Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 4

Day 4 (Wednesday) – Day Lake to Gays Mills, WI
Day 4 for me, would be a day of hunker down and get cozy on that there KTM saddle.  I’ll explain later, so let’s start at the beginning.
Morning found me putting my fancy Wal-Mart coffee mug to the test:
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From here, we discussed the days plans.  I was confident I had the location of my SPOT sorted, so I decided I’d packup quickly, find the SPOT, and meet at the local gas station.  If I didn’t find it, I didn’t find it.  If I did….rad.  According to Google Maps, the unit was in a small clearing on this side trail we were on.  Sure enough, that silly thing was exactly where the internets told me it would be.
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Welcome back old friend…
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Later on, I figured out why my Garmin gave me an odd reading.  There was a discrepancy in how I input the GPS coordinates.  Once input correctly, sure enough, it showed the correct location of m SPOT.  I hopped on the 350, giddy as could be and blasted my way back to meetup Jameson & Caleb, who hadn’t even made it to the gas station yet.  We thought about things, and contemplated a mad dash to at least get back to the Black River Falls area.  We wanted to hit some sections on the way South that we skipped (fuel\time\light) on the way up.  Rustic Road 111, we officially meet again:
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I can’t recall if it was after or during this RR 111 section that we got to ride some more ATV Trails.  Wherever it was, Caleb informed us that that was the section that they had rode……..at night……with the trail completely flooded.  When we rode the ATV sections, there were some soft spots, but absolutely nothing worrying.  Ride the side, and you’re through.  Caleb explained that when they rode the year prior, there were football field length sections under water, where they hoped they wouldn’t sink.  Now that’s adventure. :lol3.  Just before we were to hop on the road, in a quick turn-around, Jameson found himself in the dirt.
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Nothing to see here….
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We’re going how far on the road from here????
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We blasted straight South on 70.  Yes, we blasted about 130 miles straight highway.  Now that isn’t that far or that long.  It just slightly more a PITA when you’re riding a bike that feels like its top cruising speed is 65mph.  Yes, 70 started feeling more comfortable as I wanted to get done with it sooner, but 65 was where we needed to be.  We stopped about half way in Cornell, WI.  Grabbed some fuel & some snacks.  At this point Jameson realized that the glass jar of jelly he had in his side pannier decided to open itself.  Yes, a pannier full of strawberry jelly :lol3  Go figure that where we stopped, also happened to be home to a handful of wasps.  I took pity and didn’t snap any pictures of Jameson during this scuffle.
I did snap one picture of myself at this stop to send to the Mrs. back home.  Classy selfies:
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From Cornell, we decided to stop just outside of Black River Falls, at the Mocha Mouse.  A small little coffee\whatever place.  It was early afternoon and we had to decide what we were going to do for the rest of the day.  We knew ride, but back to the cabin?  Off-Road in BRF?  We didn’t know.  For me, it was becoming apparent enough as to what I needed to do.  At this point, I knew I wanted to be home some time Thursday.  I also knew that I was within striking distance of my parents cabin near Soldiers Grove.  I could tell Jameson was itching for some more off-road riding.  Caleb, seemed to be erring on the side of getting back to the cabin, to trailer home the next day.  With a healthy dose of Caffeinated Mocha drink (and maybe a jumbo chocolate chip cookie), Caleb and I would say Farewell to Jameson.  His plan however was to meet up with some friends…..in Minneapolis.  Yes.  He ran from BRF back up to Minneapolis to visit some friends (and then back to BRF the next day to ride some more trails).
We’ll see you later Jameson!
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We gotta ride how far now???
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Caleb and I hopped on our trusty KTM’s, and worked our way down through Sparta and onto the Ontario area.  Now this is where things got a bit…..interesting.  I’ll tell the story as best I recall, but I could be off in my recollection, and for all I know, it didn’t even actually happen.  We went to stop for fuel outside of Ontario, but I missed a turn.  I figured we’d be fine on fuel, and saw that Ontario had a gas station of its own just outside of Wildcat Mountain (which we had ridden on the way North…and I wanted to ride again heading South).  We roll up to this small gas station, and I see a younger guy on a street bike.  Caleb stops at the pump across from the street bike guy.  I pull up next to Caleb, since there were only like 3 pumps here.  Caleb hops off his bike, and tells me….Hey, I gotta pull all this crap off my bike to fill up.  For those that don’t know, a KTM 690 has underseat gas tank, with the fill spout kinda above the rear fender.  In Calebs case, it requires him to remove all of his gear to get to.
