Sunday, September 29, 2013

After A Busy Week.....

it was high time for a ride.

This week.....

  • I found, purchased and brought home a plow truck
  • Moved dad's sister out of her apartment into Assisted Living, her furnishings now here with us
  • Have been dealing with and coming to grips with dad's sister's financial and legal issues
  • Friend Dave (and Justin) got an 8 point buck Friday evening.....with the sidecar, both OK
  • Worked too many hours
My winding down started yesterday morning, outside with the coffee, our barn lap cat and some incredible hues in the sky.  Naturally today's mission was to go for a ride.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect; cloudless skies and warm mid-day temperatures.

The boys can't help themselves.....

Recent showers have really helped to green things up again.....I've had to start mowing the lawn once more.

This abandoned farm site, the silo has an honest-to-goodness tree growing out of its top, something I've never, ever seen before.

So far, just some isolated pockets of color.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday's dawn.....before the rain

Percy on my lap, easterly breezes cool, coffee hot and Mr. John Gorka's Land of the Bottom Line coming through my ear buds.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Tenderloin Ride

After a two year break, I finally was able to join the crew for the gathering in downtown St. Olaf, Iowa.  There may be other places on the edges of town that offer fine sandwiches, I don't know, but we go right into the heart of the city to the St. Olaf Tap for ours.

Never afraid of an excuse to ride-and-then-eat, the event was initially suggested by Scott from the Quad Cities area a number of years ago; this was my 3rd time.  We Sport-Touring.Net joiners from Chicago, southern WI, southern MN and central Iowa have found it both easy and worthwhile to make the trek to the rolling hills of northeastern Iowa.  We'd ride there anyway, food (or coffee) is just one more reason to get the bikes out of the garage.  Most of us make it a day ride, some a weekend.  Oddball and Bomber were on the weekend plan, both of them on Dual Sports looking for dust and dirt.

I left home at 8AM with 45 degrees and blustery, dark skies.  It wasn't until a half hour later that the low thin clouds gave way to bluebird skies though they were still very cool.  I stopped in Dover to meet up with Dave and Justin.

The RT100, affectionately known as Herr Fritz by its previous owner.

When Dave and I first arrived, there were motorcycles aplenty, various groups of rides and riders parked in front of the 'Tap.  We were scattered and for the most parked further down the street.  No valet parking required.

St. Olaf's famous Tap and new patio dining.  Oddball's Tiger out in front.

I believe the final count was 13 attendees; we've had bigger crowds and expected the same today.  Had the ST-Owners folks showed up, our count easily would have doubled.  Where was Ben??

What we came for.......

Breadman went for the "Large".....more of us stuck with the "Medium" versions.  We all wanted to confirm that the event would be documented for perpetuity.

Once finished with our sandwiches, there was plenty of time for discussion and for getting caught up.  This was my first chance this season to see many of these folks.  I saw Don at our Wildcat Rally over the Labor Day weekend.

Bomber was doing something......pretty sure I saw some fuses being fiddled with in the tool bag.

A good mix of brands and machinery......

The St. Olaf Auditorium and Opera House, built by the WPA in 1939 of native limestone.

Dave and I headed north from there, mixing big highways, back roads and some pretty fine gravel neither of us had visited before.

Tourists at the Yellow River State Forest Information Kiosk.

I really enjoyed my sandwich and seeing everyone again; I've been too long away from these people. 320 miles for me yesterday.....Herr Fritz seemed pleased to get out and stretch his legs once again. Hopefully we're all back on track for the annual Tenderloin Ride.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday's Mix

A potpourri, isn't that what they call it?  Merriam-Webster has two definitions, one that says "makes a room smell pleasant"....that's seldom if ever me.  The other definition is "a collection of different things" and that's the one that describes my day.

