Monday, September 3, 2012

Wildcat Mountain Rally #26

In two words, Just Dandy.

If this year's gathering could have been better, I'm not sure what would have made it so.  Weather was great, hosts at the Old Towne Inn, beyond the pale (now you can finally get some sleep Jack!!), food at the Sunday evening banquet as well as the service, exceptional as always and last but far from least, everyone's company and the effort put forth by Tom and Tammy, simply above and beyond.

The 'Morph' at Westby's Old Towne Inn; dressed in full touring regalia.

I left home early Friday and enjoyed some old favorite and very familiar, quiet back roads on the way down to Westby, arriving just after a very early 11AM.  Of course there was a stop in Alma for breakfast on the way, but not a long one and my route even using the backroads was mostly a direct one.  Not really expecting there to be anyone present so early, I attempted to check-in at my motel down in Viroqua, but things were very quiet there as well.  Seems I'll have to start sleeping in.....

With the Morphous still loaded with my luggage, but not at all obtrusively, I got a quick lunch, then went back up to Westby, noted the time and mileage on the scooter's instrument panel and headed west out of town to pre-ride Sunday's "Smell the Roses" ride that I'd be leading.  What a day for riding!  Being an old farm kid, it was a real treat to see all the silage-making activity going on; lots of corn being cut, much of it with huge, very serious, large dairy facility-sized equipment.  But without fail, often times on the very next farm, an Amish family would be doing the same thing, cutting stalks and carrying the stalks back with their horse teams.  In all my trips in the area, I can't remember more field work going on with the combination of mechanized and by-hand means.  The warm wind kept the afternoon very fresh; the sun kept things lovely.

Staying absolutely true to the planned Route's many quiet Named roads and also, mostly loyal to the planned speeds, I did my best to get an estimate on mileage and times. The planned gas stop was to be in Sparta, approximately 50 miles in (104 for the total ride), but at 30-35mph, that hour and a half seemed a bit long, especially when I wasn't sure whom the rides 'customers' might be, so I made a mental note after I gassed up to find a spot roughly 25 miles in for a leg-stretching break.

Not long after the gas stop was my claimed "Historical Point of Interest" stopping point and an opportunity to do a bit of walking.  This was the biggest unknown of the ride since I was only relying on some vague research of where the best access to the site might have been.  A couple of wrong turns and a bit of Kentucky Windage proved my 2nd (or 3rd?) hunch correct and I found the access that I wanted, on a very cool Minimum Maintenance Road, the kind of road I often seek out but I was having some doubts about leading a ride down it with an unknown group of riders.

The Flume, built to deflect and control potential erosion water.

Looking east, bicyclist coming from the tunnel and almost to the restrooms and tunnel historical Watchman's Shed.

On the trail, approximately 1/4 mile to the east end's tunnel entrance.

Tunnel #3, 3810 feet long, completed in 1873 after 3 years of digging.

After the brief hike back to the scooter, I continued on towards Rockton where I'd already made reservations for Sunday's Chicken Barbecue, then hopped over the hill to the Blue Goose where we'd be enjoying ice cream.  Up 24 Valley Road, on towards Irish Ridge and back into Westby to complete the 105 mile pre-ride.

Once back in Westby, many attendees had arrived and the 'rallying' had begun.

Mike and Dick.....

And their respective bikes.......

The Supper Club in the lower lot, a flurry of activity Friday evening.

Mark's Honda 125; the machine that beat me out for the Smallest Bike trophy; his XS650 beside it.

Some of us like motorcycles AND football......

Just one more example showing the variety of machines; Kawasaki, H-D, BMW, Triumph

Part of Phil's always immaculate fleet........

Adam's lovely old FJ1200, a machine I've always enjoyed the looks of.

Joe, Adam and their friends (sorry guys, forgot your names!)

Mark demonstrating the 'install' of his new official Yamaha "Urban Rider" jumpsuit.  This is only a brief sample of the actual 172 photos that make up this series, shortened for brevity in kind consideration of the viewer.

Firstly, determination had to be made which side, end, portal, etc. was "UP"........

Dick offered to help but almost seemed too overcome to contribute much in the way of assistance.....

"Urban.....Rider......yep, this seems right"

"Perfect fit......."

Dick wondered if there were other colors available, but Mark reminded him that neutral colors really are the preferred hues.  Believe you me, there were comments a-plenty all weekend.

Saturday morning's gathering for breakfast and Rider's Meeting, traditionally held in the Express Inn's parking lot.

The Rally organizers, Tammy and Tom.....

Everyone gathered for the Rider's Meeting before splitting into smaller groups......

Colleen, Mike and I attended the meeting and saw everyone off, but we headed out on our own, first to the Viroqua Farmer's Market.

After that, it was over to the Flea Market in one of the old Tobacco warehouses......

Discovering that we were still to early to visit the Driftless Books warehouse (also in one of the old Tobacco buildings), we headed east, winding our way in, around and behind County P before ending up back in Viroqua once the used bookstore was open.

