Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Four Hundred Miles of Friday Fun

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It has been raining and cold in Minnesota for the last week. when I saw the weather was going to be nice this past Friday with more rain the rest of the weekend I jumped on it. I needed a vacation day!

The plan was to sleep until I got up and then head to the southeast part of Minnesota which is one of my favorite parts of the state. It’s filled with bluffs and lots of different rivers including the Mississippi. The scenery is great, the roads usually empty, and lots of corners.

I left the house to the balmy temp of 40F on my SV650. About ten minutes into the ride, I discovered I’d done something wrong with my heated coat – no heat. An hour later on US52, I stopped down and found the loose cable. By then I didn’t need it. It was quite windy with a strong 20-30mph wind coming from the south. It was a bit tiring riding into it, but it also brought with it 66F. I won’t complain too much about it.

The clear skies and twisty roads were fantastic. I was mostly riding on state roads and the county roads in Houston county, MN. I planned my route with google maps based on what looked like a fun road. Then I used GMapToGPX to convert the google map to a .gpx file for my Garmin 60CSX to route. It worked very well. I also wrote some of the major roads on paper as a back up.

I ended up on a number of roads I’ve never been on before. It was quite fun. About 40 of the 400 miles I rode were gravel roads. Even though I have rather aggressive sport tires on my SV, the unpaved roads were really no trouble at all.

The ride was a good learning experience with my GPS. It did a decent job routing me around and giving me enough warning before the turns. It did make one small error in routing me by sending me down a short dead-end road. I guess it thought my SV could fly over the gap at the end of the road to get back on track.

I also had a brief bit of fun on the way home with it. I had left it in “avoid highways” mode. That feature tried to turn my ~100 mile ride home into nearly 400 miles. It left me quite confused for over an hour before I figured it out. Fortunately, I had my paper notes, so I was able to navigate back to roads I recognized pretty easily.

The GPS also kept track of interesting stats. For example, the low point on the route was 642 feet above sea level and the high was 1426 feet (yes, not very high at all). In total, I climbed 17,740 feet during the ride. There were lots of hills and bluffs. Nothing like the climbs I’m sure Charlie6 is doing, but still fun.

I think my favorite new road of the route was MN-74 from Chatfield to Weaver. MN-16 was a close second due to the great roads surrounding it. I like MN-74 because it cut through Whitewater State Park and then a number of game preserves and wildlife management areas. It hardly saw any cars or people, but it was filled with critters. I nearly ran over a squirrel and a muskrat in one of the wildlife areas. The last few miles near Weaver turn to gravel which was a nice treat.

I took US61 back home. The flooding of the Mississippi is still evident. I made it back home around 7pm, and the last few miles were in the rain. A fun days ride! Enjoy the video.

YouTube video:


  1. Wow! That was a great video. Your road surfaces look a lot like like ours like they've suffered a lot of damage from the winter. I have the same model gps though it rarely gets used for routing within the state since we have so few roads. I didn't know it had a "avoid highways" mode.

  2. Very nice. You must have gone through a few batteries on that ride.

  3. That is one interesting video. It was a great day of riding.

  4. Wow! You told me about a couple parts of that ride but I had no idea how amazing that was going to look. I need to get out and enjoy the roads some soon. Nicely made video.

  5. Nice video and report Chris...that's a good fair distance for a ride!


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  6. Geez, do you have any idea how long it would take me to go 400miles? LOL

    Really glad you got out and about. I can only imagine how good that must of been for your soul!

  7. RichardM: yes, lots of road damage here from the winter. it was a particularly hard winter. They've also gotten pretty sparse fixing roads as budgets have been cut and such. "avoid highways" is nice. works kinda like the version on google maps. It's helped me find weird alternate routes.

    MyRideBlog: Thanks! I used both of my GoProHD batteries and filled up the 16GB SD card.

    motoroz: Thanks you! =D

    UnquenchableOne: Thanks Man! You would have loved some of those roads. especially the gravel hairpins.

    Dom: It was a great ride. Reminded me I need to do more of them. My body got a bit lazy hiding behind the Ural's windshield all winter.

    Keith: 34,123 seconds?! LOL :) I am also really glad I got out. I really needed that ride. First "long" ride of the year. I can't wait for this years "big trip"