Monday, May 26, 2014

River Still High

I casually asked a couple of old timers yesterday if this wasn't some kind of record or maybe records that the Mississippi has been 1) high for this extended period of time or 2) that the Spring high water has been present this deep into May.  Both believed the former was the more likely possibility.

I was up early and out in the garage, my goal to be down in Alma for breakfast at 6:30 before they got busy at Pier4.  Easily away in time, the Ascot and I made the 45 minute trip with a few minutes to spare.  A beautiful early summer day early and on a motorcycle, just about my favorite way to spend time and yesterday's early is my favorite time to be outside.

My ride was a short one, breakfast only since there are just too many things I've been neglecting (and intend to neglect through the next weeks) around home.  I did stop in Wabasha, back on my side of the river to check out the boat landing and that's where I had a chance to reference river history, my memory and his, with old timer #2.

The ramp is squarely beyond the lamp post. I see that the electrical tower in the background appears to be vertical.....the Warning sign and lamp post may be succumbing to the constant river currents?? :)

Old timer #2 after putting his boat in.  I wasn't fast enough to capture his entire 100 meter drive from the 'center' of the bay back to dry land.  He's at the 50 meter line here......

Saturday, May 24, 2014


The JeffRide......that's how I named the GPS file for today's ride.  We talked about doing this together two years ago and until today, it remained in the planning stages.  He on his CRF 230 Honda and me on the TW200 Yamaha, our goal was to penetrate the best gravel in Wisconsin's Pierce and Pepin Counties.  I'm going to call the result of today's ride a successful endeavor.

Jeff is in Minneapolis so we picked a Wisconsin town right on the border as a meeting point for breakfast.  Prescott is just about exactly half way between our places of residence, so this morning we both had roughly a 45 minute ride for the 8AM sitdown to enjoy coffee and some eggs.

This is what we did, the Track (bread crumbs) pulled from my GPS.  It for all intents and purposes follows the JeffRide Route that was planned.  140 miles give or take plus the 80 or so each of us had to and from Prescott, here in the upper left corner.  We did the Route in a counter clockwise loop.

This is 450th Street......

Here it is with the GPS file included (Google Earth required)

And the moment that one of you was waiting for.......the modeling of my Cleveland Moto T-shirt.

Those of you that shop for or even worse, actually bring old bikes home have seen and heard this phrase many times.  3 'new' machines followed me home earlier this spring and one of them actually came with the above caveat, another one's status of the above was implied but not quite stated.  The 3rd one ran when parked AND when I picked it up........yes, I do manage to bring some healthy ones home at least some of the time.

Jeff and I stopped on 410th St. in the above photo to stretch our legs and marvel at the roads that maybe shouldn't be in existence any longer but thankfully are for those of us on dirty two wheelers.

Once again, steeper than it looks......

The first part of 410th Street.....until we stopped for a leg stretching break.


 410th with GPS data.....

Wisconsin Rustic Road #51.....ahead of us the 3rd water crossing of 4.  The water spots weren't all that deep today and that really was OK.

We stopped for lunch at the Pickle Factory in Pepin, Wisconsin (lower right corner in map above).  Lake Pepin and my Fair State in the distance.


After traversing Bogus Creek Road, Goat Back Road, Elk Creek Road and Gates Hill we arrived in Plum City and felt obligated to take a break at the Trout Pond. 

Just as we arrived in town, we came upon a home that had a large circle of guys seated on lawn chairs in the front yard, all dressed in various uniforms.  I yelled a "Thank You" as we passed and it was acknowledged.

As my old buddy Tom used to say...."Big Trout, Nice Trout"

Before we left, local graduates and their families started to show up for photos in the park, caps and gowns everywhere.  Many graduates and their families.  After leaving Plum City, the roads became more paved and straighter.  We did find a few more dusty ones but no where near as many as we'd found on the first half of our loop.  There are places in Wisconsin that actually have too much pavement.   :)

The bad part about my leading a gravel ride with friends is that they get much dirtier than I do though as always, I honestly tried my best to stay in the hard-pack tracks.  I hope that Jeff forgives me and will follow again real soon.  It was a beautiful Spring-ish day to be on ~200cc motorcycles in the country.  Trillium's (Jeff confirmed, he knows a lot more than I do, this isn't me just making it up) were everywhere, the apple and plum blossoms fantastic.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(Another) Weekend In Cleveland

This one was the Grand least for our daughter's Bachelor's Degree.  She graduated this past weekend and we were there.  It was a whirlwind of activity, plans previously made needed to be adjusted and 'adapted to conditions as required' but we got through it.  Her old dad managed to keep up with the changes but just barely; mom appears to take these minor adjustments more casually.

