Friday, August 29, 2014

Wildcat Mountain Rally #28 - The Start

I look forward to this rally more than any of the others, I suppose for a variety of reasons.  Among those reasons, not necessarily in this order but maybe, the people, the location and that includes the riding this region offers, Labor Day being the unofficial end of summer, typically cooler 'summer' temperatures, the fact that our gathering is motel-based, insulating in a fashion poor camping weather and so on.  So while it is really just one more rally, it stands out, at least it does to me for all of these reasons.

It's been a rather hectic, challenging and busy month.  As a rule, our August's have had a certain level of normal with a bit of surprise thrown in.  This year our August seems to have flip flopped these two things with all sorts of new surprises.  The bottom line is that I was more ready than ever for this weekend to happen.

The weather forecast wasn't the best (and that may just have something to do with fewer numbers this evening?) and up until the last minute this morning, I was just as prepared to ride down as I was to tow the bike on the trailer.  We had an inch of rain overnight and the predicted patterns for the day sounded rather gloomy.

I tossed my loaded luggage into the van, hooked the trailer on the back and got the bike strapped down.  I was off in conditions that seemed threatening but the wet never happened.  Just before I stopped for breakfast in Alma, I passed a popular diner and noticed that some of my riding friends were just suiting up after stopping for breakfast.  I turned around and went back to say hi.  This group travels down to the motorcycle activities every Labor Day weekend in Davenport, Iowa. After helping them with a group photo, I headed the 10 miles south for my breakfast.

It was early but they let me check in anyway at the motel.  I quickly changed out of my shorts and sandals into riding gear, got the bike off the trailer and headed out for a ride.  Attendees drifted in the rest of the day; we all took care of dinner in various ways and later found things to discuss outside in the parking lot.  Lawn chairs were out, some gathered around the bikes, that is until the lightning and very dark clouds weren't just on the horizon but getting close.

Hopefully tomorrow we'll have riding weather, each of our thresholds for that being quite varied.  I'll do my best to get out and see some miles on the Honda.

I'm writing tonight on the Kindle and though I took photos today, I have no reasonable way to post them.  That will happen when the weekend is complete.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Minnesota Moto Guzzi Rally - 2014

A perfect summery August weekend for a rally, once again at Money Creek Haven Campground near Houston, Minnesota.  I had Friday off, only hours before having gotten off a flight from L.A. so I was definitely ready to get on the bike and head south for the rally.  Dave and I had decided to meet in Alma for lunch and it just so happened that our friends Bill, Gary and Terry were headed to the rally as well and had the same lunch plans in mind, so we sat together at one of the big tables.  After lunch they took off in a different direction than we did, neither group taking the short way to the rally site.

I rode the 250 KLR this time, its first rally weekend and my choice was based on both the close proximity to home of this rally as well as my intention of heading out for some gravel exploration on Saturday.  Iowa Steve's Guzzi was next door to Dave, Justin and I.

We mostly had a lazy afternoon, watching rally attendees arrive.  There was some excitement when Kathy and Tom rode in, both of their machines only days-old. J.U. had the coffee on, the Lemonade and Water ice cold.

Kathy's brand new bumble bee V7 and Tom's Stelvio.

We were sitting down to our Friday dinner when John finally came rolling in; abnormally late based on his expected arrival time.  I saw his spark plug.  I saw his spark plug cap and had never ever seen anything quite like them before.  Luckily for John, he had some spare parts along.  The RS made it, trailer in tow, just in time to join us for the meal.  Ernie didn't make it, never saw Paul; both were expected.  Dave did make it and that was good, hadn't seen him for quite some time.  Louie's new Honda hasn't been set up yet, so it will most likely be next spring before I get a chance to see his latest and greatest.

Friday evening was lovely, a light breeze and cooler for perfect sleeping.  Saturday morning bright and early we all enjoyed our pastries and bananas with coffee; the timers and almost-overloaded circuits had the pots brewing while still dark. 

Dave made plans to lead Lloyd and Bev out for a tour of local sites they'd not seen before.  I elected to seek out some gravel to really give the little KLR a chance to show its mettle.  Taking the back way to Whalan, Peterson and Lanesboro made a very good start to the day.  First, I had to get up and over the hill to drop down into Rushford for a later, more hearty late breakfast.  The fog was thick enough in the campground, even thicker 'up top' and as it turned out, very sluggish in dissipating.

I passed these guys and felt absolutely obligated to pull over and await their catching up to me.

Stopped for gas in Rushford and saw these girls doing their level best to occupy the towed horses while stopped.

Just west of Peterson, MN not far from the Root River, the fog still heavy, even in the valleys.

