Mississippi Mud Run 05/07
What's unfortunate about any memorable event in our lives is that we
forget. Even if we remember most of it, the details always seem
to get lost with the passing of time. Today seems no
different. Last night I got back from the three day "Mississippi
Mud Run", and things are already starting to fade. My thoughts
like the line of classic cars we saw going down the highway;
there are some beautiful cars going by but I'm helpless to stop any of
them. I see them and appreciate what they are, but I can't really
examine their true richness... I'm distracted by the next one that
along, seemingly more amazing than the previous one.
The people. Mark and Vickie, their friend Anne Marie, Jiri (who
organized it all), Steve (we figured out his new name should be Sir
Talksalot... knight of the round bar table... we love ya Steve), Kyle,
The Plan. Meet just outside of Madison WI at the Middleton Steak
and Lube (by noon), ride up to the Trempealeau Hotel (http://www.trempealeauhotel.com/),
where we had reservations -- thanks to Jiri -- and spend the
evening there. Next day we ride up the Mississippi and go through
some of the surrounding back roads, loop back south, and end back at
the Hotel. Actually the plans changed a bit.
Wow, first day back at work was rough. Nothing in particular,
just coming back to
reality after three days of motorcycling bliss...
For me the trip was a maiden voyage. Although Jiri has posted a
thread about the ride some time ago I couldn't say if I was going or
not because my Salvage Rockster was still at the rebuilders waiting for
it's safety inspection. And I'd already been waiting nearly two
months. Last word was that it could take another seven
weeks. Imagine my surprise when on Friday of the weekend before
the trip I get an email saying the inspection was done and I can pick
it up that Saturday... Wahooooo!
Well, I was still a little hesitant to sign up for the trip because
passing inspection and knowing that the bike was really road worthy are
two different things. Last thing I needed was to get stuck
somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin and create grief for myself and
the others by having to deal with broken down bike. But I rode
the bike the weekend I got it and everything seemed fine. Wife was fine
with me going, Steve
and Mark encouraged me to go, I took Friday off and the rest is
history. I next few days were a whirlwind of getting a few
things straightened out on the bike, trying to figure out how I was
going to fit my tank bag and saddlebags, and figuring out what
I was going to do for lodging cause I wasn't sure if Jiri had reserved
enough rooms. That process really got me frustrated cause I
couldn't find anything close to the hotel where everyone else would be
staying and prices were high. Finally I just gave up.
Figured either Jiri had enough rooms or I'll just camp. Luckily
Jiri did have enough rooms reserved.
So, there she is, in the garage the evening before the trip...
The tank bag was really no problem, but I didn't have the BMW hard
saddlebags, and I couldn't put my soft bags on because the muffler was
the way on the left side. So, I figured out a way to attach just
one bag to my rear seat. Worked out great actually. I also
managed to mount my custom chopped sport shield. I was set!
I walked out of the house Friday morning (18th) to be greeted with...
my breath. Ah...no.. it didn't stink... it was just cold enough
for me to see my breath. Brrrrrrrr..... I packed up the
my stuff, slipped on my ski bibs, jacket liner, extra sweatshirt, and
by 7:00 I was off to meet Steve at his place. I left early so
that I'd miss the traffic on 294 and 290 going North.... Ya... that
didn't work as planned. What could have been a 40 minute trip took an
hour and a half. But, it was tolerable, especially knowing I'd
have three days to recover.
I got to Steve's and he was basically ready to go. We yaked about
the bikes for a bit. I made a pit stop in his bathroom, and
when I came out he's holding a set of spark plug covers, they were
leftovers from his bike when he put J-pegs on it. He'd noticed
that I didn't have any... yeah, didn't get any with the bike... must
have been lost in the crash.... and he says I can have them for the
price of a few beers... Cool... deal.... They snapped right on.
Now I was really stylin, and obviously more aerodynamic.
Dang, here it is Monday of the following week, and that's all I've
at this rate I wont be done until next trip. Course I don't feel
too bad cause Jiri still hasn't written the official story and
pics. Too busy riding I guess.
Most of my photos from the trip are here. There's a few nice
shots in there, but I could have sworn I took more pictures than
that.... guess not. I'll have to grab some from the others people
On the first and second day back my mind just wouldn't work. I
had trip withdrawal. So many things that I just do automatically
required thought and decision. And the first day back at work
was just weird. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to
So, Steve and I hit I-90 for the straight shot to Middleton. Just
as we were crossing over into Wisconsin I noticed Steve's bike was
dripping something. At first I was too far back to see where it
was coming from, and as I got closer I saw it was from his hard
case. I pulled him over and told him. He looked in there
and one of the eight beers he had stowed had built up enough pressure
to start leaking.
