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......


  1. Coop sounds like you lucked out with the weather on this Rally. The weather guys are saying you might not be s(n)o(w) lucky next week so glad you got a good ride in this week. Some of the places on your map are looking quite familiar and others are making me think there must be a Rally out there somewhere that's worth crashing ;o) And you won a prize, well done!

    1. Karen, you are so right about the weather. The month of May around here can be very sly. Our riding friends got a chance to sneak in a few days of Extra Fine.

      There are some places you'll soon know as well as I do if I continue to report on a couple weeks I'll mix things up a bit. Haven't made riding plans yet, may just depend on which set of wheels gets saddled up. The location is ripe for the Rhubarb Fest but timing is off by a week so something else will have to happen.

      I picked a bottle of plastic polish for my door prize, my ticket drawn winnings are substantially more valuable and so far, I'm going to stay a bit cagey about if or how I claim my good fortune.

  2. what I remember about Houston Cty 5... was gravel roads are " farm dog fast.." . a nasty cur ran out barking and with major attitude .... I attempted to motor away..but being a street bike with street tires.. I wasn't able... the bike just fish tailed ... could not put any distance between me and " Cujo " ... eventually he either grew tired or didn't appreciate dust and flying gravel in his snout ...

    1. You mention running dogs without a prompt from me. All of these last years I've been surprised and have shared those thoughts on the relatively few times I've been approached as I roll through all of these rural homesteads. IIRC, Eric and I were chased a couple of times this past weekend. S.C. weekend we had a couple as well. That just about totals the number of times the dogs have come out after me over the last few years.

      I've been attributing the few chases to an overall comfort level of the pets to sleds, ATV/UTV's, etc. I may have to re-evaluate my theory.

  3. That's a very nice way to spend a weekend Doug. It's so nice to have a stable with so many choices.

    1. David, I've surprised myself at how much I enjoy these things. They happen as frequently as they do in part due to the fact that this area has an adequate supply of good riding.

      Stables start with 1.....then that 2nd one comes along....and then....... :)

  4. Quite the distance for that lil' bike of yours. I bet it must be fun to play in the dirt with the TW.

    1. Sonja, don't tell anyone but I had to stop a couple of times on the way home yesterday. Sitting muscles needed to do some standing. There have been a couple of 500 mile days on the bike but I'm hoping to never do those again.....for a multitude of reasons. Averaging 200-300/day is just about a perfect target at my pace(s).

  5. Lots of little zig-zaggy lines on your tracks! I really like the look of the TW and it's obviously useful for traveling...

    1. Richard, those hills are so full of roads that my zigs don't tell the entire story. I was very selective in planning the Route for Saturday, a combination of zags and Goog Earth to confirm elevation changes.

      The TW shines at this sort of thing.

  6. Got a little wet, got a little dirty. Sounds like a great weekend.

    I enjoyed the pictures of the tent city that popped up from the campers and it is good they take such good care of you guys with the drinks and snacks.

  7. You've summed it up well and yes, it was all we'd hoped for with a mid-May rally. All of it, the tents, the food and drink seem to fairly common with the regional brand rallies I attend. Some have slightly better dining but there's nothing wrong with any of them and I certainly believe that we get our money's worth. Two nights camping and whatever the other perks are, very cheap fun.