For the last five years I have made the pilgrimage to Milwaukee in February for what has become one my favorite shows of the year. Now right off the top Milwaukee in February may not sound like a great time for anything motorcycle related, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Mama Tried / Flat Out Friday weekend is something I look forward to all year long. And it comes at a rough time in the winter, just as the doldrums have set in, this weekend full of racing, everything motorcycle and Milwaukee debauchery descends from moto-heaven to rapture from the icy hold of old man winter. The show only started 6 years ago and the indoor race (Flat Out Friday) was added around 4 years ago. Its rapid growth has resulted in a few venue changes but in the last few years found a home at the iconic “Rave.”

When planning your trip to Mama Tried, make it a point to stay downtown. The Rave, Flat Out Friday, HD Museum and some of the best parties are all located in about a 2 mile radius of downtown. The downtown hotels are pretty reasonably priced and most are in really cool old buildings with good food and drink close by. I suggest getting in town no later than Thursday afternoon. This will allow you to hit the Harley Davidson museum party on Thursday. It’s a fairly mellow party that is a one-stop shop for your first night in town. The Moto Bar has good food and drink, and the museum and mini-bike race provide good night one entertainment. Yes...you heard right, they host a mini bike race on the museum sidewalk complete with fire barrels to keep you toasty will slurping down Wisconsin golden sodas and watching grown men on tiny bikes race for parking lot glory.

Indoor hooligan racing is one of my favorite wintertime activities.

Friday morning I highly suggest breakfast at Fuel Cafe’. The moto-themed cafe’ / bar has killer coffee and food (I suggest the chicken and french toast). And as a bonus, it is owned by Mama Tried co-founder Scott Johnson. After filling your belly with coffee and grub you have a few hours to kill in downtown MKE. Going back to the HD museum isn’t a bad idea, you likely rushed through during the previous evening's festivities. Whatever you do get rested, because around 5pm you're gonna want to be at the Panther Arena for opening doors at Flat Out Friday. If at all possible, I highly suggest trying your hand at hooligan racing. But if you prefer to spectate, getting in the door early at the race is a good idea. The arena will fill up but if you get your tickets in advance and show up early you’ll get a prime seat to watch the night's carnage. The Flat Out Friday energy is always off the charts. The built in tension of a normal race is amplified by the short track, unusual Dr. Pepper syrup track and the spotlight of a mainstream TV broadcast. After the high octane racing, you're going to be all kinds of wound up, so I suggest blowing off some steam at a after party or downtown watering hole. Good establishments to look into would be Rogue’s Gallery, the 1983 Arcade Bar or back over to Fuel Cafe’. One way or another fun will be had, Milwaukee will make sure of that.

Saturday morning head straight to the Rave and hop in line, it's gonna be long. The line moves quicker than you think but buying tickets in advance is a must do. Once released inside you have a full day of exploring the show. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 different bikes and builders are invited. One of my absolute favorite things about the show is the wide variety of bikes on display. You’ll see race bikes (dirt and street) from all era’s to choppers and historically significant vintage bikes. There are 7 bars inside the venue as well as beer, coffee and taco vendors. I’m sure there are other food and drink options but I have no reason to look past the coffee, beer and taco’s. If you do take a break from motorcycle gazing, head over to Sobelmens and grab a bloody mary. Make sure you bring your appetite and a few friends. A typical bloody at Soblemens is loaded with hamburgers, fried cheese curds and an entire chicken. The show isn’t over until midnight but I highly suggest checking out Milwaukee's bar scene after you leave the show. Milwaukee's natives are a friendly bunch but they take drinking beer fairly serious and that can have a non-native in rough shape come Sunday morning.

Sunday is a much slower pace than Saturday, which is good for getting a better look at the bikes. But get your last fill of the show early in the day. The show closes at 3 on Sunday,but trust me, you’ll be ready to head back to the ranch. The show is truly just a great hang, it’s the perfect blend of racing, building and Milwaukee food and drink. They couldn't have picked a better city for this show, the city’s personality bleeds through the entire weekend and manifests itself as a creative, high energy keg party, and it rules. Next February plan to venture up to the frozen tundra of Milwaukee, WI and get an eyeful of motorcycles and a belly full of beer. It’ll give you the kick in the pants you need to finish the winter.