Rustic Road to Ruins Pt4.5 – Riding with a Miata

Well I’m finally back at it. Life as usual has been hectic. My wife is on day shift now, so she’s got a normal schedule which means my post-work rides are a bit more limited. Not too big a deal, cause she likes to go out on the bike with me.

Yesterday I was planning to take a ride out to my parents cabin an hour south of Lacrosse, WI. From my place it’s about a 3.5 hour drive. I figured I could leave early enough to get there, and be back home in time to make some dinner. The weather, my GPS, and my apparent lack of sense of direction had other plans.

I left my place at about 8:30am, got about 5 minutes down the road, only to have it start to rain quite heavily on me. I stopped in at my local skatepark where there is a shelter and tossed on the rain gear. I more or less couldn’t see jack until I was about 10 minutes North of Lake Geneva. I was planning to scoot as quick as I could to Janesville, WI, grab gas, and then take a new route West over to my parents place.

My brother called and said he left a bit behind me in his miata, so we’d try to meetup somewhere along the way. My route had me going through Dodgeville, WI, so I said lets meet there and rock on. Unfortunately my navigational systems were not working. I took a turn too soon in Janesville off of rte 14. I found myself who knows where, trying to follow God only knows what route, and with a bladder that had to be relieved of the gatorade & coffee it had ingested earlier.

I made a pitstop off some backroad and gave my brother a ring. I was watching my clock and realized there was no chance I’d make it out to my parents place and back home in time to make dinner, so we made the executive decision to stop in New Glarus, WI for some lunch. I worked my way along a few back roads to get myself to ummmm 59 or 69 or something like that, which heads North into New Glarus.

Things got real for me at this point. I came to where I’d make a right onto the main road. I saw 2 cars off a bit in the distance working their way towards me. I thought at first…..they’re far enough away, I can accelerate and it’d be no big deal. Then I thought….eh, my brother is a little behind me, and I’m in no hurry, lets just chill, let them go, and cruise behind them.

That choice was a ride saver. About a mile down the road 2 small deer decided to jump out right as the lead car came up on them. You couldn’t see them at first due to them being as small as they were and with how tall the grass was. The lead car nailed one of them sending it spinning down the road. The car behind the lead car more or less just drove around the lead car after they moved to the side of the road. I pulled over and talked to the woman. She was OK and relayed she was glad it was her that hit the deer and not me. Needless to say, I felt the same way.

The ride into New Glarus from there was only a couple miles, so in a way it felt good to be in the relative safety of a small town, and theoretically less wildlife. My brother and I grabbed some lunch, and worked on a route that would take us back home following some back roads.

I relayed to him that I found I am having troubles coming to grips with riding the Ducati on the street. The bike is no slouch, it is plenty fast and I’m wondering if that is the “problem”. As I roll through turns, the bike feels it is going incredibly slow. A quick glance at the speedo tells me it’s not, but it just feels that way. I find myself constantly worrying about the gravel in the roads, and with yesterdays weather, all the dark\wet spots (notably the locations where people decided to shoot their grass clippings into the street). I explained that I don’t have these thoughts or concerns when I’m on my KTM, even with full on knobbies. I can feel with the knobbies the tires rolling and beginning to slide. I don’t get that same feedback with street tires.

I’m sure it’s a combination of not having road raced in a long time, a high power street bike, and just still early in the season to be 100% comfortable with pushing a bit. Or maybe I should go back to a lower power street bike. This thing cruises so smoothly at highway speeds that its hard to dislike, yet I keep finding a way.

On the way back, we managed to end up on a Rust Road that I hadn’t nabbed yet. RR81. I honestly don’t remember what it was all like. More narrow and covered with trees, opening up at the end where it meets 39.

We took some Wisconsin Lettered Roads on home, with us testing a camera setup my brother has been working on for awhile. We managed to capture a pretty rad shot:

And with that, the sun seemed to creep out, giving us a real nice cruise home. After a 250+ mile day, I was back home by 4pm and was able to begin prepping dinner.


