Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Beautiful Morning

To borrow some words from Mr. Shawn Phillips.....

A beautiful morning
What a glorious day it is
A beautiful morning
And I hope it stays that way
So we can go on out and play

It did and so I did.  A day of opaque brightness, highs around 80 and a nice breeze....summer can't make a better bunch of 24 hours.

Over the last days I had made the decision to spend time on a couple of the bikes today; the GT250R Hyosung and after that, the Honda Ascot (Tran Zalp).  What I 'struggled' with all day yesterday was where to go.  I sat down more than once with my GPS software and nothing was really jumping out at me, other than to avoid going directly south since over the next few weekends, upcoming rallies will take me that direction.

Last night I decided that I'd make my route up as I went and that's what happened today, on both rides.  With the Mississippi River our next door neighbor and with bridges almost 30 miles apart, spending time across the river pretty much means heading downstream to the next available crossing, so there was a certain amount of doubling up with both of today's jaunts.

Stopping in Alma at Pier4 for breakfast, it was only after I'd parked behind the long line of parallel parked cars that I saw Dave's sidecar rig.  Mary's bright yellow 'Stich was hanging on the back of the sidecar, so I knew that Mary AND Dave were inside.  Justin, the Schnauzer, was patiently waiting in the sidecar for his buddies to finish their breakfast.  I joined the couple for breakfast, some plans were made for the soon to be Iowa Guzzi Rally and then we each headed off in our separate directions.  Hope you guys enjoyed the ride and the BBQ at Rockton.

On County N, a high spot with a view that goes for miles....

Downhill and into a very tight and almost always a very gravelly right-hander.......

Old and no longer used, or needed.

No doubt about it, this is SW Wisconsin....

I just happened to stop in Arkansas, WI where some sort of BBQ/festival was taking place.  Sadly, I had already stopped for lunch, or I'd have had something to eat.  The reason that I did stop was (were) the sighting of these two red Helices.

Two in one place, both red, simply amazing.  They must be gaining in popularity.

I crossed the river at Wabasha and was headed home when I got to our nearby Lake City.  Stopping to take a photo of Lake Pepin and the many sailboats when lo and behold, a 3rd, count'em, RED Helix pulled in behind me before I'd even taken my helmet off.  I accused the woman of having been in Arkansas and she confessed that she had no idea where that even was......."I sure like my Helix though".  If that isn't confirmation, I don't know what is.

Now that the Helix sighting has been covered, this is why I stopped, to show the many sailboats busy on the wide spot in the river.

In the harbor, many sailboats at rest.

Home by 3PM, I pushed the Hyo into the garage and pulled out the mongrelish Tran Zalp.  I moved the tankbag, the tailbag and the GPS, said hello and goodbye to Peg and I was off for Round 2.

Lake City Waterski Days festival was taking place this weekend and our local town was really hopping.  Today's festivities included a big parade, always a popular event.  

One of the participants must have been this outfit......Gold'n Plump Chicken is huge in these parts (is there a pun in there?).  

I'd never seen this 'riding' chicken before but I like it very much, probably more than the next surprise that was ahead of me on the highway.  That's right Martha, it was in Minnesota today but I doubt it was in the Lake City parade.  South of town on Hwy #61, the wiener was ahead of me in a long line of cars.  Checking the Track The Wienermobile website tells me that the big dog was at a grocery store in St. Paul this weekend.  I'm thinking I actually prefer the Chicken.

The much abused ol' Ascot......

After a bunch of gravel as well as pavement, I snuck back into Alma for some gas and a coffee.  Parking at the Kwik Trip (it's still the same Erik), I walked over to the parking lot for Lock and Dam #4 and took the walkway that goes up and over the BN&SF mainline tracks.


and down.....

The dam itself, spectators on the viewing stand, the barges slowly entering the Lock.  I'm standing on the crown of the bridge/walkway.

There's only room in each of the Upper River locks for 9 barges (3 wide x 3 long), or 8 barges and the Tug. The problem is, these large Tugs are capable and most often push 12 or 15 barges on each haul, which means that go through the involved process of separating the front 9, those rise or fall depending on upriver or down, then the Mule pulls those front 9 barges through the lock as the Tug and remaining barges wait for the rise/fall of the Lock operation to happen again.  Once the Tug and connected barges are at the same level as the separated units, the Tug inches slowly forward and the deckhands reconnect everything.  

The operation takes a long time; pleasure boats on both sides have to wait for the entire process to be completed before they can make the elevation change.  The river is very high for mid-season, which means that the level changes between above and below are small compared to low water conditions.

The water level has risen, the gates open and the Tug begins to push through to reconnect.

A front porch in Alma, homes have no front yard, the bluffs have the homes pushed right up against the highway.

A bit of Wisconsin Americana....."Porch Rules.....Relax....Relax.....Relax"

More room than I want or need, but it is a very impressive package.  He'd just picked it up in TN and demonstrated the air suspension.  His pup and companion is in the dog carrier...."She enjoyed Georgia" I was told.