A common sight in this area of the driftless region; gravel quarries into the limestone bluffs.

Whitetails are big down here......habitat set aside for their sustenance.

Soybeans up on top, ditches of grass to slow the run-off and the deep Root River Valley just beyond.

The Root River Valley once had a rail line that is now a recreational trail, hosting bicyclists from all over the place.  Canoeing, Tubing and pedallers are everywhere in the valley.

Whalan, right on the river and bicycle trail.

Nearby Lanesboro has done very well hosting all of the tourists.

 Emil Farqart's, "A Slice of Paradise"......I didn't go in and managed to go without.

 This really caught my eye for some reason....a rarely seen phone booth next to the modern digital communication building.  I can't imagine this scene would be very common.

 A river town catering to water-loving and bi cycle trail tourists.  Bicycles, kayaks, canoes, tubes, etc.

"Hillside Pet Farm" was offering on the sidewalk, pet petting opportunities.  There were huge crowds here, mostly young women, which forced me to wait for an opening.

I had to laugh when the proprietor was answering someone,"....there are 4 of them here someplace...."  There was great disarray as the pups mobbed him while he searched.

 The Slant Avenue Mercantile on a very slanted avenue.

Done with my town walk-about, I headed west to Preston for some lunch and then found more gravel.  The narrow wrap around the cliff road out of Lanesboro, one of the finer examples of Minimum Maintenance.  Ox Trail/Grit Road depending on which map you're referencing.

There was rain along this ridge and others like it.

Last year, Dave and I stopped here only to find it washed out from that summer's flooding rains.  This year the slab is so fresh that passage wasn't yet allowed.

As Saturday afternoon's overcast left and the sun got bright, I worked my way back to Money Creek for 'chat' time.  That went well.  Our steak dinner was prepared by the camp hosts, seemed especially good this year and our roughly 50 rally-goers shared some door prizes and awards for Youngest, Oldest, Furthest, Closest, etc.  I was not a winner this time.

Rod did his level best to entice me with a Twist Cone but I stood firm (had one earlier) and resisted desert.  We worked our way back up to the campground after the meal and awards for campfires, discussion and a relatively quiet, no-rain evening.

Just under 300 miles for me and the KLR this weekend, this rally location only 75 miles or so from home.  Again, thanks to J.U. and his gracious Mrs. for their efforts and hard work.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Finally A Ride Together - No Breakdowns

 The plan originally was for the 3 of us, Lauren, her brother Ben and I, to ride to a regional Fish Fry somewhere Friday evening.  The kids had some other plans, so they took off together and did their thing while I headed out for a shorty ride of my own (fish).  Today, Saturday, we headed down to Rollingstone for lunch and then for desert, rode back up to Wabasha, crossed the river to Nelson, WI for cones at the Nelson Cheese Factory.

Once we were out today, I reminisced about rides a long time ago with friends joining me, riding my bikes since I most of the time I had more than one.  It didn't happen often; I'm sure that I can count the occurrences on two hands, but with friends I trusted, those that had riding skills but no current motorcycle owned, we would gather at my garage and head out together for a spin.  Normally they were "old" married guys. :)

Below was one of those Touring Machine, Windjammer w/top box and the non-touring motorcycle that I used for touring even though I wasn't supposed to, here with my second and optional, Touring Saddle.  IIRC, Jerry and I headed out to Afton,, MN for an evening meal, taking the long way out and back.

Notice how clean they that I think about it, at this point in time I was walking to my workplace rather than making long commutes.

Today it just seemed a bit odd to see 3 of my helmets, some gear from deeper in the closet and 2 of my bikes out and away from home.  I'll get used to it though and am looking forward to more of it.  Ben got his license last weekend and I've only recently learned that Lauren obtained her Permit while living in Los Angeles.

It's not like there aren't available machines around.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally - 2014

Another really, really good rally down in the deepest SW corner of Wisconsin...... not sure any of us would ever be able to expect otherwise.  No rain, August appropriate temperatures with just the right mix of most everything else; more than adequate food to eat, beer to drink, lies to tell as well as listen to.

Dave and I met for breakfast in Alma and worked our way to Lake Joy Campground.  I'm justified in saying "worked" because Dave noticed and commented upon the fact that every time he looked at his GPS, we seemed to be going at right angles to his Purple Line.  Had he been watching MY Purple Line, he'd have seen that we never left the prescribed path, varying not at all, true and consistent.   IIRC, two points define a line.  MY purple lines contain many more than two points.

We really did have all day (though we did arrive too late for my size of short sleeved T-shirt) and I'm not sorry that we wandered.