So, I roll up and fill up my gas tank.  When I’m done, I roll my bike back and let Caleb in spot to fillup with fuel.  I am checking some stuff on my GPS when sportbike guy rolls up.  We start chatting, with him explaining he’s from around the Madison area, and loves the roads around here.  We talked Wildcat Mountain a bit, and I explained where we were headed.  He started to fill me in on some of his favorite roads in the vicinity, when all of a sudden some older gentleman gets up out of his car all worked up.  Caleb at this point had literally just finished topping up with fuel and was beginning to strap his luggage back on his bike.
This old guy starts coming at us, screaming to GTFO of the way of the premium pump.  Caleb, sportbike guy, and myself all look at eachother like…what are you going on about?  Old man starts yelling at Caleb to move his bike, and quit sitting around talking.  I try to reason with the guy that he literally just finished fueling up, and we had no idea that this was the only premium fuel pump at the station.  Trying to reason with a crazy person in and of itself is crazy, so I just tried to get the guy to calm down.  Sir, we’ll move the bike, we didn’t mean to inconvenience you here.  Now at this point, sportbike guy get a bit lippy with the man.  On one hand, I can’t blame him.  The old man could have been cool about it, but he came out a blazing hot-head.
So here I am, standing next to my bike.  Caleb is standing at about my 1 o’clock, a few steps away.  Old man is to my 3 o’clock about a step away, and Sportbike guy is at my 9 o’clock.  Sportbike guy begins making a few comments about the old mans car, at which point he pushes me out of the way to get at sportbike guy.  These two kinda lock eyes, looking like I’m about to witness a brawl.  Old man gives sportbike guy a big shove.  I try to step in a bit and try to get the guy to calm down.  Sir, Sir……Sir, just go back to your car.  There is no need for this.  We will move our bikes, we had no idea we were inconveniencing you today.  Sportbike guy looks like he’s about to exchange fisticuffs with the man.  After a few more of my reassuring pep talks, the old man slowly walked back to his car.  Caleb and I roll our bikes away, and begin getting our gear on.
As we’re gearing up, sportbike guy comes up to Caleb and I, and makes mention he’s gonna retaliate.  Caleb and I look at each other, toss our gear on, and get out of dodge.  We stop a bit up the road, and kinda run over to ourselves what just all went down.  We both agree this was crazy.  Where we stopped was close enough to still kind of see the gas station.  At which point we kinda see the sportbike guy circle around old mans car, and then zoom off in the opposite direction.  Caleb and I look at each other.  I tell him if he sees a Mercedes in his mirrors, to just stay on the gas.  We fire up our bikes and make our way through Wildcat Mountain……thankfully with no Crazed Old Man behind us.
Not far after the Wildcat Mountain, we came upon another Rustic Road.  I couldn’t resist:
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We moseyed on down the way, taking one of the roads suggested to us by sportbike guy.  It was a great road, and had my bike of been faster…..even more fun.  We stopped for a quick restroom break and enjoyed the peaceful area, away from anyone else.
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Fun Bridges….and portapotties :lol3
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From here, we followed whatever way we felt like.  I have to say, it was an incredible portion of the trip.  We meandered through farm land, on winding paved roads, darting in and around spotted gravel sections.  The 350 was in its element here.  You could really ride the bike fast, without going illegal speeds.  I carved like I was on a supermoto, and was able to still take in the scenery.  Sooner or later, we were getting close to some locations I had ridden, and knew I needed to snap a quick pic where I had forgotten to when my wife and I had been riding nearby earlier this year.
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With that, we finished our ride back to my parents cabin.  It was a long day, with a LOT of riding.  A LOT of varied riding as well.  It beat the prior days for excitement, that’s for sure.  Very good, fun day.  Caleb and I grabbed a frozen pizza and cooked it up, enjoying a few leftover beers from Sunday night.
Day 4 Map –
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Andrew
Day 5 to follow –

