Sunday, April 1, 2012

First Helix ride in '12

The Helix was the last machine in the garage to be readied for the new riding season.  The new front tire was installed, new drive belt, new air cleaner and new battery completed the work.  Since I was waiting for the weekend and some reasonable weather, today (4/1) was my first chance to go for a ride.  We had 44 degrees and heavy, fog-laden air early this morning around the time that I'd have preferred to start riding.  Since the weather was less than ideal, I decided that I'd head down to Alma for breakfast and arrive about 9:30.  That meant a departure time of around 8:45.

Lake Pepin, Minnesota side......

Once I had my riding gear on, the Helix was rolled outside and it started instantly and settled down into a smooth idle.  Using US 61 down to Wabasha, I then crossed the Mississippi River into Nelson, then headed south to Alma.  It never really rained, but there were a few drops of accumulated moist air on the windshield by the time I arrived at Pier4.  Normally arriving earlier, today I found a busy and full restaurant.  Tables inside were busy, so even though the waitress reminded me that the thermometer above my table reported 46 degrees, I sat down at my pick of tables.  The fog had left some moisture on the table, so everything was very 'fresh'.

The coffee and food were hot, steamy and went down very quickly.  After one of my quicker Alma breakfasts, I suited up again and headed into the hills, pointed away from the river.  It had been awhile since I'd ridden the length of Buffalo Co. "U" (normally seem to only cross it), so I stuck with it until I got to "X", then turned onto the gravel Schneider Road.  There was a lot more rutting than gravel, so I had to watch what I was doing; the long wheelbase Helix felt like it was Crabsteering half of the time.

From there, back onto my favorite section of County "Q", a shortcut down to #121 and north on Independence Road, another short but scenic favorite.  The sky was just beginning to show some blue spots and the bright patches of green were shifting quickly in the valley's beyond.

County "BB"......

On "Coddie Klink", another one of the region's very creatively named roads.....

Stopped in Whitehall for a sandwich, then wound my way down "D" and "T", stopping in Arcadia for a break.  I didn't even have my helmet off yet when I saw a bunch of headlights approaching, one of the bikes (rider and machine unrecognized by me) came over and pulled up right next to me.  Brent, an old friend was leading a group of riders and they were stopping for a lunch break.  The group had split into two groups of 5 with 3 of the 10 old friends of mine.  Some stories were shared over the convenience store food at the outside picnic table before the groups continued on with their rides.  Good to see you Brent, Deb and Ray!

Leaving Arcadia, I decided to avoid #95 up the hill to the west (I didn't really need 130+ hp sportbikes coming up from behind), taking the parallel, switchback'd Ziegeweid Valley Road, then used Canada Ridge and Waumandee Creek Road to get back out to #35.  A stop in Nelson for a Raspberry Truffle cone and then home.  A nice 210, casual days' ride.

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