Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day Ride: Mount Carroll, IL

We started out the day a bit late for the amount of riding we intended ondoing today. At 10AM we were still in the west suburbs grabbing some quickbreakfast. Then we finally started to cross the state of Illinois the short way, east to west. As you may know, Illinois is flat and the roads are straight. There is an occasional curve here and there, but for the most part, the ride is boring. All the good roads are near the Mississippi River and that’s where we were heading to today.

The temperature today was going to climb in to the mid 80’s accompanied by plenty of blue skies. Yea, another great day for a ride. We’ve really had a nice summer so far, not too hot, not too humid, and not a lot of rain on the weekends either.

We stopped at the Rock River but there was no where to sit and since I haven’t been to visit Chief Black Hawk in a while, we decided to stop there today. A ride down the River Road was a nice break from the straight roads. The large statue is located on the River Road at the Lowden State Park overlooking the Rock River just north of Oregon, IL.

Chief Black Hawk

We continued west arriving at 78, then we headed north through the town of Mount Carroll, which sits up on a hill. The town began in the 1840’s and by the 1960’s it was a bustling hub of commerce. Much of the 19th century architecture still exist today.

78 isn’t particularity twisty, but it does have a bunch of nice curves and some really cool elevation changes. The views from the road are pretty good, from a couple of points you can see for many miles. Too bad there really isn’t any place to pull over, there is no shoulder on this road.

78 from Mount Carroll to Stockton

We arrived in Stockton on RT 20 hungry. We pulled over at the L.A. Drive In for a late lunch. It looked like that that cool little place that might have some good food. Wrong! This place absolutely had the worst food we’ve ever had and we were amazed how a place like this even stayed in business. But we paid the money so we were going to eat the food, even though across the street there was a very nice Subway.

Cod filet and fries, pizza puff and cheese curds

The only cool thing at this place was this old tractor

Two thumbs down

After lunch, we came to the conclusion that it was already too late to go further west and ride around Galena and Savanna, which was the original plan for today. We headed back south on 78 again, stopping at the Dairy Queen in Mount Carroll for some blizzards.

After arriving at route 64, we turned east. On the way up I spotted a little park with some picnic tables on the side of the road, now heading back with some time to kill, this was a nice place to take a break, or even a nap. The tables were large and made of stone.

Historic marker at the rest stop

One of the three picnic tables there, this one was in the shade

Relaxing on the picnic table

After about 45 minutes of lounging around, we took off again, arriving home before sun set.

Following my shadow on RT 64 just before Mount Morris

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 2: Wyalusing State Park, WI

The morning came quick, we didn't see the sun come up since it was still behind the trees. When we got up the temps were already in the low 60’s and today was going to be a carbon copy of yesterday, low 80 and sunny. By 8AM we were on the bikes heading to Prairie due Chien for breakfast. We found Coaches on 35, the parking lot was full, which is always a good sign.

Morning at the campsite

I had to use the Tiger with it's tall mirrors and my platypus to put my contacts in, there was no sink in the bathroom, only running water was a water spout at the water fountain

I ordered the Portuguese sweetbread (French toast) the small stack, it was rather dry and it looked like it spend a longer time than needed in the frying pan. The only difference that I saw compared to regular French toast was strong taste of nut meg. Others seemed to be really happy with their food selections, especially Kevin, who said his ham was so tender, he was cutting it with his fork and it was melting in his mouth.

Coaches restaurant in Prairie due Chien on 35

Portuguese sweetbread

Mike's "American breakfast" plate

Sandy and Kevin posing with their breakfast dishes

We had a lot of miles to cover today and a lot of roads to ride before heading home. So we rode non stop only stopping for gas and bathroom. In the late afternoon we headed for the interstate to arrive home between 6-7PM.

