Thursday, September 23, 2021

Commuting 2021!

 I really missed commuting into work this last year; the lack of seat time had a noticeable effect on my motorcycle skills. Thankfully, our office opened back up in July. Motorcycle parking there is free and I'm cheap, so I've been commuting on the Guzzi rain or shine. 

All alone at a mostly empty office.

A quick stop on my way home to admire the wildfire smoke.

I upgraded the soft bags to waterproof, lockable Givi bags.

The bags required the removal of the grab rail, so
I home brewed up some washers to retain the shocks until
I could order the stock parts from Leo's South.

It feels good to be on the bike again.

The V7 has been a wonderfull commuter and all around work truck.

- Ride North

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Osceola Landing

It's been a while since I posted anything here, a lot has been happening this summer and I should have a pile of post facto posts for the cold months ahead. Here's a gem from a beautiful June evening.

I was in the mood for some new roads and a little winding and unwinding after work, so I set my sights on Hudson Wisconsin, highway 35, and Taylors Falls, or maybe Osceola. I planned to cruise by my old place of employment in North Hudson, but Wisconsin DOT had other plans. Most of St. Croix County's roads were under construction, being resurfaced with the dreaded tar and pea gravel method. Also, the bridge to North Hudson was out. 

The pea gravel didn't prevent me from finding new roads. The crossing of the Apple River at county road I was particularly enjoyable. The other deviation from normal was taking 50th street north, where county road I turns back to highway 35.

I'm far more likely to cross the Saint Croix River at highway 8 in Taylors Falls than in Osceola and had never stopped at Osceola Landing. It's a beautiful little park on the west bank of the river, it would be fun to come back with a fishing pole. 

Parked at Osceola Landing.

Looking north to the bridge.

And south.

Fishing and family activities were happening.

This is mostly accurate; I did take I 
out of Summerset rather than 35.

The Osceola Picnic Bluff looks promising.

The ride south down 95 was pleasent. Our fuzzy brown forest friends kept clear of the road and the views, as always, were lovley.

- Ride North

June 22nd | warm and sunny | 3 hours | road construction

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Zumbro Falls, Minn.

Way back in June, Jr. North and I took the camper down to Zumbro Falls Minn. and stayed at the Sportsman's Park Campground on the south side of town. I booked two nights and the plan was to stay for one, two if we were having fun. It rained all weekend but we were having fun and by Sunday morning we were mostly out of food. (Pizza for breakfast!)

Our 1960 Coastline on the banks of the Zumbro River.

The campsites are clean and simple.

Sportsman's Park is a small, private campground with electric and water hookup at most sites. There are some long-term campers parked there but not many. Also, as a private campground, there is some partying going on. Our site was in the south end and all our neighbors were pleasant retired RVers. The far south end had some families tent camping. The north end of the campground had a few partiers but they were friendly and tame enough, although I wouldn't want to be next to them. Also the restrooms were clean port-a-potties. 

Firewood is available for $30 a Gator load (a lot of wood) and there are tube, kayak, and canoe rentals. (a shuttled, 9 mile route)

Just east of Zumbro Falls is a giant, mega, private campground called Bluff Valley. It's a little big and expensive for our tastes. Our neighbors for the weekend had just relocated from the loud, busy Bluff Valley to the quieter Sportsman's Park. It did have one amenity that drew Jr and I to the area, an indoor skatepark with climbing walls. For $10 a day we had access to both. It rained all day and we spent six and a half hours, off and on, skating and climbing at the facilities. Calories were burned, skills were honed, and fun was had. Climbing gear, scooters, skateboards, and helmets are available. 

The skatepark features BIG features and you can tell it was built for BMX bikes. They have bike demos and contests if you're looking for an exciting show. The day we were there was quiet all morning with some bikes and scooter kids showing up in the afternoon, mostly waterlogged campers looking for something dry to do.

Jr. North (8) testing out the scooters.

The only known photograph of Dadus shrederi.
This ramp was huge and it took me a while to get up on the coping. 
(the metal piping at the top of the ramp)

Jr North, the drop king, is fearless.

The climbing walls are mostly bouldering.
They do have two auto-belays.

Dishes in the camper.

Relaxing with a book after a long day.

Skate all day then fall asleep to the sound of the river and crickets.