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 3

Pre Day 3 Notes

I had sent my Ride Report thus far to my brother who after a quick discussion sparked a bit of introspection on this ride. Looking back on what I wrote about Day 2, I felt like what I wrote was rushed. Recalling back however, this is pretty well inline with how Day 2 was for me. Day 2 was filled with what was the core of the best riding areas of the TWAT. At that point, we were out of the flat open corn fields of Illinois, and were winding our way up and around the Driftless area of Wisconsin. Not only that, but we were bang on track for riding the trickier terrain of the Black River Falls area. By the time we got to the Black River Falls area, Caleb was zonked, I was feeling the affects of riding a KTM 350 for quite a few hours straight, and I was getting sick of Dust. Not only that, but as the day wore on, we were all relatively indecisive about where and when to stop. The day was just a rushed one, but that is more or less the story of this trip. A lot of distance covered in not a lot of time. That was OK though, because tomorrow would be a new day.

Day 3 (Tuesday) – Hawkins, WI to The End of the TWAT……and Back :huh

We woke up relatively chipper in the morning. Our camp site was more or less a staging area for some ATV Trails. As I noted before, I was a bit concerned about us riding on the ATV Trails, as at this point with our non-existent internet access, we were unable to do some online reading through the evening. We went with our gut, and figured that if the publicized TWAT had us navigating on some of these trails, we would be OK. Looking at my GPS, I hadn’t realized how close we were to the end of the TWAT. We did some rough math, and figured that we’d be at the end by noon.

For me, it was a nice refreshing way to wakeup. I’m plenty comfortable on my bike in just about any condition (aside from ice, unless I’ve got studded tires), so despite having a street oriented dual sport tire setup on my bike, and the somewhat slick ground conditions, I was really enjoying myself. The sky was slightly overcast, the trails were winding, with the right amount of dirt\sand mix, and I found myself able to ride a brisk yet comfortable pace.

After the ATV Trails, we wound up at Rustic Road 111
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Now at this point, we were I dunno, 50-100 miles into our available fuel. I hadn’t been worried on my 350, as I’d been get 55-60mpg, and had 4 gallons of fuel. Jameson’s 950 was holding plenty of gas, but Caleb was beginning to worry about his situation. He had done the TWAT the year before and was concerned about a section which was muddy, and which he rode…..at night. It was early morning for us, so I wasn’t concerned about the trail conditions, however, I don’t like having to tow bikes due to running out of fuel. At this point, we pulled a bit of an audible and took a straight shot North on Cr-GG to refuel in Clam Lake.

Cr-GG for me, embodied the essence of the trip. The morning air was calm. The road was lined with beaufitul trees as far as you can see. A feeling of “being out there” began to fall over me. With my 350 humming along at 60mph, I had felt what I’d been looking for with this trip. I knew we weren’t far from the end, but this section just felt right. On top of this, we were graced by the quick sight of a wolf running across the road. I had to rethink this over, as my mind kept thinking, was that a coyote….no, much too large for that to be a coyote. A wolf, a desolate road, with calm cool air. This was where I wanted to be.

Like all good things, this road soon came to an end. We refueled in Clam Lake, and set off North once again. Unbeknownst to me, I would soon lose my SPOT Tracker shortly after this fuel stop. From Clam lake, we worked our way up to the Delta Diner. Yes, the silver restaurant near the end of the TWAT.

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You can likely tell from the picture that we were the only ones there. Lesson learned was that they are closed on Tuesdays. That’s ok, cause we weren’t really hungry at this point. In my mind however, we were only a few miles from the end of the TWAT. As it turns out, this isn’t quite true. We still had a few miles to go. After the Delta Diner, there were some awesome fun sand roads. I know, a lot of folks hate riding sand. You gotta embrace it. There is nothing quite like riding full throttle, railing turns, just locked in like you’re Bob Hannah. I love personally love it, but I suppose years of riding the sugar sand of Michigans UP will do that for you. A bit further down the trail, and we had our first glimpse of Superior

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Around 12:30, our projected time, we reached….The End. Holy anti-climactic Batman. I kid you not. We thought we got to the wrong spot. We were at some sandy dead end road. Jameson took the lead, and found there was a short maybe not so legit trail to climb down to the shore. Sure enough, we found ourselves on a beautiful set of large rocks, crystal clear Lake Superior water, and some vintage graffiti to enjoy a snack.