Wisconsin countryside on 27

Doing an overnight ride to Wisconsin, especially Southwest part of the state, is always better then just doing a day ride, you can cover so many more roads this way, since it’s about a 100 miles to get to the first decent road from where we live. Chicagoland is not a great place to ride a motorcycle, but at least we have Wisconsin near by.

Best roads of the day were 179 Eastman to Steuben, 131 Steuben to RT 60, 131 Readstown to Viola, 56 Viola to 82, 82 at 56 to Hillsboro, 130 Lone Rock to 23, K at 151/18 to Hollandale.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Day 1: Wyalusing State Park, WI

Located in the Southwest part of Wisconsin, near Prairie du Chien, Wyalusing State Park overlooks the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers 500 feet below. It’s one of Wisconsin's oldest parks and is located right in the middle of the best Wisconsin roads.

Wyalusing was our destination today, we had a campsite reserved at the Homestead campground, there were only 3 sites left a few days ago, this was a busy place. The Wisconsin Ridge campground is the nice one located on the bluff overlooking the rivers, but with the great views, as expected there was no availability. Those good sites with nice views get booked up months in advanced. Homestead had no great views, but it had showers and pit toilets, according to their website. It was $14 for the site and $10 for an online reservation, but we could have up to 6 people at the camp site.

At 8:30AM Mike and I met up with Sandy and Kevin in Beloit, WI. After some breakfast we took off on 81 heading west, then for hours we zigzagged all over the place, finally arriving at the Wyalusing State Park around 2:15PM. Check in was 3PM and by the time we paid our $10 each out-of-state park entry fees (which I personally think is a rip off for a state park, it should be no more than $5 to enter a state park) and registered our vehicles, it was 3PM.

Figuring out which road to ride next

We found the campsite, set up our tents, unloaded some of our gear and were planning to ride some more, but we were all very hungry since we haven’t had lunch, so we decided to eat an early dinner and then do a short ride afterwards. We rode in to Prairie du Chien for dinner and the first place we spotted was the Huckleberry's restaurant on 18. The food was really good and so were the prices.

In Wyalusing State Park office, a wolf, fox and coyote

Flowers of the prairies outside of Wyalusing State Park

One of the best smoked turkey melts on sourdough bread I've had in a while

Mike had cod

By the time we paid for our food, we were no longer in the mood for any lengthy riding, it was already 4:30PM, so we stopped at the local Wal-mart, grabbed some snacks and fire wood and headed back to the campsite to unload, stopping and buying even more wood on the way to the camp site at someone’s house for $3 a bundle.

While everyone went to Walmart, I stayed behind to watch the bikes and take a short nap

After we unloaded the stuff we decided to check out the park's two scenic overlooks. The road to the first one was terribly beat up, it was definitely a dual-sport road and I was on the wrong bike today. The view was nice but not as nice as from the other overlook on the other side of the park, this road wasn't as bumpy and the view was of the Mississippi and Wisconsin River.

First overlook, Mississippi River below

Second overlook, Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers

By 6:45PM we were back at the camp site getting ready for a relaxing evening. As the sun hid behind the trees, and the light started to fade, we got a fire going, then out of the bag came the marshmallows. The one raccoon had no fear and came right up to us to see if he could steal some food. As we chased him away, we knew he would be back later looking for table scraps so we locked all the food away on the bikes.

Our camp site

Roasting marshmallows

The night’s low was only going to be 59 degrees, so we took the rain fly off so we could enjoy the night’s sky.

As for the roads, my favorite roads of the day were 78 south of Argyle, 133 from Potosi to Cassville, 81 from Cassville to Beetown and C from Wyalusing State Park to 18, although this last one was kind of short.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bike Night

We finally made it to a bike night tonight. The weather was perfect and the turnout was good.

Strats, the place we have our local bike night, makes a great Chicago style hot dog

Lots of bikes

Nice Duc

We get a few Harley riders too

When it gets dark, some take off for a ride

Keeping the peace

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Ducati SportClassic 1000 birthday gift

A few of us met at my friend Rick’s house for his surprise birthday BBQ celebration today. But there was another surprise waiting for him. His wife bought him a SportClassic 1000 for his birthday and it was going to be delivered by Mark from Power Motor Sports.

