Unseasonably warm temperatures did their best to thaw snow and ice, but failed to melt plans for two distinctive events held atop two of Madison's lakes on Saturday.
Starting at 10 a.m., scores of people bearing substantial quantities of meat and a smattering of vegetarian alternatives arranged 67 Weber grills in a broad peace-symbol formation for the second annual Grillin' 4 Peace benefit on a puddly yet still frozen Lake Wingra off Vilas Beach. Across town on Lake Monona off Yahara Place Park, a couple dozen bicycle enthusiasts convened at noon for some informal low-key racing on ice, during a pulse-raiser for fun.
As the accompanying photo gallery suggests, smiles were as broad as feet were wet at both events.
Hauling their grills, coolers, camp chairs and accessories on sleds and toboggans, Grillin' 4 Peace participants encountered two or three inches of standing water on top of Lake Wingra's frozen surface. Undeterred, they proceeded to engage in a mid-winter party at the beach.
Many went whole hog for the event, bringing large containers of chicken, brats, hot dogs, spare ribs and pork ribs to grill. Registration proceeds and many of the resulting grilled goodies were destined for Savory Sundays, which endeavors to feed people in need downtown every Sunday afternoon.
Across town on Lake Monona, a few dozen vocal spectators looked on as winter bicycling enthusiasts demonstrated a different antidote for cabin fever at The Glare Ice Project ice bike races. Riding bikes accessorized with studded tires, a handful of cyclists at a time raced around the irregular loop course they had shoveled out of the snow before everything started to melt.
By consensus of the riders, each heat was five laps. Despite the low-key nature of the gathering, a couple races produced competition fierce enough at the front to kick up an impressive fog of spray and lap one or two trailing riders.
But winning and lapping other riders wasn't the point. These races were conceived by co-conspirators at Revolution Cycles whose default settings were switched to "Hell Yeah!" when the idea was broached. The motivation looked nothing like glory or renown: It resembled an attempt to make the most of a fine winter day.