Edit – Footage from the camera while mounted on my brothers car.

Rustic Roads to Ruins pt5 – Loop 3

I’ve spent the past good while stressing a bit about the house selling stuff. We went through having an offer and deal on the table, to it falling out in a weeks time. We’ve also spruced up a few things around the place, which should help with moving it. All that stuff has kept me busy the past few days, and I wanted to take a day and go get a ride in.

I talked to my brother Saturday evening to see if he was interested in scooting out with me on Sunday. He was tentatively in for leaving at 7am. Unfortunately Saturday night, my dog decided to start absolutely freaking out about some fireworks going off. My wife had to be up at 4am for work, so I took the dog into the living room with me and cozied up on the couch. This was fine except for some neighbors having a big bon-fire just up the road. The dog was quite worked up for awhile….leaving me to not sleep so well. My wife woke me up at 4 when she got up, at which point I headed back to bed….promptly waking up at 730.

Not a big deal, as I saw I had a message from my brother at 12:30, who had a failed 3D print, so was dealing with that on Sunday. I was moving a bit slowly, but wanted to really get out for my ride. The dog seemed plenty chipper in the morning….darn thing.

So that said, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to go ride. Rustic Roads 90 & 27 were within a decent distance from me. Straight line, they are only 63 miles away. Basically they are a couple of the last “close” rides for me (that could be done in less than 1/2 day). Their descriptions & rough outline looked appealing enough:

RR90 Info
RR27 Info

Tentative route:

So the plan I had was to get on the road, tell the Garmin 60CX to just point me in the right direction towards the 1st waypoint on RR90. I was excited, as I had a nice new hardwired power on my KTM 350. I plug everything in…..and the unit shuts off as soon as the unit shakes. I say to hell with it, and toss my solar charger & phone in my tank bag, plug in the waypoint and off I go.

Loaded and ready to go:

Now I gotta say, I got a whole crap ton going against me on this right now. First of all…..I’m running a 350 race bike, on a front knobby that has 4 races, 600+ Moab miles, many local road miles, that is chunking like no other, with a rear tire that I got used from a friend (that I swapped in Moab as well), that is rapidly degrading to oblivion. On top of that, neither wheel is balanced, my front rotor has a tiny bend in it (pulsing brake lever), an OEM seat that is like sitting on nails, and now I added that silly stupid tank bag….all so I had room to hold something to drink. But hey….I was ready to go riding, and I really wanted to get my use out of them tires.

So kickstands up, and of course, I may as well top up with fuel right away. From here, it was my standard route of getting from home to Highway B in Wisconsin. My phone\GPS is telling me God only knows what way to take to get out to the first road. I know B heads West, so I’ll just go by feel. A couple miles into B, and I find that I’m running into some sort of triathalon going on. I end up passing bicycles for a couple miles….they all looked miserable as I easily motored by (reminded me of Moab). I end up taking a few “wrong” turns, and managed to find myself cruising on a lonely State Line Road.

Wisconsin and Illinois….well you gotta love and hate em. At least in my immediate vicinity, things are flat, straight, and full of corn. It’s OK though, as I find that when I go out riding….I’m just enjoying the riding. State Line Road, as the name suggests more or less splits Illinois & Wisconsin, just about from Lake Michigan all the way to the Mississippi in Iowa. It’s pretty cool, and while it is flat, and straight, you kind of feel as if you’re heading down a road that was used long ago for important things. There’s that sense of history as you cruise down the roads, which twist and turn as you into and out of IL\WI.

As always my days start though, I end up with myself full of coffee on an empty stomach, which prompted my first stop.

I think I can….I think I can…

This was looking South (bike facing North). You head South here for 1/4 mile, and then back West shortly ahead. If you keep heading South, the road turns to gravel. I wasn’t looking to hit that road, so continued on my way. I meandered along and ended up finding myself back where I got back into competition with motorcycles; Blackhawk Farms Raceway.

