Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great River Ride – Day 19 – Madison to Minneapolis


We rode 293 miles from Madison to Minneapolis on I-94W today. I had forgotten how beautiful the scenery in Wisconsin was.

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We both enjoyed the ride back, and no one fell asleep.


We left Madison earlier than usual, so we could beat the rush hour traffic in Minnesota. It was a nice change.


The closer we got to Minnesota the warmer it seemed to get until when we arrived it was 90F and humid. Before the trip riding in 90F was hot! Now, it just feels warm since hot as been redefined thanks to Mississippi.

We stopped at a rest stop claiming to have a scenic overlook.


We parked the bike next to a BMW 1200GSA. I think our bikes match:


and started walking,


and walking


and walking


almost there


We didn’t realize how far we had to walk! It was a nice break, but she should have put up a sign to warn us: “15 minute walk up a large hill ahead”.

This was our reward. We both felt like they could trim the trees slightly. Not sure if it was worth it.

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On the way back down, we took these shortcuts which made the trail much shorter. I wish we would have used them going up!

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Leaving the rest stop, we saw three other bikes including this Gold Wing that was over packed. He has two large airplane suitcases strapped on to the back. One on the seat and one on the top case. Of course just using a couple bungees.

wrong way to pack a goldwing

The first sign we saw that St. Paul was getting closer:

first glimpse of St. Paul on a sign in Wisconsin

Crossing the St. Croix River into Minnesota:

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Our first sight of St. Paul downtown

downtown st. paul

We stopped in St. Paul for lunch and tea. It was nice to walk into restaurant and hear “Oh Hi! Would you like your usual?” I forgot how good their Chai was. yum.

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I decided that the trip wouldn’t be quite complete without ending it by riding along the Mississippi River again.

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Minnesota really has the best Mississippi River scenery.

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The last bridge over the Mississippi River on the Great River Ride.

Crossing the Mississippi River for the last time this trip

One last glimpse of downtown Minneapolis.


There will probably be one or two more posts in this series.



Full Flickr Album

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Great River Ride – Day 18 – Chicago and Sojourner

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Day 17, we arrived in Chicago with only two things in mind. The first was to eat some tasty food (done!), and the second was to meet Sojourner of Sojourner’s Moto Tales.


I don’t remember exactly how we found each other’s blogs. I think it was probably via Bobskoot’s blog. Since then, we’ve been actively reading, commenting, and emailing. Sojourner has good taste in motorcycles and used to own a 2001 SV650. She sold it for her current BMW F800ST which nearly has the same amount of miles as my SV650. She is also a very accomplished photographer.

We arrived in Chicago early in the afternoon. Sojourner very generously offered to let us stay at her apartment. We spent the rest of Day 17 chatting away like old friends. The three of us had a really nice time.

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We woke up early (not really, but early for us on this trip), and set off for some riding. Motorcycle bloggers are supposed to ride together right?

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Sojourner played tour guide and took us up and down the lake. We stopped a few times to take photos.

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The weather was perfect today! We didn’t need the rain gear once, and the temps were very comfortable for riding. The breeze from the lake was also refreshingly cold.


We stopped at the Baha’i Temple.

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Then we set off for the Wisconsin Motorcycle Museum. We each took turns leading and watched each other ride. Sojourner is a good rider. She spends time taking classes and practicing skills in parking lots like I do. It was fun chasing each other through the twists and turns of Sheridan Road. Sheridan runs near Lake Michigan and passes through some very affluent neighborhoods.


The last time I was leading, I managed to get us a bit lost. My GPS is a Garmin GPS III. It doesn’t have routing functionality or even decent maps (It only has a base map). It was only $30! I know I could buy better maps, but I’d rather save the money to get a routing GPS. Sojourner took over and lead us the rest of the way.

Sojourner had asked if I wanted to ride her bike. Of course! I love riding different motorcycles. Since they all act a bit differently, it expands my motorcycling experience. Her bike is a blue BMW F800ST which is probably the same color I’d pick. We stopped in a parking lot and I hopped on. Both Sojourner and my wife took out the cameras and began snapping away.

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The first thing I did was sit on the bike with my feet flat and feel the balance and weight of the bike by leaning it left and right. Next was to find all the controls. BMWs have the turn signal controls on each side rather than on the left like every other bike! I also played with the clutch and found the friction zone. When riding a new bike, I like to do a few figure eights to get a feel for the bike.

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The F800ST was easy to turn tightly and slowly. It has great balance and Sojourner’s aftermarket levers made it easy. Riding up and down the road was quite different from the SV650. The BMW delivers its power more smoothly than the SV and you’re quickly at or over the speed limit. The SV, on the other hand, is much more visceral. The F800ST felt a lot like the F800GS I rode earlier this year, but with slightly different hand and foot locations. It was a fun bike to ride, but I still like my SV. Thank you for letting me ride your bike Sojourner!

When we got to the Museum, it was all dark inside.


Sojourner said it must be closed; I said they are open on Sundays. That’s when we saw this sign:


They closed on Saturday for a dealer conference and decided to make it a long weekend and are closed until Monday. We were really bummed. We admired a couple of the bikes through the window:

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My wife was drooling on this Ducati helmet. I told her she should get the Ducati, then the helmet.


While we stood there and chatted, other potential customers came and left disappointed.

Sojourner and her BMW F800ST:

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Eventually, it was time for us to move on. We had plans to visit the HD Museum in Milwaukee, and Sojourner wanted to do some more riding. We said our goodbyes and rode off in opposite directions.

When we got to Milwaukee, we didn’t feel like visiting the museum and instead spent time a long at Lake Michigan admiring the views.

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Feeling tired, we hoped on I-94 and headed west to Madison where we stayed for the night. Minnesota is getting close!

We rode 189 miles, and have completed nearly 4500 for the trip.

The highlight of Chicago was meeting Sojourner. I’ve been to Chicago two or three times, and this was easily the most fun I’ve had there. Thank you Sojourner!!

Full Flickr Album Here (100 photos)



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