Friday, July 29, 2016

ScooterBob - Northern Wisconsin Visit

I picked the right bike to ride today.....an almost perfect color match.

Both Ben and I on 250's, he rode the GTR250 and I had the Helix.  We went north and as far as I could tell, we met Erik and Nancy almost exactly on the dot at our agreed upon 11:00 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.  A couple of emails the last few days, today's meeting at a spot roughly half way between our homes worked out very well.

We pulled into the outreaches of the parking lot, sort of expecting to see a black (or dark grey?) pickup.  I knew that they would be in something with 4 wheels....well...something with more than 2 at least.  Ben and I were just pulling past when I recognized a guy climbing out of a brightly colored car......






Thanks Erik!


Of course there was one of Erik's Crocs.....


After the photo session, we all sat down together for a very enjoyable lunch, the discussions even better.  It was great to finally meet Nancy and to spend easy time with Erik once more.

Another 231 miles (on the road) for SB today.




Thursday, July 28, 2016

ScooterBob - Old Influences

In 1969, I was almost fifteen and open to influences from all sides. 

I'd already owned a motorcycle, been riding for a couple of years and the dream (and boy could I) rides taking place in my head involved narrow, rocky and steep mountain trails, my ride of choice a Honda Trail bike, running down a gear or two.  We had a brochure that my brother and I literally wore thin the few years previous.  Our riding experience was in wet hay fields (deep slippery alfalfa isn't as soft as one might expect), cow pie filled pastures, rocky fence lines with sacks of feed on luggage racks.  Public gravel roads happened (more and more frequently) as did narrow creek crossings but those carefully chosen and in only just the right places.  Mistakes were made, some bumps and scratches happened.  Ride loops were getting more extensive and the love of maps that Gramp had shared with me was really taking hold.

Then a TV series came along when my world was really beginning to grow, the timing couldn't have been better as far as I was concerned, both at the time and I still feel that way to this day.  Maps weren't just townships or counties any longer; state maps were being collected and studied.  The 3rd motorcycle I owned, my name the only one on the Registration Title was one not much different than this one only mine was blue.

I rode mine south along the shores of the Mississippi, both sides, as far as southern Arkansas, never quite making Texas which had been my map-reading goal.  Still, it was a river trip I wanted and one that sufficed.  The '70 never saw salty beach water, climbed any steep western hills and to the best of my knowledge, wasn't airborne even once.....we did just fine regardless.  After a couple of years, both dad and I were ready for a bike change so he and I swapped.

He had the HD and I had an almost new Honda CB750, very much kitted for Touring. 

Touring was most definitely what I had in mind.  And so, a partial explanation of some if not most of the Issues I currently have.

SB, thanks for sharing the road with one of my old ones and for bringing back many of those old memories. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ScooterBob - Wisconsin Backroads 2

Another lovely summer day, on the warm side but isn't that what we upper Mid-westerners are waiting for every January?  A slight breeze and humidity that had backed off, it was a glorious day for riding.

Yamaha Day, the label in my head, the machines that we rode....Ben had the old reliable XS650 and I had the black streamliner.  My GIVI humpbag, an almost easy fit for SB in the pouch.  Both zippers didn't really need to be absolutely closed on such a nice day.

The worst part of our infamous driveway......it needs to be graded once more and before we get more gully washers.


We just got going out on the highway when one of our local yahoo's passed us.  Never in pants, never helmeted, often shirtless.....on a Sportbike, I don't know how he does it.  I did secretly enjoy seeing his jowls flutter in the wind (old enough to know better) as he pulled back in.


In to Red Wing for some petrol....


 Waiting for the BNSF train to pass at Cty K and Wisconsin 35.  This must have either been some sort of Inspector or a VERY dedicated Railfan.


Yesterday's ride start was a late one so we hadn't ridden very far before it was time to get some lunch.  Taco Tuesday was my choice, Ben went with the Bacon Cheese Burger.