Long story short, in 2008 I was road racing an R6. My bank account was draining quicker than I could fill it. I then had this 100mph lowside……right in front of my (future) wife, mother, father, grandpa, etc:

Suffice to say, I switched to trials shortly after. Much cheaper, and the risks of crashing were exponentially reduced. I’m very grateful for this, as I learned so much riding trials, that I continue to tell friends and those I meet that I could NOT do what I can on a dirtbike now, if it weren’t for the years on a trials bike.

There was some racing going on at BHF, but I had places to be and didn’t want to pay a pit fee, so I continued on. The roads around here are older feeling, and many find you beneath well covered tree canopies. They aren’t all that much, but I find the more I ride these roads, the more I grow to appreciate what is around here. I ended up on Highway 81 in Wisconsin for a good 15 miles. This T’s into Highway 11 just South of Brodhead, WI, and a mile or two from RR90.

I had no idea that this was gonna be a gravel road:

The road appears straight, but if you get closer, it has a couple fun little sweepers to it. I rode the road to the end, and backtracked to the start where I snagged this panoramic:

I snagged another of the rear knobby….this was about 80 miles into the ride:

But what can I say… was a nice stop (bio break out in the open as well )

From here I found my way to the start of Rustic Road 27. A short 10 mile jaunt, and you’re at the start of a really beautiful section of road:

OK, so it appears to be one straight road, but you can’t complain. Again, this is an older portion, which winds slowly around through some old subdivision of some sort. The entire area is covered in trees, and the road has a very nice flow to it. I highly recommend this one. Even the roads all around this area are pretty solid. Had I of had more time, I would have scouted around a bit.

From RR 27, I wanted to get myself home without hitting a highway (on a KTM 350 remember….). I ended up in downtown Brodhead, WI. I stopped in at a gas station, got some fuel and gatorade. I look up and saw there was a park right across the street. I saw a silver truck parked there, so I rode over and sat down in the Veterans Memorial Park to snack on my gatorade & candy bar. I saw a guy get out of the truck and put something on a tank they have on display there. I finish my snack, and head back towards my bike. I end up chatting with the guy a bit. 91 year old WW2 vet who takes care of the park. He was quite excited about the park, and hoped that the local kids with nothing to do wouldn’t steal the flag he hung on the tank. I would have liked to have gotten more info, but as my wife can attest, I am far from a details person….and given my preference, would be quite happy in isolation. The man & I said our goodbyes, and I hopped back on my bike to get on home.

I ended up following a similar route home, following State Line Road. My bike hummed happily around 60mph the entire way, not missing a beat. At one point, I may (or may not have) made sure that the bike still understood how to ride on it’s rear wheel…..oh how good that feels. It reminded me of a fellow in the gas station who asked me about the KTM earlier in the morning. He asked if it were street legal, to which I replied….Yes, though they should be illegal. They are far too fun. He seemed a bit perplexed, but wished me safe travels.

I made it home about 4.5 hours later. My trip meter confirmed that I’d have a sore behind:

That KTM 350 never ceases to impress, though I did note that I have a leaky fork seal. The Seal Doctor will fix that right up. All in all, a very good day. It helped clear my head, and continued my bond with this bike (that I thankfully never had with the Ducati).

Until the next one….


Rustic Roads to Ruin pt4 – Loop 2

Rustic Roads Loop 2

This past Tuesday I wanted to get some more Rustic Roads in. IIRC, the weather was iffy in the morning, but leveled out by the time work was done. I topped myself up with a dinner of refried beans, chipotle cranberry cheese, kale, all upon a wonderful Udi’s gluten free spinach wrap. Health conscious and all that . I geared up and I was off……to fillup with gas. 

Here was the rough route:

The map is a little off. I wanted to get away from the main area as quickly as I could, so I hopped on Rte 12 North and set my mental cruise control to get up and away from the local area. I really enjoy being able to make quick time on these roads in Wisconsin. The minimal traffic, wide open roads, 65mph speed limits, and all, it adds up for making up quick time.

