Riding a Bit of Wisconsin, Which Was Somehow In Iowa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by ScottFree, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Thanks to Covid, this hasn't been a good year for big trips. The first casualty was my plan to ride to Moab. Then the almost-annual early June trip to North Carolina got canceled due to both spiking Covid levels and terrible weather. I had made some reservations to spend a few days down in Arkansas, on the shores of Bull Shoals Lake, but with Covid rising faster than the heat index down there, that seemed a dubious option as well. Sometimes you just gotta accept this is the year to lower your expectations.

    Instead of Moab, Deals Gap and Bull Shoals, I went to Pikes Peak. Not that one... the state park in Iowa, atop a 400-foot bluff overlooking the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, all of 210 miles from my home outside Chicago. Well, better than nothing... and maybe a good shakedown, as I had yet to take my bought-last-August Enfield Himalayan on a real camping trip. I'd camped at the Hügellandschaft Adventure Ride a couple weeks earlier, but that was rally camping, where the most important thing to pack is the beer cooler. This would be real camping, bringing along the kitchen and spending a few nights in the tent. Wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pack up everything for a real camping trip... not to mention how the 66-year-old collection of orthopedic disaster areas called "me" would handle multiple days on this relatively new-to-me bike. Didn't need to have my psychotic--I mean, sciatic--nerve go out 600 miles from home!

    The plan (you may begin laughing whenever I use that word) was to zip up to the park on a Monday afternoon, set up my tent, and spend three days riding the three southernmost segments of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail (as it turns out, the second segment, between Prairie du Chien and Lansing, actually runs through Iowa; go figure). This way I'd just have to set the tent up once and take it down once. Efficient and labor saving. Uh-huh...


    Of course, by the time I actually got around to hitting the DNR website and reserving a space, the deadline for reserving Monday was past. Not a big deal, I figured--this campground is usually not very busy Sunday through Thursday. I'd probably get up there and find my space unoccupied on Monday night.

    Getting loaded up and on the road took a little longer than expected. Then there was the doctor's appointment, though I was able to do that via internet rather than going to his office (an hour in the wrong direction, of course). So I actually got on the road at noon sharp.

    The day's first stop, a boat ramp where the Kishwaukee River flows under the Shirley Bridge (as in, "Surely you don't have to pee already?" "Yes I do, and stop calling me Shirley!").


    Fun fact: there is apparently a historic railroad truss called the "Shirley Bridge" down in Arkansas. I only found that out when checking up on which river flows under this Shirley Bridge.

    After a stretch of four-lane which was interesting only in that it verified I could run a sustained 70mph on the Himalayan, I caught the Stagecoach Trail toward Warren, IL. This town (just before the Wisconsin line) wants visitors to know it's right on the 90º west longitude meridian.


    There is spot further north, near Wausau, where this meridian crosses the 45th parallel, putting you exactly halfway between Greenwich and the opposite side of the earth, and halfway between the equator and the pole. According to an old Aerostich catalog (no doubt an unquestionable authority), there are eight such spots on the planet, and the one in Wisconsin is the only one you can ride to. (Quick fact check: Wikipedia says the only other "45x90 point" that's on land is in the Uyghur region of China, so riding there would be something of a challenge. Apparently an American and a Chinese taxi driver went there in 2004. 220km taxi ride... hmm...)

    Anyway... I decided to swing through Potosi and ride up scenic highway 133 to the Cassville Ferry. Which led to the first change of plans: while taking the various little hilly curvy (but paved) roads that made up this section of the TWAT, I passed by the Grant River Corps of Engineers campground. Now this is on of my favorite places to camp, as they have tent sites right along the river, the bluffs are quite gorgeous, and there's a brewery with a beer garden right there in town. And it's not like I had an actual reservation for the night at Pikes Peak...

    My favorite site was open, so after a half-hour or so...


    On the one hand, I'd only gone 160 miles; on the other hand, I was probably in a better position for Tuesday's planned ride anyway. Or so I told myself.