Up early, I toyed with the idea of heading up to Mpls for coffee with the Saturday morning crew; it's been all summer since I've seen many of the regulars.  A cool and very crisp morning wouldn't have stopped me though a few other chores that I knew about that needed to be accomplished did.

Normally I'd have made an early pot of coffee; that didn't happen today.  Instead I drove into town to the locally owned diner for breakfast, but not until after I had the car tire with the slow leak dropped off at the tire shop which opened at 7:30.  With our schedule, unless a flat is dropped off as well as picked up on a Saturday, my available hours just don't seem to match normal weekday business hours.

Tire dropped off, breakfast enjoyed, it was off to the building supply store to pick up some lumber to serve as makeshift pallets.  Dad's sister has suddenly been moved from her apartment to assisted living and most if not all of her possessions will soon be moved into our garage for (hopefully) temporary storage.  By the time I purchased as well as figured out how to stuff it all into the car, it was time to head across the river into my beloved Wisconsin to assist Elaine and the guys with one more session of dealing with Walter's myriad of motorcycles, parts, rolling frames, more parts, motors and even more parts.  A couple of autumnal swap meets are happening soon so the guys, with Elaine's oversight, are trying to organize and price Walter's vast accumulation of "stuff".  We made a dent today and hopefully everything that was hauled away with find a valuable home with other collectors, enthusiasts and even other hoarders; whatever it takes.

This is a large, deep building with multiple rooms walled off and this view gives not a clue as to the parts and merchandise contained therein.  Walter never had one project going at once, rather many.

Leaving just before noon to drive back home, I got a confirmation 'come and take a look' call from the owner of a used plow truck that I'm interested in.  Since it was such a lovely day and because the Helix needed some exercise, I decided to head up to our oldest daughter's place for a quick visit and to take her out for an early dinner before the arranged truck viewing early evening.  She lives only a few short miles from where the truck resides.

On 690th, a recently discovered treasure of a road.

While we were finishing up our dinner, the rain began......rain that we hadn't seen for weeks and rain that I'd not ridden in since mid_May when Dave, Justin and I went to the Madison, WI BMW group's Great River Road Rally.  I found Joe's address easily with the help of my GPS, driving easily to his home.  He grabbed a raincoat, I inspected his truck with my helmet off but with my Darien Light jacket and pants on.  I liked what I saw for the price, we'll see what happens.

The two hour trip home was wet, sometimes the rain was only light, other times heavy but it never stopped.  I stopped for a self portrait, not really doing the rain or myself justice :)  Uncharacteristically, the Helix had a few hiccups this afternoon and my guess is that it had more to do with non-use than it had to do with the rain but that will be checked.  It hadn't been ridden since my July 4 morning's ride.

Some of the scooter's bugs were washed off, the dusty dirt on my jacket was aggravated but I stayed nice and dry, making for an enjoyable just-before-dark ride home.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Short Ride

Things suddenly got very busy around here this past week and the hoped for September riding miles may have to be cut back.  After a very long day yesterday, I decided that I'd earned a short, early ride today.  Out the door at 6:30, the cats fed and 'tricked' into staying out of the garage while I pushed the Morphous out, I was down the driveway at 6:40.

Dark skies early this morning when I started that soon gave way to bright sunshine.  Truly looking like autumn, but the temp was in the upper 60's (mid-90's yesterday for a high) and with an east wind, it was quite pleasant; my favorite morning ride temperature.  Or course I headed down to Alma for breakfast.  Deciding to sit outside on the porch, my food had just arrived when some friends showed up (driving), our local Honda dealer and his wife.

"I saw the Morphous and knew it was you".

As a reminder, Alma, Wisconsin is nestled directly against the river bluff.  Most of the town is no more than 2 streets wide, all the available space there is before the bluffs behind get too steep.  Directly above town is a city park, Buena Vista with incredible views of the entire Mississippi river valley and adjoining Minnesota.  I often ride through town and past the park, but hadn't stopped since an early spring ride so today seemed like a nice quiet morning to check out the vista.  It was early enough for me to be the only visitor in the park.