Her ceremonies introduced us to her many, very talented and gifted friends, their parents and other family members, making Friday and Saturday simply wonderful times.  Students from all over the place, parents literally from other continents and hemispheres.  I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.  Speaking of heartbeats, I'll take a pass on moving an apartment's worth of student collected treasures and household goods again though.  I may be getting just a bit too.......

Early for the Convocation Ceremony on Friday.....

....and after it was over.

Graduation on Saturday......

After the reception, I left and headed out to make last minute arrangements for the storage area and van rental for the Big Move.  It just so happened that a couple of other stops (Waypoints for those that don't know) were already loaded in the GPS.

Cleveland Cyclewerks........I stopped but Saturday afternoons are apparently not on their schedule.  There's a young man back at home in Red Wing that owns one of these and it really caught my eye one day while driving past.  I turned around and went back to learn more from him and did.  Unfortunately I didn't learn anything new over this past weekend.

Not all that far away (on Detroit Avenue) I managed to find a shop that WAS open.  Cleveland Moto.  They were easy to find and there was treasure aplenty inside.

 I think I know how Audrey feels........

Scooters from a few countries.......


Some older than others, lots of new ones too.

Royal Enfields.......

Italian scooters AND motorcycles........

A couple of the machines really caught my eye but Cleveland is too far away for service.

So I came home without any new motorcycles, though I did pick up a couple of pretty cool T-Shirts.  Some day soon I may just model them for my closest friends.

Since it wasn't a weekend for riding, my visit to their very fine and welcoming shop was a pretty good substitute.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

GPS / Aerial / Video

I've done these before and thought I'd try this again for a few videos.  These 3 were taken on the Slimey Crud Run weekend.  You'll need Google Earth to see these properly.

The first one is Hemlock Lane, the last mile or so approaching Leland, the 2nd stop for the Slimey Crud gathering.  The crowd was still light.  My intention was to get a video while I was leaving when both sides of the street were packed; the crowd ginormous.  I ran out of battery for the Contour camera and had forgotten to grab battery #2.

North Hill Clay Road

Vermont Church Road

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Good Day For Breakfast

Since I did what I could for the moms in my life yesterday, today's bright and mild morning dictated a ride to breakfast.

Going down County X and stopped for a photo of the vista.  This laboring Mack was pulling a pretty good sized Cat at about walking speed right here, hoping to soon shift up a gear as the uphill leveled out just enough.  There's an almost switchback with quite a rise just beyond and around the corner that he's still working through.

Mostly the ponies were ignoring me......

More livestock appreciating the real stuff........

I stopped for a gas/coffee break in Arcadia and had a nice chat with Eric and Cindy.  They were out wandering and wondering about what to do for lunch; hopefully finding what they were after.

I made a run through North Creek (Rod, how are you doing?), looping back on Church Road to Arcadia.

I went right on past Caddie Klink but decided that it was mandatory to do Pretzel Pass and Alligator Slide today.  Here's the famous intersection.

Here's a video that I took from the spot in the photo above near the most right hand edge of  the 'bowl'.  Pretzel Pass loops, just below the trees, around the bowl shaped hayfield and then drops down the road above to the point where I'm standing when I took the above photo.  In the video, I finally zoom in to the Alligator Pass/Pretzel Pass junction.  You can hear the tick tick tick of the cooling exhaust pipes on the bike.

After a stop at the Nelson Cheese Factory for a cone, I crossed the river at Wabasha and then pulled in to this Wayside Rest near Lake City to check on the Mississippi's high river.  According to the daily reports, it has gone down slightly.