    Of course, at this point I had yet to touch a tire to anything other than pavement, so some "adventure" this was turning out to be. Luckily, a quick run out to Potosi Point gave me at least some plausible excuse to call the day an "adventure":


    I don't know if Potosi Point is natural or man-made, though I suspect the latter. Much of the half-mile or so to the end of the road there is nothing but the road, with water on both sides. There's a boat launch at the end, which might be in deep enough water to avoid tearing propellers off boats.


    My campsite is directly behind the bike, I think. Hard to tell.

    I went over to the brewery for a delicious (and socially-distanced) dinner in their beer garden, bringing back a little something for a pleasant evening watching the river roll by.


    And watching the barges go by...


    And the sunset warming up the limestone bluffs...


    I set up my phone, hoping to shoot a time-lapse of the sunset:


    Didn't work. Seems the phone re-adjusts its auto-exposure on each frame, so it never got dark; it just got gray. Sometimes tech is too smart for its own good.

    But this is what the sunset looked like:


    OK. I promise more miles and less pavement tomorrow!
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  2. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011

    A beautiful morning, sun peeking over the bluffs, plenty of hot water in the showers. Now, fire up the little stove to heat up some water for hot chocolate (never been a coffee guy, but there was just enough edge in the morning air to make me want something warm) and oatmeal... oops... WTF? The little plastic control knob for the stove has gone missing. And the one tool I'm not carrying is a pliers... Am I going to have to ride up to the Pump 'n' Dump for breakfast?

    Nope: the wrench-extender from the Himalayan's tool kit is a perfect fit on the stove's control valve!


    While sipping and slurping (and supplementing with a bit o' SPAM), I worked out the day's plan. I wanted to ride the TWAT sections, at least the unpaved ones, without 60 pounds of luxury camping gear on the back seat. Check-out time at the campground was 4pm. Figure half an hour to tear down the tent, so I had to be back by 3:30. In addition to the TWAT from Cassville to Prairie du Chien, I had some GPS tracks from inmate Gerken, showing some gravel roads on the Iowa side. And I wanted to visit the "Motor Mill," a historic mill site west of Guttenberg. Yeah, that could be a good loop: up to Prairie on the Wisconsin side, down to the Cassville Ferry via the gravel roads in Iowa. Tear down the tent around 3:30, dash up the paved county roads to Pikes Peak, set up there and go to dinner at the McGregor Beer & Brat Garden. I love it when an evil plan comes together...

    The TWAT headed north on WI 133, then some paved little roads, then some paved county roads, and finally onto the pavement-free highways. Though this particular pavement-free road isn't technically part of the route.

    Do not attempt to race a train, especially when the road you are on dead-ends in 500 feet.

    "Closing Dam Road" runs from the junction of Good Nuf Hollow road (which is on the TWAT) to what I assume is its namesake, this low weir on the eastern branch of the Mississippi:


    The dam doesn't look like much, but that's because the river's still pretty high. Come by in September (which I did five years ago, on my KLR650) and it's a lot more substantial.

    The Guttenberg Dam, with its roller gates and barge lock, is on the other side of the island. Even though the big dam is on the other side of the island, the original river channel, and therefore the Iowa/Wisconsin border, runs through the middle of this channel here.

    No place to go from here but back south, to finally get on the unpaved part of the TWAT:


    Which included a couple stream crossings!

    Waahh! I wet my pants (but only below the knees)!!

    OK, not particularly big stream crossings, but enough to be fun. The second one was a little bigger.

    I said a little bigger. Not a lot bigger.

    Back onto pavement for a little while, then under the Dugway Road overhang:

    At the south end, the sign says "Dugway Road"; at the north end, the sign says "DOUG Way." Which is it?

    From there, up through Sandy Hollow...


    And eventually onto US 18 and across the Mississippi into Iowa on this bridge.


    This is where I learned some more things that would affect my "plans." First, big signs warned that the bridge at Lansing (where the TWAT crosses back into Wisconsin) was closed. The detour was over this bridge... which, in keeping with the Highway Department tradition that roads closed for construction must be detoured onto roads that are delayed by their own construction, was down to one lane with a stoplight. The latter was just an inconvenience. The former... well, my plan to ride the next hundred miles of the TWAT on Wednesday wasn't going to work, because I'd have to either go up to LaCrosse or back down to this bridge to get across the river. Oh well...

