Monday, September 1, 2014

Wildcat Mountain Rally #28 - The Event

We were lucky; the weekend's weather was much better than had been forecast.

Friday morning, a quick stop near a Lake Pepin overlook.  Almost disappointing, there was no rain on the 2 1/2 hour drive down....Tran Zalp was just as dirty upon arrival as it had been when I left home; a sad thing since I was hoping for some easy detailing by the time I made Westby.

Unloading the bike from the trailer went quickly, check-in at my motel on the north end of Westby was even faster.  I suited up quickly and headed to the Old Towne Inn on the south end of town to see if Tom and Tammi had arrived and they had, only just.  I handed off my traveling "Smallest Bike" and "Wildlife" trophies, purchased a couple of T-shirts for the kids and was off.

I've noticed numerous rural power cooperatives in our region now installing large arrays of solar panels and Westby's Co-op was not to be outdone, this view from Kolbo Road.

I had no real plan, just headed out to wander.  Crossing County P (a riding favorite) I was more interested in the smaller Named roads.  This ski jump reaches far above the surrounding bluffs and can be seen for miles up on top.

After some exploring north of Cty. P, I got back on and headed to Coon Valley for a bottle of water that I'd neglected to place in my tank bag; it was quite warm and very humid Friday afternoon.  There are many trout streams in the area and public access is extensive.  While it's allowed and encouraged, there may just be places where caution is required.

I stopped here for lunch. 

Rather than fish, I focused on some other Wisconsin products, both from Westby.

I worked my way to the southwest and along Irish Ridge Road, discovered a Vernon County Park that I'd not seen before....Duck Egg, an area primarily for hikers and horse riding.

Along County Y, a nice example of a still-standing tobacco barn.  You can see the vertical siding strips that hinge out to provide more airflow to dry the harvested leaves.

By this time I needed some afternoon coffee, so headed back to Westby for one of my favorite Raspberry - White Chocolate scones and a cup.  We try and stop at Ole and Lena's at least once every Labor Day weekend.

It was time to go back down to the Old Towne motel to see which machines and riders had arrived.  There were a few but I had expected more people to have arrived.  Mike and Jill had come, Phil was there with two of his 650's.  Rich and I had accidentally met out on a back road so I knew that he had come up from IL and Jim had come up with him but was out riding in a different direction.

Later in the evening, I had been looking forward to a fish fry, so headed up to Cashton for theirs.  Once inside, I heard that there would be a 45 minute wait and since I'd gone alone, decided to find my fish somewhere else, so back on the bike, taking the long way for fish at the restaurant that was part of our motel.

Another quick spin to the other end of town and found that a few more riders had trickled in, learning that a few of the traditional attendees weren't going to make it this year, too many for health reasons, some most probably for the predicted poor weather, etc.  Happily, late Friday a healthy number of folks did make it by bed time.  Overnight it rained hard; I looked out to the parking lot and the streams were deep.

Saturday's breakfast and rider's meeting were pushed back due to the almost rain that was obvious on the horizon.  I walked across the parking lot early without knowing that the group had decided on "an hour later" and was soon joined by Maggie on her new Yamaha.  She lives nearby so had come right from home.  Her big Sportster is still in the family and from the looks and sounds of things, she's adapting quickly to the sporty FZ6.  Finally most of the group joined us and came inside for breakfast.

Neal's, Jill's, Mike's, Tom's, Maggie's and Dave's......

Rich's and Cam's big Kawasaki's, Jim's nicely put together RD400.......

Jim's RD again, my Tran Zalp, Brain's FJR, Phil's Cafe XS650......

Where we gather, where breakfast happens and in the adjacent motel, where I normally stay.  Some of my favorite meat sticks originate across the street.

Most of the riders elected to wait for the showers to pass and hopefully dissipate.  A few of us decided to head out anyway and not wait for the rain to stop.  I promised in Friday's Post that I'd have some 'Shades of Grey' photos but there just weren't many.  I rode through half an hour of light rain, it stopped and never rained again until (most) of us were in bed that evening.

