Sunday, November 3, 2013

MN Swan Ride 2013

Today was the MN Swan Ride, an annual event that started years ago as an excuse for those motorcyclists hardy enough for an early November ride to do so.  The Mississippi River Flyway is a path for many migrating birds and the Tundra Swans are one of the species that make the trip, both up and down the river depending on the season.  Check out the link, it explains the history of the ride and how it started.

The official event starts in South St. Paul with a free breakfast, but our little group decided to forego the meal in the city and instead have breakfast in Alma, the river town and nearby park that is the swan-watching destination of the ride.

Things were very busy at the restaurant this morning; the 20 minute wait to be seated was worth it as always.  Tim came down from the Twin Cities early, joining Mary, Dave and I for omelettes and coffee.

Justin had to wait outside....

In years past, though not in the last few, the swans would set down in the tributary river/backwater lake of the Mississippi River to take a break from their migration flight to the Chesapeake Bay, their ultimate winter target.

We all hope to see the large masses of huge white birds as we used to.....typically these days there are a few geese and some ducks.

A few early arrivals...

Two Mike's I know, on bikes with old and new variations of bodywork.

Steve and J.P. were there, J.P. didn't have to ask me twice to try his new TU250 Suzuki.  A new love affair has begun......I really, very much really enjoyed that bike and thank you sir!  I think I can find some more room in the garage.

Riders came and went in groups both large and small.  I thought someone said that there were roughly 250 at breakfast for the start.  Rather than join the large group heading back across the river to Wabasha, MN for lunch, a few of us split from the group and stopped in Nelson for a cup of soup and coffee.  Warren with his perfectly clean Helix is an even more enthusiastic spokesperson for the long low scooters than I am.  One day....some day.....more of my friends will come around, they'll finally discover what they've been missing.

Another separation of the group at Nelson, some of us crossed the river to MN but I continued north up the Wisconsin side, visiting the Little House In The Big Woods wayside, a tribute to the Laura Ingalls Wilder book and location where the family lived while in Wisconsin.  Some lovely gravel roads, another visit to Rustic Road #51 (of 113) and then a stop in Bay City for ice cream and a warm-up cup of coffee.

Part A of Rustic Road #51
Part B of Rustic Road #51

My stop at Flat Pennies for some very smooth ice cream and a cup of coffee.  Bay City is almost directly across the Mississippi River from where we live and I could almost see our place from here but I'll ride another 28 miles to get home across the bridge at Red Wing.

Keeping an eye on things at the caboose.  There's a photo inside the shop of Cooper, a very regal looking Black Lab with his official title of CEO.

The sky was bright today but I doubt that we ever made the predicted high temp......strong SE winds were blustery and busy all day pulling the stubborn leaves out of the trees.  I had a really good day; my goal for the Swan Ride was more about socializing than it was about the ride and I happily succeeded.  I got a chance to see lots of old friends that I don't often ride with or visit with.

These say it all.


  1. I failed to mention earlier that the last two times I was visiting the Lodi marsh, there was a guy on a Pointy Scooter obviously enjoying the backroads. It was obviously not YOU, but you have another kindred spirit over here.

  2. Really enjoy your ride reports. Our grandkids and their parents recently moved to Wabasha and we decided to leave our bikes there. I was surprised how "remote" it gets on the WI side of the river. Beautiful country and very surprised with the quality of the roads. We have used several of your rides as a starting point for ours.

    1. Kevin, thanks for the kind words and welcome! We really do have some great riding in the region; fun roads are just about limitless.

  3. A great day on two wheels. Looks like the weather cooperated for you too even if it was chilly.

    So you got bit by the TU bug.... Welcome to the club. Some days we regret selling ours. It was great for putting around and Brad would love to cafe it.

    1. It truly was nice for November; the wind was challenging all day long and there were many comments. I've thought the TU's were pretty from day one and was really impressed with the couple of miles that Jim let me try his over. 250's and I get along very, very well.

  4. It seems like you were mighty lucky with the weather. Good for you. So cool, that you found another Helix rider. Those gems are not often seen on the road anymore. In Europe there is quite the fandom around this specific scooter.

    1. Warren is a friend of mine and has graduated from all sorts of big bikes to the Helix. He and I both did our best to 'sell' our buddies on them Sunday but the majority of the motorcycle world is still not quite ready to be Helicised. That doesn't mean that we'll give up. Warren is more excited about his than I am of mine and that's a lot.

      The primary reason that I took the Helix yesterday morning was because of the frosty morning. You'd be surprised at the coverage the pointy nose provides......all in Lazee style comfort :)

  5. "250 at breakfast"

    With all that you wrote, that is what caught my eye. Too bad there weren't many birds at the lake. In the spring, we can have thousands of birds (geese, swans, etc.) at the local bird sanctuary on their migration north.

    1. For a number of years, there were thousands at Rieck's Lake. I remember bus loads of folks from all over to see swans so thick out there on the water that it looked like you could walk across on them. They are migrating; I heard some at 5AM Saturday morning overhead; couldn't see them but they are spectacular to hear. The river takes an almost 90 degree bend right by us and they wisely cut the corner.

  6. When we left Pier4 after breakfast, I headed directly to the park to meet friends there. Dave, Mary and Tim went up the tributary valley, knowing that sometimes, for whatever reason, swans settle there for a rest rather than down closer to the Mississippi. None were found up there either. It may be early in the season yet, the last weeks have been so nice and not very normal-October.

  7. Coop:

    this is the time of year where we can view the Eagles

    there are various places where you can go to see them

    we used to go all the time. Many years ago they had record sightings but now, you don't see many. They come to devour the salmon as they head upstream to spawn

    at least you had a nice day to ride and to meet up with old friends

    Riding the Wet Coast

  8. Bob,
    Maybe the eagles have come over here, hungry for a less temperate winter. Seems that their numbers around here have been increasing, especially so during the winter and spring, though that depends on the season.

    It was a good day for socializing and as mentioned, a good mix of riders that for the most part don't cross paths.