This is a loop through the wayside that runs down much closer to the river.  In years when the river is really flooding, I'd be standing at water's edge right here.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It Goes

Remember the sad and uncomfortable looking Mini-bike constrained in the back of Tom's van??

It runs.

Here it is next to one of those big CRF 230 Honda's.......

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Slimey Crud May 2014

 The Event

All week long the weather predictions for the weekend seemed to inch slowly better, day by day.  Sunday in Richland Center dawned clear and cool; oh what a relief.  I moved the van and trailer across the street to the shopping mall parking lot, walked back and after checking out, was on the road a few minutes before 6:30.  I had looked online to verify that the Lone Rock airport's diner, the Piccadilly Lilly, would be open at 6 with the intention of being one of the first Saturday morning customers.  Last year Mike and I rode down for breakfast in freezing fog; conditions were much nicer this year.

After just the right amount of hot coffee and another great breakfast, I headed south to cross the Wisconsin River at Lone Rock.  The highway ends against the riverbank, making these stop signs bad ones to run, that is unless you can make the corner.

Right around the corner as the highway bends away from the river, the high water at the public boat launch begged me to stop.  I could have made the loop, honest.

 TW200 endless stream of them.

I always take the long way to Pine Bluff, this year's ride was even longer still.  I had intentionally started early enough to both make a longer loop and to make the Red Mouse's parking lot earlier than I'd ever done before.  It did work out.

Friend Bob from Illinois (when it's warm, South TX when it's not) was just arriving as I was.  It's always a surprise to see what he'll be twisting the grip of.  This year it's a 650 Husky.  He came north, I came south.  He was surprised at how late Spring was 'up north' in Wisconsin, I was enjoying how much greener things were than they were at home.  A few hundred miles makes a huge difference.

Little commentary here, just some shots of the machines.......except..... one guy leaned over and took a look inside this saddle....."there's an entire family of mice still in there!!"  The solid oak luggage rack is what sets this bike apart.

Mr. Egan arrived on a Norton.......

A trio of Gooses.......

Sweet little Honda's, once considered Big Bikes.


 I left about 10:30 for Leland, the 'other' destination.  Most riders do more direct routes, about 50 miles, nothing structured or formal.  Everyone head's out on their own time at their own pace.  My rides swing west through Spring Green, typically more like 65 miles to Leland.

Arriving in Leland.......they came.....and they came......and they came.....


I was here early as well and parked where I almost always do, right up by the dam for the pond.  I ran into numerous friends, but a couple that were expected meet-ups didn't happen.  I knew John was planning to be there and it took lots of walking around for us to find each other.  Cell phone signal in this valley is horrendous.  Just as I noticed John, he was taking a photograph of a view that included people only, not a single motorcycle was in sight.....there were that many people.  I think this is the most crowded Slimey that I've ever attended.

Mike and I were checking out this 'enhanced' Bandit.  There are some very serious enhancements here upon close inspection.  Those Bandit motors are known to be strong but still.......

 There are gauge doohickey's up on the bars that don't report mph, rather keep track of other important information.

By 2PM I was getting restless to be out exploring some more roads.  I left and rode just about non-stop until getting back to Richland Center, the bike back on the trailer and headed for home about 6PM.

These roads and views are why.

 I'm stopped at the crest here, had passed the bicyclists and waited (and waited.....) for them to get over the top and coast down.  The road runs between the buildings at the farm beyond, all downhill and they didn't have to rotate those cranks one revolution to roll far beyond the farmstead.  This is a lot more 'down' than it appears here.

306 miles on the van, 394 on the Yamaha.  Just a few minutes after 9PM, stopped along Lake Pepin and almost home.

 The last couple of miles into Pine Bluff.

Always fun, Neuheisel Road.  Again, steeper than it presents itself here.  I think it's cool that the sign warns of down while we still are struggling to get up.

The last couple of miles in to Leland, from the North.  Here as well as in Pine Bluff, I was way early and the crowds were still to gather.


This week after I get some more of my pokey video uploaded I'll be combining the video with GPS location and the aerial view.  The roads more fun, the scenery more varied.