Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Even though no real, Away Event was planned, it's been a weekend busy with riding and riding related activity.  The Kawasaki's rear tire was replaced and aired up, fixed well enough for Ben and I to make a big gravel loop on Saturday.  That repair was made during the evening mid-week so that if, our weekend weather might go as predicted, we'd be able to get the KLR out for a spin.  That didn't happen until Saturday.

But first..... our Friday ride

Friday, a beautiful day dawned and deciding to do something different, we headed north and managed to ride 4 of Wisconsin's many Rustic Roads.  The first one (#13) was the first paved one of our travels.  The second one (#103) drops down along the St. Croix River, the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.  Directly across from the genteel Marine-On-St. Croix, the river and current were up.  From there it was up to Osceola for lunch, then on to our 3rd (#101), County "S", another road that runs near and along the banks of the St. Croix River.  Through the actual town of St. Croix Falls Wisconsin and north, turning on to River Road, a quiet road with more real river views that the first two RR's.

We stopped at the Nevers Dam site, a historical location from back in the late 1800's/early 1900's when lumber was king in northern Wisconsin.  Leaving the river (and border) we went east to the small town of Luck.  Settled by Danish immigrants initially, the town became famous for being the home of the Duncan Yo-Yo company.  People my age can easily remember the TV commercials and Yo-Yo fad.  The Duncan History site shows a timeline beginning in 500 B.C., not necessarily of the Duncan company in Wisconsin but of toys that spun on string.  The association of Yo-Yo's and Luck began in 1946.

The town of Luck is as the west end of our 4th RR (#93) ride for the day, near the area's high school.  The gravelly sand was more than enough of a challenge for Ben and his Repsol but then to make it even more interesting we met the young man that must have been late for school.  He and his Ford Ranger were making up lots of lost time.  My helmet cam photos were dusty for minutes following our 'almost meet' around a fairly tight curve.

There are now 117 Rustic Roads in the Wisconsin program.  There were right around 100 when I was pursuing my list and the total I've visited is just under 50, those from a few years ago with almost no new ones ridden on since then.  The northeast and southeast corners of the state still haven't been explored by me, not officially at least.

Saturday I was up early, as late as mid-week I expected to ride up to coffee on a bike (can't drive EVERY single time I go) but there was a call from my uncle about a bike he no longer had use for.  I always have a soft spot for these cast-offs so I quickly hooked the trailer onto the van and up to Mpls I went, coffee first, then out to pick up another machine.

Mike was there.......

Another real mix of machines.....once again....and I didn't even stay very long because....

I had to pick this one up......1981 Honda 400 Automatic with just over 1600 miles.

Hopefully we'll have a nice, very long winter coming up......

I barely had the bike off the trailer (no time to even unhook the trailer) and Ben was waiting for some gravel riding.....on gravel riding bikes.

We found some, his favorite road of the day less than a mile from our home on the nearby old Territorial Road.  Maintenance is kept to a very minimum on this baby.  Dave had been here a week or so ago and told me he'd never seen ruts so deep or so wide.  Nor had I.....

Just as Dave had said, it didn't really get enough better up top.  How he navigated this with his sidecar rig must have been something to see.  I can only imagine that Justin was relieved with some smoother sailing afterwards.

I was on the Tran Zalp and Ben had the KLR, both got their day's exercise on this M.M road.

We zaggled down to the Zumbro Bottoms Horse Campground, an extensive wilderness area set aside for the equine groups 50 weekends of the year.  Just last weekend the MN Dept. of Natural Resources opened  the area up to off-road motorcycles, one of two weekends a year.  I've visited the entrance/camping area in the past on the bikes and wanted to share the area with Ben but as we got closer, I looked ahead to the parking lot that was our destination and ahead was a large group of young and old on horses, a crowd that I thought it wise not to approach.

 After waiting ( I thought they'd start their trail ride across the bridge) for a few minutes we turned back the way we'd come.


Ben and I were just leaving the horse area and ready to proceed south (Left) on Cty #86 when whom should appear (from the Right) precisely at the corner than Mr. Dave.  In another 15-20 seconds, we'd never have known the other was in the neighborhood.  This the 2nd time in '15 that Dave and I have very spontaneously met while out riding.  Each of us would safely be able to bet that the other one is out riding somewhere on a weekend.  It's also an extremely safe bet for us both to know that the other one is within a 4000 square mile area.  It's not like we only have 10 roads to ride on (we make as much use of all of them that we can).  Yet for us to stumble upon each other without any previous idea where the other may be is absolutely incredible and far too much a product of chance.  It would seem that we need to communicate and pre-plan, picking opposite corners of Our Riding Area to avoid this hapless random contact.

This road used to go through and cross the river on a bridge that now is closed to motorized non-horse traffic.

It was good to see Dave out there and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I know Ben appreciated the kind words and gracious well wishes that Dave gave him for his upcoming trip to and training at Fort Benning, one former Service person to another.

County 86 along the shores of the Zumbro River.

 Downtown Theilman and here's the proof.