Upriver a few miles, I stopped at the Nelson Cheese Factory for some dinner.  A Mr. T sandwich is one of my favorites.....Turkey, Swiss, guacamole, onion and sprouts.....pretty much Vegetarian I'd say??

It was nearing closing time, so the patio was getting very quiet.

I was on the bike and leaving when I saw Dick's familiar bike, so I turned around and joined he and Ron as they finished their cones.  Dick's XS500 Yamaha is off screen but the rear end of Ron's beautiful Guzzi is there.  These two are doing M2M next weekend, a pre-planned, secret route from the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee to our very own Diamond's in Minneapolis.  Here's a YouTube video that David shot from a few years ago, some of my Sport-Touring.Net buddies were there and in the video; Ed, Joel, JP, Jack.... Dick is that you in the video????

Just shy of 300 miles combined today, summer days won't be any better.  Both machines seem ready and very willing to take me to my next 2 Moto Guzzi rallies.

Friday, June 21, 2013


While at Road America for the AHRMA motorcycle racing a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to witness and experience, from the sidelines, the crazy world of Drifting.  I mentioned in the other Post that I've only seen Motard (motorcross style motorcycles with street tires) racing on this track, at least until this year.  On Saturday, the go-carts were sliding around this dropping-elevation track.  On Sunday, these Drifters were there.

The cars are lined up, towards the top of the hill and then take off through the course, sometimes one right behind the other, slide/spin their way through and then exit between the green pylons at the end.

Sunday evening while eating my dinner at a cafe in Plymouth, the table next to mine was occupied by 3 young men and it didn't take me very long to overhear them speaking of their busy day on "the track".  After listening for a bit, I interrupted them and asked some questions, curious about the how and where (why was broached as well).  I learned that they weren't really a club, that they rented go-cart tracks where they could for prices the group could afford.  I don't ever remember feeling more Grandfather-ish but it was fun, they answered all of my questions and seemed to be happy to share their fun with an old geezer.  I DID find myself guessing that they all must have much higher paying jobs than I have.

It's obvious some of these cars are quite stock, while others had been heavily modified.  I asked if they rode to the event on the same rubber they rode home with....."We bring spares, sometimes not enough of them".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday's Blind Lizard

Yes, if you're keeping track, Father's Day weekend was mostly dedicated to things Motorcycle.  Saturday's Show at the fairgrounds was phase one, Sunday's event on Nicollet Island right in the heart of Minneapolis was phase two.  I hadn't intended on going, but there was going to be a special presentation made that I just didn't want to miss.  On top of that, it was an incredibly beautiful day, perfect for a long, sleek black Morphous to once again see some highway miles.

As is my custom, I was early and therefore, one of the first ones there.  The Blind Lizard Club was still setting up their tents, the free chili, lemonade and water; the narrow brick streets empty and still quiet.

The first 3 with the food stand and center of activities beyond......

Our friend Jack's Honda, he with his back to us directly beyond the bike.  Jack rode one of these to Sturgis from Minneapolis and back again.

Scott, one of our VJMC members showed up with his dog, taking one of the few parking spaces where his ensemble could fit.

Harvey's BSA, Pam's Yamaha.....

The tree-lined, picket fenced neighborhood...

Pins made from melted Honda pistons, or so the story goes.....I got mine a couple of years ago.

One way to look at it......

I wasn't quite this dapper, in fact, I'm never quite this dapper.  Pam was discussing something very important with him.

Commerce on one side of the street.....

Mike and his wife Colleen have 100 lapel pins made up every year for the event and sell them street-side for $5 each.  Mike comes up with a new design each year (creates ongoing demand).  Colleen has them in a cigar box and 'markets' them along the sidewalk until they're gone.  Every year, folks seek out the 'Pin Lady' to take advantage of the limited supply.

Regarding that Special Presentation mentioned earlier, unknown to Colleen, last fall, hubby Mike found a beat up old 1958 Lambretta in a garden shed.

All winter and up until just a few days ago, Mike along with a huge amount of help from Bob as well as others, put the finishing touches on the scooter to present it as a surprise to Colleen at the Lizard.

Mike got a friend, another Mike, someone that knows Lambretta's better than the rest of us and whom offered much help as well, to ride the scooter in, park it next to Colleen and present it to her while the rest of us filmed and took photos.  She was selling pins and it was very obvious that she had no clue what her dear partner had been up to over the last few months.  It was tough because more than one of us almost let the cat out of the bag since we were all busy asking, offering help, checking on the status and so on.

Colleen knows this Mike and only upon hearing it more than once and checking out the personal license plate on the back did it soak in that she's now a scooter owner.

Note the large Wind-up Key on the back, it was actually turning via an electric motor as the scooter made its entrance.

Colleen had to get back to business and continue her marketing of pins.

One of Chip's fantastic Suzuki collection.......

Minneapolis downtown skyline....