Hey look….a selfie:

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A stolen picture of Jameson from his instagram:
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It’s just after noon. The sun was baking on us. And so the talk began. Were we or weren’t we going to jump into the water. I know I needed a shower, but dipping my hand in the water….yup frigid. What the heck, let’s make this trip official. Off came the riding gear and with a run on some slipper rocks….off we jumped into the water. Hells horses was that cold and refreshing. Sure, I was only about 10′ from the rock itself, but sweet word, that water sucked the breath out of me and I felt I was a mile away. We spent the next 20 minutes or so making random leaps into the water. Each time claiming it was getting colder and colder trying to find a more convenient way of climbing the rocks to get out, without looking like a beached shamu whale.

After enough shinanigans, we felt it was time to move on and work our way sadly South. We knew we had skipped some sections of the trail, so figured that we’d snag these on our way South. We had the time, so why not? Our first order of business was to get gas in Redcliff, and zip South through Bayfield and on into Ashland, WI. We stopped in at the local Wal-Mart. I stocked up on some ramen\water\etc (also grabbed myself a fancy new coffee mug). I wanted something to eat, so talked the group into going to the local Culvers. This was a good choice, as my subconscious had reminded me that Culvers are pretty good about keeping their restrooms clean…..ideal for someone who isn’t overly fond of pit toilets and what have you (hey…..I got attacked by a bat in an outhouse….that’ll scar anyone :lol3).

Jameson, in his infinite wisdom snapped a picture of us as we were to set off from Culvers. We left culvers according to my phone at 4pm.
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I’m not sure if it was at this point, or when, but we began heading south. It’d been a good day of riding thus far. We were heading South, and figured we had plenty of time. It was when we went to refill with fuel at Clam Lake (again) that I realized that I had lost my SPOT Tracker.

Jameson gave me the stink-eye making me feel like a fool for losing my tracker :lol3
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I did some critical thinking. According to my phone, my SPOT was just up the road. It was roughly 5:15pm, and I wasn’t communicating very well with Caleb & Jameson. I (in my mind) explained to them that the SPOT was thankfully a couple miles up the road. I said I’d go zip up the road, and look for it. I thought Caleb was fixing something on his bike, so felt I had plenty of time to go up the road, find the device, and get back to the gas station, where we’d rendezvous to then find camp.

I get to where the SPOT is supposed to be, and yeah….I’m not seeing it. I got a bit worked up with myself, because, it shoulda been there, and how did I lose it, and I’m tired, and insert long list of reasons here. I went up and down the road & trail looking for it. I decided to put the GPS coordinates into my Garmin, and see if maybe I was looking at things wrong. At this point, my Garmin tells me the SPOT is like 20 miles straight line away, at what looks like a persons house. I kept thinking, how the crap could the SPOT’s reported location be so far off from what my Garmin showed. Meanwhile, my phone was bouncing in and out of reception, and I’m getting text messages from Jameson\Caleb that they don’t know where I am. Then I get one that they’re going to look for a place to camp, and what have you. It’s getting mildly darker, I realize I’m becoming impatient about my situation, so decide…..who cares about the SPOT, let’s go meetup with the guys, and enjoy camp.

I zip my way back down the road and stock up on adult beverages at the Clam lake gas station, and end up meeting Jameson & Caleb at Day Lake Campground. Go figure, we manage to pick a spot where the past campers decided to dump their gray water. Thanks wankers. They did leave us a nice empty bottle of Smirnoff with some flowers in it.

Only about 800ish miles in:
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Caleb posing while posting at Day Lake:
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The lake was calm, and very relaxing:
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We setup camp, got a fire going, and retired relatively early. The wind had picked up pretty good. Caleb told us to hop into his hammock to see what it was like. It was an awesome view of the clear sky and bright stars. That said, with how much the trees were swaying in the wind, I’m not sure I coulda slept in that all night. On the ground, in my tent for me.

