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The annual enervation that descends on residents of temperate climes during late summer somehow seems to circumvent Wisconsin. Not that the place doesn't get sticky and steamy – it does. Or that the people don't get sticky, steamy and sweaty – they do, boy do they. It's just that, the warmer it gets, the harder Wisconsinites tend to work at their recreation. A thermometer flirting in the 90s is sure to bring out the circus strongman in us all.
Take the Wisconsin Classic Human-Powered Boat & Bike Races, August 15-17 in Sparta. This calorie-burning conflagration begins Thursday with a 24-hour human-powered boat race – a test of endurance to challenge the strongest of pedalers and paddlers. Friday's indoor races on ice for recumbent bikes and other human-powered vehicles will be followed by Saturday's 200-meter time trials on a closed-circuit racecourse, with one-eighth mile elimination drag races for all classes of human power. Anyone still standing is invited to join in a variety of races at the Excalibur half-mile paved oval speedway in nearby Tomah on Sunday. See PowWow Bicycle Tours for details, or call 1-800-354-2453.
For another chance to bust your buns in the hot summer sun, join in the 24 Hours of 9 Mile Mountain Bike Race, August 17 in Wausau's Nine Mile County Forest. You and your pals will be spinning your wheels faster than a hamster on espresso during this all-day, all-night team race. Call (262) 549-6801, ext. 80.
The voyageurs liked their canoes big and so do the teams participating in the first Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival on August 24 at Barker's Island, Superior. The colorful long boats with a dragon's head at the prow can hold a score of rowers, so balance is just as important as strength and rowing rhythm. Thirty teams from around the world will compete. (715) 394-8365.
Curiously, our forebears lacked this overwhelming desire to expend energy in the heat. Instead, they looked for ways to harness energy so they wouldn't have to toil endlessly under the noonday sun. At the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show, August 16-18 in Baraboo, you'll see the state's largest display of early American steam-powered and gas-powered equipment. (608) 522-4905. Find out how to put a sheep to work and see the many ways that 19th- and early 20th-century farm families harnessed power at the Power Exposition, August 17-18 at Old World Wisconsin, Eagle. (262) 594-6300. The North Central Wisconsin Antique Steam and Gas Engine Club holds its 29th annual show on August 23-25 in Edgar; the event features gas- and steam-powered machinery, plowing with steam tractors, threshing, a flea market, live entertainment, and a parade. (715) 352-2486.
A true Wisconsinite is never held back from practicing a favorite form of outdoor recreation simply because the state may lack the necessary ,uh, equipment. Those who plan to participate in the Dairyland Surf Classic, August 31-September 2 on Sheboygan's lakefront, are perhaps the most endearing of our perennial outdoor optimists. The largest freshwater surfing event in the world, the DSC includes surfing and paddling competitions, a surfboard show, and a Saturday night surf party. Although it can't quite cough up the big waves like those at Waikiki, Lake Michigan has been known to roll some sweet and sassy breakers from time to time. If you haven't forgotten how to hang ten, take your Woody out of mothballs, grab your board, call Moondoggie and Gidget and the rest of the gang, and enjoy your own surfin' safari right here in the Badger State. (920) 457-1209.