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Author Topic: A Breakfast Rendevous  (Read 936 times)

Offline Bajakirch

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A Breakfast Rendevous
« on: July 12, 2014, 10:43:36 PM »
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So traveling more than an hour to get to it is completely reasonable, no?

This weekend, I didn't expect I'd be doing much, if any, riding. The original plan was for SOQS and I to travel to a racetrack in northern IL, where a friend would be racing on 4 wheels. We intended to stick around for a Saturday night party as well as racing on Sunday. Even had a hotel reservation in place.

Sadly, said friend contacted me Friday to say he was having troubles with his race car and would not be making the race.

This left me with an entire weekend with nothing planned. I recalled that the North Central Chapter of the Concours Owners Group had an event going on in my neck of the woods. The Friday-to-Sunday ride, known as the 'Gathering on the Green' was based in tiny Soldiers Grove, WI, a little more than an hour from my doorstep.

I still wanted to devote some time to SOQS over the weekend, so I knew I couldn't join the group for any riding. So instead, I made quick plans to be up and on the road early, to arrive in time for the 7:30 a.m. breakfast.

I was up at 5:00 a.m. and had the Connie on the road by 6:00. My route was pretty straightforward -- hop on US Hwy 14 a few blocks from my house, head west, and turn left a few miles from Soldiers Grove. Hwy 14 cuts right through the heart of the 'Alphabet Roads' of SW WI. So it has some nice elevation change and high-speed sweepers.

I arrived around 7:15 and easily spotted the motorcycles that took up many of the campsites in the Beaufort T. Anderson Park. I parked my bike on the road and made my way over to a promising group of hooligans.

The Soldiers Grove park is unusual in that it is actually the former site of downtown Soldiers Grove. The community is situated on the banks of the Kickapoo River (a popular canoeing destination in these parts) and, after suffering numerous floodings, the town fathers finally convinced Uncle Sam to foot much of the bill to relocate the entire commercial district to higher ground in 1977.

I introduced myself and found I was just in time for breakfast; over waffles, sausage, some locally procured apple cider (the non-alcoholic kind) and copious amounts of coffee, I gabbed with several of the 15-20 riders gathered at the campground.

After breakfast, a familiar face showed up. 'Dave' was the ride-guide for a couple of previous COG events I'd taken part in. But he showed up in a truck. As he walked over to us I noticed a pronounced limp. And that's when I heard that he'd crashed his bike on Friday. The truck belonged to his brother, who lived nearby (and was also in attendance on his Gold Wing trike), and he would be using it to tow the disabled bike home on Sunday.

Dave's Triumph Spring GT had over 70,000 miles on it, so it was sad to see it in this kind of shape. It sounds like Dave's plan is to buy another one and use this one as a donor bike. It turns out the crash happened just a few miles from my house. I'm very familiar with this stretch of twisty, windy county well as the sand and gravel that can accumulate in the corners. That's what took Dave out -- he actually recovered from his rear tire washing out, but couldn't regain control before the next curve came up; he ended up in the ditch with the bike on top of him. Bummer of a way to spend a weekend.

After a bit more jaw-jacking, I noticed someone had brought a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (aka, the 'Wee Strom'). This interested me because I've lately been thinking that, when it comes time to move on from the Connie, the Strom is currently one of the two strong candidates (the other is the Honda NT700V). One of the things I was curious about with the Strom was the seat height -- I'd heard it was a problem for shorter riders. I'd been wanting to throw a leg over one for some time, so I seized the opportunity. I asked the Strom owner's permission and he gladly consented.

I quickly and pleasantly found that I had no problem with the Strom's height. I was able to almost completely flat-foot it on both sides, about the same as with my Concours. Another rider strolled up (he'd brought a Ural to the gathering) and he was a Strom owner too. He stated that he's owned over 60 bikes and the V-Strom 650 was the best of them all. Strong praise, for sure.

I know I see fully kitted-out, later-model, low-mileage Stroms for sale on my local Craigslist all the time in the $5000 range, which is my likely budget for the next bike. I think the Strom just shot to the top of the list.

I sure would miss that shaft drive, though.

I mentioned earlier that Dave was an experienced ride planner. I took this opportunity to consult with him on potential ride routes in SE WI for the upcoming WI/IL Mini-Rally. He was the right person to talk to:  Not only has he planned dozens of rides throughout the area, he happens to live right in the middle of where we'll be riding. He pulled out a spare map he had of SE WI and, within 10 minutes, had sketched out a ride route for me. Then he just gave me the map and told me to have fun.

By around 9:30 rain was beginning to fall and I knew more was on the way. I decided to hit the road to stay ahead of the precipitation so i wouldn't have to throw on my rain gear. I also wanted to be back home early enough to do some things with SOQS. My return ride was pretty similar, though I hopped off of Hwy 14 to ride County E for about 15 miles.

My plan worked, and I stayed dry for the ride home. I rolled back into the garage before 11:00.

The motto of COG is 'Come for the bike, stay for the people.' It's fitting. Every event I've taken part in has been welcoming to me and riders of all abilities. Strangers share food and lodging at the drop of a hat. And everyone loves to ride.

Reminds me of another group I'm part of...
Get on your bikes and ride!

Offline shifther

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Re: A Breakfast Rendevous
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2014, 01:28:05 PM »
Sounds like a great time! I have also been looking at the V-stroms (from a distance drooler1). Good to hear more positive things about it.

Offline old_tymer

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Re: A Breakfast Rendevous
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 09:46:50 AM »
You can't beat a Suzuki DL650. I wish I still had mine. Best bike I ever owned. Enjoying my classic 92 nighthawk. Been off bikes for about three years after a serious trackday crash on a Suzuki DRZ400SM. Foolish foolish foolish. I'm old and retired and need a more sedate ride. The Nighthawk is the right bike for the right time. At least for now. Getting back in the groove as they say.


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