Day 3 Map
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Andrew

Day 4 to Follow –

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT Day 2

Day 2 (Monday) – Soldiers Grove to Hawkins area, WI?
We woke up around 7am, and realized we had made a terrible mistake.  Our first night on the trip, was us living lives of luxury.  We had beds, fridge with food, running water, and yes, a shower.  Caleb was found sleeping in his car outside.  I think he slept for an hour after whatever wedding he was at, and drove his way out.  He arrived bearing gifts of breakfast sausage, and other tasty foods.
A quick look outside showed that we’d be riding in some beautiful weather.  Sun was out, and found us getting out on the road quite late around 9am.  The portion of the TWAT from Soldiers Grove area on up to Black River Falls area is mostly road, and maybe some minor backroad stuff.  OK, I think it also takes you through Wildcat mountain area (though we may have bypassed this?).  Yes, now looking back I recall what happened.  We wound our way through many random fields and Amish areas.  We did some math, and felt if we wanted to get to the sandier and more off-roady areas, we’d create some bypasses of our own and get up to Black River Falls area.  At which point, we made our first stop along the way
A side road on a sandy section of the TWAT –
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I think at this point I finished the last of the peanut butter bars my wife made me.  They were supposed to last the trip, but hey……I can’t fight the hunger feeling.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am not the best at taking pictures.  The next I have along the way are some additional Rustic Road pics.  This was just on the outskirts of the BRF area.
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We zipped along, at which point realizing that there were some open gravel areas.  I don’t mind going as fast as possible on these roads, but Lord help me if that KTM 950 doesn’t kick up some killer dust.  Jameson was rocking some Terraflex rear tire that was like a 3 mile long smoke screen of dust.  The 690 wasn’t as bad, but sweet word.  So as we scooted along, my eye spied another Rustic Road sign.  I let Jameson and Caleb zip away as I snagged a quick picture.
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You’ll notice in the above pic how my luggage locations changed.  This changed probably each day as I found a new configuration to put things.  Yes, I managed to burn some straps, and lose an item or two.  Such is life.
Along we went, with us needing to take a quick break.  Again, I don’t remember where, or exactly when.  I do remember though that Caleb had found that his rotopax gas tank he had on his bikes rear rack had broken the rear rack.  We found a stellar spot along the way to stop and fix things.  We had a lake, a parking lot, shade, pit toilets.  What more could you ask for?
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An hour and a half later, my gatorade had decided to work its way through me, requiring a quick pit stop.  I waved Jameson & caleb past and hung tight for a bit to let some of their dust settle.  We were mildly confused on the Wisconsin ATV Trail markings.  When you see a motorcycle, with a line through it, you tend to think….motorcycles shouldn’t be there.  That’s not always the case as we’d later learn.  Street legal motorcycles are acceptable.  This relieved me a bit, as I don’t like riding where I don’t belong, or am not allowed.  We have too few of trail systems as it is, I don’t want to be the one to screw that up. :deal
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Jameson scratches away some dust:
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Caleb ready to keep groovin and a moovin:
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After the more off-roady aspect of the area North of Black River Falls, things basically turn into farm lands.  Wide.  Open.  Farm.  We scooted pretty quickly at this point, with each of us keeping decent distance to keep the dust as tolerable as possible.  Around 6pm, we figured we better figure out what we were going to do for camp.  We stopped at a gas station I really wish I knew where (mapping shows Hawkins, WI) to get some quick food stuffs.  At which point I sent my wife a stellar high fashion photo of myself.
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We figured at this point, we’d continue to follow the trail, and see where we ended up.  Around 630, Jameson figured we better really buckle down on location.
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We found ourselves on an ATV Trail.  I was in front (350’s are the fastest of course), with Jameson following Caleb.  Caleb ended up washing out his front tire, so we decided we really must buckle down. and find camp.  After a few minor detours, we found an appropriate locale for sleeping.
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We realized in our spot we had no cell signal.  I sent my Check-In\OK signal on my SPOT, but figured I’d walk to the entrance of our camp spot to see if I could get any reception.  I hopped on my bike without my gear\helmet\etc.  Go figure, I get a danged mosquito in my eye.
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Yah…that one on your right.  The one that’s making your eyes water right now :lol3
We relaxed through the evening.  Cooked some foods, and around 9 or 10, Jameson decided he needed a cup of coffee.  I odn’t understand how he did it, but he did.  Caleb and I retired to our separate chambers.  His a hammock nestled between a couple trees.  Mine, my trusty Kelty tent.  Not 2 minutes after getting into my tent, Caleb begins snoring like a bear.  Thankfully, I was tired and zonked out quickly.
End of day, I think we did 275-300ish miles?  I sadly don’t remember.  It was a great day of riding, and I was ready for what the next day would bring us.
Day 2 Map
Day 3 (Tuesday) to follow.
Andrew

