Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tenderloin Ride - 2014

It all happens in St. Olaf, Iowa at the St. Olaf Tavern.  Scheduled for Saturday the 27th, it has been on my calendar for a few months.  Scott typically calls the date and as I recall, it floated around just a bit until settling on the last Saturday in September.  However he does it, I'm all in favor of letting Scott schedule all of my autumnal rides.....he absolutely nailed this one in regards to perfect riding weather.

Looking forward to the Saturday ride, breaking up the 3 day weekend sounded like the perfect mix for the coming weekend.  Everyone started mentioning the predicted weather; predicted perfection would be accurate.  High 70's/low 80's and brilliant skies beginning on Friday and lasting through Sunday.  Checking the forum at, our unofficial gathering spot, I learned that I wasn't the only one toying with the idea of making our planned Pork Event a more than one day trip.

By 8AM Friday morning, the Ascot (TranZalp) was headed out the driveway and as almost always happens when I head south, a breakfast stop at Pier 4 in Alma, Wisconsin was my first stop.

I noticed on Friday it wasn't just the motorcyclists I'm associated with that were out and about Friday enjoying the almost unseasonably perfect weather.  My guess is that many workplaces were even quieter than usual, they certainly were by Friday afternoon.  The roads, diners, shops, etc. all seemed busy with 'travelers' like myself.

The reason that I took the Ascot over the Hyosung, the bike I'd planned to ride down up until a couple of weeks ago, was to concentrate on gravel roads, especially some of the neglected ones in Iowa (there are many).   So for the most part, I followed a direct route south to the next bridge across the Mississippi River, though that doesn't mean I confined myself to the main highway; a shortcut is a shortcut.  While I'm still in a paragraph that contains the word "Hyosung" I need to mention that when I stopped at a cash machine Friday for some travelin' cash, the nameplate on the ATM proudly displayed that brand "Hyosung" near where the bills appear; the first time I'd ever noticed.

Both early and later on in the afternoon when I crossed the river once again from Iowa back to Wisconsin, there were consists (a grouping of rail cars) of oil tankers, stopped along the BNSF tracks.  Below is only the first of those I saw.  In the 15 miles or so from Cochrane to the bridge at Winona, I must have counted a dozen of these, stopped, and over those 15 miles, all were headed south.  Later on, when I crossed the river again heading east, some of the oil trains were stopped heading north.

Stopped under the 2nd stopped train, barely a mile south of the crossing above.

Back on the Minnesota side, though by reading all place names, a person may get confused as to the location. The river has major rail lines on both of its sides; Minnesota and Wisconsin.

As everyone already knows, these signs on these roads are why I go.

A Minnesota favorite in Houston County, Hillside Road, this section still climbing.

This section up on top, just beyond the bend ahead the bluff drops a very long ways down to the river.

Here is the south end of Hillside as it drops down into Reno, the river and WI in the distance.

Never stopped at this monument before, a tribute to the surveyors that determined the boundary between Iowa and Minnesota.  I'm thankful that's something we aren't fighting least not yet.

Once across that non-disputed boundary into Iowa, I found a couple of favorite dusty roads in the extreme NE corner of the state and then crossed over at Lansing to explore some neglected roads in Grant County, Wisconsin, that state's most southwestern county.  There are some roads southwest of Boscobel that are hard to beat.......Dutch Hill, Virgin, Townhall, Pine Knob, Wisconsin Valley, Cemetery, Tower, etc.  Visit if you can.

I've stopped here before, Virgin Paradise on Virgin Road.

On those roads mentioned above......

After a gas stop in Boscobel, I headed north again across the Wisconsin River, my goal a shortcut up to County F that connects Hwy 27 and Lynxville right on the Mississippi River.  A recent visit there by a family member reminded me that I hadn't ridden it in a couple of years.

Shadows, mine included just before Cty F drops into the river valley.

The late afternoon haze over the Mississippi and Iowa bluffs in the distance.

I spent the evening in Prairie Du Chien and was on the road at 6:30 Saturday morning, crossed the Mississippi, bound for more Iowa gravel before meeting everyone for our Tenderloin gathering in St. Olaf at 11:00.

Just a few minutes before the sun popped over a low cloud bank.  Heading south on the road to Iowa's famed Spook Cave.

Early glow with the as of yet soft sunlight.....

This farm caught my eye.  In Iowa as in so many other Midwest farm areas, consolidation of land and farmsteads has made many disappear; the buildings, trees, orchards, pastures, all gone in various degrees.  These buildings are obviously no longer used but are stubbornly and proudly still standing, house, the lawns, driveway border, etc. all nicely mowed.

Friday afternoon I included an evening shadow; this a sunrise version.

Just north of Farmersburg......

The ADV rider guys all know of this road and include it on their unofficial Gravel Ride.  I don't consider myself in their class but I attempt to play at being an off-road rider, hoping to get better  someday.  

Impala Road, there in the distance near those farm buildings, still up top, before the adventure starts.  Dave and I visited the road a few years ago; that time I had the yellow Helix.  I can unequivocally state that the Ascot is better at these conditions than the scooter was.  It would seem obvious....and it is.......going down is much easier than coming up.  The first section has many rocks the size of pumpkins.

Dave and I did it last time, he on the GS, I was on my Tourer....

So, steep part accomplished, then we get to the part that gets (and stays?) wet......

Last time I was was wetter then, wasn't it Dave??

 It was wet enough Saturday.....I had to scrape mud from the radiator cooling fins when I saw the temperature gauge climbing.  The Turkey River is just beyond the weeds off to the right.