My helmet off and earplugs out, I started to hear the tell-tale falling of acorns.  This big old Burr Oak was and has been giving up a gazillion of them.

The picnic tables were covered.....check out the turn-around beyond.

The stone path that almost stays upon this ridge top towards the overlook.  The slope away on both sides is steeper than it looks.  I can remember quite well some very intense Frisbee throwing here by a group of younger and much faster men.

Someone not quite as young or as fast, content to just look today......

Lock and Dam #4, Minnesota in the distance.

The Great Alma Fishing Float, lower left center in the photo.  On the Minnesota side of the river, accessed from Alma on the Wisconsin side.  I've never been there and that needs to change.  It looks and sounds like fun; it has been featured on the Food Channel, famous for the "Famous Mess" after Alton Brown was there on his "Feasting On Asphalt: The River Run."

70 miles later I was back home by 10:30, projects being tackled in some sort of order.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wildcat Mountain Rally #27

This year's rally gave tribute to one of our own; he left us and our world this year.....

Sadly, we lost a beloved member of the Wildcat family this year. On May 7th Walt Sorensen was riding his Moto Guzzi on Cty O in Pierce County when he collided with a deer. He was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, MN but as a result of his injuries slipped into a coma. According to his wishes, he was removed from life support and passed on May 22nd. For those of us that knew Walt, we know he was doing what he loved but it's always hard to say goodbye. As the rally approaches this year our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elaine and the rest of Walt's family, and we want them to know their Wildcat family is here for them now and always. 

(Image from rally archives.....tribute from Cam)

Elaine and a friend made the trip down to join us at the Rally Banquet Sunday evening.  It was treasure to have her back together again with her motorcycle family at an event that both she and Walter loved.  Elaine proudly accepted Walter's 15 Year attendance pin.

This year's T-shirt design was based on a shirt Walter helped design years ago.  Both he and Elaine knew more than a little something about rally attendance that included some bumps and bruises.

Where it all happens......Westby, Wisconsin

Mark's wonderful 305 Superhawk and CB450 getting checked over by Mike and Tom.

Saturday morning saw a small tent village at the end of the parking lot.

Friday afternoon, Brian and Tom headed back to LaCrosse for Brian's fireplace.....I went back to the convenience store for some additional wood.  Thanks for the extra trip(s) guys; it was worth it.

This is not good when this happens.....Tom with his camera and/or a clipboard.  Oh, it always starts innocently enough...."how was the ride, where'd you guys go, whatcha doin'..."  Before you know it, someone you might know is a strong contestant for an award at Sunday's Banquet.  Joe was tweaking, tools and toolboxes everywhere, on his turbo'd, gas enhanced XS650.  There's no more powerful magnet for Tom and his recording equipment than open tool boxes or greasy fingers.  Tom was just getting started here and the sun was barely up on Saturday morning.

Whatever was going on, I'm sure Joe made it better......he's really good at this sort of thing, even with the threat of Tom.

As always, a great and vast variety of machinery.

Once, the primary focus of the rally, XS650's in varied forms are still a highlight.

Some equipment is newer.....

though there's lots of old as well.......

Some of us bring mascots......

 Time for breakfast at the restaurant and rider's meeting in the big parking lot.

Kathy received compliments about her blue helmet....I kept thinking robin's eggs.

Three BMW's and a Pulling Tractor heading north on WI #27

My grandfather always used to quip upon a sudden discovery or a creative new idea...."a rush of brains to the head".   Here Tom must have been after something of the like......there's quite a slope here which I'd expect increases that rush.

This year's Slow Ride - Ride the Ridges, was to be Sunday, so that meant that Saturday's ride would be something else.  As it turned out, Rick and Bob joined me on a quick GPS Route that I'd made up last week, sort of combining a few highlights from two previous Slow Rides.