    The other thing I found when I stopped at Pikes Peak (for this picture) was that my campsite was in fact occupied. The guy would be moving out before I arrived, but had I come up to Pikes Peak the day before (as planned), I would have had to find an unoccupied site and then move my camp later. So my decision to spend Monday night at Potosi was looking like a good one. After giving myself a pat on the back and an ice cream bar as rewards for my good judgment, I set off southbound on the Iowa side... to be continued in the next post...
  3. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    A quick addendum to the Tuesday Morning report, from my 2015 KLR trip...

    This is what the "closing dam" looks like at lower water. I think it must have also been designed to protect the people upstream from a tank attack.


    And while I haven't yet done anything with the GoPro footage I shot on this trip, here's a couple minutes of this area (Closing Dam Road, Gud Nuf Hollow Road, Dugway Road) from that trip. Enjoy!

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  4. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Jul 23, 2010
    Central Minn.
    Stories well told!

  5. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Continuing with Tuesday afternoon...

    The Great River Road (county route X56) is paved and runs from Pikes Peak to Guttenberg, where it hits US 52. I've ridden this any number of times. I got a GPX track from inmate Gerken (the guy behind the Hügellandschaft ride) that included two diversions from the pavement. The first runs down into the hollow on Lariat Road, which seemed a well-maintained piece of gravel with some steep downhills and curves.


    So I was more than a little surprised to get to the end of that road and see this sign behind me:


    This "minimum maintenance road" seemed to be in better shape than some of the main paved highways in Illinois!

    Lariat Road ends at Keystone Road, and the view from the corner seems to be the very definition of "bucolic."


    Keystone took me back to the Great River Road. A bit further down that, I came to the intersection of Great River and Mississippi roads, which struck me as an interesting combination. Mississippi Road is another nice stretch of gravel, with a long downhill and (surprisingly) no actual view of the river until it entered the outskirts of Guttenberg and picked up pavement again. But it was a pleasant enough ride.

    From Guttenberg, I picked up the "River Bluffs Scenic Byway" for a few miles. But it was paved, and I was rather quickly distracted by County Highway C1X, a gravel route that seemed to go where I wanted to go. Over a few ridges, down through a few hollows, across a couple creeks, turn left on "Galaxy Road" (wonder where that name came from) and down to the Turkey River and Motor Mill:


    I stumbled upon this place while doing an Oktoberfest ride back in 2017. The mill building is pretty impressive: six stories, close to ninety feet tall, walls five feet thick at the base. Like many of these mills, it only operated for 20 years (1869-1889) before the occasional crop failure, flood, and mostly the railroad's decision to be somewhere else rendered it unprofitable. It pretty much sat, being stripped of equipment and such, until the county bought it in 2004, planning to make it a tourist attraction. When I stopped by in 2017, they were setting up for a tour; this day there was nobody to be seen.


    The bridge is not original: the original 1898 truss (itself a replacement for a wooden bridge built in 1867) was washed out by a flood in 2004. It was rebuilt as a replica of the original (quite a feat, getting funding to build a bridge that didn't come close to meeting current county-road standards!) and re-opened in 2012. Neat.

    Addition: the Motor Mill Foundation, which handles restoration and tours, made a neat little 15-minute video about the mill. It's in facebook rather than YouTube, and the ADV site doesn't want to let me embed it, but here's a link. I think it's nice of them to have bought a drone and shot some rather nice aerial footage of the mill and its surroundings. Because now I don't have to...

    The Turkey River is a popular canoeing destination, and there's a small park with picnic tables and a campground nearby. Perfect place to stop for lunch.


    Petroleum Distillate Sandwich from the gas station back in McGregor, plasticized-process cheese foodlike stick, and chips with an expiration date in the next century! Mmm, good!

    With the afternoon disappearing faster than I had expected, it was time to head for Potosi. I ran a few more gravel roads before picking up the paved River Bluffs route back to the Great River Road. I made a stop at the overlook:

    Think that's the same collection of barges I saw last night?

    From there, down to Turkey Creek and the Cassville Ferry landing:


    How convenient, just push the button and the ferry appears!


