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Author Topic: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally  (Read 239 times)

Online Bajakirch

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2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« on: June 06, 2017, 09:32:46 PM »
It's been a few years since I moved on from my Nighthawk ('83 550), and a new job about 5 years ago has me working longer hours than I had in the past. So I haven't been visiting the site as much as I used to. Even so, I was still on the call-around list for what's become an annual ride -- the Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally.


I had to miss last year's ride due to a prior commitment, but aycaramba reached out to me with enough forewarning this year and I was able to keep June 4 open for a ride.


This year, we decided to get at least a little taste of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless Zone which, IMO, is some of the best, most overlooked riding in the country.


Our meeting-point was just north of Rockford, IL, relatively equidistant from all of our home bases. I awoke early and had the Strom kickstand-up by 6:00 a.m. for the ride to Rockford



Ready to get my Strom on.


Thanks to a relatively unobstructed interstate highway, I rolled into the 8:00 a.m. meet-up about 30 minutes early.



Another fine dining experience for the NHF crew.


We had 5 riders this year, all returning veterans. The original plan was to be on our way by 8:30 but...well, you know how it is when we motorcycle folk get to gabbin'. Around 9:00 we headed out to the bikes.



Sing with me:  One of these things is not like the others...


Our planned route for the morning took us north across the IL-WI border to Beloit, then a relatively straight shot west to get to the best roads. Along the way we planned a little jog down to one of Wisconsin's Rustic Roads. These are roads throughout the state that are promoted as particularly scenic or interesting. Plus, you can take photos of your bike at the road marker and, once you've collected 10 images, you can send them to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to get a Rustic Roads patch. While we weren't going to have the time to collect 10 of them, I thought we could maybe knock out a couple.


Unfortunately, once we got to 'Rustic Road 90' we found it to be just a little too rustic:  20 feet of asphalt led to gravel, as far as the eye could see. A quick straw poll indicated no one was really up for some light ADV riding, so we turned back and carried on westward.





Continuing west, we made an unplanned stop at Beckman Mill County Park. This provided a nice break, as the day was already starting to heat up. We ambled around the grounds a bit, checking out the restored mill buildings and mill pond.



It ain't no Niagara Falls, but it's picturesque nonetheless.



A rare moment without wedding photos in progress.



Complete with 1870's-era parking lot.


We experienced another route hiccup as we approached Highway 78, which we intended to take north to some well-regarded twisties and another Rustic Road, but was closed for construction. After a quick confab in Gratiot, WI, we decided on an alternative route north. This turned out to be favorable, as we experienced some of the famous 'Alphabet Roads'; Highways M, D, and A, specifically.


This improvised route also provided us with an up close and personal encounter with another common Wisconsin sight...as I led the group and rounded a relatively blind left curve, a deer popped out of the left ditch and scrambled across the road directly in front of me. I was really glad I held out for a later-model V-Strom, one with ABS, as I put it to good use that day. The deer, the Strom and I all lived to fight another day. fans1 


We made it to our lunch destination in New Glarus by around 12:30. We chose the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant -- which I just learned hasn't been a hotel for years -- as our grub-hub. New Glarus is a small touristy town that takes its Swiss heritage seriously. The Alpen inspiration is all about, and the NGHR specializes in Swiss cuisine. Some of us opted for the Sunday brunch that was still being served, while a couple of us went for different versions of the rosti -- basically a cheesy hashbrown-like patty with a variety of toppings.



Chowing down, Swiss Family-style.


After lunch, we rolled our full bellies out to the bikes, which we'd wisely parked on a shady side-street.



Candy Bourgogne Red, Tahitian Blue, Gloss Black (x2) and Fox Orange, all in a row.


We rode over to a nearby gas station/convenience store to top off the tanks. Several of our crew also used this as an opportunity to stock up on the product of the nearby New Glarus Brewery, since it's only sold here in America's Dairyland ('Drink Wisconsinbly' is their motto). I originally thought about squeezing in a brewery tour, but learned they weren't available on Sundays. Oh, well...next time.


At this point one of our riders had to peel off. Sonny and his missus had tickets for the U2 concert at Soldier Field that night, so he had to head back a bit early. We bade him farewell as we talked of plans for next year's ride.


Then it was back on the road for the rest of us. We'd planned a C-shaped route that would keep us skirting along the edge of the Driftless Zone's hills and dales.





The day continued to warm up into the 90s, and we found ourselves stopping a bit more frequently for hydration breaks. In a rare moment of foresight for me, I had thought to bring along my Camelback. Wearing it as a backpack and tucking the tube into the front of my jacket, it was really nice to be able to have a drink every 15-20 minutes and stay hydrated.