 We've driven and ridden past this place at the crossroads of Cty N and US 63 literally hundreds of times and never stopped.  I made a different choice yesterday.

Kenny's Lawton Bar, since 1894

 
 

We were on our way to Spring Valley, a place that we once rode to often, the we being my parents, Peg....a long time ago.  Spring Valley, tucked low between the hills suffered greatly from flooding so the Corps of Engineers built this earthen dam barely above the town and in so doing, created a public lake and recreation area.

We chose the Overlook Road.....



Here's the cut through the rock, source of most of the earthen dam material.


This from Spring Valley's Athletic Field, just below the earthen dam.


 On Cty Q passing beneath I-94 just west of Knapp, WI.


 Downtown Knapp, Boo'z Bar & Grill.  Two Ruckuses among the lunch time customers.


 Stopping for some water on the steep and curvy Cheney Hill Rd heading south out of Knapp.


Typical backroad......It dawned on me here, this route was one very close to the one I'd ridden with Rick a few weeks ago.  Such a pleasant, close to home, reasonable length loop with all of the things present on a ride that I enjoy.  This will be a Track and Route that I use again.


Lots of heavy traffic yesterday.  This must have been the 4th or 5th vehicle we'd met on the Named Roads since leaving home.


I slowed way down to get a better look at this big Gleaner harvesting what I'm quite sure was flax, not a common crop grown around here.



On to Menomonie and a Rustic Road.  We absolutely had to expose SB to one of Wisconsin's treasures, their Rustic Road Program.  Of the 117 current on the State's list, I've done just a couple less than 50.  There were just over 100 when I sought out the ones in the western half of the state.  I'm most deficient in riding the SE and NE corner routes.  Numbered in the order of creation, we stopped for and rode #89 along the Red Cedar River.



 

Back into its nest......


Down through Downsville and into Durand for some fuel and more water.  From there, primarily a route on Cty Z (should ride this more often) and then the old standby Cty S into Plum City.  Here an absolutely mandatory stop at the fish pond and park.



As my friend Tom used to say, ..."big fish, nice fish"....


Our last stop of the day (what did you expect??), ice cream at Flat Pennies.  In Bay City, Wisconsin, literally across the river from us is a store featuring treats of all kinds, the motif a Soo Line Railroad caboose, the BNSF tracks across the highway mere feet away.



165 miles of absolutely perfect weather, roads and most importantly, riding.  We had a wonderful, unplanned and lazy day.


(we did have ice cream)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Scooter Bob - Wisconsin Back Roads

Ben's home on Leave with the goal, "dad let's do some riding."  So it shall be.

Sunday morning, still hot and sticky by our standards, not so much by Ben's standards who has become very acclimated to central Texas heat and humidity.  Vents on both jackets open, we rolled the Breva and ST2 out of the garage and were headed for Wisconsin, SkooterBob tucked in the Ducati's saddlebag and pouched.  I started out on the ST2, Ben on the Guzzi.


Lake Pepin here on Lake City's shore, sail boats and fishing boats scattered up and down the lake.


Just as we were crossing the river at Wabasha, a red 750 Paso was yielded to to get on the bridge ahead of us.  We followed him right into Beth's Twin Bluff Cafe in Nelson (almost across the street from the Nelson Cheese Factory).


SB made an appearance, apparently anxious to be among Italian brethren.


We spoke with the seasoned rider from Rochester.  I had noticed his Wheels Unlimited sticker beneath his license plate and had to ask if he was the original owner.  He was and with wishes that ..."those guys stick around a long time yet."  Considered the local Single Ducati gurus, we all wish for that.

We've had lots of rain, too often hard rain and as such, our backroads have been covered with sand washed in from the shoulders.

Blank Hill Road....


An Arcadia stop for gas and water.....