    There were a bunch of signs on the ferry about maintaining proper sociable distancing. This day, that was no problem. I had the ferry completely to myself.


    From Cassville, it was a quick shot down scenic and fun Wisconsin 133 to Potosi. Packed up my campsite and got on my way just a few minutes before official check-out time. Just over an hour later, I was setting up in my reserved site at Pikes Peak... which will have to wait for the next post...
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  6. SwampyDeadHead

    SwampyDeadHead Adventurer Supporter

    Jun 19, 2020
    Tampa, FL
    Nice report and interesting scenery.
  7. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Finishing up Tuesday...

    Welcome to Pikes Peak! The campsite here was not quite as scenic as the one I had at Potosi...


    I've been camping in this park on and off for about 12 years now. Seems that four or five years ago they re-worked the campground to make it a bit more trailer/motorhome (and therefore less tent) oriented. This site, which used to have a bit of grass and dirt, is now pretty much just a parking pad made of stake-bending gravel. Sigh...

    I went down to McGregor, only to find the Beer & Brat garden closed--seems that with the plague, they had cut back their hours, and were only open Thursday-Sunday. I'd be well on my way home before they opened. Oh well. Looks like Tuesday's dinner is going to be cuisine de can, heated up over the camp stove.

    No, that is not a fire in my tank bag.


    I started Wednesday with a stroll to the overlook, to watch the sun come up over the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.


    I've watched a bunch of sunrises from this spot, and no two are the same. There have been mornings when I'm in glorious sunshine at the top of the bluff (400 feet above the river) and the valley's completely full of cotton-candy fog. There have been mornings when the clouds stretch down almost to the bluff-tops, and the sun peeks through a tiny gap right on the horizon. This morning was clear over the Mississippi, but the Wisconsin River valley still looked fogged-in.

    I took a nice stroll back the woods. There's a trail running right along the edge.


    The camera tends to flatten things out a bit, but that bit of rock toward the right-center of the picture is the top of a straight-down cliff worthy of the Utah canyonlands. It's just hard to see here through all the trees. Which gave me something to ruminate on while walking around and taking in the view: how much spectacular scenery is hidden by the forests here?


    On my way back, I noticed there were some campsites that still had actual grass and were a lot more tent-friendly than the one I'd reserved. This prompted me to take a walk around the entire campground, making a list of sites I might choose to reserve for my next visit.

    With a bit of an appetite from my stroll, I returned to the campsite for breakfast, and a bit of a planning session. The closure of the Route 82 bridge meant my original plan for today, riding the Iowa side of the TWAT up to Lansing and continuing on the Wisconsin side to around Soldiers Grove, wasn't going to work. I had some more tracks of other pavement-free rides northwest of Pikes Peak, but it hardly looked like a full day. Then I got a text from a friend back home: we had been planning to meet in Byron, IL, on Thursday afternoon for a tasty beverage and a pizza. He had been drafted to watch grandchildren in the late afternoon and wondered if we could move up our meeting, say to late-lunch time. Well... not if I were coming all the way down from Pikes Peak... but it would be an easy thing to pack up and ride a lazy scenic route from Potosi. And, in all fairness, the riverbank seemed like a more pleasant place to camp than my gravel-pad site. Not to mention that the Potosi brewery and beer garden would be open for dinner.

    And that is how my plan of setting up my campsite exactly once became a plan to set it up three times in as many days. Oh well... friend of mine once said that the planning is everything; the plan itself is of no significance whatsoever. He must have had this trip in mind. I jumped on the internet, reserved my space at Potosi (because of the pandemic, the Corps was accepting same-day reservations online). Then I texted my friend with the good news that we could meet for a late lunch, finished breakfast, and saddled up for the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail, Iowa Edition.
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  8. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Wednesday Morning: the Yellow River State Forest (there's gotta be a "pee" joke in there somewhere)...

    Up to this point the trip, while fun, had been a little... tame. The water crossings on Gud Nuf Hollow road were about as exciting as things had gotten. Dugway Road is fun (especially going under the overhang), but I've ridden that stretch on a fully-loaded Harley touring bike. Even the "minimum maintenance road" in Iowa had been pretty well maintained. None of this had been, well, very adventurous.