We reached Warren, IL, and another rider peeled off, heading for home in Iowa (wait...are we going to have to change the name of this thing?!). As we left for the final leg of our journey, our hapless navigator (yours truly) experienced some GPS problems. The upside was that we 3 remaining riders were treated to a fabulous tour of Warren's backstreets. But in the end, I righted the ship and we made our way to a portion of Illinois' scenic Stagecoach Trail. This treated us to several stretches of tree-lined, shady road, a welcome break from the beating sun we'd been experiencing all day.


Our outing ended somewhat ignobly, at a convenience store in Rockton, IL. Our remaining 3 riders parted ways with handshakes and hugs (the macho, one-armed, half-sided man-hug, of course) and rode off into various sunsets.


For me, it was back to the I-system, as I shot north with hopes of being home in time for dinner. I have to admit that, even with the Strom's Russell Day-Long seat, my glutes were screaming for about the last 50 miles of our my 400-mile day. It looks like I'm not quite ready for the Iron Butt...yet.


I rolled the bike into my garage around 6:30 and made semi-serious plans of washing all the dead bugs off of it sometime in the next couple of days.


Another Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally under the belt...sharing space with some fine Swiss-inspired food.


 :gavel:
Get on your bikes and ride!

Offline home4sale2

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 12:13:03 AM »
Baja, nice report.  It was fun hanging out with you guys and witnessing you avoid what could have been some venison hanging off your bike.  Good thing I was at least 3 seconds behind you as my NH doesn't have ABS.

The only comment I wanted to make was that our route was shared by ATVs and they certainly kick a lot of gravel onto the road so there was occasional skidding in store for all of us at some point or another especially on turns.  Luckily we didn't lose anyone.  Aycaramba, any petcock lessons to share with us?


Offline Poligrafovich

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 08:18:56 AM »
Looks like it was a very nice ride. I hated to miss this one since it may have been my last opportunity with the move coming up.

I was watching the planning thread, but It just didn't work out for me Sunday. I'll be around for a while longer this summer, so let me know if anyone's riding up this way again any time soon.

Offline aycaramba

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2017, 03:27:27 PM »
Very nice report, and as usual, someone beat me to it (not that I'm complaining).

After the stop at the mill, I forgot to open my petcock. I made it about a quarter mile before my bike quit on me. Since I was riding sweep all day, I was left in the dust to troubleshoot.  It only took a moment or two to figure it out, and I caught up with everyone just as they were starting to notice that the red bike was missing in their mirrors.

All in all, a great day. Already looking forward to the next one.

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Offline aycaramba

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2017, 03:29:02 PM »


. I'll be around for a while longer this summer, so let me know if anyone's riding up this way again any time soon.

Only if you bring that sweet-sounding V4 with you...

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Online Bajakirch

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 03:30:28 PM »
Looks like it was a very nice ride. I hated to miss this one since it may have been my last opportunity with the move coming up.

I was watching the planning thread, but It just didn't work out for me Sunday. I'll be around for a while longer this summer, so let me know if anyone's riding up this way again any time soon.

Where you goin'?
Get on your bikes and ride!

Offline studiosteve

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 04:15:04 PM »
Great report Baja! +1 on the gravel issue.  Nerves made me roll off throttle into one particularly stony curve and I wound up crossing the center line.  Still have more to learn about entry speed and lane position.  Fundamentals matter.  These rides always push me a bit harder than I would on my own so I love them.  Home4Sale and I had just under 400 miles as well, quite a big day for this early in the season.  Great time!

Offline Poligrafovich

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 11:15:17 PM »
Looks like it was a very nice ride. I hated to miss this one since it may have been my last opportunity with the move coming up.

I was watching the planning thread, but It just didn't work out for me Sunday. I'll be around for a while longer this summer, so let me know if anyone's riding up this way again any time soon.

Where you goin'?

After nearly voluntary retirement at the end of 2016, and with no kids left in school here, we're pulling up Wisconsin stakes and moving back to the ancestral stomping grounds in east Tennessee. As soon as we get our house prepped and sold, that is. Not sure how long that'll take; best guess is another couple of months anyway.

Offline smp

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2017, 05:56:21 PM »
It was great getting together with you guys. Seems strange to hear myself called a "veteran" on this ride, but I guess we've gotten together for about four years now.

Online Dan

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2017, 08:41:16 AM »
Great report, baja.  I do miss Wisconsin and agree with you, some great riding roads.  I'm riding to Wisconsin on July 1st this year, your photos made me a bit homesick.


By the way, have you guys visited the Rockford Rockmen at your starting point?

Online Bajakirch

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Re: 2017 Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Rally
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2017, 09:22:03 PM »
I hadn't heard of the Rockmen before, so I had to Google it. That would have been an excellent starting or end point. Park a bike in front of each Guardian and it would have been a great photo.
Get on your bikes and ride!

 

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