Monday, April 28, 2008

Wisconsin Bike Trip - August 2007

Ok - so it has taken a while to do this, but I wanted to get it on record. The trip I did last year on a Harley Road King that was made available to me by some very special people from Colorado. This was the weekend at the end of the Sturgis rally, and with the good weather there were lots of bikes on the roads.

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One thing that you notice straight away is that you ride on the right, not the left... obvious really, and I didn't have any incidents. There is however something that I noticed coming back to NZ and riding - when you wave to a fellow rider coming the other way, your free hand is your left. In NZ you have to raise your hand to be seen, but in the US you pass each other left-to-left so to speak, so usually you point down at the road, or subtle variations on that theme. I was on a Harley and all the other Harley riders waved - not so in NZ on my Suzuki. The trip was 800 miles according to the odometer on the bike. It was just one night away, which I spent in Chippewa Falls at the Indianhead Motel, and two beautiful August days riding. I tried to stay off the highways as much as possible, without the chance of getting seriously lost, I guess a GPS would have been good - but then maybe the time spent pawing over the paper map at the regular fuel stops was part of the experience.

My first crossing of the Mississippi was at the Lloyd Spriggle Memorial Bridge and it was a memorial moment - a real sense that I had achieved, one of those "I was meant to be here" moments. I continued down to Prairie du Chien and then headed back east, via Lancaster, Platteville, Monroe, to Beloit, and in the dark up the I-90 back to Madison. Well it was dark sandwiched between the big rigs at 75 mph.

Thanks Steve and Jeff for making it possible.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bangor to Stoddard, Wisconsin

This was the Harley trip from last August, finally being recorded. There were some real highlights on the trip, especially the Lone Wolf on the Road(King), eating up the miles on two wheels - visiting gas stations, getting lost (but not caring) and feeling the freedom. And the roads look like straight lines on the map and you go 'nah, can't be actually that straight' - yes it can... for miles and miles.

One of the great parts was the 162 from Bangor to Stoddard. I'd followed the Mississippi down through La Crosse and then headed inland a bit on the I-90. Not actually on the plan as I was staying OFF the highways - but there you go... After a few minutes I decided it was time to hang a right to get back to the big river, and so dived off at Bangor, through Coon Valley and Chaseburg to Stoddard. The header background image is from the 162.

This turned out to be a fantastic 'mistake' with a great biking road taking me back to the Mississippi River which I followed to Ferryville where I stopped for lunch, and visited another gas station. And here a tip for Mike Hyde for Twisting Throttle USA - Mrs Macs Sausage Rolls haven't made it here yet.

I continued down the river until I got to Prairie du Chien following The Great River Road.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wellington to Auckland via Napier

On the way back to Auckland from Wellington I decided to take the ride up the Hutt Valley and over the Rimutaka Hill to Featherston. This was Sunday, so as you would expect there were lots of bikes on the road. I had two misfortunes on this leg of the trip - 1. I got stuck behind a troop of cars and 2. my digital movie camera decided to turn off right at the beginning of the hill. My poor floor-boards were getting a work out - I guess this is really a sportsbike road. That first "skree!!" when they go down, and you hear (more than feel) that scrape - its hard not to pull up - its as though that scraping sound is directly connected to your "what-the-hell-was-that" nerve.

Once over the Hill there is a great ride up through Featherston and a string of 'Main Street" towns like Greytown and Eketahuna. The road is good and picturesque. The trick here is to turn left onto Highway 50, and head that way to Napier. A great by-way road with a good surface and not much traffic.

I really enjoyed the Napier Taupo road - sweepers, easy passing, and testing straights. I say testing because I found them irresistible at times. Of course speeding is a sin - and there were two occasions when I was reminded of the need for restraint.

From the movie camera 4 seconds between shots (61 frames @ 15/sec).

Cruising Auckland to Wellington

On Friday I headed to Wellington from Auckland. If you are going to Taupo or beyond, may I recommend Highway 32 - the road from Tokoroa to Turangi through Whakamaru.

Gas up at Tokoroa, and hang a right onto Highway 32. Once free of the town you will find big sweeping corners arcing through the forest and I assure you that you will have trouble with your twisting hand... Across the dam at Whakamaru, and the country-side opens up to rolling farmland. The road is a mix of straights and sweepers and as you head down towards Turangi, a few corners that would put a smile on any sportsbike rider. If you are going to Taupo, turn left at Poihipi Road and head across the top of the lake. I went this way back in January for the A1GP, and when I got to Taupo I was almost sorry the trip was over. If you are coming the other way, take Highway 41 at Turangi, then onto Hwy 32 at Kuratau.

The rest of the trip to Wellington was Highway 1 which didn't turn out as bad as I thought, with tin-top drivers being very courteous and pulling over to let me pass.