GR3 = Great River Road Rally in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.
Hosted by the Madison BMW Club and the Soldiers Grove Lions Club in the same lovely setting, Kickapoo River nearby in the Beauford T Anderson Park. The 'Grove's proximity to the often raging Kickapoo over time has led a great deal of flooding, flooding to the extent that much of the former business district was moved and once those flood waters receded, there was more than one kind of "Green" that occurred. The Solar Village was a large part of the relocation/rebuild process.
What I can tell you with great certainty is that we motorcyclists really enjoy the park's facilities and the very warm welcome that we receive from the town's residents.
Those of us that MADE the rally weren't all that surprised by those that did NOT....The forecast had been dismal; rainy and very cool. There were many reminders that not all that long ago, that very valley on Rally Weekend saw a frosty morning (I was in Lincoln, NE with daughter Hanna) that managed to test the gear and sleeping arrangements of the riders. This year's conditions definitely kept attendance down from near or around 300 last year to this year's reported 155. Odds were much better for the door prize give away and in our little group of 3 there were 2 winners.
Honestly, without a real detailed arrival plan, Eric and I managed to arrive late Friday morning within minutes of each other. Too early for registration, we setup in the misty rain before conditions worsened. My 135 mile trip down along the river was blustery; the last 50 miles wet. Once tents were up, we were off to seek out some gravel, which we found in nice abundance.
Our weekend's wet conditions were not the start of moisture in the region; it was obvious everywhere we went that big, fast rains had left a lot of devastation around. We lost count of the driveway slabs across small streams as well as dry ditches that were destroyed or rendered impassable. Along the great-riding Tainter valley we found a slab so beat up that the road had a big sign stating "Closed" and of course we needed to see why.
Beyond that grassy knoll over to the right, others, not unlike us, were curious about a crossing too. We were in possession of the technology, so we used it. As Dave says, "Onward and forward".
It was Garage Sale/Flea Market Mania along the river towns and normally quiet roads were busy with shoppers so we had to have a care. We found a quiet spot to take a break here.....
A big counter-clockwise loop and the large 6 gallon tank capacity on the KLR had me complacent about a fueling stop. Suddenly at around the 275 mile mark, I was in need of Reserve for the very first time since I've owned the bike. I flipped the lever one way and that wasn't the right way. Quickly rotating the lever the other way, the engine caught again and we managed a fuel stop in Ferryville. We both filled up but I began to have trouble. All morning I'd been making nice smooth shifts and suddenly I was struggling to match speeds for gear changes, something I take pretty seriously. Pulling the clutch in, I found out why. With an idle speed of 3000 RPM, smooth shifts had become a problem. Down hill compression breaking was completely gone, causing Eric to wonder why I'd suddenly started to use my brakes on every downhill section and we had a lot of them to go down before we got back to Rally Central.
We made it back to Soldiers Grove but none of my quick fixes were working. Gas was running out the overflow tube. Draining the bowl, rapping it gently with the butt of an adjustable wrench nor will power were able to stop the flow of gasoline.
So I parked the bike and it never ran again all weekend. Saturday's weather made that option only a tiny bit more palatable but it definitely was not what we'd planned for the weekend. Sometimes that's just how really good plans can go.
There were a lot of things to discuss with the group as there always is.
Ready for action.....
Saturday morning early my brother arrived on his KLR that ran and still does....
I wasn't patient enough to wait for the butterflies to emerge....
John kicking his rig through a couple of times to give the push button option a head start. Shortly after 11, John, the teepee and the last 2 other bikes were gone.
By 11:30 it was only the KLR (sort of) still standing. Bill from the Lions came over and while he hooked on to the trailer with the provided free firewood, we had a nice chat. Shortly thereafter, my lovely and patient bride arrived with the trailer. She may very well have taken the bike and left me there but I think she was ready to sit in the other seat and close her eyes for the trip back to Minnesota.
In two short weeks, many if not most of these riders and hopefully many other like-minded folks will gather once again across the river for a Minnesota version at the Hiawatha Rally.
I'll be there.