Funny thing was even at the next rest stop there was a trail of beer to
We were making pretty good time and we rolled into the meeting point
about 11:15... 45 minutes early. That's 185 miles for me and the day
was just starting. No problem, it was sunny, and after Steve had
his milkshake/float (I guess Steve really likes ice cream) we
went and sat out on the Steak and Lube deck. It was still a
little chilly, but the sun warmed things up nice.
Right around noon Jiri and Kyle came rolling in, I think Jen was next
(with her whole 15 mile ride to get there; something like that) and
last to roll in were Mark, his Wife Vickie, and their friend Ann
Marie. They took a little longer due to a stop at some
brewery along the way. Here's a shot that they took while there.
And here's all of us at the Steak and Lube
Left to Right: Kyle, Steve, back of Jiri, Jen, Ann Marie, Vickie, and
Jiri handed out route maps, which of course were way to small to read
because there were so many directional change... I figured as long as
he knew where we were it was fine with me. We had lunch and shot
the bull for a while, and the trip was on.
Well, I can't tell you exactly how we got to the trempealeauhotel (well I
guess I could go get the directions out of my tankbag... )or how many
stops we made, or exactly when we got there (somewhere around dinner?),
but about 150 miles later we got there.
As you come into town you
come down a hill where the street is cut short by a fence, railroad
tracks just beyond that, and the Mississippi river just beyond
that. Nice. We parked our selves across the street from the
hotel and piled
in. Note that across the street from our hotel is another
hotel... for future reference.
Walking in the front door you're greeted by a... bar.
Not exactly what you'd expect, but I guess it makes sense. The
caretaker had us fill out forms and assigned rooms. Apparently
there were six rooms just above the bar and everyone there shares one
bathroom. Somehow between everyone else getting their rooms Kyle
and Jiri ended up in two rooms above the bar (or as Kyle and Jiri put
it, "stumbling distance from the bar") and the rest of us ended up in
the Kingfishers... We agreed to meet back at the main hotel after
I guess it's a fishing cabin fit for a king? Those rooms were
actually a couple minutes ride from the bar, and after the caretaker
gave me directions (clear as mud) , I promptly went and rode around
until I found my way there. Interesting that there also seems to
be some sort of banquet room up there, which we didn't have access
to. Well, somehow I lucked out and got the room with a view or
the river closest to the deck...
In fact, here's a photo of the view outside my room... took that right
through my window...
and here's the room... not the biggest, but conformable and
fresh... Not like we spent much time in our rooms anyway.
Soon as everyone unloaded their stuff we went back to the main motel
for drinks and to decide where we were going to eat. Everyone
else rode back to the Hotel but Ann Marie, Jen, and myself decided to
walk. After all, we'd been riding all day, a little walk seemed
like a welcome change. We basically followed the river and
railroad tracks to the hotel. It was a bit hot and a little
further than it seemed when you ride the distance on a bike. The
photo below was taken about half way there. I think you can just
make out the hotel down the tracks in the distance...
The Hotel is actually laid out well. Just off the bar in one
direction is a fully enclosed formal dining room, and off in the other
direction is a screened in dining room which leads out to a deck.
Here's a shot from the back...
The screened in area is just to the left and what you see there is a
deck with a row of Anarondac chairs and a couple picnic tables.
Definitely no shortage of sitting room. I must say that just
sitting there looking at the river and the distant hills I felt really
at peace, or as Kyle put it... "centered". Apparently Kyle knows
a thing or two about meditation. And this was definitely
meditation. So we sat there, quenched our thirst, talked
about the ride there, and decided
that the best place to eat was... exactly where we were.
Apparently people came from all over the area to eat at the hotel...
Who were we to disagree.
The other thing you see if you look at that deck is that on the left
there is a rack filled with basketballs and volleyballs... actually I
didn't notice the volleyballs, but you can't miss the basketballs,
because just to the right of that picture is a beautiful full length
So, after I had a few glasses of water I
couldn't help myself but to go out there and shoot a few baskets.
After all, we'd done enough sitting today. Certainly I had, since
my total mileage for the day was about 330 miles.
