Friday, October 25, 2019

Good morning St Paul!

Channeling my inner Steve Williams this morning. It pays to double check the temp before heading out. This time of year, clear sky mean cold temps. Luckily I don't have far to go. 

I'll be topping her off with some more non-ethanol gas and Stabil on my way home this afternoon. I don't do a lot of winterization but I do make sure they get good gas and a healthy dose of fuel treatment. And the batteries go on a trickle charge.

Warm winter days happen!

- Ride North

Friday October 25th | 30f | 3 mi

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tour de Wisconsin

Stretching the legs on the Guzzi. Both my grandma and her sister turned 80 this weekend and a family reunion was planned at my folks house in Hartford WI for noon on Sunday. It would have been too much running around for my family to attend but I wanted to go. So I did, and Mrs. North was willing to hold down the home front while I was gone. Which was nice.

I was on the fence about taking the bike. I'd be back late on Sunday and the weather called for light rain and 60 degrees both days. But I did it. I'd say it was good but not fun. Half of my riding was at dusk or dark and on the interstate. It was a learning experience so in that sense it was great. The one thing I would have changed is to add a stop between Osseo and St Paul on the way home. I know I was tired and the difference between 9:15PM and 9:30PM is just not that important.

I-94 to 10 to 41 on the way there, 33 to I-94 on the way back. Both routs took exactly 6h. 15m. including stops. Although Google maps lists them as 5h10m and 4h50m. I think my new cut off for this trip is time. If I have the time to take 61 - 108 - 33 (mostly all 2 lane 55 and 65 mph) at least once then I'm in. If I need to tear down I-94 at 75mph in the dark for more than a few hours, then I'll take the car. 
A stop in Plover, WI. for lunch and a walk. (Stevens Point)

Hot roast beef sandwiches and fluff!

a mint Olds Super 88 complete with clear plastic davenport covers

The canal in Portage WI 
connecting the Wisconsin River (Mississippi) 
to the Fox River (Green Bay)

Another Portage picture.

Saturday night I went out for prime rib and drinks with my dad and brother at a little supper club/ restaurant by Pike Lake. (and the Brewers hit a walk off run to beat the Cubs!) And that right there was worth the trip.

The reunion and birthday party on Sunday was fantastic! I got to catch up with my cousins and second cousins, some of whom I haven't seen in 20 years. I played with their kids and met some of my dad's extended family who I've only heard about (many many times over the years!), all share a classic Wisconsin sense of humor. (i.e. a license plate that says. "HERE I AM") Good times!

- Ride North

9/7 - 9/8/2019 | 621 miles | 12 h. 30m. | 60 F | cloudy and some light rain

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A summer evening samba

It's July. The sun hangs around late into the evening. While it takes its time sinking into the western horizon we give chase. Follow the western road. Make haste. Soon it will be dark.

Deer feed in a cut alfalfa field. Birds follow the river scanning its banks for sweet scaly sustenance. Maybe the road will provide their protein. They'll never make it through the high-viz textile. Better keep an eye out for four-legged intruders. 

- Ride North

July 20th | Henderson, MN | 116 mi.| 7:30 - 10:00 PM

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Good night St Paul

The Mississippi mud is back after a long flood season.

Fresh sand.

Pickerel Lake

Rent a yak at

There's an asphalt path under all that.

- Ride North

Thursday, July 18, 2019

When are you going to work on that thing?

Jr. North asks, "Dad, when are you going to work on that thing?"

Now I guess.

You gotta make hay while the sun shines. I picked up a box full of parts for next to nothing on Facebook Marketplace, a first for me. There's enough in there for two unbroken sets of XL250/ 350 plastics. One is original condition the other will become rattle can black.


The hooker header got a fresh coat of high-temp.

Fresh rubber.

* cleaned and lube the chain
* freed up the stuck clutch
* rebuilt the carb

To do:
* Refresh the forks.
* Adjust everything.
* add fuel and start kicking.
* Paint a set of plastics and the tank (dented and sealed up long ago.)
* install new races and bearings in the steering head
* maybe install an ignition. 
* maybe get one of those little stickers with a '20' on it

Not bad for 47.

What could go wrong?