Don’t Be Late! 2 Singles and a Twin KTM Ride the TWAT – Prelim – Day 1

The plan began I don’t know when. My buddy Jameson (lamoson) and I both have wanted to ride the TWAT for quite awhile. We hadn’t settled on where when or how until the planets had aligned just right. See, my wife and I were selling our house, and I knew I’d need some way to relax after all that. Jameson had spent the past eternity rehabbing his house and was finally seeing its completion nearing. So 2 weeks after closing on my house, we planned to jump ship on a Sunday afternoon, with strict requirement that I be back before Friday for a rehearsal dinner for my sister in-laws wedding. Years ago, I missed my other sister in-laws rehearsal dinner, so I was responsible to not make the same mistake twice. Don’t Be Late!!! :lol3

Our plan was straight forward. I’d leave my house on my KTM 350. Meet Jameson at his place near Lake Geneva, WI. We’d leave Sunday afternoon, following Stateline Road West to the start of the TWAT. We would then head North on the TWAT to my parents cabin near Soldiers Grove, WI right off the TWAT. From there, we’d blast our way North. We’d go as far as we could, and camp along the way. We’d blast our way North, and then do the same, heading South, back home to arrive sometime Thursday PM. I secretly thought…..ehh, I can get home Friday and be OK, but figured I’d plan on the safe end of things. :D

So a week or so before the ride, Jameson informs me, he’s got a 3rd guy looking to go with us. 2 problems for him. He was to be at a wedding the Sunday that we were leaving, and according to him….he’s a nancy with a KTM 690 and riding from his place in Wisconsin to ride the TWAT was too far. This guy….I tell yah. Things ended up panning out however. Caleb decided that he’d be zonked from the wedding he was going to, so would drive\trailer out to Jameson & I near Soldiers Grove, WI. He’d meet up Monday AM, and we’d all roost into the distance.

To get things straight here, let’s sort out our cast of characters.

Myself – Riding my 2013 KTM 350 (pic in the old house….goodbye old friend)
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Jameson – With his KTM 950
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Caleb – Riding a KTM 690
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Day 1 – Sunday…afternoon

I left my in-laws house (my current residence) to meetup with Jameson. It’s about 40 minutes from my place to Jamesons. About 2 minutes into the ride, I could tell it’d be….interesting. I’ve spent some time on my 350. From racing harescrambles, to gnarly riding out in Moab. This was a different ball of wax. I had a giant tank bag my dad gave me, with all sorts of luggage and crap strapped to the back. I had an area the size of my waist to sit, keeping me locked into one position. Not how I like to ride. I topped up with fuel, zeroed my trip meters, and was off to meetup with Jameson.

Jameson locked & loaded to roll:
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I adjusted my luggage a bit, and neglected to take a picture, because, well….I have a tendency to not take pictures. I try, but I fail at times.

With that, we were off, and ready to hit the open road. Jameson navigated us along a handful of Wisconsin backroads, slowly meandering our way to meetup with Stateline Road. For those not familiar, Stateline Road weasels it’s way the border between Wisconsin and Illinois. The road starts about 5 minutes from my house, and works it’s way all the way west to Galena, IL or somewhere thereabouts. About an hour in, I needed to relieve myself, so as I tend to do while out riding solo, I found us a small park to rest at.

Don’t look so surprised –
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At this point, we both reveled at the magic that is the Garmin Montana. I wirelessly synced data from my device to his. Magic. If you look close enough, you can see the data in the air.

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We moseyed on, heading due West. Ok, not due West, but in a total zig-zag along the IL\WI Border. This was fun, but after awhile got to be annoying. That’s not right. The reality is this. You’re riding along farm fields, as far as your eyes can see. Corn to the left, Corn to the right. For some reason, they decide to put stop signs at every single intersection along the way. No one is out here. Cows, maybe. I don’t know. I didn’t care however, as we were riding, the sun was out, and we were enjoying it.

Somewhere along the way, we crossed this bridge, and I took a picture:
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At this point, we weren’t too far from the actual start of the TWAT. I think I was about 150 miles in? I was soaking up the fact that my 350 was getting 55-60mpg thus far (and would for the rest of the trip) meanwhile, the 950 was somewhere in the 30-35mpg range. But that doesn’t matter, because fossil fuels be damned. We had to ride!

