Sunday, August 28, 2016

John Eiden 1925 - 2016

A group of us gathered today and the reason was to honor a friend's passing, namely John Eiden.  It wasn't a long ride but in the time that it took us all to meet in one place, make the few miles to the Visitation location and then meet with his other family and friends, there were stories and smiles aplenty. 

As I mentioned almost 4 years ago in an earlier blog post, my time chatting with John happened entirely at Saturday morning coffee sessions, my favorite subject with John was his time growing up on the farm. Sure, we talked about riding and motorcycles too but the subject that John shared with me the most often was his time as a young man in Holdingford.  There were many motorcycle stories and happenings that I'd casually overheard but those coffee session discussions could in no way compare to the multitude of stories that I heard today, many of them enhanced by the photographs displayed on the easels and even better, by the people that were actually there and part of them.  The Sturgis stories alone were multiple chapters.

His riding and mechanic adventures around the one and only single motorcycle that he ever owned told today among his friends were so great in number that for the rest of us, with who knows how many machines, will seldom if ever be topped.  If I heard it once today, I heard it a dozen times...."John fixed things, he didn't throw them away......"  Radios, clocks, WLA Harley Davidsons, Le Car's, Chevrolet Geo's.... John fixed things that weren't made to BE fixed.

Only the beginning of our group riders..... finally a proper mix of VJMC and Antique Club members, roughly 35 of us.

Seeing the smiles and joy on so many faces today spoke volumes about everyone that John touched and in everything that he's left behind.

Rest In Peace John.....we'll miss you at the end of the table there in the back room.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Go, Do(u)g. Go!

It wasn't just me, Peg was along too.  We drove, we loaded, we drove, we unloaded with a slight bit of adventure thrown in to make it a non routine trip.  Peg's mom was moving back to MN, Red Wing to be exact from Raton, New Mexico.

On the surface it may have been a perfect trip to deliver the wooden scooter to Denver, its next stop on The Tour but there was no time for side trips.  We mostly hypotenuse'd our way down and back which was great as far as I was concerned......I was on roads and through towns I've never visited before.  A later start than we'd have chosen but U-Haul has hours that don't necessarily coincide with ours.

It wasn't all U-haul's fault either; the 4.5" of rain we'd received the night before was a bigger problem than early office hours.

We did not need another 4.5" of rain.

It wasn't like this when we finally did drive through, giving it 2 hours more than we wanted to but I can state that we left a really big mess at the local car wash on our way to pick up the trailer.  We had checked into OneWay trailer rental in Raton, New Mexico but One Way rental rates were through the roof.  There was no way that we'd burn an extra $300 of gas renting in Minnesota and dead heading our way down.  Not only that but we had (more) control over availability and scheduling doing it that way.

We had motel reservations in Colby, Kansas that first night and rolled in just after 11:00  It's a big country with lots of space, just in case anyone needs reminding.

 Leaving Kansas, entering Colorado on I-70

 Along the Santa Fe Trail, Comanche National Grasslands......beautiful country!

At the top of Raton Pass, the border between NM and CO.  MS Train Simulator, the only computer game that I've played the last 20 years features this section of track over the pass.  I'd never paid much attention before to where or what.  Seeing those tracks snaking up that steep valley to get up and over was way more impressive than I'd ever imagined.  No wonder I've struggled so hard to get decent consists up and over that place.

Peg and I were watching the elevation readout on the GPS after lunch and a gas stop in Trinidad and sure enough, our reading was within a few feet of the 7384' that was stated on the sign.  The poor little van was working its heart out to climb up and over, the trailer still empty.  Luckily, Raton didn't drop very far so our climb north again wasn't as long coming back the other way.

 Loaded and climbing over the Raton Pass, this time headed north.  We were on our way not long after 3PM.  The 3.8liter has never spent so much time at 5k RPM.

 Spanish Peaks, south of Pueblo, CO

Just south of Colorado Springs, in 70 mph prevailing busy traffic, a truck was on I-25 doing about 30.  Safe but hard braking activated the trailer brakes on our trailer and though the wheels would roll, they certainly didn't want to.  It was all I could do to get off the freeway.  Peg was quick on the draw and found that a Uhaul dealer was only a minutes away; we only minutes to spare before their closing time.

GRAHAM  RENTALS in Fountain, Colorado.  Tom and Jennifer absolutely and very kindly went above and beyond to get us back on the road.  Jennifer finally went home to make dinner, Tom determined to wait with us until Roadside Assistance arrived and things could get resolved, one way or another.

"I'll make and take the call, why don't you guys go and get some dinner....."

"Bathroom inside.....does your dog need some water?....."

Cindy on the phone at Roadside Assistance called to confirm that there was in fact a service person on the way.  Once underway, she called again to make sure that everything was OK, our trip home continuing.

Almost better than that, I had asked about using US 24 to avoid Denver and our Service person (forgot his name and I'm ashamed) confirmed that 24 was the way to go.  Peg and mom-in-law behind, I was only a couple of miles north when my phone rang again with the same CO SPRINGS number.

"I'm right behind you and am going to pass.....follow me up to Platte, I'll put my right signal on where you should turn right....I won't but you should."

GRAHAM RENTALS, a UHaul dealer in Fountain, CO.  If I were 500 miles (maybe even 550) away, I'd call them for help.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

It was after 10 and we were beat, no motel reservations made thankfully and for the very reason that we could not have predicted how long everything was going to take.  When on a mission such as this, I like to know that a place to stay is locked in.  We (well I) needed gas, so we stopped in Limon, anxious to continue NE but unable due to fatique, Peg quickly locked in a reservation using her phone at the motel 2 blocks away.  Confident that we had things nailed down, we arrived only to find out that in Peg's haste, she'd made the online reservation for NEXT Friday night.  The motel was booked, no more 2 Queen Rooms available.  A Single with a Roll-Away was available but NO DOGS.

