Back in the Saddle Again


The Lorem Ipsum Vintage Motorcycle Rally was in Viroqua, Wisconsin. That was about 180 miles from Milwaukee, over in the Driftless Region of the state. This was an area of the Midwest which hadn’t been plowed flat by glaciers during the last ice age, and showed that Wisconsin would have been an awesome place to ride motorcycles a few thousand years ago.

The rally started at 11am, and it was around four hours to get there according the Google. I thought about heading out on Friday, to cut down on how early I had to be up Saturday morning, but in the end didn’t. For a while, early on Saturday, I thought about skipping the whole thing. The morning was cold and gray, and there were storms heading for Viroqua that would suck to be caught in. But I decided to just go and stop making excuses.

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Curiosity’s soft bags didn’t survive the trip very well, and I decided to try hard luggage again for a time I thought this would give me the chance to put some travel stickers on, letting people at least wonder if the little bike had been all those places. It had, of course, but some wouldn’t believe. The stickers would wait, though, until I was sure about the cases.

I left around 730am, taking the freeway west from Milwaukee and through Madison before finding my way onto smaller roads. There were, of course, more interesting ways to get to the western part of the state, but I was trying to get to Viroqua and didn’t want to spend all day doing it. Curiosity purred along without complain, and I let people who wanted to go faster pass, holding my speed around 60 to 65. There was throttle left, but I didn’t want to beat up on the new engine right away, and there wasn’t much traffic so early on a Saturday.

Once I was on the smaller roads traffic was even less of an issue. I didn’t go any faster, but had more fun weaving around hills and cruising through small towns still waking up.

It actually got a little chilly as I closed in on Viroqua, and I though about my liners stowed in the tank bag, but I didn’t stop and reached the rally without any problems.

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I didn’t think Blue needed the sunglasses, but he had to protect his image.

The Lorem Ipsum is all about the vintage bikes, and there were a fair number of them. Star of the show, though, went to the Nimbus –

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From Denmark, this particular bike was built in 1951. They are certainly rare, but this is actually the third one I’ve seen. The other two were being ridden around the world by a couple Danes, and weren’t as nice to look at.

There was more rain, though apparently the few dozen vintage bikes were a pretty good turn out for the rally. after the last rain moved out of the area, around 1pm, the heat and humidity started to climb.

About 3pm I headed out, looking to find somewhere to camp for the evening. A State Park called Tower Hill had caught my eye on the way west, and I headed back that way. Just to the Southwest of Spring Green, it was one tent short of being completely deserted. I set up my hammock in a likely spot, struggling a little to remember how it went up.

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I also found the exhaust gas was melting the right vetter case, something which hadn’t happened with the cases I used off the xs1100. These were just a bit larger, apparently. I wasn’t carrying very much, and keeping that side empty wouldn’t be a problem for the ride home.

Once the tent was up I headed into Spring Green for dinner. I had cooking equipment, but didn’t have any food and, since there was a drought, wasn’t sure about the fire rules inside the park. I had seen a drive-in, and the drought gave me the excuse to go there. It was surprisingly expensive, and I probably should have just found a grocery store, but it was filling and good so I can’t complain too much.

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After dinner I went back to the park and hiked up Tower Hill. Before Wisconsin was a state, this area was being mined for Iron, and this hill had been used to smelt iron ore and make cannon balls.

The iron ore was brought up the hill and melted over a fire, then tossed into the shaft. As it cooled and rolled down, it formed a rough sphere, which was then sorted by size at the bottom of the shaft and loaded onto boats on the Wisconsin River, where it was shipped back to Illinois.

The process of digging the shaft is the hard part, and the local land owners brought in someone from Illinois to handle it. Thomas Bolton Shaunce took the job, and was promised $1000 when it was done. He had to take some time off, when the Black Hawk Indian wars ran through the area, but still completed the shaft on time. The owners, however, didn’t have the $1000 (or didn’t want to pay it), so have him some land in the area instead. You could say they gave him the shaft.

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Most of the trails were closed, and after I went past the “closed” signs they faded into nothing or were washed out to the point of being impassable. The sun was setting and the mosquitoes were starting to come out, and I hadn’t even thought to bring bug spray. I went back to my camp and read for a while, then fled into the hammock and it’s bug screen as the sun completely vanished.

I haven’t camped since sleeping on a beach in Chile, the night before Curiosity broke. Thinking about the symmetry, I should have gone camping the first night I had the bike back, rather than waiting a day. Close enough, though, and I slept well in the hammock. I even got a little chilly.

In the morning I woke to rain hitting the rain fly, the sky still gray. I wanted a while, since it was still early, and listened, wondering how I lasted so long without camping at all. Eventually the rain lessened, then stopped, and I got up. Everything repacked quickly, and Curiosity started right up. I was heading for Cross Plains, this week’s location for the regular Sunday Coffee Meet for Region Four of Sport-Touring.net. I had thought I would get there early enough to do some writing, but at 915 (the start time was 10) there were already bikes and people. I chose to be social rather than productive, and we took over the outside seating.

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As the morning wore on the temperature when up, and we moved inside, but the stories were all motorcycles, trips, tires and track days, so I stayed longer than I had planned. Finally I had to start back to Milwaukee, and the rest of the group broke up to explore the area or start home as well.

The ride back was enjoyable, and I took a longer route than I had going west the day before. Apart from the luggage issue, the bike ran excellent and even with the rain it was good to be back on the road. I don’t really know what is next, but I am definitely ready for it.

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3 Responses to Back in the Saddle Again

  1. Great post… great trip and pictures.

    Ride safe and I hope to see you somewhere down the road…

    Like

  2. Ryan says:

    Hey this is the town that I live in (Cross Plains). I live about 2 blocks from the coffee shop! Small World.

    Like

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