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Old 08-04-2013, 08:07 AM   #1
BSUCardinalfan OP
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Three days, kids are gone to grandparents, let's go!

Although I've been riding for a while now, and have made a few week long trips down to the Smokey Mountains, my wife (who just got her first bike this summer) had never been further than about an hour away from the house on her CBR250r. So while our two girls were off at the grandparent's house for a week, we decided to take off.

Ultimately it would be a 650 mile, three day trip that not only was really fun but allowed us to be 'us' again (amazing how kids being around changes a relationship dynamic) AND by the end of it my wife was really enjoying riding, having FUN. Up until now she had been mostly concerned with not falling over! (and she hasn't had any incidents at all so far, which is a very good thing!)

I had planned the trip a bit in advance and had the route roughly identified and accommodations planned in advance. She only knew that we were going to be gone for three days and what to pack. While risky, this proved to be a really good idea. I guess sometimes just taking charge is a good thing.

Allow me to introduce my wife and I:



Me: 41 year old engineer/project manager for a consumer goods company. Riding a street triple.

Her: 33 year old mom, nursing student, all around amazing person. Riding a cbr250r.

A bit of a warning, this little trip was as much about us just having a good time as it was hard core riding. And we ate a LOT, so quite a bit of this will be about that, too.
This was our basic route, going clockwise.

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Old 08-04-2013, 08:33 AM   #2
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Since this was the first trip my wife had taken on a bike, I tried to keep the daily mileage close to 200 miles. And since she is both a new rider AND on a bike that makes around 25 horsepower, I had planned a route that would keep us almost exclusively on two lane roads, mostly Wisconsin's "letter" country roads which are usually scenic, winding, and sparsely travelled. Roads that the CBR250r is very comfortable on.

We managed to pack most of our luggage into my Nelson Rigg tail bag. We each used a Cortech tank bag as well. We communicated via a Sena Bluetooth intercom system, and I cannot say enough about how well it worked and how much it added to our trip.

I should also add at this time that it was NOT warm for this trip. One of the things I had been stressing over was riding gear for each of us. My wife has a nice enough textile jacket with small vents in the chest and sleeves, but I was fearing 90 degree days and humidity, and actually ordered her a jacket with large mesh panels. I was planning to wear (and deal with the lack of convenience) my two piece ventilated leather suit. As it turns out, it was in the 50s when we left home, so she was in good shape with the textile jacket, and I had to go to my well worn, not great fitting, but much more convenient, textile jacket. Riding gear always seems to be a compromise of some sort, but what we had turned out to be really good for this particular little adventure.

With the bikes prepped, gassed up, and packed, it was time to hit the road:


Our first order of business was to get out of town and away from the Milwaukee traffic. That meant a half hour ride to Mukwonago, where we stopped for a quick coffee and breakfast at Expresso Love Coffee.



I was in my best ninja costume. I did get considerable numbers of quizzical looks. And yes, I am equally amazed to have gotten so lucky in the wife department.



One other thing to keep in mind for this report. Some pictures are from my dslr, some are from my iphone 5, some are from my wife's iphone 4, and some appear to have been taken with the flintstone's device with the little bird that chiseled images into a rock.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:20 AM   #3
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That first break allowed us to make an adjustment to my wife's Sena unit, which was catching on her jacket every time she looked to the left. We left the coffee shop and headed out on what would end up being our longest ride without stopping to get off of the bikes on the trip.

We took county road Lo out of Mukwonago, over to 67, then up S to 59 in the Kettle Moraine. We stayed on 59 all the way over to near Brooklyn, where we took 92 and then W into New Glarus. This first main leg of the trip gave us a chance to calibrate how we were going to ride together on the trip. Although I was in charge of directions, the Sena communicators allowed my wife to lead (and ride at a pace she was comfortable riding) and I could alert her to upcoming turns. This worked very well for most of the trip, but at times she asked me to lead. This usually ended up not working as well because I felt compelled to check on her in my mirrors too often, and I worried about riding too fast.

New Glarus is known as "Little Switzerland" here in Wisconsin. The downtown area has a very small town European feel, complete with specialty shops and restaurants. The entrance into town on W is very scenic:


It was a bit too early for lunch, since we had just had our coffee stop a couple hours before. However, one of the attractions of New Glarus is the New Glarus brewery, where delicious beers such as Spotted Cow, Two Women, Totally Naked, Fat Squirrel, Road Slush, and Serendipity are brewed and bottled. The entire facility is really nice and they have a nice gift shop and 'outlet' store on site. Here my wife was not appreciative of my opportunistic photography.