- Ride North

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Visiting trout streams

I managed a post-4th of July ride over to Wisconsin's open ridge lines and cool valleys. It's been a long time since I last took the XS500 out past the city limits and up into the hills. My goal was to ride O down the Trimbelle River valley and see where the road took me. I took the bends at a leisurely pace, slowing down for blind corners and homesteads. 

Inspired by the Trimbelle, I decided to check in on the Rush. I haven't fished these trout streams in years but I still remember the spots. My first stop was at one of the good river bends about half way between the confluence with the Mississippi and highway 10. The river was in really good shape, slightly off colored and clearing up. This is the best time to fish because the trout can't see you as well, a real issue. Also, they need to be bold if they want to eat, advantage to the angler. I wish I had brought some fishing gear with me! 


Yes, they were delicious.

I wandered back west along 370th avenue, cutting a line up and down the ridge tops. This took me back into the Trimbelle River watershed via the Little Trimbelle River and a few tame gravel sections.

The Little Trimbelle River is cold and refreshing no matter the weather. 

I crossed a few of these bridges, one was recently inundated. 
You could say it was a "water crossing" if only just.

I'm not sure why I went back through Red Wing, guess I just wanted to cross the Mississippi and see Barn Bluff. I stopped in at the Harbor Bar & Restaurant, located in the backwaters with views of old Red Wing, but I didn't stay. The skies were getting dark to the north and I was feeling the need to race the rain home. 

The only other thing of note is that I hit the reserve for the first time ever on the Yamaha. Not one but two petcocks need to be flipped forward, a move I pulled off while pulling off into a convenient turn out. Shortly afterwards the rain found me, a warm summer rain. 

- Ride North

July 5th | 150 mi. | 3.5 hours

Friday, June 21, 2019

Spring ride - day 3

Sunday had me retracing my steps back up the Mississippi River Valley as I made my way home. It was a cool start to the morning, 50s and overcast, but would turn into rainy and 40s. The morning however was just cool and windy, much like Friday.

Todd, my Dad, and I crossed into Iowa almost immediately, just north of Dubuque, and followed the Iowa river roads north again. It's hard to pick a bad road between Dubuque and McGregor, just steer clear of highway 52. There's nothing wrong with taking the highway but you'll miss out on some good experiences.

Guttenberg, Iowa

Just outside of Guttenberg, Iowa, we stopped to take in the view from highway 52 and discuss the trip. 

Our last stop as a group came at LaCrescent, here we parted ways. Todd and my Dad would be staying in LaCrosse for the night and were Googling breweries and hotels. I needed to be at work Monday morning so I spent the time trying to get some heat back into my hands. We all agreed that it was a successful journey. New roads were covered, new trails hiked, new characters met. Classic spring ride shenanigans. 

North of I-90 the temperature dropped off quickly and the rain started to fall. What was a pleasant ride in the 50's turned into a challenging ride in the 40's. By the time I got home the bike said 38 degrees.

I did manage to keep warm and dry for the most part. I only have one heated grip, on my throttle side, and my waterproof gloves were MIA. Thankfully, the clutch-side valve cover made a handy fry pan for my clutch hand. A little heat in my hands and some coffee in Red Wing got me home safely and mostly comfortable. Take your time and make good choices.

When the riding is less than ideal nobody cares if you're late, just that you're safe. (and it helps to call home with status updates) You never know what or who you'll run into when it's spring time in the north land, which is why we keep riding out this time every year.

- Ride North

May 20th | 270 miles | 8 hours riding

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Motorcycles at the State Fair Grounds

Another AMCA/VJMC motorcycle show in the books. Many thanks to the hard working folks who make this happen, eight bucks is a heck of a deal! I even had money left over for a Go Moto tee shirt. It smells like the shop, I may never wash it!

I had a little time to myself between breakfast and lunch so I fired up the XS and headed over to the State Fair grounds to see what the keepers-of-cycles have been up to all winter. The Yamaha sat for two weeks but fired right up due to its new battery. I'm on the second battery and second set of tires since acquiring it on 2012. Not bad.