Now I hadn't brought any gym shoes with me, and I admit, I must have
looked kind of funny running around the basketball court in my red and
black, mid calf, Alpine Star riding boots, but it's actually surprising
how flexible they were. Anyway, I shot basket for a bit and Jen
joined me, wanting to know if I was interested in playing a game...
and quickly added, "anything but one on one". Maybe that had
something to do with the fact that she's about all of 5'3" and I'm
about a foot taller. Well, we played horse and around the world,
and of course I creamed her... Well, that sounds a lot better
than saying, "it was close but I got beat by a 5'3" girl".... which is
actually what happened. It was the boots... yeah, that's
it... they messed me up... that's my story and I'm sticking with
Well, it started getting dark, and everyone was hungry, and Vickie was
finally back from her Kmart Quest... Vickie likes to go to local Kmarts
and buy things for their kid... so we all went
inside to eat. Apparently the most unique thing on the menu is
walnut balls. They look like small meatballs but are actually
made of walnuts, eggs, and other vegetables. They come served
with two sauces; salsa and mustard. I liked them, especially in
the mustard sauce, but apparently several of the people didn't share my
enthusiasm. I also went whole hog and ordered the walnut burger.
After all, I can get just about anything else somewhere else, but I can
only get walnut burgers there. It wasn't bad... came with tomato
slices and sprouts on top, and a dinner salad or soup on the side
I'm sure we drove the waiter crazy cause we all asked for separate
checks, but he probably makes a better
overall tip that way anyway...
Well, you know how it is, when you combine checks and people pitch in,
who ever ends up paying the bill usually ends up getting stiffed.
Well, after we were
done eating and yaking we decided to go back to the Kingfisher rooms
and sit out on the deck to partake in Steve's mega beers... "Fat Tire"
think they were called.
Jiri and Kyle joined us walking. On the way to the Hotel is was
going back it was
just plain dark. Well, we stumbled along the tracks (...this is not a
reflection on our sobriety... only reflects the fact that there were a
lot of rocks along the way) and made our way to
a lighted area and finally got to the rooms. Steve had already broken
out the wastebaskets from the rooms and filled them with ice and
beer. We sat around and talked and joked until sometime around
1:00 am. Also, at no time did we actually drink any beer, we just
put them out on the table for looks and stared at them... Some of
the beers are half empty because they were leaking out of Steve's
Can you tell it was chilly out there?... We agreed to meet at the Hotel
9:00 am Saturday morning.
Well, Saturday morning I actually got up about 4:30 or 5:00... couldn't
really sleep beyond that, which was really weird, cause you'd
think with staying up that late I'd be zonked until at least
7:00. I typically don't sleep well at hotels, but the
amount of time I did sleep was pretty solid. I showered, had some
almonds as a pre-breakfast snack, and went outside, barefoot --I just
wasn't ready to put those boots on yet--, to get
some fresh air and take some pictures.
I particularly like the above picture because it clearly shows my
Rock-ster parked next to a ... rock... Get it, rock next to a
rock. Actually I must have spent at least an hour just siting on
one of those rocks watching the sun come up while the ripples on the
river lapped the shore... very peaceful. I also walked to the
shore and squished my bare toes in the sand. At some point, as I
was sitting on that rock, it became very clear to me that the rocks was
sucking the heat out of me... COLD rock....
Well, we all got our selves together and found out that the Hotel was
not open for breakfast. By this time I think Kyle and Jiri were
already looking for someplace to eat... The details are a bit fuzzy...
Mark, Vickie, Steve and myself rode around for a bit trying to
find another place in town to eat. No luck, but Vickie stopped
talked to a local who gave her the hot tip regarding a restaurant about
10 miles away. We all got together and agreed that's where
we were going. And here we are:
I'm sitting in the back cause that was shady, and my bald head had
gotten plenty of sun the day before....
Steve was really pleased with his eggs, biscuits, and gravy when he got
it... but after digging in, he found that the biscuits needed some
persuasion... in fact when it was clear that the butter knife just
wasn't cutting it (no pun intended), Ann Marie gave Steve her sharp
knife with a three inch blade. It was still work. I had
a breakfast burrito with ham, veggies, eggs and something resembling
tatter tots. It was all good... but left me wanting, so I ordered
another one and we split the tatter tots amongst the group. I
think everyone was very happy with the food... we had the deck to
ourselves... and it looked like we were going to have a great day...
what more could we ask?
And here we are in the lot, ready to leave. We recruited an
innocent bystander to take a shot...
Well, we made our way up highway 35 to Alma, our first stop.
It was there that we stopped at a small bar, where Jiri found a
map of the surrounding area, talked to some of the locals, and
rethought our travel plans to favor the twisties... good work Jiri!