You can also take free tours - so we did!



tours are self guided and you basically just walk up to the workers and can have a chat with them while they do their thing....I work for a company that does a lot of bottle filling and this was familiar yet different, so I enjoyed it quite a bit.



they also have a really nice courtyard where you can sample some of their products and enjoy the scenery. I'm not sure what they are doing with the 'bombed out village' look they seem to be going for, but it is a nice area. Since we were riding we just shared a small sample and enjoyed a break off of the bikes.







After the brewery tour and a bit of time sitting outside, we road over to the main part of town, gassed up, and grabbed lunch at the Sportsman.

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Old 08-04-2013, 09:43 AM   #4
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I sincerely hope..

.. that the next post on this thread starts with "Then we took county H out of New Glarus to County F past Yellowstone State Park"..

.. because that is my favorite road, and it would be a shame to miss it!

Nice post, looking forward to the rest. Maybe I'll find some new roads for my wife and I to explore...
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Old 08-04-2013, 12:44 PM   #5
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Had I known J was really good I would have made sure we took it! However, we took H west out of town, but then jumped onto 39 and took it west. We eventually got to Platteville, where we stopped at a Wal Mart to pick up a few things - the Mrs. had discovered that she really didn't like having bugs on her visor, so we picked up a pack of Windex Wipes to shove in a tank bag.

I should mention how beautiful it is in this part of the state. Patchwork rolling hills, everything very green, I was so glad that I turned on the gopro to take pictures at one minute intervals when we left New Glarus.

.... only I guess I didn't, because I got NOTHING. Oops.

Regardless, we were having a great time, chatting away, just riding and sightseeing. We did see a pretty serious wreck in Platteville, I watched an old lady in a Cadillac run a red light (we were approaching it from her right) and tbone the pickup two cars in front of us. no one was hurt, and somehow the old lady was mad at the truck!!

After our WalMart stop (and a snack and bottle of water) we headed south on county roads to Galena, Illinois. Now, Mrs. Bsucardinalfan does not like hotels. She just finds them 'icky'. So my original plan was to make this a camping trip. Only - we don't have ANY camping gear, it might be really really hot (and that would suck) and I was a little concerned over the length of the trip and how she would handle it (I need not have worried about that!). So I did some research and discovered that there is no shortage of Bed and Breakfast establishments in Galena. So I finally picked The Stillman Inn.

I was feeling pretty good about that as we rode past the place, and my wife, still not realizing we were staying there, came over the intercom to announce to me that she thought that place was 'cute'. So far so good!




We arrived, unloaded the bikes, showered, changed, and met the owner, Dave. Dave then proceeded to blow one of my big surprises for the trip by announcing where we needed to go next, but I didn't really tell him it was a secret, so I can't be all that upset with him I guess. The Inn itself was pretty nice. Everything was clean and you can tell the owners take pride in it. My wife was comfortable with it and that is what really mattered!

The inn is basically across the street from the home of U S Grant, the former president and war general.





We walked past (it was a Monday and not open...plus it was already about 6 pm) and checked out the grounds, and eventually down to Grant Park, where there are many old cannons and a nice statue of Grant himself.



then, for the big no longer a surprise, a horse and carriage arrived to take us to dinner. (My wife is a bit of a sucker for romantic gestures, and likes horses). Galena is a town that has really embraced it's 1800's heritage, and has a very nice little downtown area. It was really a perfect place to spend the evening, even if on a Monday things aren't as lively as they are on the weekends, according to the carriage driver.



The carriage ride took us across the Galena river and into downtown, eventually stopping off at our restaurant, Vinny Vanucchis.



I cannot recommend the restaurant highly enough. Affordable, fresh, delicious, and this dessert was amazing. (and I wonder why I'm overweight.)



After dinner we walked down the main street, stopped in for a drink at a nice little hotel/bar, and then made the walk back up the hill to the Inn. At this point I was pretty much husband of the year.