This, for the most part, is our Track on Saturday.

We gave Rick a chance to get a little steep gravel in to our backroad mix.......sorry Rick.....if only this had been the end of the gravel I put you through.  Even Bob gave up on one of my choices a bit later in the day.

After parking the bikes, we hiked down to the east portal of the long tunnel on the Elroy-Sparta bicycle trail.  I took these two guys since they weren't along with us on last year's visit here.  There weren't as many bicycles, dogs and/or people this year as last.  Note the pinpoint of light in the tunnel, over 3800 feet in the distance.

Bob, ever the creative one, decided that the very best thing in the world to do was to step a bit inside and sing "Three Blind Mice".  Rick and I both knew that wasn't the very best thing to do and while both Rick and I were stumbling with excuses, Bob decided that a nice Round would be even more deluxe.  We had to put our feets down at that point.  Bob did a great job, I contributed what I could but Rick must have been singing very quietly.  Luckily Bob knew only a bit more of the 1st verse than we did.  I was laughing too hard and had to stop.  Somewhere deep in the distance, a young and almost perfectly on key voice started some slow, acapella scale notes......a much sweeter sound than what we'd attempted.   But we did try and I give great credit to Bob....we'd never have done it without him.

By the time we hiked back to the parking lot (such as it was), there were some bicyclists gathered around the comfort station / rest stop.

When Rick and I got back to Westby (Bob headed out for another loop on his own), Mike and Colleen had covered the zillions of miles from the West Coast, having hauled the Triton back east to the rally after the Brit bike won 1st place in a bike show in Washington.  More on this machine later.......

This bike wasn't even supposed to be at our rally; not that we would have excluded it in any fashion.  Dave had ridden up from the Chicago area on his LT BMW.  Early on Saturday's ride, he lost a front brake hose and most if not all of his front cylinder brake fluid.  He limped the bike to a local bike shop (Saturday afternoon), found a very receptive, willing shop owner that once apart, had no brake lines that would fix the bike.  He loaned Dave this bike, $1/day, so that Dave could not only finish up our rally, but ride home for a mandated meeting in Chicago on Tuesday morning.  Dave later this week will ride back up to LaCrosse, swap bikes, pay a bill and ride his repaired BMW back to Illinois.  Pretty good, huh??

Another IL bike, this one Jim's, another one of our first time rally-goers.  He joined our Slow Ride group on Sunday, patiently riding sweep behind the group.

Sunday morning, Marty's Yamaha and Bill's Kawasaki both looking extremely fetching.

Silos in the foggy background, bikes at the motel ready for another day of going.

Another Rider's Meeting, looking more rain-ish but we never had more than a couple of drops all day.

Our Slow Ride - Ride the Ridges' first (and only) gas stop.  110 miles for the ride total, this 40 miles in for a gas/stretching/bathroom/coffee stopping point in Stoddard, WI.  We were 7 machines, 8 participants and a really great group.

Our lunch stop, just outside of DeSoto, WI at the Great River Roadhouse establishment.  We got there Just In Time;  what seemed like 50 Milwaukee machines showed up as we headed for the door.  The Mississippi River in the back ground.

Tucked into the river bluff.......

Our next rest stop was at a Vernon County Park, on the outskirts of tiny Esofea.  At this point, Tom had left us for one of his favorite roads across the river in Iowa, so we were down one machine.  This park is a favorite of mine, a place I was camping at in the early 80's.  A very scenic, small river runs through the park and rushes towards the big river in this valley.

Note the Triton front and center in the photo above.  Mike's Triumph-engined/Norton-framed bike ran perfectly, once again.  The last time it and a group put this much distance on it, we rode through too many miles of pouring rain and deep puddles.  I'm beginning to wonder if Mike's old bike is really British after all.  We had 2 Triumphs on this ride, one old, one new, 2 relatively new Japanese bikes and at this point, 2 old and lovely Honda's.  Mark put the '67 305 Super Hawk through its paces, Roy and Kathy gave the lovely orange CB550 lots of Wisconsin exercise.  We truly had a fun mix of bikes, all seemingly content with easing through the valleys and up on the ridges.