One of the things I had suggested at breakfast was that we keep the
pace below 70 mph so that we'd be able to take in the scenery a little
more (the day before Jiri was cooking at about 80 mph or more most of
Well, that plan kind of went out the window. There were a couple
really nice clear stretches of road with nobody around, where a few of
us (me) let out bikes stretch their legs. And when we got into
twisties I'm pretty sure we were sticking below 70 most of the time,
Jiri, Steve, and myself kept up a pretty good pace. So,
every time we got to a turning point in our route we stopped and waited
for everyone to catch up. Which was absolutely fine. That's
part of a successful ride... we're together, but everyone rides their
own ride and stays within their limits.
Here is a distant shot of one of the stopping points. And
actually after that little straightway, behind me as I'm taking this
picture, we had a really nice twisties road that went through some
forested area. You an see how the hills are rolling even in this
photo. I actually couldn't believe how nice the roads were.
Steve says it was the best rid of his life, and he's spoiled forever...
At one of the stopping points we were greeted by this:
Out in the middle of nowhere, it was some sort of classic car
convention. This is the tail end of the line of cars... The line
had actually stretched all the way back to that last hill down the
road. So, we just sat there waving and beeping at each other as
they drove by and disappeared around another corner to our right.
Also, look at the sky in that picture. It just doesn't get much
better... Yes, they call this God's country for a reason.
Here's Mark's account of our next stop:
From Durand we took the county roads down to Stockholm on Highway 35.
It was here that we had our only miscue and an unscheduled lunch
stop. My wife was staying way back due to the V-Star not being as
nimble in the twisties as the shorter bikes. (And having some bad fuel
& carb issues which we found out later) We took a left in Stockholm
and the pack kept going not realizing she wasn't there yet.
Sportstergirl and I pulled off to wait for her but she never showed.
(Actually she went straight through the intersection and we didn't see
it) so the two of us headed back the way we came fearing the worst, but
didn't find her and headed back to Stockholm where the pack was now at
a bar & grill. Jen said she saw her head north so Marousek went
after her. (He secretly just wanted to go as fast as possible – but we
all knew it!) Come to find out she just went to the next town up, got
gas, and was heading back – Wow that thing was drinking gas! Lots of
apologies and laughs over lunch.
This whole time we had been heading North. But we got to this
intersection and we turned South without waiting for everyone to catch
So when Vickie came through there she just headed North. Jiri,
Steve and myself pulled over at an overlook a few miles down this road,
and when we saw no one else was coming, I turned around with a two-way
radio that Jiri had brought, to look for the rest of the crew. I
came to this place and found Kyle, Ann Marie, and Jen. Mark and
Vickie weren't there cause Mark had taken off after Vickie. In
mean time we tried to radio back to Jiri and Steve but the reception
was bad so we couldn't make each other out. Eventually Steve and
Jiri figured out I wasn't coming back and they joined us. That's
where Jiri took off North after Vickie and we stayed a the pub... well,
you've got the rest of the story already.
While we were there we ran into these guys:
Apparently they belong to a classic bike riders group. They get
together once a year on these rare old bicycles, dressed in classic
British riding attire, and ride around the surrounding roads.
do about 40 miles per day. Some stay at hotels for the evenings,
others camp out. That's a lot harder work than sitting on a
Well, after we at lunch we went back to the overlook where Jiri, Steve
and I had originally stopped and took some shots there.
Later on in the day we rode up into the hills right near the
Mississippi as we were headed back south and took these shots:
And of course we snagged another bystander to get a shot of all of us.
Our last stop --or was out last stop the previous overlook... getting
fuzzy-- for that day was this little "Hamlet" as Steve put it.
As you can see, plenty of turn-of-the-century buildings, lots of
hills, and lots of bikes circulating the roads. In fact there's
Mark walking across the street to his bike. By the time we got
back to the Hotel we had logged about 240 miles on some of the best
roads I've been on. But the fun didn't stop there.
We went back to the Hotel where we got to sitting on the deck and
talking over the day. There was some talk the night before about
having a volleyball game but didn't seem like anyone else was up for
it... So, when it started getting dark we went into the screen dining
area and proceeded to chow down. Someone had mention the day
before that it was Ann Maries birthday, so I grabbed a waitress and
asked her if she could bring something for her. She assured me
would, and here we have Ann Marie with that.... goodie goodie I have a
birthday cookie look. The whole table sang happy birthday to her,
which the waitresses and waiters much appreciated since they didn't
have to do it.
And here's Ann Marie and Quackers... one of the trip mascots... sort of
like Duck Under Glass... except he's in the glass....
