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Gnome-Fest Ocho

What a whirl weekend! From the registration/pre-event at the Sand Creek Brewing Company to the scraping of the tongue Sunday morning there was non-stop action. In fact, it is hard to remember parts of some of the days but I feel confident in saying that a good time was had by all.

Here is a bit of what I remember:

Setting Up Camp

The first spot I checked out was anchored by a bunch of Gnomies from Iowa City and, with promises of revelry and bawdiness, I staked my claim on a relatively flat chunk of real estate. Owing to the fact that when I did hit the tent I was plum tuckered out, it could have been just about anywhere though. This fact was driven home both nights with several “campers” horizontal by the fire.

A lot more tents showed up in this area! It was cozy.

Sand Creek Brewing Company

Friday’s registration location was at Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls, WI. Being an early registrant, I scooped up on all the good schwag including a Gnome-Fest patch, T-Shirt and stem top-cap! Sportin’ the T-shirt as I write!

The Tap Room was, obviously, the place to be. Not only was it cooler owing to the AC but there were several tasty beverages on tap. I sampled a couple but could not tear myself away from the Badger Porter. Not knowing where or when I’d next eat, a hearty brew like the Porter seemed a good hedge against hunger pangs.

In addition to the great beer on tap, Sand Creek was filling commemorative growlers with your choice of brew for a measly $6! Yes, I brought some home. Well to the shop, actually. Stop by this evening and we’ll do them in! I can almost taste the goodness now.

As I was leaving for the event site a local band was just setting up for some music in front of the brew kettles. Sand Creek has it going on!

 The Ceremonial Tapping of the First Keg

Round about 7PM Gary and crew engaged in the tapping of the first keg, not that there hadn’t already been some imbibing. The excellent English Ale from Sand Creek helped keep the British tradition going for me. I believe the other brew was their excellent IPA. Don’t know, didn’t have it.

In the end I believe that no less than 4 kegs gave up their contents early on but at about 11:30PM or so, when Colin and some of the MKE Crew arrived, more brew from Lakefront Brewery showed up and the consumption continued ’till the wee hours.

The Fire

You’ll see the log pile in some of the pix. Suffice it to say that no log went unburned. I don’t think it was totally out all weekend. That’s 2 large pickup trucks full. I heard the local guy who brought the wood out had some good jokes. Didn’t hear any of them so I can’t pass them on.


Beer drinking, bikes, a fire…that seems to spell DERBY in these parts. They went counter-clockwise, they went clockwise, the ladies did it then it was a free for all. Someone won, I assume.

Some Shoes were burned as well.

Spinner Breaks a Bike

Remember that log pile? It comes into play again here. Note that this was when it still had most of it’s full and impressive 2-pickup-load-size mostly intact.

Apparently, that log pile just couldn’t sit there so several riders sped their mounts at the pile with varying degrees of success from simply stuffing it in the first few feet to Spinner and Jeremy coming pretty close to clearing it. In the end I think most bodies were perhaps bruised but mostly fine while Spinner’s Pug took the brunt of all that is Spinner in a vertical manner and coming out worse for the experience. If you were there and saw the ride you’d wonder how any bike, let alone Spinner his-own-self, could walk/ride away. Spinner did, his bike, alas, did not. Spinner 1, Pug 0.

Dave Arrives

I heard the distinctive exhaust note of an early ’90’s BMW before I saw it and thought, that sounds like Dave’s car. Sure nuff, there it was rolling up the drive with Dave behind the wheel. I guess Saturday AM wasn’t early enough and he made the drive from MKE after deciding that he might as well drink with his biking buddies instead of drinking on the couch and making that 3-hour drive with a hangover.

Odd thing was Dave’s timing was almost perfect. A night ride was queuing up. Well, we delayed a bit, had a beer then went for that night ride. Sand, bridges, Fatbike. Sweet!


I think there was a bit, like 4 hours or so in the gathering light of Saturday, very early AM.

Julio Gets a Bike

Dave, Spinner and I planned a short town trip for some local fare and a Bloody Mary or two to ease in to the day but we had a mission first. Colleen Marencik conspired with Gary and I to surprise Joe with a Schlick Cycles Northpaw Fatbike. The Matte Black beauty was built with an Alfine 11-speed internal hub, Rolling Darryls, Larrys, Avid BB7s and a compliment of Ritchey Pro components. See that look on Joe’s face? He is stunned. Speechless! To be sure, he was effusive with praise and pride later in the day but at the unveiling words could’t describe the feelings. Glad we could be there for you, man!


Bethany Too

But wait, we are not done with the gifting of bikes and the subsequent out flowing of emotions. Gary presented Bethany with a petite 13-inch Salsa Mukluk to make the lake/Raven clan a 2-FAT family. It is obvious Bethany has no problems letting those happy feelings flow!

Ladies Ride

There was a ladies ride. I’m a guy so I didn’t go. Maybe Dave did!

Dirt Cat

Like an alley cat without the alley, the Dirt Cat was a 2-hour trail using fun fest with half a dozen or so checkpoints and shenanigans to boot. Did you say we need another derby? Yes, yes we do. After that it was find your stickers, then find the tasks, do said tasks and get back first. Someone did that. Benji was then next guy, and other followed.

The Fire

Yep, still going!


Doh! Well, if I had any regret the whole weekend it was the timing of a short lie down just after chow time that extended a couple of hours and blasted right through one of the signature events, the Dwarf Cycle races. Bummer, but no matter, the nap just meant I could be awake that much later and, after a trip with Spinner to the Outpost, a local bar of ill repute, we closed the night down as the last two men standing.

Dwarf Cycle Races

I know it happened, I know there was tequila consumed and know how tequila can lead to the lowering of inhibitions. Didn’t witness the spectacle myself but I’m pretty sure you’ll find evidence of the event and, possibly, some winner for those that track that kind of thing.


Yeah, that 3 hours of sleep did me good. Spinner, Dave, why don’t we go find some breakfast. I didn’t think I’d hear that trendy term something and something else infused vodka (perhaps peppers, onions and such?) this weekend but sure enough at the Gas stop/Northwoods eatery there it was for the make your own bloody bar at the bar. Dave had that. I had a Coke or 2. Spinner ate two bites of his breakfast. They had a carry out box fro him though so it was OK.

Aaaand… that about wraps it up. A ride Sunday AM sounded like a good idea but so did getting back to the family and, after striking camp, that’s what I did.

Oh, thanks to all who worked so hard at making Gnome-Fest a must do event, Gary, Joe, Steve, Marty and many others, see y’all next year, FOR SURE!

FYI, I’d planned to go to Interbike this year but with Gnome-Fest and Chequamegon bookending a trip to Vegas I decided to do the local events and put what energy I can muster there so I’ll see y’all on Friday in Cable, WI!