So, with the front seat in the van already very warm from a day's drive, it was tilted back so that Stewie and I could get some sleep.  He really missed Gramma, already a very traumatic day for him.  Finally, neither one of us all that comfortable, we got some sleep.  I woke up at 3, Stewie stirring so we went out for a walk in the motel parking lot.  I was of course in my Tshirt and shorts, the van temperature read 48 degrees and though it felt good outside right away, our parking lot walk and then getting back inside the van was just a bit too fresh.  I had a light rain shell to put on, grabbed a blanket that was in back and with Stewie on my lap and covered, we kept each other mostly comfortable for another couple of hours.

He's even more handsome than he looks.....and we've become quite good friends.

Back in Nebraska, just south of Alma.

We were back in our dried mud messy driveway just before 11 last night.  We slept well.

This morning was a late one, I pulled the loaded trailer into Red Wing and since it was Sunday, mom-in-law's downtown upstairs apartment allowed for easy unloading.  We had almost everything upstairs relatively quickly, ready to get more help for a couple of very heavy pieces, putting those off for another day.  Desperation and some things remembered from long ago physics classes, we incorporated wheels and straps......job done.  I returned the trailer, Peg and her mom are getting unpacked and making a place for a husky mostly white dog.

We're all very tired and personally I'm looking forward to a more motorcycely weekend soon.  A 2320 mile drive to once again appreciate our big western wide open spaces, always a very good thing.  Pikes Peak was beautiful in the evening clouds.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally - 2016

I left ScooterBob home.

It wasn't an easy decision but it seemed the practical one. If the wooden scooter is still hanging around Minnesota in a few weeks, there will most definitely be a rally trip, a trip to my favorite rally of the year.

This Wisconsin Rally is typically right up there at the top of the heap though and it was incredibly so this year with weather made for motorcycles gathering for outdoor recreation.  After some of the weather we've had in the weeks prior (hot and very humid) cool nights and nicely warm days truly turned out to be a gift.

While going through Winona, my helmet cam was off but when I saw this outfit pull up beside me, I had the presence of mind to flip the switch.  I mentioned it to the guys at the rally and there was a bit of consensus that this bike may have its home in or near Red Wing.  This was the first time I'd seen it.

I met Dave in Witoka and then we followed MN 76 down to Caledonia for breakfast.  In fact we followed 76 all the way down to the Mississippi River at Marquette before crossing over into Wisconsin.  Before we got there however, it was time for a stop to let Justin out for some sniffing around in the Effigy Mounds National Monument parking lot.

Taking some new back roads, we managed to sneak into Platteville straight from the west where we stopped for a salad lunch and some pick me up coffee.

We arrived a bit after 1:00, registration was setup and already busy.

Friday evening's food line.....brats, burgers, salads, fruit and of course, the beer on tap, the beer wagon hiding behind Ernie's vending area.

 My neighborhood.....

Just before sunrise Saturday morning......the tapper wagon lit for Safety.

 Roger was there....but got away before I could even say hi.  I saw him once or twice but we never quite connected.

Taking the back and very scenic way to Mineral Point, we 4 riders did a very short stint on US 151.  Note the anti-hydro grooves in the concrete that the Countour 2+ seems to highlight.

 We had our breakfast at the Pointer Cafe.

Taking the long way towards Galena, we found a flat, open view with dry ground on one side, soybeans on the other.  This deemed a safe dog exercise area since Jill and Justin were our sidecar passengers.

Corn and beans.......


Not really intending to visit Galena, especially on a weekend, we ended up there anyway.  Thankfully those that were following me continued to do so.

Flood gates that protect the valley city from a sometimes rampaging Galena River.  In the gates....

 and out again.....

I got us as far as Hanover where we stopped for a snack.  My Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake (w/ice cream) was quite good.  That and the coffee hit the spot.

Since we were now in Dan's neighborhood, he led the way, taking us out to Blanding Landing.

I'm normally out in front, my helmet cam lens much less dusty than when I follow.....a sidecar.

This was a place and roads that I knew nothing of.  Dan's leading us there was a real treat.

 The Can't Get Through Turn Around place.....

 We met the USPS mail lady here.....

The gravel road trip was a loop that eventually saw us back in Hanover.  Just as we got there, Dan's rig started having ABS issues.  We determined that the same dust issue that was clouding up my photos must have clouded up Dan's ABS sensor.  A gas/water/inspection/restart stop seemed to set us all right again.

84 miles to get here......Old Blue was doing just fine by me.

 Beans and corn......

 Downtown Darlington.....

Back at Lake Joy, riding through the campground to our site up on the hill.

I needed a quick drink and a short break, then Eric and I headed back to Belmont for gas so that we'd be ready Sunday morning for the trip home.  There were a couple of places we'd missed and since it was Eric's first time at this rally, I took the long way back to Lake Joy after our gas fill.

The big "M"

 We didn't climb the steps this time but even at the big letter's base, the view to the west is decent.  From up on top of the mound, the view is amazing.

Back to camp for dinner and awards ceremony.  I didn't partake of the 50/50 drawing this time.  Payout was over $600 to the winner, the club kept the first $600.  Speaking of numbers, our attendance of 282 was the most I'd seen at this rally in my years of attending.

The grounds clearing out.....

Once again, Dan and crew did a fantastic job with a lot for the rest of us to appreciate.  Thank you!

642 miles, other than a spot of oil here and there, the '78 Yamaha ran like a top.