body I started with wool socks, MTB shoes, bibs, fleece lined tights, a long sleeve base layer, a jersey, a thermal long sleeved jersey, a rain jacket, a light weight vest, a wool balaclava, thinner MTB gloves, my lobster glove liners over the MTB gloves, sunglasses, and my helmet.
Eventually I took the balaclava off and just put a thin wool stocking cap on to keep from getting too warm. I also dropped the outer layer of gloves. I then changed into another thin pair of gloves at the midway point/rest stop. I only wish I had packed a set of dry socks to keep my feet warm or had waterproof booties with me!
The ride itself was pretty easy. Once you get into eastern Wisconsin there aren’t a whole lot of hills. It’s not like west of Madison where you hit the driftless region and it’s granny ring central. The route was nice and there was lots of pretty farm land, barns, and such. It was sometimes hard to see because of wet/foggy glasses.
The routes were marked very well, which was good because I lost my cue sheet within the first couple minutes due to it getting wet and falling apart in my hands. I still wonder why no one has ever thought to print cue sheets on the same Tyvek material they print bib numbers on…oh, well.
One thing that stood out the most on the ride itself was the rest stop hosted at Cam Rock Cafe. It was amazing! They had good food, plenty of bathrooms, tents for standing under, an outdoor heater, and they had their shop open for people to go inside and purchase gear if need be. Oh, they also had Saris event racks on hand to park bikes. The Tyranena folks should have utilized these as well as there were bikes leaned up against every square inch of the joint.
All in all the rain and the cold wasn’t terrible until the last 5 or so miles. We went from riding in a nasty headwind into a nasty crosswind. There were a few times we almost got blown off of the road and you had to lean into the wind to stay upright. It was the longest 5 miles of riding I think I’ve ever experienced!
Making the final turn into Tyranena HQ made things a whole lot better. Once we changed out of our wet gear, put the bikes on the rack, and walked over to the tent we were able to get a plate of hot food. The lines were reasonable as we missed the first big wave of folks who finished the 30 miler. We had left the rest stop area during a lull, so we timed things out pretty well. We had food and beer in hand within about a minute and no waiting. You could tell when the final group of the 30 mile riders and the largest group of the 50 milers started making it in because the tent filled up quickly. Even then, the beer line wasn’t that long. We were able to try some great season beers like the Pumpkin Porter along with some Tyranena classics like my favorite, Rocky’s Revenge.
Overall, I would highly recommend this ride. It was very well organized, the routes all looked great, and the after party was a lot of fun. They had live music with a lot of great Irish drinking songs. We all had a great time and hopefully next year it will be a bit warmer out!