There had been just the right amount of rain for the gravel to be crisp.....and with no dust.

On last year's Slow Ride that I led, my intention was to make a stop at one of the Vernon County Historical Marker's and quickly explain the Battle of Bad Axe and the role that Chief Blackhawk played in the battles leading up to the final one.  There is a lot of documented history about Blackhawk's skimishes with the early White settlers and I continue to dig into the story, able to trace the path that he led his people on while being chased from northern IL up to and through Wisconsin towards Minnesota.  Here is one of the typical historical markers that were placed to commemorate Blackhawk's chase through Vernon County, this one marking the site of a very early settler's cabin.  Dr. C.V. Porter created and placed these back in 1930.

It slowly got nicer and nicer outside, the rain gone, the wind opening the sky and that made the clouds perfect back drops.

I had agreed to meet Mike and Colleen for pizza at the Blue Goose, so I started to coordinate my exploring with a finish time of our agreed upon 12:30 - 1:00.  

Working my way up County S.......

 The Blue Goose, 24 Valley Road......

Ponies, goats and flowers......

The ice cream counter, in the old barn......I had a Bawwk Bawwk 6" pie and only got 75% through it.  They're just about half as thick as they are in diameter.

Mike and Colleen barely made a dent in their 12" and left to head back to Westby the shorter way on County P.  I was anxious to ride through the densely populated Amish area in the Westby-Dell-Cashton area and though I ended up in Westby as well, my trip involved a lot more miles and time.

Almost every farm had enormous displays of mums for sale in every color.  

Needing gas, I stopped in Cashton for a fill and couldn't help myself when noticing these clouds.

On a mostly direct route back to rally HQ, I was anxious to see if any newcomers had arrived.

Mike had the '70 XS650 off the truck and out for a spin......

Only mid-afternoon, I needed more riding so headed to the southwest again to get some of the roads I'd missed on Friday. 

Smith Road, headed towards Three Chimney Road......

It was time to start working my way back and after stopping for a salad in Viroqua, decided to document the bikes.

Sunday morning's fog was a good sign....a good sign of a clear, wonderful almost-September day.  Here you can't even see across US 61 to Advanced Genetics.  We were able to easily hear the cattle mooing though......

Joe brought his Turbo bike again but it had issues......fuel in Way Too Much....

As far as I can remember, our Sunday Rider's Meeting happened right on time, the weather rapidly getting better much to the relief of all of us.

I led a new Slow Ride, there were only 2 bikes (3 people) this time.  I think the word's out that Slow is toooo Slow.....  :)

We did stop to take a look at the grain shocks.....

After a gas stop and an adjustment to our lunch plans, we high tailed it to Rockton for some chicken......most agree some Very Good Chicken.  Most people that can make advanced plans, make advanced reservations.  I've arrived after the noon hour and have been disappointed.  We were lucky on Sunday.  Without reservations, the young girl taking our money marked me down as number 798.  She had a huge stack of reservations as well, but only 797 people after me w/o a reservation were going to get chicken this Labor Day Sunday.

Flipping the birds......

This happens every Sunday, all warm-season long........

This memorial stone was not far from the chicken being cooked......

You might assume that we would not have needed desert at that point but you would be wrong.  We took the long way over two hills and through a couple of valleys to revisit the Blue Goose, this time for ice cream rather than pizza.  They were just as busy Sunday as they'd been on Saturday.

The Goose's goats were taking full advantage of the afternoon sun.

Once again, Mike and Colleen headed a different direction.  I headed back to the Amish neighborhoods to see what I could see.

That round dome is the roof over a round barn, a round one unlike any I've seen anywhere else.

It was really time (again) for some afternoon coffee, so I went back to Westby for another cup at Ole and Lena's.

Toying with the idea of just relaxing until our evening banquet and awards ceremony, I decided to instead head out for another loop on the bike as long as the weather was so fine.

Here I discovered a scary monster on the rock, something I've no doubt ridden past before but from the other direction and from that way, didn't see the teeth and eye.