On Iowa Ave.  I kept going until I reached the reason for Road Closed.  A new bridge was being built for which I stopped a few minutes to watch the workmen, then turned around, came back to this bridge and crossed it.....Hennepin Road.

Anyone need a helicopter, complete with tow rig??  A little paint, change the fluids, find some blades......

If the ADV Gravel Ride doesn't do Hennepin and Harvest, they certainly should.  I came to a fork in the road, taking the better looking of the two and wound up in an Amish school yard.  That cow standing across the road on Harvest threatened forward progress up the rutty hill.....luckily she moved before I got close because I didn't want to stop....not there.  I made it up though, never put my foot down but it was close.

This was the kind of road I've sometimes found a closed gate across the other end.  I was very relieved to not find that situation this time.  Here when I could actually stop for a photo.

Color on some trees was at prime though excellent, full color was very spotty.

I was the 2nd bike to arrive at St. Olaf; Bob and Marilyn beat me.  I counted 11 bikes....Scott made it after all.  The mostly regulars made it, not all on time, but they made it.  Marty came down from MN; I think he and I were the only guys from the true north.  Rick was fashionably late, Bomber and Oddball made it too.

I wisely chose the iced tea, avoiding the aggressive bees in my soda can.

Eric sent me a text from northern Wisconsin, reminding me to stop at Joe's for ice cream.  It was already part of the plan, sometime over the weekend but reminders about a cone are never wasted.  I mentioned my plan for desert, after the Tenderloins to Ed and Rick.  They agreed the plan was a good one and followed me back to the river at Guttenberg.

 It was pretty time for Ed to waste getting started.

 A superb weekend, no other way to describe it.  Weather almost too fine for the end of September but of course the kind of weather we all hope to enjoy this late in the year.  Good food, always good to see these people together and a fun place (and excuse) to gather.  592 new miles on the Ascot, the new Viking Bag did its job well and my 2nd attempt at loading it taught me better space management.  It's definitely a keeper; check it out for yourself!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Viking Bag Sport Tail Bag

This evening I finally had the opportunity to take a better look at the Sport Tail Bag from Viking Bags.  I mentioned in my last Post how it ended up being delivered here.  Hoping to get out for a ride yet this evening, I was disappointed when it was getting too late with thunderstorms showing up on the radar.  I will get out yet this weekend for a road test but this evening's fitment on a few of the bikes has me enthused and anxious to make this bag a primary tool in my luggage arsenal.

Here's the bag from the top.  Visible is the double zipper for the top loading flap, the carrying handle on the back with my 12" (30.5cm) ruler as reference. Hidden are the 4 buckle straps that attach to the matching (not included) Sport Saddle Bags.  Those straps are hidden under a hook and loop panel that easily attaches/detaches on the bottom.

Zipped expansion panels on both sides open to allow 2" (5cm) of extended space on each end.

There are stiffeners on each side to help the bag keep it's shape, the interior finish very softly padded.  A full length zipper opens a storage pouch, 1 of the shorter zippers secures a small coin/credit card-sized pouch and the other zipper closes a vented pouch.  Between those two areas are 2 pen/pencil sheaths.

Each side has a zippered, external storage pocket as well.

Included are an adjustable carrying strap w/snaps that connect on each end of the handle, making carrying easy and convenient, over the shoulder style.  Also, there's a full coverage rain cover included.

Here the bag is mounted on my fabricated Hyosung luggage rack.

Here on the Breva.....I tried the seat; it would have fit just as well on my luggage rack.

On the TW200 Yamaha ........

.....and expanded.

My verdict?  This is exactly the size I was looking for and should serve my needs very well.  I'm seldom if ever without a tank bag these days though depending on the ride or destination, my tank bags are usually not enough, or not quite enough.  Some are large and expandable, some are compact. 

What do I carry?  I'm an eye glass wearer and would be in trouble if I break my daily pair (easy to accomplish with my full face helmets off/on/off/on, etc., something I've done and will most likely do again someday, so there's a spare pair.  A few tools, some extra clothing, water bottle, small tire pump and tire repair.  These days I've always got a few tools along though I'm almost never the one that needs them.  Possibly some extra clothing depending on the season or room to carry a removed layer, tripod, water bottle, a snack or two if I don't plan to stop somewhere.  I've always got at least one camera along and even though it's a Point and Shoot, there are extra batteries. My phone and chargers typically stay in the tank bag where I've got 12volt power.

VStar Lady and I made mention of luggage size in my Preview Post comment section.  For any kind of camping trip, this bag simply doesn't have the required capacity and will rest in the garage, ready for another trip.  I simply need one of my bigger duffels for tent, fly, mattress, sleeping bag, etc., etc.,  For a decent day ride, or motel overnight, having this extra space is just about mandatory for me these days.

I like this bag a lot and expect to use it more often than not.  My one criticism would be the hooks.  I've had these bungee style hooks before and after a fair amount of use, the paint finish has typically cracked, flaked off and become rusty.  I've solved that before by warming up short sections of small diameter black gas line (rubber hose) to make insertion easier, fill a small dollop of silicone over the hooks and slide the hose on.  The glue not only helps to keep the hose in place but also seals the interior against water infiltration.  Outside of that, this bag is what I hoped for and feel fortunate to have found, the perfect addition to my 'collection' that WILL get used.

Many thanks to Miss K for her assistance, great communication and to the folks at Viking Bags for this sample to test and to use.