There were coffee (Justin prefers bottled water) as well as bathroom breaks.

We stopped up on top, catching the cooling breezes across the hayfield.....the last grey shadow is Iowa across the Mississippi River Valley.

We rolled in to Lake Joy around 4PM on Friday afternoon.  I was thirsty, but did manage to register and get my tent set up before visiting this place.

Notice the 24/7 light above the menu to promote clear and concise choices.....

Someone (can't remember who) called me a Hop Head.  As a very part time, casual enjoyer of beer, I may have initially felt slighted, I'm now proud of the distinction....that Central Waters' was a delight to behold.  I sampled most of the flavors, it was just that the Central Waters samples were larger but don't get the wrong idea.  I didn't stick around the rally site all day on Saturday because of the beer.  Instead, through procrastination and laziness (bad hunch really)the week before, I overestimated the remaining tire life on the Hyosung's 150/70-17 rear.  Almost ordering a new tire twice, that would have still allowed me time to get the tire mounted, I put it off thinking I'd make the season with this bike's tires as is.

I had Routed a GPS loop of around 150 miles for Saturday though when I noticed the condition of my tire upon arriving, I decided to pull the plug on Saturday's ride and spend the day saying hello instead, saving the rear for my 225 mile trip home.

These both run, are Moto Guzzi's and yet are very different.

Eating/seating/soda/coffee/Registration/movie-watching/gathering area....

Dave and I found a spot for our tents....

Dan's new bike, affectionately and hopefully with caution, nicknamed "Hooligan".  We're sure that Dan will be mindful of what it will and will not do.

John's new-to-him trailer and awning served us all very well as a gathering spot.  John took under advisement our suggestions for more square footage of coverage and more chairs.  Of course as long as he is doing the carrying, we're quite willing to suggest all sorts of things.

One of the 'other' bikes, obviously an attendee at the MOA National Rally in St. Paul this year with encouragement to visit next year's affair in Big Sky Country.

She rode from Colorado.....

I just liked all of the colors.....during the day on Saturday while everyone (else) was out riding.

Florida represented.....

Pilot and Mogs headed towards New Glarus and Mt. Horeb......

I rode (very soberly) to nearby Platteville for a salad and a tank fill.  Happened upon this amazingly colored field of tobacco and knew I had to stop.

When I got back to the campground, I started up the Flip video recorder and made a pass through the grounds to share what the place is like; the up and down, the number of seasonal units, the beach, the wooded areas and so on.

My plate Saturday evening and I'm unashamed to admit that I made most of this go where it belonged.  Here you've got your pulled pork between bread, roast beef  beneath the chips, real pork and beans beneath the fruit salad and cole slaw beneath the potato salad.  The napkin is beneath the plate.

After we ate and after the awards were presented, Paul hustled up to see Dave's new very high tech jacket liner and new tent.  Dave went all out Saturday on his trip to nearby Cabella's, freshening up his camping gear and replacing a tent that's seen way too much UV time.

We did everything we could to delay Paul and his trip home to Iowa in the evening since he'd only come for the day.  His new V7 Sport is a supreme example of a motorcycle and one I heartily endorse.

Saturday evening, we were once again treated to the Golf Cart Parade.  Our dusty access road could really use a watering before the parade however; the dust gets pretty bad.  I counted 33 carts in all.

We weren't really in a hurry to leave this morning and though many riders had already gone by the time we were on the road, there were still many there.  According to George, there were just over 200 in attendance.

Deciding to mostly do a direct ride home, we were very unsuccessful at our planned breakfast stop(s).  Our first intended break was going to be just north of DeSoto which we were too early for.  Next we wanted to stop in rural LaCrosse which road construction challenged us to the point of ..."let's just keep going" and then when we got to Rollingstone, MN and saw barricades in the street, I was certain that we'd messed up Try #3 but we managed to arrive around 1PM (for breakfast) and it looked like the parade wasn't going to begin until 2PM.

The young women serving us in Bonnie Rae's had T-shirts declaring....
"Before the band....."
"Before there was a song...."
"We were here....."

Lots of Luxembourg lineage in Rollingstone apparently......

Here's my tire and though I'm sure that another 150 miles could have been done on it yesterday, I'm also glad that I chose not to.  I know that others use up the last millimeter or two of their tires consistently but I do not, preferring to replace before they get this worn.  There is a difference in carcass thickness between brands and models of tires; I don't know how thick these actually are.  The GT250R will have a new rear tire the next time it leaves the farm.

Just eked out 500 miles for the weekend.

Tomorrow.....a new job, new hours, a new schedule and new responsibilities.  We'll see if the old(er) dog can still learn some new tricks.