 Crossing the Veteran's Memorial Bridge in Millville.

Sunday I was up early, before the predicted rain showers (Sunday and Memorial Day will be traditionally very wet) and decided that a short breakfast run was in order.  After chow I visited Red Wing's Memorial Park and thought that one old structure in front of another was a worthy endeavor.

Sunday afternoon and scattered showers, I've got some projects to take care of.....inside.  Some reading, serious music listening and other important tasks are ahead for the rest of my weekend.  Wrenching is complete and will be put off until some future time, the bike for next weekend's rally is packed and ready.....just on the off chance that I'm called on to head out early.

Have a safe, memorial and enjoyable Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

GR3 2015 (Great River Road Rally)

I missed last year's first rally of the season due to Hanna's graduation in Cleveland and now hopefully I'll be back on track and able to continue stringing this rally into the annual event it deserves to be.  The Madison BMW Club and our host, the Soldier's Grove Lions Club do this one up right.

Since I haven't ridden the Yamaha to this event before the TW200 was a natural for the rally and knowing this fact ahead of time allowed me to Route a fine GPS purple line over into NE Iowa for Saturday.  Since the predicted weather was calling for thunderstorms and possibly severe weather, I made the choice to leave the soft saddlebags at home this time and go with the H2W 'end-loader' and the Moto-Fizz bag.  Strong headwinds can be challenging when this bike is packed for weekends.  As so often happens, the resulting downside (cramped seating position) was adequately balanced by an upside (almost perfect posture).  With the TDub at least, this packing scheme will likely be repeated.

Gas stop in Rushford....another group of enthusiasts of a different bent gathering someplace for an event.

Houston County 5, often criticized and disdained due to its "Pavement Ends" change-up sign provided a beautiful Friday morning ride as the clouds opened up to blue.  No dust, the gravel just the right amount of moist for good grip.

I stopped for rations in New Albin.......

I crossed the river at Lansing and caught Cty C easterly to Soldier's Grove, arriving a bit after 11am.  The Registration tent was up, the Nimbus car rig and BSA single there as quasi Ambassadors.

What we do, what they do for us and how.....

Eric and I ventured north Friday afternoon, made a long round-a-bout loop up to the Blue Goose for pizza.

A bit of gravel but mostly pavement for the two of us on Friday, working our way back to Soldier's Grove, riding beside and crossing the Kickapoo River numerous times.

Friday evening the grounds were filling up, attendance this year was reported to be around 240.

Dan and his pup........


Dave arrived, Paul not that much later on his Guzzi.......

Wally arrived from northern Minnesota, unafraid of being near this foreign bike.....

 A small village......

Saturday morning....... I continue to marvel at the tidiness and organizational skills of some of my fellow rally-goers.

After a banana and some coffee, Eric and I ventured west into Iowa, a wet start to the ride though nothing very serious......just enough for good rain gear.

 Lansing, Iowa across the bridge......

 We did not stop here.....

Lots of merchandise in this half mile.......

 Paint Creek Valley.......

Using Fire Tower Road, we climbed up to its namesake.  Now abandoned, this was for fire watching in the Yellow River Forest back in the day.

We got dirty.......

.....and then dirtier still on Donahue Road.

Eric caught me on Donahue......and these weren't the dirtiest (slipperiest) spots.

Photo courtesy of Eric
 Photo courtesy of Eric

 We met a group of 4 bikes here, later we all happened to have lunch at the same place in Lansing.

Photo courtesy of Eric

Saturday afternoon it got really nice in the valley though.  Ludwig's shiny and spotless Honda.....

 Dave's Burgman.......pretty clean, just not spotless  :)

We make good use of the park's gazebo across the street; the raised platform offers shady breeze, understandably a very popular place for us to keep an eye on things.  Not everything important gets discussed but everything discussed is very important and you wouldn't be surprised that a great deal of that happens right here.

Almost time for the Award Ceremony and dinner......

Awards being awarded......most of us paying attention.

I did very well this time, awarded a door prize and my ticket number was picked for one of the drawings.  After dinner, everyone scattered to their campsites, fire rings.....or the gazebo which is where I wound up.

This morning early, coffee, rolls and fruit to start us on our way home.  It wasn't raining but looked and felt like it could start at any moment.  Most of us packed up in record time in order to at the very least have that out of the way.  If we were going to ride home in the rain at least we wouldn't have to pack up in those same conditions.

The grounds were clearing out early this time, not very many lingering.

I rode through steady though light rain which started just a few miles from Soldier's Grove and then lasted only as far as the river where I crossed into Iowa.  From there it looked like things might get serious but it never rained again the remainder of the ride home.

By the time I got back into Minnesota, it was actually getting quite nice and the sun started peeking through as I rolled into Rollingstone.

Home before noon, another great rally and the perfect way to start the rally season.  In 2 weeks we'll do it again, many of the same faces will gather once more.

Home in the garage, the bike dry (though dirty) with the tent, fly, sleeping bag, etc. hung up and drying out.

The entire trip.....

Friday afternoon and Saturday more detailed......