Mike normally collects metal motorcycle toys but couldn't avoid bringing this plastic one home from they're visit to Davenport, IA.  We got the 650 loaded Sunday evening before the banquet......and before the coming rains.

Taking advantage of the still-dry weather .......

The view across the highway, dark clouds moving in beyond Advanced Genetics.

Joe took Dan's Black One out for a test ride.......

At the banquet.......I was not an award winner this year.  Often the Bonehead award (depending on how hard up we get) goes to the person that forgot to bring back the traveling awards.  I brought both the Wildlife and Smallest Bike trophy back as instructed.

Some more rain overnight and rain this morning.  Most every year, I suit up after breakfast, say my Good-bye's and head for home.  This year, with the trailer and even with the rain, I just wasn't ready to let go of the weekend.  I joined Mike and Colleen for breakfast, saw them off and then headed out for a couple of hours to make the weekend last just a bit longer.

In the rain this morning.....

Since it was Monday rather than Sunday, I saw lots of buggies out today.  Yesterday as I passed the huge Amish Sales Barn on Dell Road and County D, I saw all of these mums being placed so it was on my circle ride today to check out.  Things were really, really busy as I got there.  Cars and buggies were coming from everywhere, in the rain, buy at auction prices produce and plants.

I see this wet hayfield and I see 2WD pick-up trucks......I remember MY 2WD pickup truck on wet hayfield like this and the memories are not good.  At least here it looks like there will be lots of help.

Back to Westby, out of my wet duds, got the bike on the trailer and drove home with the wipers barely on.  In fact it got really nice out and has been all day.

Just a bit over 400 miles on the bike, it was another really good Wildcat.  Thanks once more to Tammi and Tom for their efforts and help.  Great to see everyone again and hopefully it won't be an entire year before I see each of them once more.


  1. Wow what a great rally! Pics are awesome, I particularly liked the goats that were sunning.

    1. Dar, we had a really great time as we always do. Numbers were down a bit but that just makes it easier to spend time with everyone. Encouraging, we're getting some young guys to come....and return!!

      When we first got our goats, they enjoyed sunning on top of our Chevy van. We had to find alternate climbing things for them but never had as nice of rocks as these were.

  2. What a most awesome trip report. A little of everything.

    While I am still stunned by the gorgeous greenery (Oregon is still pretty brown in the field and grass department) I am boggled by your low gas prices. Ours are sitting at $3.89/gallon for regular. I can't remember the last time it was down under $3.50.

    1. Thanks Brandy, my goal is to make these rallies a mix of things; I certainly had a good time working towards that.

      You caught the gas prices......I did that on purpose. Much of spring and summer saw us closer to $3.70. These prices pictured are in Wisconsin, always up to a dime higher than MN due to higher gas tax.

  3. Nice collection of bikes, folks, farms, sights and roads. As far as the gas prices go, well ... gas prices have just dropped here and we are now playing an equivalent to 4.91 per gal (1.30 per litre.)

    1. Karen, I should have just let you describe the rally; you nailed it succinctly! Knowing that current fuel prices are down is a good feeling since we burn so much of it that most of the time I try not to even think about it.....seems there's so little we can really do about it.

  4. I am not entering the contest over gas prices (well currently it is sitting around 1.70€ per litre).

    Coop, what a lovely mix of people, scenery and bikes. Great pictures, great story.

    1. Learned something new in Google. Searched for 1.70 (€ / liter) in $/gallon and Google returned "1.70 (€ / liter) =
      8.33467803 US$ / US gallon".

      BTW, great pictures of the rally. You really have access to a lot of them.

    2. Thanks Sonja, just as in past years, we're already making plans for next year. I won't reserve my room yet but will when the snow is flying. Early September will be here before we know it. :)

      Thanks Richard. I do appreciate the fact that there are numerous events as well as the fact that the family has been extremely patient with my overnights away. Only one more event that I possibly will attend this year but hope to do some decent riding decent weather.