    That changed when the TWAT entered the Yellow River State Forest:


    Things got steeper, narrower, curvier and rougher.


    Definitely a bit rougher.


    The Iowa DNR comes up with interesting ways to cross intermittent creeks:


    And a self-service motorcycle wash (which somehow never gets your bike any cleaner, no matter how many times you go through it):


    Some other people exploring the forest.

    One of the few modes of transport with even less horsepower than the Himalayan...

    This spur trail took me to a nice overlook:


    And down to the Yellow River itself:

    I love these old truss bridges. Wait... "Truss Bridges"--is that what they called Nash after his hernia?

    This little low-water crossing (there's a pipe buried under the dirt) appears to have just been repaired after a washout.


    Along the Yellow River, heading toward the eventual paved road (sigh)...


    Ho-ho, that was fun, wasn't it? I shot a lot of GoPro footage on this stretch, and when I get time I intend to edit it into a two or three minute movie that I'll insert here.

    Now, in the grand scheme of things, the stretch through the Yellow River State Forest was not particularly gnarly. But it's the most challenging road I've yet taking the Himalayan on, and it's probably the most challenging stretch I've ridden since I retired the first Utah Bike (the '79 XT500) way back in 1983. Old guys like me, we take small steps. The Himalayan performed like a champ, and I'm increasingly confident that this bike will take me where I want to go when the pandemic ends.

    Onward, back onto the paved River Road for a while, and then into the next post.
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  9. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Wednesday, continued...

    Once out of the State Forest, the gravel road got wider and smoother, until it deposited me back on the paved Great River Road, up to the town of Harpers Ferry (I wonder how many towns there are with that name). North of Harpers, the paved road turns inland, while the TWAT finds a nicely-groomed gravel road that hugs the river:

    I really liked the view from this spot, the way the curves of the road lined up with the tracks and the river. So much that I turned around, came back, got out the DSLR, played with different shooting positions and focal lengths to frame things up just right... and I still managed to leave the river out of the picture. Dangit!

    Ah, well... (sound of frantic key-and-mouse clicking)... ah, here's a frame with the river, the railroad tracks, and the road in it. Not as elegantly framed, though...


    The TWAT route wandered around though increasingly smooth and developed gravel roads, with more houses along them (who was it that said, "Adventure Riders: boldly going where other people live"?), until it again returned to the River Road a bit south of Lansing.

    Bluffs like this are found all up and down both sides of the Mississippi in this region, but this one strikes me as particularly photogenic. Didn't hurt that there was a good place to pull over and take the shot, either.


    And then we were in Lansing, where the TWAT crosses back into Wisconsin... or would, if the bridge were open.


    I have a soft spot for this bridge. It's a cheese-grater, of course, and somewhere I have video from the time I rode my Harley across it and pointed the GoPro straight down, looking through the grating at the barges going by underneath. It's also a quirky bridge: there's no curve to the deck, so you go up to the first tower, then flat to the second, then down, each time feeling like you've gone over a ski jump. And, neatest of all, it's an honest cantilever. This is a geeky engineering thing. Look closely at the top of the bridge, at the spot where the left cantilever meets the center truss span. Notice anything "missing"?

    Here's a close-up:


    See the gap? It's because on this style of bridge, all the weight of the center span is carried on the bottom chord, so there's no need for a beam connecting the top of the cantilever to the top of the truss. But you'll find many, if not most, of the cantilever bridges along the Mississippi (and elsewhere) will have a beam there, I guess to reassure nervous motorists that the bridge isn't losing bit and pieces.

    Sad to say, this bridge will be going away soon. This years's deck repairs are supposed to buy it a few more years, but it's scheduled to be replaced with something new, modern, up to current standards, and no doubt considerably less interesting. Sigh...

    I learned this fact at the newly-built Allamakee County Visitor Center. It's quite a nice little facility, which on this day was hosting three guests, two of them motorcycle riders. It was open (masks and social distancing required), so I put on my mask and went inside, took a look at the exhibits, and picked up a detailed county map that shows which roads are paved and which are not. That alone made the stop worthwhile!

