This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend, and that means I am heading up to the folks’ cabin to host my social bike ride, as I have been doing since 1999. That makes this the 17th annual ride, I think. The first time I did the ride, my friend Melinda and some other pals did it with me and we called it BIKE WITH MELINDA, for some arbitrary reason. I think the actual reason was that Melinda had, the prior year, biked across the USA and we all thought that was kind of cool (it kind of still is…I would think I was cool if I ever did it!) and we gave her mild celebrity status. Melinda came to a couple more of these rides after that, but she hasn’t been to one in a long time. So we started calling it BIKE WITH (OR WITHOUT) MELINDA, and now, by popular demand, we will probably just call it BIKE WITH JOE, since most of the people who tend to attend the event over the past few years have never met Melinda and have no idea who she is or why we named the ride after her. I, Joe, am always the constant. Last year, for example, no one was able to come on the ride, except me. So I decided to run 10 miles around Shell Lake last year, instead of biking.

There is always the chance Melinda will decide to attend one of these in the future and we’ll have to revert to the original name for that special occasion. But this is a long shot.

This year, a couple of people are going with me - my good friend Sherry and my GF Deborah - and maybe one or two more friends, like Jerome.

We usually cruise up to Shell Lake with our bikes on our cars on Saturday, the day AAA says is the lightest traffic day of the Labor Day weekend. Deborah and I plan to leave about 8 AM and get up there around noon to have lunch with my parents. Sherry may caravan with us, but should arrive shortly thereafter regardless. We usually chillax and socialize by the lake on Saturday afternoon and evening, maybe grill out. Sometimes we engage in water sports like kayaking or wind surfing.

On Sunday, we get up at a decent hour and prep for biking. Usually we hit the road around 9 AM. About 8 miles into the ride is a greasy spoon diner called the Roost where we get breakfast, although there is a rest stop before that, called Rummel's, where we always have a liquid refreshment (carb loading). People have the option to eat breakfast at the cabin before we start biking too, if they are not into the protein and fat rich offerings of the Roost (or even if they are!). After the Roost, we sometimes stop at the Rockford House, about 12 miles in, if it is open. After the Rockford House, it is pretty much all riding until Stone Lake. Sometimes we stop to have a look at the creepy Paul Bunyan statue en route. There is also a road side general store on that stretch.We seldom stop there, but we could if someone needed a beverage or some food.

It's a pretty easy ride to Stone Lake. There are a few rolling hills, but nothing too challenging. Because my parents are usually available to drive a support car, people have the option to jump on or off the ride at the various rest stops, especially if they do not feel like riding the return trip from Stone Lake (it's about 23 miles one way).

In Stone Lake, we have lunch and socialize, before heading home by bike or car. There is more chillaxing at the cabin in the afternoon and evening. On Monday, everyone helps tidy up the cabin and leaves at their own pace. Monday is not a good traffic day, so an early start is often wise, and it is definitely recommended to take a detour around the Wisconsin Dells traffic atrocity (even though it is more miles, it is less time because of the traffic jams the FIBs cause on I-94).

That's about it. Fun stuff. If you are interested, drop me a line. Space is limited at the cabin, so we might not be able to accommodate everyone.

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