With no football to watch, we took to the bed…races

We value many things here in Wisconsin — a squeaky cheese curd, an ice cold beer, good friends and old fashioned ingenuity. On Kelly Lake last weekend, Vince and I enjoyed all four.
We joined our friends for the second annual Kelly Lake Bed Races, an actual event promoted by the Oconto County Tourism Board.
A brisk breeze blew across the lake, making us grateful for the protection of our blaze orange hunting gear and for the extra wind block provided by the similarly attired fans assembled around us.
Two iron beds with soldered handles stood parked at the base of a snow mound. Teams of four runners and one rider raced the beds to another  large mound 50 yards away. Once the bed reached the far mound, the rider jumped off, climbed over the mound to retrieve a stuffed animal strategically placed there and returned to the bed with the animal. The runners then sprinted the bed back to the starting point.
If it sounds like an athletic event invented by two bar owners named Gary Vizelka and Arlas Ousloos, it was.
But the tournament involved some real athleticism. It quickly became apparent that the key player on the team was, ironically, the rider. One team had their scrappy little rider sit sideways with his legs hanging off the bed. Then, the runners jammed the bed sideways against the mound and catapulted the rider up. He scrambled over the hill and swiftly reappeared with the stuffed animal in his teeth.
The runners slowed as the tournament progressed and the double-elimination format nearly forced us all to watch the Jamaican Bedsledders face off against the Mattress Bed Burners three times in a row, which may have led to cardiac arrest on both teams.
But we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Kelly Lake Bed Races and next year if the waning days of January find us with no football team to follow, we’re planning to put together a team of our own.

I wasn’t dressed right for our time on the ice, so I grabbed this
fashionable snow suit and wore it over my coat and jeans. On a
frozen lake in Wisconsin, blaze orange almost always feels right.
This all-girl team impressed. Look to the far right corner of
the photo for their fading opponents.
I had high hopes for the Jamaican Bedsled team, but they fell just short.
As you can see, this closet in our family’s cabin
provided quite a selection of warm weather gear.
We capped off the afternoon with a trip to the cheese factory for
some beer cheese and garlic and dill cheese curds. Delicious.

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