First proper stop along the way was a little jaunt that puts you in the Mississippi River
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Sunsets and god awful garbage can windscreens
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We headed back onto the trail, at which point I saw a Rustic Road sign. I’m doing my best to catalog them (of which there are 115, and I’ve done now 25 or so)

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The TWAT works its way along the Mississippi North (I think?). Pretty early on, you hit a gravely section. This Southern portion of the route gets you into the zone of that overhanging rock, you know, the one with all the stuff you’ve seen 10,000 times….

Struttin’ Jameson approves
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Now this is where we got confused. Ok, I shouldn’t say “we”, but more so Me\I. This is the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail, and not far in, it appears to have a doozy of a jaunt West into Iowa for awhile around Prairie Du Chien. I can’t and won’t complain. I was riding, and enjoying it. The roads over here were awesome. We however were running into one teeny weeny polkadot bikini of a problem. Daylight. Yes, I had installed some fancy pants LED’s on my bike, but it is prime Field Rodent…err Deer season, and I’d prefer to keep things upright as best I could, and not interfere with 4 legged beasts.

My initial concern of 4 legged land beasts was for Deer. Somewhere on this Iowa jaunt, another 4 legged beast became my primary concern. We were on a small back road, with an apparent cattle farm to our side. This is normally not an issue, however in this situation, there appeared to be 2 younger beef production units in the middle of the road. On the side, inside the fence is what appeared to be the mother, giving these beasts the stink eye.

At this point, I was ahead of Jameson….no lie, those KTM 350’s go like stink. So I come barreling down this road, and lay on my hoofs. My mighty steed comes to a screaching halt, as I see these 2 leather factories in the middle of the road. I sit there for a second, seeing Jameson isn’t too far behind. All of a sudden, these 2 goons turn towards me, and start getting huffy puffy, like 2 street tuffs. Jameson rolls up, and I ask….well…what’s your thoughts. We were both mildly unsure, so I figured, ok, let’s roll up slow, and when we’re nearby, lets gas it and get outa dodge. I give a mild honk, and begin motoring along. The 2 cows seem to get the idea, and move a bit towards the shoulder. All of a sudden it’s like these guys planned an ambush on us and start galloping right at me\us. Now at this point, I do my best to get the 350 moving. Unfortunately, I’m currently geared for extensive highway riding, and was in 3rd gear to keep my revs down to not spook the leathery beasts. I neglected to downshift and just about get run over by Jameson! Hells horses, we scoot another mile or so down the road and stop. Jameson relayed that he about got ramrodded by one of the cows, and was ready to take me out to get out of the way. We had a good chuckle, and got back on the road.

If they were 4 feet tall, I’d tell yah they were a mile.
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A bit further down the road, we realized we needed to find our way out of Iowa, and over towards Soldiers grove for the evening.

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I don’t have any pictures at this point, but I can put into words the next hour of riding. We found a cutoff in the Iowa side, on Cr-X52. We followed this North along the Mississippi until we got to Lansing. We zipped East on 82, and promptly South on 35 until we hit 171. Thankfully I’m relatively familiar with 171, as at this point it was pitch black outside, and my visor was absolutely coated in bugs. We wound our way along 171 and into Gays Mills, WI. We stopped in at the convenience store, grabbed some beer, and made our way to my parents cabin. By the time we got there, it was about 9pm. Around 10pm, Jameson decided he needed to change his rear tire. I opted to help by watching, and point out what he was doing wrong :lol3

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After the tire swap, we called it a night. The next morning, Caleb would arrive, and we’d work our way North with great speed, and all that jazz.

Day 1 Map

Day 2 To follow –
Andrew

My Ducati Scrambler Review – Urban Enduro

I had the chance to test ride one today. It was an Urban Enduro, which brought me back to the first bike I rode….a 1974 Kawasaki 175 2 stroke. It’s the spitting image of that bike, and just screamed of being the perfect retro\all-around daily commute\fun bike.

For reference, I currently commute on my KTM 350EXC-F Enduro, which also has seen its fair share of Harescramble action, as well as multi day dual sport trips. I rode the 350 to the dealer for my test ride. I wanted to really highlight to myself the “issues” I have with the 350 on the road. It has very little road manners. The slightest bit of wind pushes the bike all around, and despite being geared to the moon, the bike is still turning 63ooRPM @ 63MPH. Not only that, but it has the issue of every stop, it wants to ride along like I’m one of those 12 o’clock Boys in Baltimore.