I promise more motorcycle related pictures for day two!!
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #6
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A 3 day ride, really nice.
Having an adventurous wife
along on her bike....
Priceless.
Looking forward to more.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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Nice RR, glad to hear the wife was enjoying the trip! Good choice on steeds as well, thriumphs are awesome, and the 250 can hold its own on the highway if needed (I can attest to this fact ). So fear not if you have to slab it sometime.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:51 PM   #8
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"husband of the year"

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Old 08-05-2013, 04:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TarmacSurfer View Post
Nice RR, glad to hear the wife was enjoying the trip! Good choice on steeds as well, thriumphs are awesome, and the 250 can hold its own on the highway if needed (I can attest to this fact ). So fear not if you have to slab it sometime.

I really like her bike. I occasionally take it instead of mine for the commute to work, and I agree it does great on the freeway when needed. She doesn't appreciate how it gets blown around, though!

Thanks for the comments. I'll try to get day two up after work.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:12 AM   #10
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Sing along with husband wife, a good rub trip!
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Old 08-05-2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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We got up on day two for the 'breakfast' part of 'bed and breakfast'. Already this kinda messed up my plans, as it was served at 8:30. Further messing up my plans was that it was a 90 minute meal! We did have a good time and learned quite a bit about the town, the place we were staying, and oddly enough, bricks.

The plan for the day was to cross into Iowa and take the Great River Road up to Prairie du Chien.

We took 20 out of Galena, and crossed the Mississippi into Dubuque, and immediately crossed back into Wisonsin

Would not be my first wrong turn of the day! We turned around, made our third Mississippi crossing in 10 minutes, and found our way north on 52. 52 is a GREAT road for the first 20 miles or so out of Dubuque. At some point (and you can see on the map above we veered away from the river) I missed a turn, and we ended up in serious corn country. We rectified that and soon found our way back to the river.



I'm sad we missed some of the river road because the views were pretty amazing.





We eventually found our way to MacGregor, Iowa, which is an interesting little river town right next to the bridge into Wisconsin at Prairie du Chien. I would have liked to have explored this town a bit but we were pretty far behind schedule ...



Then we crossed the river again and left Iowa behind....
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Old 08-05-2013, 06:58 PM   #12
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but not before finding a giant pink elephant magician!



actually, the funny thing about this picture (which is a screen grab from a gopro video) is that neither of us noticed it at the time, and it wasn't until I was reviewing the video that I saw it!

We crossed that bridge on the right of the picture and entered Prairie du Chien. We then proceeded on 27 up to Viroqua, Wisconsin. 27 was not as fun to ride as it looked on the map, but we WERE a bit behind schedule.

In Viroqua, (which for various reasons I've now visited three times) we stopped for a late lunch at Dave's Pizza.


Even though it was after 1 pm, we weren't all that hungry since we had that monster breakfast earlier. So we split a sandwich and then went next door for an ice cream.


We then set off on 82 and north on 131 (both very pleasant roads). My goal was Wildcat Mountain State park. Wildcat Mountain has a stretch of road that is a short, poor man's tail of the dragon. I wanted to ride it because it is fun, and I wanted Mrs. BSU to get the experience of a truly twisty and hilly road. I have some gopro video that I'll post up, but as usual those videos are boring as heck to watch unless something nutty happens. Luckily, nothing nutty happened at all. but here is a screenshot.


After wildcat mountain, we took a right on F, back to 131, and then a left on P. Both of these roads were ideal.



We then hit 82 and made a left to head to our destination for the evening. We discovered we were in Amish country, as we passed 7 or 8 buggies on the roads.



Our destination for the night was the Blue Highway Motorcycle Lodge. Once again, I missed a turn, so I activated Siri on my iphone and had her navigate us there. Only she took us down a few very rural roads, and then announced that we needed to park and walk to our destination - and we were not within 'walking' distance of anything! Not good.
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:06 PM   #13
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Cool, looks like a fun trip! Thanks for sharing :) It's pretty cool that your wife is up for a motorcycle journey!
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:30 PM   #14
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Thanks. She had a blast (so did I) and I think we will be doing something like this again....if we can ever get away from the kids for a few more days, that is.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:55 AM   #15
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I hope to finish day two and get up a review of the Blue Highway Motorcycle lodge tonight.

Meanwhile, I can't say enough about how suprisingly pretty this area of Wisconsin can be. It is called the 'Driftless' area because the glaciers during the ice age did not flatten it all out. The hills are not mountains by any stretch but they are somehow almost prehistoric looking (I guess they actually are prehistoric) and it is so sparsely populated that humnas haven't set about ruining the natural beauty just yet. If you have a chance, a couple days in western Wisconsin is not the worst place in the world to ride motorcycles.
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