The humming roar of dirt bike engines in February was not coming from a dirt path in the woods or an indoor arena.
The sound on Saturday was coming from Lake Koshkonong, where riders bring their bikes to ride on the ice in winter.
Contrary to what some might think, traction on the ice can be better than dirt, said Lance Wollin, who has been going out to the lake with other riders for the last 20 years. Riding on ice requires special tires equipped with studded treads, however.
Luke Burlingame, 21, of Fort Atkinson, added it’s less painful to fall on ice than it is on dirt.
“You can just slide,” he said. “You get a lot more control out here, too.”
Burlingame’s bike was running loud and ready to drive onto the frozen lake behind Sunset Bar and Grill, W7905 High Ridge Road, Fort Atkinson.
Lloyd Burlingame, Luke’s dad, said he has been riding on the frozen lakes for as far back as he can remember. Saturday, the elder Burlingame also was helping his son’s friend Jacob Roundy get his engine started.
Roundy, 21, of Green Bay, said he has ridden dirt bikes before, but never on ice.
“I’m kind of interested to see how the new experience will be,” Roundy said before bringing the bike to the ice. “I think it will be exciting.”
Wollin said Friday he couldn’t make it out on the ice Saturday, but he said he typically comes out every Saturday and Sunday during winter.
On most days, it’s just motorcycle enthusiasts riding on the ice for fun, Wollin said. There was supposed to have been an organized official race this year, but funding fell through, he said.
Wollin hopes a sanctioned event takes place next year.
Lloyd Burlingame, who grew up in Fort Atkinson, said he remembered years where some of the top ice riders would come to Lake Koshkonong to race.
Dave Lockhart of St. Charles, Illinois, competes in motorcycle road races during the year, he said. He said he enjoys coming to Fort Atkinson during the winter to get in more racing time.
On the ice, there isn’t usually a course drawn out for riders, Luke Burlingame said. Sometimes a path is plowed, but other times—such as when the snow is fresh—riders create a route as they go.
Luke Burlingame said he doesn’t ride as much on dirt as he does on ice because it’s hard to find spaces as open to ride on as Lake Koshkonong.
“It’s definitely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” he said.
More riders are expected back out on the lake today.
“What else do you do in the winter?” Lloyd Burlingame asked.