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Three days, 650 miles to the river and back

4526 Views 18 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  bsucardinalfan
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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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.

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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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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Great report, you two. Thanks for the photos, map, and report about your intercom system. Please tell us more about the trip when you have the time.

We took H west from New Glarus and then hit 39 and over to Platteville for a stop at WalMart for a couple things we needed to pick up.

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 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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Welcome from Chattanooga, Tn...Incredible trip...My gf and I have taken several trips 2 up. She has no desire to pilot her own at this point, so we've found out what a great machine this little beast is...We named the bike "Asheville" because Chattanooga to Asheville, NC was our first road trip...thru the mtns of western NC. Once again, welcome...and if you're in the east Tn area, contact us here... Lots of great riding close by...
P.S....Dude, we're both lucky to have women like this in our lives... BTW, I'm 58, she's 48.
Thanks Phil! I am jealous of your location. Great biking down there!

I am also very aware of how lucky I have it, believe me. Some guys have trouble convincing their wife to let them get a bike at all!
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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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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I turned Siri off, and actually broke out a paper map, figured out where we should be going (we had just missed it twice!) and got us to the lodge. Initial impression was only so so. We were in what seemed to be a pretty remote location, and we had pulled up to a house and an aluminum pole building. I was a little concerned about how this was going to be received by my wife!

It was about 5:05 pm. We pulled up next to the 'office' which appeared to be a house, and I went inside to check in. The owner (great people, it seems) gave me the rundown on the place, my key, showed me the free to borrow while you stay dvd collection, and then asked if we had eaten dinner yet.

Now, the website on the lodge makes a point that each cabin has a grill and grilling utensils, fire pit, wood, and plates and so on. And that there was a grocery in the nearby town of Hillsboro. My grand plan for tonight was to check in, ride into town while my wife showered and relaxed, pick up some steaks, potatoes, maybe some ears of corn, a few beverages, and then come back and cook a nice dinner. I basically told the owner this, and he let me know that 'it was tuesday' and 'they close the market to clean the floor at five on Tuesdays'. but, he was happy to inform me that there was a subway in town.

So this was a bit disappointing. And mostly because we had gotten lost a few times and that made us late!

Okay, I guess we'll eat at subway. We hopped on the bikes, and rode back down the little lane to the cabins. Again, first impression was only so-so. We rode past a pen full of goats, donkeys, and other small animals, and then saw our cabin.

there are six cabins in all. there WERE a large amount of spider webs and wasp/hornet nests around, and I was really worried when we opened the door. I should not have been. It was immaculate!

The screened in back porch had a couple chairs and a table, plus two folding camp chairs for the firepit!

The kitchenette has a fridge, sink, microwave, coffee maker, and complementary (for you to take with you) coffee mugs, popcorn, and two bananas.

King size bed and (difficult to see in the picture) Harley lamp.

I had big plans for the whirlpool tub but immediately upon suggesting it I got a response of "ew! Imagine how many hairy Harley people have done it in there!" so that was out....and didn't paint a very romantic picture in my mind anyway.

There was lots of moto-related art. I liked this one:

Overall, the place was AWESOME! Each cabin also has air conditioning and a stove to heat it. The grill was indeed there and so were the utensils. The dvd collection is pretty good, there is a gift shop, and the most important thing is that cars are not allowed. In fact the path to the cabins is not wide enough for a car! We dropped off our stuff and headed to Hillsboro to find subway and a couple carry out beers.

When we got there, (about 10 minutes) we didn't find subway, but we did find a new restaurant called the Hillsboro brewing company.

We went in and got a pizza. The place was really nice inside. the pizza was average, but it was better than subway! they also brew beer, and it was really good. I give it a good recommendation.

We finished off about half of the pizza, stopped at the town convenience store for a couple rolls for in the morning and some beer, and went back to the cabin for the night. We had a fire in the firepit, drank the beers, and watched a movie before turning in for the night.
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Crowds of mechanics? :D

:D maybe. would be okay if they looked like that!
Wednesday, we got up and headed home. We took county roads H, D, and Nn south until we hit 60, then took 60 over to Spring Green. Again, the area and roads are great!

We got to Spring Green and stopped for breakfast at a little diner.

It wasn't the nicest place we've ever eaten, but the price was pretty good.

From there we went through Spring Green, checked out the Taliesin visitors center, and then hit the overlook by the house on the Rock.
That little sliver coming off of the hill is part of the house on the rock.

From there it was more county highways (T and Id) into Mount Horeb, where we stopped at a great little place for a piece of cake.

after that we hit the Mount Horeb Trollway (yes, that is right) and took a picture with one of the Trolls

Then more back roads and highways home. While we were on the way back I informed my wife that part of a motorcycle trip was taking care of the bikes after we got home.

She took it pretty well, did her chain maintenance and cleaned the bike, just in time to get them into the garage before a pretty good storm hit!

All in all this was an amazing trip. Thanks for following along!
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:D maybe. would be okay if they looked like that!
I see where you're coming from. Makes breaking down seem almost a positive attribute, and the consequences don't look too bad either. These marketing people are geniuses! :D
Thanks for the great report and photos! Does your wife have any riding report for how the CBR250R handled the trip?
Thanks for the great report and photos! Does your wife have any riding report for how the CBR250R handled the trip?


As far as her and the bike -

She thought it was great. We kept it to the two lane roads almost exclusively, and on those roads she was very comfortable and felt fine. On the short stretch we had to take a 4 lane 65 mph divided highway, the wind was very annoying to her - part that is not having a lot of experience, part is that it is a very lightweight bike.

It got almost 70 mpg average for the trip, which was good. She used an airhawk cushion also, so the seat didn't bother her too much.

It was interesting for me, though, because at the beginning of the trip she was really hesitant and nervous, by the end of the trip I had her speed shifting without the clutch and hitting the rev limiter once in a while. At that point I think she finally got the 'this is really fun' part of it too, because she was a little more comfortable on the bike.

She originally wanted a Bonneville, really wanted one. it took us 18 months after she got her license to settle on this bike, she hated the looks of the first gen ninja 250 and I didn't want her on something much bigger or more powerful than this. sometime on day two I think it was she got on the intercom and told me that thing every husband loves to hear ....

"you were right".

she finally figured out that light weight and not a lot of power is safer and more fun. so now she's not interested in a different bike for quite a while, although when we go to bike night she still likes to check out the ducati monsters!
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Great write up! I loved all of it. I'm not familiar with your part of the country- beautiful! Your wife is lucky. It sounds like the two of you had a blast!

More travel write ups when you take them, please :0)

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Thanks! we don't get many opportunities to take off without the kids, so probably nothing more planned this year, unfortunatly.

I moved up here from North Carolina, and I was suprised at the landscape. It isn't the Great Smokey Mountains, but it is pretty in its way. and the riding is pretty good too!

much better than central indiana where I grew up!
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