From our stop at the park, we were only a few minutes from being back in Westby, Rally HQ.  We stopped at our planned coffee and ice cream shop for something else to sit on and some desert.

Back in Westby, we split up to get cleaned up and geared up for Sunday evening's banquet.

Willy, another first-timer, had something to tell Jill and Jenny about......

These guys must have had all kinds of stories to perfect and massage.......

Banquet time at the supper club, adjacent to the motel and across the parking lot.

There were 9, if I remember correctly, new attendees and as Tom said, a record number of new people.  Various 10 and 15 year pins were given out and Mike T. received a very impressive plaque for his 25 years of faithful contribution.

Time for full disclosure here....remember that rally organizer Tom was (too) busy, early Saturday morning already, gathering important data for the rally awards.  I was one of those far too willing to offer information to Tom for his reconnaissance.  I received two trophies, one of which I'm proud of and a return winner of.....we'll start with that one.  It was the other one that I too freely blabbed about to Tom. These awards are of the Traveling variety, meaning that they go and they come, back to the rally each year for some other (poor sap) lucky person to win.  This one I'm honored to display.  Even when I don't win, I'm always a contender, one year having tied for the trophy.  Last year I was beat out by Mark's remarkable ride on his CB125 Honda; I'll never be able to compete with that bike.....this year he brought his big 305 and 450 so I was up for consideration.

Though my other award isn't one of the worst (there are many in that category), it wasn't something I was exactly seeking out either.  On Sunday's slow ride, we rounded a corner on a paved road not much wider than a lane and a half.  There were 2 horses, slowly and casually walking along the edge of the pavement.  I often come across "livestock in the road" on my rides, so it was nothing new to me.  I was careless about slowly easing past (should have stopped and tried to herd the beasts off of the road and away from the group), normally a move that works for me when I'm out doing my solo rides.  With those big, noisy, nasty other bikes behind me, the horses got a little spooked.  I eased ahead and as I was getting ready to stop, get off and encourage the horses back my direction, they turned and followed for a short distance, kicking up their heels and shortly thereafter, the fence led down and away from the road.....they chose to leave the road and follow the fence line away from the group.

That would have been enough, but not long after, we came upon another farmstead, many of which are near or practically on these small roads.  There was a large domestic duck in the road, another over in the nearby grass.  I eased past, like I always do and have done many times, but again, those big, noisy, nasty machines behind me seemed to aggravate the duck and after an indecisive maneuver or two, it returned to its mate on the farmstead side of the road.

For these two Phenomenal Avoidances, I was awarded this prestigious award.......isn't it special??  I won't be forgetting to bring this one back next year (shall I forget, I'll be a very strong contender for the Bone Head award....a very special award to be avoided at any cost).

For the past week, we've had temps well in to the 90's.  Labor Day morning started far below that and we all had our jackets on early today as everyone was getting packed up and ready to leave and say their good-byes.

Crisp and cool......

Tent village, still in place but not for much longer, A/C as good as on....

The Triton loaded, only a few more miles to go now after its epic West Coast trip.  The big Road Cruiser ready to take Dave back to Chicago and then return to Wisconsin in a few days once the BMW is back on the road.

Phil's bikes, recipients of the morning dew......

The Iowa guys almost ready to head out.....

I counted about 40 of us at the Banquet, a nicely-sized group for doing what we all so enjoy.  We had fun, we rode well, no one got hurt that I know of (Tom???) we might have eaten too well and we partied well together.

A more than successful #27.  Thanks again to Tammy, Tom and everyone else involved.

P.S.  Thanks to Barb for bringing me that wonderful, very cold, refrigerator back at the motel.