    I consulted my nice new map as I figured out how to get back down to Pikes Peak and work in some of the other gravel roads in the tracks I had. Started by locating the county road that went back down to the Yellow River Forest, where I took a short but steep gravel road up to a very nice overlook.


    This is the other side of the river valley from the overlook I'd visited earlier.

    From there, I picked up the red line on the GPS and followed it onto something called "Ion Road." So in the space of two days I'd spanned 31 orders of magnitude on Iowa roads, from Galaxy (10^21 meters across) to Ion (10^-10 meters across). That's a pretty good range!

    Ion Road turned out to be one of the more difficult rides of the trip, not because it was primitive but because it was too developed--it's a nice, wide, smooth road... and the highway department had just "improved" it by putting a couple inches of fresh, loose ball bearings--I mean, gravel--on top of it.

    The red line took me to a two-track that probably would have redeemed Ion Road, except for one thing:


    Oops. Now, on another day I might have gone around the sign to find out why the road was closed (on more than one occasion I've found roads to be closed because repairs were planned but not yet started, or because of damage that would stop a car but not a motorcycle), but I still had a fair distance to go today and wasn't that enthusiastic about getting down this hill and having to turn around. So, back to Ion Road, eventually down to the paved county road that led to McGregor, and back to the campground. Along the way, I was re-joined by the red line, and noticed that the other end of this road did not have a "Closed" sign. Hmm. When I got home, I looked it up in the Google satellite view, and the only thing I can see that might justify a closure is what looks like a culvert between the spot where I met the sign and the last farmhouse on the un-closed stretch of road. Oh well. Something to come back to, right?

    So I returned to the campground, packed up my tent, and headed south down the River Road. I was pleased to see the Himalayan could pull the fairly steep grades with my full load of gear. Since I'd taken the Cassville Ferry on Tuesday, I decided to take the long way around, down the River Road to Dubuque and then up on the Wisconsin side. There's a nice viewpoint at Balltown:


    There was some not-so-nice construction in Dubuque (when isn't there construction in Dubuque?), which turned my quick shot across town to the US 61 bridge into a not-so-scenic tour of the downtown. But I made it to Potosi with plenty of time to grab an ice cream bar, pick up some ice for the cooler, set up the tent and head over for a nice dinner at the beer garden.


    I had food, too. Trust me.

    And another gorgeous sunset over the Mississippi.


    And another really good day wraps up, with the sound of the breeze through the trees, the waves lapping on the shore by my tent... and the trains, of course. Always the trains... after a while you get used to them.

    Next: the journey home, with some token gravel.
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  10. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    OK, let's wrap this up...


    The weather bunny was promising a line of lousy weather would sweep through the Driftless Area on Thursday. I was determined to stay ahead of it. Cooked one last breakfast of hot chocolate and oatmeal (the Spam was now gone), packed up the tent and grabbed the TWAT line on the GPS. Seems I had not covered all the route between Potosi and the Illinois line, so now was the time to do it.

    It does look like the forecast is coming true--there seems to be something nasty chasing me:


    The TWAT between Potosi and the Illinois line is mostly paved. There were a couple miles of gravel, so I could say I did some off-pavement riding every day of the trip, but it wasn't much. Things are just too built-up in this part of the state, I guess.

    The cow was looking right at me till I got the camera aimed, then she decided the grass was more interesting.


    A quick pause here, to answer the question, "how do you end up with 60 pounds of camping gear on a Himalayan?" Here's how. Being 66 years old, with a fake hip, repaired shoulder, multiple spinal issues, a permanently damaged sciatic nerve, rheumatoid arthritis (need I go on?), I'm well past the part of life when I could sleep on the ground in a tent barely bigger than a coffin. So in that heap on the back seat there is: a four-person tent (with a five foot ceiling so I can almost stand up in it), CampTime Roll-A-Cot (the absolute bomb for a good night's sleep, but big and heavy), Helinox Chair One with leg extensions (ya gotta sit), and my Aerostich pants (which I usually attach to the jacket only when I'm expecting rain). In the dry bags are sleeping bag, fleece roll, camping stuff (lantern, pillow, flashlight, etc.) and clothing. In the trunk, the cooler (which, when I'm traveling, contains the kitchen stuff; beer can be obtained once the campsite is set up) and a USB-powered fan. The DSLR (responsible for the occasional "artsy" picture in this RR) sits in the "ammo box" on the right side of the bike, while the one on the left is literally the "glove compartment," with gloves, bug repellent, kickstand pad, etc. There's a dual UB charger in the tank bag, which charges my phone and also powers the no-SIM-card iPhone 5S that runs my GPS app. And yes, that's a water bottle on the left passenger peg mount. A nitrous bottle would be a bit silly on a Himalayan.

