Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Mid-November Ride

This morning started out wet and warm (for November) just as predicted.  I was up early, planning to do coffee with the crew in Northeast Minneapolis, then a brief spot of shopping and a quick return home so that I could get out for a decent afternoon ride.  The mist and almost-rain looked quite dismal in Mpls but by the time I got near home, the sky was brightening and the rain had stopped.  It was obvious the day wanted to be warm and dry, doing its best before tomorrow's cold front arrived.

Home by noon, the Helix took a bit of cranking but fired before long; its 'bystarter' definitely adding extra fuel which caused our outside barn cats to abandon me, sneezing with their speedy exit.  GPS on, with enough clothing on to make me almost sweaty.  As almost always happens though, once on the road I got it just about perfect; 45-46 degrees was feeling just about right.

We live near the upriver side of Lake Pepin, a wide spot in the Mississippi that separates Minnesota and Wisconsin, the lake almost 3 miles wide at its widest.  I believe it is roughly 20 miles long before it narrows down again into a navigable channel with wide areas of shallow backwater.

Here I am near the southern, downstream end of the lake at roughly 1PM, the Wisconsin bluffs in the distance on the right.

Down to Wabasha, across the river and into the adjoining state.  Barely out of Nelson and up Mike Varenick Road.

The Mississippi River valley in the background, just a bit of actual water visible above the scooter's nose.....

County I, Center Creek Road, Johnson Hill, County V, the always fun County B loop, BB, A, H, Albany, ZZ and finally Z (never done this one before, can't say that very often within 100 miles of home).  Down through Mondovi and then Double T, for some reason still and always a favorite.  It's rougher than a cob, but there's just something about it.....

County TT's cemeteries, one outside the corner, one tucked inside the corner.  The rough School Road climbing the hill in the distance....but I didn't take it this time, instead headed south on Hagness Road.

Just before I stopped for this photo, I came upon what must have been the largest Buck I've ever seen.  He was crossing the road as I rounded a corner and I caught him mid-stride about 50 yards ahead.  We both stopped.  I did my best to fumble my camera out but there was too much for two hands to accomplish.  The road was steep, the parking brake needed to be set on the scooter and in those long 15 seconds, he ran out of patience and hopped into the woods.

This was just a few hundred yards south of there.....

There are some very interesting road names in the area; from Hagness it was onto Moy, then Pfund Bros and finally German Valley.  On into Modena, then another favorite (was there not long ago on the TW200), Serum Road.

Here's Serum's east end, the only section that's paved.  It turns to gravel at the base directly in front of me, then winds around to the left as it goes up that distant valley.

On to County KK, McDonough, Deer Creek and then Marke Bluff, the gravel climb with a couple of switchbacks to get up on top.

Marke Bluff Road, headed down the other side.  The Mississippi backwater shining in the distance.  If the river had been at normal levels, there's be a lot more 'shiny'.  I set the scooter's parking brake more times today that I think I ever have over the course of one ride.  I was hesitant to get off here, wondering if in fact the brake would hold it.

The bridge to Wabasha, MN is normally visible in the distance but the afternoon's warm, moist air and reflections were hiding it today.

Just a mile or so back into Nelson and a mandatory stop at the Nelson Cheese Factory for some ice cream and a pound of Aged Swiss to bring home.

The Helix fits right in....

Back at Lake Pepin, 4:30PM......

Home by 5PM, 140 miles in a little over 4 hours which is just about right :)  Our home thermometer said 62 degrees when I got home.  The warm afternoon almost made me feel guilty about stopping early but dusk and the 5 deer I had to 'push' out of our driveway made me glad I was home and in the garage.


  1. Those pictures make me miss living down in the "cities". I don't think it got over 45° today. It was cold and damp up here. At least the snow is gone for a while.

  2. I heard about your snow only after the fact, a bit surprised....and then not so much :) It's that time of year when it can happen even here and those miles north where you are from us make a difference. Lucy for you your snowshoe season beats ours hands down. Stay healthy and warm!

    I know of what you speak re: the "cities" and most everything it defines.

  3. Your bright and shiny scooter makes a wonderful contrast to the landscape. Glad that you are still able to ride.

  4. I've been told by my sportbike friends that the Helix is almost too much yellow in one spot (those guys are so much fun to play with) but you're right, with the dark and cool landscapes ahead, the yellow really jumps out. I haven't give up yet....there still may be some miles made this season. I'll handle cold; normally what stops me is when the snow starts and the road salt starts being applied. In the spring I struggle to wait for rains to wash the residue off.

  5. I really enjoy your documented voyages! I too take pleasure in the roads less traveled. And being one of very few Hagness' left in Mondovi, I'm so happy that there are still people that feel the same way about the backroads and stories they hold! I hope you continue on,

    Mike Hagness

    1. Mike, thanks for stopping by! "Hagness" felt familiar but I couldn't place faces or people I've known. With a bit more Mondovi context, now I know what it's familiar.

      "Our" backroads come alive for me as I ride them and then I can almost feel their returning to a quiet rest as I pass.