Mike capturing Colleen at the entry.

After browsing for half and hour, we were hungry and ready for some Blue Goose pizza, so off we went to 24 Valley Road....

Back in Westby, a couple from Minneapolis had arrived on a Triumph Speed Triple and a Ducati.

Saturday evening (dark) I was mostly minding my own business when Tom and Mark somehow decided it was the perfect time to rebuild carburetors (I do mine earlier in the day).  I was the light holder and once the carbs were off, it was into Mark's room where the towels were the whitest I guess.  Small parts normally work well in conjunction with white surfaces, but small parts that are springs aren't always as obedient as they should be.  One of Tom's jumped out of the designated work area and The Search was on......

Mark brought in a couple of his "What's in this one" bags, but no clips and his bags were pretty full of some interesting stuff.  Finally we found the little bugger in Tom's pocket.......with the aid of a magnet, his fingers never would have found it down in there on their own.  Back outside, carbs back together, on the bike and it was determined the next morning that progress had indeed been made.

Tom won an award (s).

Sunday morning, another rider's meeting where we split up into groups for another day's ride.  I was going to lead the Slow Ride and due to determining which bikes and which people that were going along, I was neglectful and didn't get very many photos taken.  In fact, I didn't get any until we made our first gas stop in Sparta.  Gerry and Cindy, Neal and Jenn, Phil, Dick, Mark, Mike and I made the first 50 miles according to plan, stopping part way in a quiet church parking lot to stretch our legs roughly an hour into the ride.  Friend Chad stopped by in Westby to say hi Sunday morning while the Rider's Meeting was taking place, later took care of some business and then met us in Sparta to join us for a segment of the ride.

Gerry's, Neal's and Chad's bike at the near pumps.....

Taking a break in the grass......

While taking the break, we noticed that Mike's Police 450 Honda's rear tire was looking soft.  The more we looked at it and harder we tried to remedy the situation, the faster it seemed to leak, finally becoming flat over the entire circumference, not just on the bottom.  Luckily, after only a few miles from our gas stop, we were near a driveway that we could push it into.  Visitor Chad, only along to join us briefly, very graciously offered to pillion Mike back to Westby so that the bike could be rescued via truck and trailer.  Climbing onto the KTM Adventure seemed at first to be an insurmountable problem, but Mike and Chad worked it out.  Somehow they worked out the dismount as well back in Westby.  A huge and hearty "thank you" to Chad for his help!

Without Mike riding 'Sweep', we headed on to the "Minimum Maintenance Road" that gave us access to the tunnel via the Elroy-Sparta bicycle trail. Gerry, Cindy, Neal and Jenn decided to wait up on top for us while the 4 of us ran down the 3/4 of a mile two track gravel road to the small parking area beside the bicycle trail and Flume.  The trail was much busier than it had been Friday afternoon when I stopped on my scouting mission.

Dick and Mark admiring the sandstone walls.....

Phil at the entrance.....

Our Urban Rider in a not-so-urban environment, checking out one of the informational signs.

People, bicycles and dogs.........

Back at the small, shaded gravel parking lot......

On to Rockton using various Named roads, just as we'd mostly been doing all morning.  Only a few of us had ever been to Rockton before and due to the holiday weekend and nice weather, it was absolutely necessary that we'd called ahead with reservations for the was a very busy place.  I've never been disappointed with the food and I think our group all left full and satisfied.

The chicken 'completed' and then back to the bikes so that we can hurry over the hill to our ice cream dessert at the Blue Goose  ;)

If I remember correctly, we were back to Westby very close to our targeted 4PM, so we did our ~100 miles in 6+ hours, justifiably qualifying as a worthy Slow Ride.  Most of us did some cleaning up, sitting around and talking, patiently waiting for our banquet and awards presentation to start at 7:30.

Tom and Jenn did a great job with the award presentations, encouraging audience participation for some of the awards, both to prevent conflicts of interest and to accurately settle decisions almost too tough to call.  "Smallest Bike" obviously went to Mark for his remarkable ride on the never missed a beat.  Of course there were other very distinguished awards; "Bonehead", "Rookie" and so on.  Brian came up with a new award as well as an awesome patch; the Tipover at Zero MPH award.  He'd had an episode previously and felt left out, so he was good enough to come up with the award for others that might follow his lead.  There was a bit of quibbling at the ceremony about what truly constituted an honest 0MPH, but some compromises were finally reached and all 3 patches were handed out.  Brian must have found a Latin dictionary along the road somewhere because the patches had not only one phrase, but two in Latin.  Thanks for that Brian!

Sunday night may have been a pretty late one for some; I headed back to my motel around 11 for some rest.  Monday morning we began to scatter and head for home, some stopping for breakfast in town, others on their way home right away.

Attendance was right around 50 if I heard things right; you just won't find a nicer bunch of people (and riders)!  Rooms for next year are already reserved, planning for rides has begun.

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