So Mark pulls up to the house on the SportClassic and Rick thinks nothing of it, he probably thought it’s Mark’s bike. Then Mark hands Rick the keys to the SportClassic.

Rick is like "so this is my bike?"

he can't believe it!

What a pretty bike.

Everyone got to try it out for size. I think he's going to have a blast on this thing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day Ride: Argyle, WI

The sky was overcast, threatening to rain on us as we left the house at 7:30AM. It was a cool morning, about 60 degrees. We took the interstate all the way in to Wisconsin. Half an hour in to the ride we experienced a minute or so of rain and it was done. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a short rain spell before, but I was totally OK with it.

In Brodhead we stopped for breakfast, always looking for a local kind of place to eat at, we didn’t see any so we ate at McDonalds. By the time we left it was 70 degrees and sunny, but it was also kind of windy today. We took E in to Albany and then 59 in to Monroe. 59 had better curves, E was a lot of straights with a sharp 90 degree curves. From Monroe to Argyle we took 81, which is hilly and full of sweepers.

The route today was a three leaf clover that had us going though Argyle three times. First Argyle stop, gas and a Red Bull for me, it was time to wake up.

We took 81 west to G, but G was freshly pea-graveled and not a lot of fun to ride. In Fayette we turned on F heading south to Darlington, then K south, this one had a lot of gravel in the corners. From there 78 north back to Argyle, where we topped off our gas tanks in return for using the bathroom.

On G, checking out the scenery

Deep pea-gravel on the left, regular pavement right, what a way to ruin a good road :(

We continued on 78 north and then we turned on A north, that took us to J north that that turned to JG which we took to Mount Horeb.

So far this A, to J to JG was the best of the ride. There were plenty of curves and some elevation changes, the pavement was pretty smooth and there was no traffic.

A to J to JG, nice roads

From Mount Horeb back on 78 heading west, we were trying for E but instead turned on Erbe Road, a small, narrow road that twisted down a hill, too bad it was so narrow, the curves were good. We turned on Blue Mounds Road and found E and headed south. E was another of those fun roads, but short. From there we turned on Z north, which would have been pretty good also, since it had the curves like the other roads, but the pavement was pretty beat up. From there we rode F south, which is one of my favorite of the alphabet roads, although I usually ride the section starting at 39 heading south, the north part was good as well.

E and F were winners in this combo

We headed east on 39, one of my favorite roads, which is getting kind of beat up but is still very enjoyable, turned on J heading south, back to A again and from there west on H. I’ve been on H before heading east from Blanchardville, and I liked that direction better, since you could see more of the road, heading west there seems to be a bit more blind turns. H is the twistiest from all the alphabet roads we rode today, with brand new pavement but also a lot of gravel in the turns. We arrived in Blanchardville and then proceeded to F heading west and then N heading north, back to the pea-graveled G and back to Argyle again. F and especially N were fun.

H to F to N, good stuff, maybe even better in the other directon N to F to H

It was getting late and we still haven’t eaten anything since breakfast, so for the third time we stopped in at the Cenex gas station in Argyle, but this time to eat, since they have a small kitchen and some warm food. We didn’t want to eat a lot since we had still a long way to ride home, so we grabbed some mini corn dogs, which they burned, and cheese curds, which were yummy. Then for dessert a cherry turnover.

A fine meal at the gas station consisting of burnt corn dogs and yummy cheese curds


Someone's front yard looking like a car museum

Wisconsin roads and scenery

It was time to head back home, so we jumped on 81 east to 11 east to the interstate. 450 miles later, just before it got dark, we arrived at the house. The weather was fantastic today, in the upper 70’s but the wind did wear me out a bit.