I wanted to take a more back way into the first rustic road, and so I kept south of 12 just as I got past Elkhorn. I found some nice roads that while not the windiest, they were still scenic in their own right. I was basically right at the very South end of Kettle Moraine. There was a nice spot to stop for the Ice Age Trail. If you’re into walking\hiking in the woods, this is supposed to be quite nice. I’m not a fan of walking, so any time I’ve spent in this area has been on their Mountain Bike trail system just north of here. I stopped here for a quick restroom break:

I then worked my way up towards Whitewater. I forgot that they are still doing construction in the downtown area. If you’re in the area, check out the Sweet Spot Cafe. They do great coffee and they may or may not have delicious pastries & snacks  My wife & I like stopping in as they do have a good selection of gluten free items if that’s how you roll.

As I worked around the construction, I ended up riding around Whitewater college. It was kind of odd, as the only real memories I have of being in that area were from around 2001\2002 when a band I was in at the time recorded with a friend who was a DJ for the college radio. While I’m not in any bands anymore, the guy who recorded us is, and they’re pretty darn solid. Check em out:

I worked my way out of town and hit the first rustic road for the night.

RR 88:

This was a mostly straight road. Nothing super about it, but it got me in the mental mindset for chasing down the signs. I’ve noticed that some roads have the # designation at both ends of the road. Others, it’s only at one end or the other. Then there are some that as noted before, have nothing. It keeps things interesting. I reached the end of the road, and worked my way North to the next one. I saw an absolutely rundown road that seemed to be someones driveway, so I hopped on it. It was a real adventure….all 1/8 mile of it  A nice smooth road followed and I was then lined up West to hit the next RR.

RR 84:

This road was mildly populated, but on the West end worked its way around some mucky looking river\creek. I didn’t hang around there too long and really shoulda snapped some extra pictures. I’m seeing there is a minor flaw in my attempts at snagging as many RR signs in an evening, after work, while trying to get home early enough to get enough sleep for work the next day. Minor details.

After 84, it was South from Fort Atkins to catch RR87. This one based on the map had some promise to it.

RR 87:

You could even get your Seal Coating done here. Though there was no phone number. . This road was quite fun. It wandered along quite a few farm areas. I think one road was called Creamery Road. You could smell the pungent farm smell as you wound round the turns. Not really many sweeping turns, but some fun blind 90 degree bends that I seemed to go around far slower than in my mind I should be going triple digits through. 

The reality was also that the sky is darkening earlier and earlier. I had planned for 2 more Rustic Roads for this ride, but the last one would put me getting home around 1030pm. I don’t really mind the lowered amounts of sleep, but I know that deer & other wildlife were gonna be more prevalent now. It reminded me I need to add some additional lighting to this bike. The OEM lights are good, but I’ll never argue with having MORE lighting. 

At the end of RR87, I was greeted with a bridge under construction:

I had no reason to go over it, but every reason to hop on the highway just below it & zip on down to my last RR for the evening.

RR 35:

I had the high beams on for most of the time at this point. It was full on dark out, and I was out in the sticks so to speak. I snagged this last sign and began working my way towards Cr-M. Or at least I thought I was. I hadn’t realized that they were doing all this nice construction up there, so roads I thought were there…..were not. A minor detour later, and I was back on Cr-M (that road on the 45* angle in front of Harmony Twn). I used the moon, open road, and my high beams to my advantage here. I may or may not have made some really good time here. Towards the end of M, there were some nice smooth sweeping 90 degree turns. They had some minor elevation, and needless to say, I would have much preferred to do them during day time. I took what I could get though.

The only issue I had on the route home was as I came to a 2 way stop after my making time on cr-M. It gave me a good sampling of the lovely Brembos on the Ducati. Oh how they grab and pull you top a stop. Just lovely. From here on out, I opted to hop on the main roads to get myself home. I figured there was a bit more safety from critters with this, and it’d get me home quicker. 43 North to 12 South. Both with 65mph speed limits. I set myself to cruise and got myself home.

Trip mileage: 142 miles.