    End of the Trail... or the Point of Beginning:


    The official southern terminus of the TWAT (still a couple miles from the IL state line), and marking the point from which all of the Wisconsin territory was surveyed. Why so far out west? Because in those days, nobody cared much about the lakes, Chicago was just a swamp, and all the real settlement action was around Galena and its lead deposits.

    Sinsinawa Mound, the most noticeable landmark in the area, shot with a real long lens. The route actually went right past it, but to appreciate the mound you have to see it from a distance.


    Down into Illinois, through Galena and Elizabeth, down the Bethel Road cut-off and through Loran (home of the infamous Slurp 'n' Burp) to the long, straight, flat stretch of IL 72. This road curves a bit to go around the town of Leaf River. I went straight, on a little gravel stretch called Pond Road, because I felt I needed more than two miles of pavement-free riding for the last day of the Adventure.


    I seem to have annoyed quite a number of birds.

    I rolled into Byron exactly on schedule, and as I pulled up to the stoplight at routes 72 and 2, I saw the guy I was meeting rolling up on the other road. Couldn't have timed it much better. The beer was great, the pizza was better, the story-telling and picture sharing better than that (the guy I was meeting rides a Harley Softail and firmly believes that riding a motorcycle on dirt is a sign of advanced mental illness). Eventually another friend of ours arrived, this one another Himalayan rider, so the ADV crowd outnumbered the strictly-pavement contingent. Sorry, no pictures. The Harley guy had to leave early, so the Himalayan guy and I rode back together, and I took the opportunity to throw a few more miles of gravel in, just on principle.

    All in all, a 745 mile trip, of which a measly 92 were off-pavement. But some of those miles were really good. And there's still a couple months of summer left, so there's still a chance of going back. I have that list of tent-friendly sites at Pikes Peak...
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  11. evmigration

    evmigration Adventurer

    Apr 16, 2020
    S. Wisco
    Nice trip report. I’m headed to that area next week and hope to hit a few trails!
  12. blender

    blender Just another rider

    Jul 27, 2004
    I enjoyed this! Have had good intentions of wandering over to that area this summer, I'd better get going.

    BTW, here is the northern WI meridian spot:
  13. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    Looks like you're going to have some nice weather. Enjoy, and give us some pictures!

    Ah yes, good intentions. You know what road is paved with those (and why are we in this handbasket, anyway?)...

    I had lots of good intentions for this year, but they got slapped pretty good. At least I got to go somewhere, which is better than some folks I know. I still hope to get back up to Pikes Peak, I hope when it cools off a bit. (Hmm... next week is supposed to be in the high 70s by day, mid 50s by night. Is that what I was looking for?). Of course, things are currently getting worse rather than better. If I were one county over (that is, five miles northeast of where I am), I'd be required to self-quarantine for two weeks if spend more than 24 hours in Iowa. I think that's a bit unnecessary for a trip to the Pikes Peak area, as Clayton and Allamakee Counties have vanishingly small rates of Covid, but The Rules don't differentiate any finer than "you went to Iowa." Not that there's any actual enforcement mechanism, of course...
    st2sam likes this.
  14. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Jan 11, 2012
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Very nice trip. Thanks for taking us along.
  15. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Jun 7, 2011
    With a forecast of sunshine, highs in the 70s and lows in the mid 50s, I booked one of the more tent-friendly sites at Pikes Peak for the early part of next week. Planning to add at least the third section of the TWAT (Lansing to around Soldiers Grove) and possibly the fourth (Soldiers Grove to Ontario--the one in Wisconsin, not the other side of Lake Superior). Internet says the Lansing bridge is open again, with a couple new pieces of grating on the Iowa side. Oh, boy!