Globally Warmed Christmas


El Nino and global warming have to be good for something. The forecast for Christmas Eve was sunny with a high of 45F/7C. Christmas was supposed to be colder, with a chance of snow. I had a spare set of studded tires, so I put them on the "Australia" bike, and headed for a "Secret Campsite" not too far from home.

Bonnie rode along about halfway, pretending she didn't know the crazy guy with all the winter camping gear on his bike. (The last time I carried that much stuff was on the Oodnadatta Track.) I had planned to follow the rail trail a ways after the pavement ended, but it was really soft and muddy, so I took to the roads as soon as I could. There's not much traffic on Christmas Eve, at least not that far from the shopping malls. I got to the campsite just before sunset, which was 4:27 PM. Needless to say, I had the place to myself. It never got quite as warm as predicted, and the temperature quickly dropped below freezing after sunset, but that mountain of gear on the bike included plenty of warm clothes. The night was comfortable enough in my heavy-duty sleeping bag, and the water bottle inside the tent didn't even freeze. A couple times during the night, the coyotes drowned out the farm dogs, making it feel like some wild place instead of just a short ride from Madison.

Sometime during the night, the clouds rolled in, so it really didn't get very cold (26F/-3C, according to the Weather Service). The tent was pretty icy when I rolled it up, though. By the time I left, it was just below freezing. The rail trail was solidly frozen, making much easier going that the mud. The snow never did show up, though there were a few icy patches. It was slow going into the wind, but I was home in time for Christmas brunch with Bonnie.

It wasn't quite as warm as my last Christmas Eve bike tour in Australia, but the flies weren't as bad.

Sunshine on the trail
Wide Load
Arrival at Secret Campsite
Evening Wear
Frosty Tent
Morning Temperature