Ride North

June 25th - 27th | rain | adventure

Thursday, June 10, 2021

the Cuyuna Range

In late May, the Ride North crew joined two other families for some mountain biking at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation area. Experienced and new mountain bikers, both young and old, put tires to the red dirt. It was a good group, everyone got on well and we all agreed that we should do it again.

For some reason, I don't have a ton to say about the trip. It was fantastic, memories were made, calories were burned, the good vibes were felt, and I'm sure we'll be telling tales about the trip for a long time to come. If you ever see me, ask about Cuyuna and strap in because I have stories. For now, the photos can be the documentation.

This is my loon picture.

Riding through the woods surrounded by birch and water.

Crystal clear mine pit lakes.

Horse tails and strawberries.

Marsh milkweed, I think.

Stream side.

A storm front rolled through on Saturday night.
We stood under a tree next to our fire and watched it pass.

Endless views from the top of the tailings pile.

I saw three Loons swim under this bridge on three separate occasions.

The Ride North Crew

ice cream stop

Cuyler Adams is the guy with the hat, 
Una is the name of the dog.

Taking in a little military history

Cooling off in the lake after a ride.

Trail stop.

An unplanned trail stop. Jr. was proud of his bail and 
told everyone how he almost flew off a clif, which is true.
I'm standing on top of a 12 foot high jump.

One last walk in the lake before heading home on Monday.

The Cuyuna Range is located in central Minnesota,
about a 2 hour drive from Saint Paul.

- Ride North

May 28th - 31st | 60's and sunny | 7 bike rides with family and friends

Monday, May 24, 2021

Homeward Bound

 A wishful glance at the radar had me departing at 9:00 with my rain gear neatly stowed away, but the billions of gallons of water suspended over my head had other plans. I didn't make it 20 minutes before the heavens opened up and I found myself on a field access pulling on plastic pants. It was the most intense downpour of the return journey by far. I filled up in Horicon and snacked on some gas station food while chatting with the locals.

Gas station hangout session while the streets filled with water 
and the storm sewers backed up.

The rain stayed with me off and on until I hit LaCrosse at 3:00. I avoided the interstate, taking my favorite route, highway 33 to the Mississippi and then up the west bank to Hastings, Minnesota. I was tired from a full day's ride yesterday and planned some stops along my journey home. The first was the Canal in Portage. After that, I planned to find a park or wayside, anything new to me would do.

A pedestrian/ snowmobile bridge in Portage.

Wide, mowed paths along the canal are great for stretching your legs.

The paths in Portage are a portion of the Ice Age Trail,
it traces glacial moraines 1200 miles across Wisconsin.

I took a detour following signs for Lake Redstone county park. While I drove up to the lake, it was a long walk down to it and I didn't stay. Just downstream was Douglas Landing, a more secluded place for "yoga" and a snack.

The hills outside of Hillsboro were typical of my morning journey. 
Low hung clouds and light rain made for engaging riding, the miles and hours passed freely.

Taking a break outside of Hillsboro. 
The Guzzi was building up its first real coat of road grime.

Heading into south western Wisconsin, the temperatures started to drop. It was no longer a warm rain and I couldn't help thinking about the long underwear stowed in my bag. If only there was a little out-of-the-way park somewhere where I could change. And then, cresting the next ridge, there it was. The Little School at The Ridge History Park was waiting, empty, just for me.

I thanked the Franciscan Nuns for aiding this wayward traveler with their refuge, and apologized for stripping down to my unmentionables on their sacred school grounds. I did check the buildings for kids first but they all left long ago.

Feeling comfy again on the ridge top.

Wet and hungry, I stumbled into LaCrosse around 3:00. I stopped at the first place serving hot food, the Egg Roll King, and ordered a big serving of egg rolls and Tai fried rice. I took my treasure across the bridge to Pettibone Park. It was a beautiful view of the river as I stuffed my maw and restored my energy. A bald eagle was fishing directly across from me, making multiple dive bombs into a little eddy. A barge rolled down the river. Life is good.

The view from my park bench.

Looking across The River east towards LaCrosse

The remainder of the trip was the pleasant blur that is highway 61. I ditched the rain gear at the park and it remained stowed. There were a few motorcyclists traveling up and down the river, everyone waved. We must have been feeling those Monday afternoon vibes, out in the world cheating the 9 to 5.

I rode all day and never felt tired. I never felt like I was ready to be home, but I was happy to get there all the same.

- Ride North

Monday May 4th  | 9 hours | 300 miles | 50's and 60's |  wet