22k miles With original Minnesota plate. 
(and a stack of registration stickers)

I snapped photos of whatever caught my eye. 
The Yamaha "Super Single" SRX-6

Why have an EX500 when you can have a 500cc V4?
This would be a fun little ripper, it's significantly smaller than the 750. 
This is on my wish list. (or a Seca 550, which ever comes first)

A 1973 TX500 front and center! 
My 1978 was the last year of this bike, improvements were made.

The bell of the ball a Honda CB750

I was surprised to see how much longer the bikes got compared to the earlier models. 
The earlier CBs seemed more British in their proportions. 
Also, that primitive front brake caliper hung on for longer than I'd expect. 

I'm drawn to the tuning fork. 

And early Sportsters. 

A 350 Continental GT from jolly olde England.

Purdy in white.

Another Enfield. This time a 750.

They come in green.
they come in blue.
I like them all.
You bet I do.

Italian. Gee-laira. Belllissima.

Some antiques.

Yep. Old Sportsters.

After taking in the show, the XS and I went for a leisurely ride down East River Road and found our way back to West St Paul. It's good work if you can get it.

Happy Dad's day to all the parents out there!

- Ride North

Monday, June 17, 2019

Spring ride - day 2

The next morning we rode out to breakfast at the beautiful lodge at Starved Rock State Park followed by a morning hike. Built of massive timbers by the CCC, the lodge is worth a visit. Its great room is still filled with furniture that was built at the time of its construction. One of the wings of the building is a restaurant and, lucky for us, it has a breakfast buffet. The park is about 1.5 - 3 hour drive from Chicago and got more crowed as the morning progressed. Getting there early meant that we had a leisurely breakfast and had the hiking trails mostly to ourselves (by northern Illinois standards).

The park is located on the banks of the Illinois River and features limestone bluffs, river front hiking, and slot canyons that terminate in waterfalls. The waterfalls are ephemeral and only run during the wet spring season or after a rainfall. It had rained earlier in the week and severe weather was predicted for the afternoon. This made the trails muddy and almost impassible in places but the waterfalls were running.

We wrapped up our hike just as the eastern sky was turning dark. The parking lot was full of people. Large groups of kids were setting out to hike the bluffs and canyons. We ran into a group of guys on a day ride out of Chicago, sneaking away from family life for a few hours to ride with buddies. I can get behind that! Chicagoans are generally outgoing people who have no problem hamming it up with strangers. We talked bikes and riding for fifteen minutes or so before heading out. Good guys.

The storm hit just as were were getting out of the park so we pulled over at what we hoped was an establishment that served food. What we got was a weird combination of bar and head shop. No food, but they had swards and liqueur. What could go wrong? Just as we reached this oasis, the front came through bringing with it cats-and-dogs biblical rain. We were stuck with nothing left to do but hang out and wait. Once the rain let up we headed across town to the Cabin Fever, a place that serves real honest food to refuel for the wet ride to Galena. I hear the deep fried monte cristo is amazing but I settled for something a bit less fried.

Refueled, we set out in a light rain, nothing much to worry about. I-80 was littered with wrecked cars in the ditch. The wind and rain must have been bad out here in the open, we made the right choice to stop. Instantly, I was reminded of the kids heading out into the slot canyons back at the park. I hope they made it out of there okay or found shelter under the overhangs and in the caves. They were in for some severe weather followed by hours of heavy rain.

The ride up to Galena was uneventful. We did stop in Savanna to google the collection of race bikes at the Iron Horse Social Club. I was told that Frank, from American Pickers, has a bar full of old bikes somewhere in the area but we didn't didn't get a chance to see it. (we're not here to bar hop)

We stayed in a Super 8 or something just outside of Galena. The "Irish" restaurant in the same development had okay food but the entertainers were not having their best night so we got out of there pronto. We rode into town to take in the main street on a Saturday night. Stopped into the Galena brewing company for a beer and took in the one man band. Nothing crazy, just hanging out and people watching. The brewery was followed that up with a walk around town. I was impressed with the restaurants and shops. The town is built into a bluff on the Galena River, a historic shipping channel connecting the area to the Mississippi River.

A quick scoot up the hill found us in our beds where we slept soundly form a full day of hiking and riding in the rain.

- Ride North

May 19th
150 Miles
3 hours riding
3 hours hiking
1 hour sleeping in