So on to the actual test ride. Compared to my 2004 Ducati Multistrada (which had a 1000cc 2V motor with dry clutch), this 800cc Scrambler sounded so incredibly quiet. I love myself a beautiful exhaust, but on a daily ridden machine, I hate the idea of pissing of neighbors or traffic while I’m commuting. The bike quickly spurred to life, and walking to the left side of the machine, you immediately realize just how small this thing is. Yes, I had just hopped off my 37” seat height enduro, but I can’t stress how physically small the bike is. That’s ok though, because when you’re using a bike daily, you don’t want to screw with a tall bike thats a PITA to do quick maneuvers.

You’ll notice when you pull in the clutch that the action is incredibly soft. Thank God. I’m baffled by why the Italians install a hydraulic clutch on other bikes, and the clutch pull is like one of those hand toning spring things. The cable actuated clutch on the Scrambler is delicate, and although my test ride machine was set a bit off from how I prefer, it was a gentle pull, with a positive feedback from the lever as you released and felt the clutch engage.

Clicking into gear, yah, the trans is tight. The bike is new, and so that’s expected. If it feels any bit notchy, its likely a combo of new gears meshing together, and if you’re like me with size 13 boots, its you getting used to how the shifter is too short. Subsequent gear changes are plenty smooth, and with the torque of the 800cc L-Twin motor, each gear pulls long and hard (yes….that’s what she said).

Leaning into your first couple turns, you’ll notice again just how low the bike is. If you’re not careful with foot positioning, you’ll be dragging a toe before you know it. Not an issue, keep your toes (and eyes) up, and you’ll be through the turn before you know it. The bike has an nimble agility that is reminiscent of my old Kawasaki. It wants to drop into turns as you wish, yet under power, wants to just sweep you through and on into the next corner.

You’ll surely have read by now that the suspension on this bike is crap. While I can say that it is definitely not primo Ohlins or WP suspension, it is far from crap. The rear has a touch too much compression damping, and not enough rebound damping. That said, the bike I was on had less than 800 miles on it, so the suspension was so far from being “broken in” that its not worth fully commenting on. If you’re one of them anal types who believes the doofuses writing reviews all day….then yes, prepare to spend 1000-1500$ on new boingy things. For what the bike is….I just don’t think they’re needed.

From the suspension complaints to the dreaded “twitchy” throttle, this is one of the greatest internet mysteries to me.  I’ve ridden several Ducati bikes.  Yes, you can make the throttle feel twitchy.  Case in point, cruise around in 2nd gear around the 4000RPM mark.  Light throttle adjustments are going to make the bike feel jerky.  If this is a problem for you, click up to 4th gear, hell…go all the way to 5th or 6th, and like magic, the jerkiness goes away.  If someone can’t figure out how to be in the right gear, sorry that’s their problem.  Not a bikes*.

Seat position on the machine is…..just OK. For me at least. I’m 6’0”, with a 32” inseam. At stop lights, I can stand over the bike with several inches between my pants and the seat. This was an odd feeling for me, but again…I came off my KTM 350. Now I have this issue with all bike companies. They all feel the need to make these seats push you into the gas tank. Why? Why? Why? A flat seat would have been absolutely perfect on this bike, but again…that’s ok. The seat once you get used to it does keep you in relatively the same position at all times. It’d help if it weren’t slippery, but then your undies would be getting in a bunch (literally). A lot of folks will complain about the seat not being comfortable….they’re on crack. It’s comfortable…their ass just is NOT used to riding it, and much like the suspension, the foam needs time to break in. It’s like buying a 700$ pair of Italian Oxfords, and thinking they’re gonna fit better than OJ’s glove at his trial. Silly.

So why as my brother mentioned am I not sold on the bike? There are just too many other cheaper options out there that I think could turn my turbine. I’m a motorcycle enthusiast at heart. Through countless bikes over the years, I’ve found that when I’m out riding, I don’t care what I’m on, but purely that I’m out riding. I had hoped that the downright sexiness of the Scrambler would push me over the edge and out writing a check. Unfortunately it just didn’t. I’m still not sure how I feel about that either. If you’ve never ridden a Ducati bike, especially a 2V like this, take one for a test ride. There’s nothing to regret about it.

Andrew

*Yes, I’m aware of the lean spots that are built into bikes mappings to pass EPA Sound\Emissions requirements.  This is yet another reason for some jerky throttle, which again, is quickly remedied by changing gears.