We decided to switch rides while stopped so the Guzzi was in front from here on the rest of the day.  I asked Ben a couple of times if he'd like to switch but the answer was always the same.  "No, I'm fine."  That with a big smile.  He's had rides on many of his fellow soldiers' bikes on Base and his critique....."they can explode, this one whooshes"....  I like it and will take it, about my level of Technical Analysis and riding ability.

Our next destination was this region's version of Tail Of The Dragon.  Tight corners, switchbacks to get up, through and over 'The Cut. The monument and the fact that this place is on the National Historic Register has nothing to do with dragging pegs.  It's been a long time since I'd stopped to read the sign, Ben and Scooter Bob the perfect excuse.






Ben was laughing about the "Wisconsin Speed Bumps" encountered.  This road (now Cty C, was State 108) has joined so many others in Wisconsin with new culverts for ditch drainage being installed.  In this case on these tight, steep corners, the need for drainage from side to side of the road appears to be even greater than on most roads.  There were gravel sections, full road-width that must have been every 100 yards apart if not closer.

This started right in Mindoro and I'd hoped this was the end of "Road Closed."







and so on.  The gravel snips didn't bother us but you can bet that this road is off the Sport Biker's radar until these short sections get paved.

This hand signal followed a couple of pointing ones, trying to relay to Ben the silo ahead that was tipped at an angle.  Later in the day, Eric sent me a photo of one he'd seen not all that far away.  His example was leaning at an even greater angle.   Both examples I'd suspect of heavy ground saturating rains and high winds.  This would be the definition of "A Problem."


Down through Bangor, up State 162 until another construction zone and then east on State 33.  Ontario and Wildcat Mountain State Park, or rather the highway that goes through the park our destination.  This is another road in the region that draws corner-loving riders and is the inspiration for our annual Wildcat Mountain Motorcycle Rally every Labor Day weekend, headquartered in Westby, a few short miles away.

An abundance of 10-20mph corners, uphill and then back down.



 Almost to the bottom, we veered right onto Cty F, headed west back to State 131, the Kickapoo Valley road.  We were ready for some chicken at the Rockton Bar's Sunday 'Q.

We weren't the only ones.  Typically serving between 600-800 meals each Sunday, showing up without a reservation mid-afternoon is a waste of time, that is if you want the chicken meal.  The area riding is good food or no.


Boss Hogs (Boss Hoss's) show up here in numbers......




 File Photo

 
File Photo

 SB didn't seem in the mood for chicken, a bit nauseous possibly....it may have been the smoke but honestly I'm thinking it was all of the inny outty up and downy that we'd done on the way over.   Being out and able to see the crowd did seem to help.


The Kickapoo Valley is also known for its river and river exploring.

  
Still feeling a bit peckish, we went up over the hill and past two valleys, the Goose Barn (formerly the Blue Goose) our destination.  They have ice cream there.



 This interesting sidecar (and rider) were there when we arrived.  We learned a great deal about his rig while we enjoying our desserts.


 We left on 24 Valley Road, then Irish Road on our way out to Dell Road.  From there, Cty P to Cty PI, through some back roads to Cty M and into West Salem where we stopped for gas and some more water.  For this hour on a Sunday afternoon, the Amish folks seemed to be out more than usual.




I opened the saddlebag and noticed that SB was looking a bit flushed.  Knowing this would help cool things down, I got him some cool company.


While in line at the convenience store, I noticed these two and just had to get a photo.

 
We were on our way to Alma's Buena Vista Park.  I was there last weekend but that was before SB was along.



 A visiting couple from Denmark saw me taking this photo and were curious enough to ask about the story.  They wondered if in its travels, Denmark had been a destination.


 From the bluff above Alma, Nelson and Cheese are only a few short miles away.  They have ice cream there.



 Chocolate Raspberry Swirl featured here......


300.9 miles registered on the GPS, a good day of travels and by the time we were home, SB seemed in fine spirits, though as tired as we were. 


(ice cream 2X)