Of course the food was great once again. I opted for the garlic
and cheese tortellini with a glass of Merlot to wash it down. I
can definitely see why people come from all around to eat here.
We also has a little entertainment at dinner. This guy that had
come along and started getting involved in our conversation before
dinner and came by and sat by us during dinner. Let's just say he
was apparently interested in Jen, who blushed several times at his
advances. He was also being kind of coy and gave some very vague
answers to questions she was asking. You had to be
there. At one point he was going on about he he couldn't
get a room at the Hotel because we had booked so many of them.
Anyway, he was pleasant enough and eventually excused him self.
told him to stop by the Kingfishers later for a campfire.
At the end of the meal Mark, Vickie, and myself went back to the
Kingfishers and started a campfire. The hotel was nice enough to
provide a fire pit and all the dry wood we needed. All we had to
do was drag some chairs off the deck, and bring over a couple picnic
benches, a little toilet paper to kindle the fire, and we were in
business.... And of course Steve came up with some more
beer-in-waste-basket... Well, what so you expect, he's Irish...
Here's a couple shots of us around the fire. The pictures really
didn't come out that well.
You've heard of the sport Cow Tipping, right?....
Ya. The cow was our other trip mascot....
Well, it was darn windy out there and it actually started raining, so
we agreed to meet up at 8:00 am and started breaking things up about
11:00 pm. But after a few people had left, as we were putting
things away, it stopped raining... so, we put everything back and
continued to enjoy the fire and conversation. Even our friend
from the Hotel stopped by and we found out he was actually with the
Fire Department... Hazmat group. 1:00 am rolled around and it
came time to call it a night. Another fantastic day.
Sunday I was up at about 5:00 am again. After getting showered
and packed up I went outside to find that everything was wet.
Couldn't figure out if it was from rain or just the fog that had
settled in. It didn't look good and temperatures were suppose to
be in the 50's. Obviously it was time to cover up what ever we
didn't want getting wet, put on some layers, and break out the rain
gear. Here we are meeting at the Hotel before our departure.
After some of us stopped to fill up with gas we drove to our breakfast
spot... a whole mile from the gas station... I got all dressed up to
ride here? Didn't look like much from the outside... and frankly,
it wasn't much on the inside either. The breakfast selection was
on a chart on the wall... the basics... eggs, bacon, sausage, toast...
all fixed any way you want. Hmmm... no breakfast burritos?
The place was run by a guy and his wife... he took our orders at the
bar, and you could hear his wife making the stuff in the kitchen right
behind the bar... could have sworn I heard a "shit" at one
point... dropped someone's eggs? Hopefully not mine. I
asked if they had any fruit and the guy came out with a banana that had
seen it's better days... I just opted for orange juice... but the
custodians were nice enough and the food still hit the spot.
Back into our gear and back on the road. Well, it wasn't long
until we hit some pretty bad rain and we ended up loosing Mark and
Vickie. Vickie didn't bring a helmet with and she was riding with
just goggles.... Ouch! I could feel the rain through my rain suit
and pants... can't imagine how it felt on a bare face. So we
pulled over and waited for them. Here's all of us after they
caught up. At this point it was still raining.
Apparently Quackers didn't mind the rain... and actually I didn't mind
it either. There's just something satisfying about riding a bike
in the rain.
Well, after that stop we put up with some more rain, but things turned
for the better, and by lunch time the skies were sunny and we stopped
at Eddies Irish Pub in Prairie Du Chien
for some food and drink.
They also had a nice pool table there so Jiri and I took the
opportunity to play a couple games. Apparently I'm a lot better
at pool than I am at basketball because I actually did win both
Well, we were back on the road and headed for Cassville where we would
start splitting up, and hear we are before the tears started flowing...
ok, there weren't any tears... at least I don't think there were... but
we obviously hated to break up. From this point Ann Marie, Mark,
and Vickie would continue to head south, the rest of us would head East
for a while until Steve and I split off form the others and started our
long trip back home on boring ol' I90.
Steve and I only stopped two more times, once so that I could put some
more layers on because the temperatures dropped to the high 40's, and
it seemed I couldn't put enough clothes on, and then we stopped again
to get a quick bite at trusty old McDonald's before we got onto I90
just outside of Madison. Our plans changed a bit too because we
ran into stop and go traffic and it was just killing us... so we took
the first turnoff and got around the jam by going further south.
Steve and I parted ways where I290 meets I90, and I had another 40
miles or so before I got home. It was cold and as I got closer to
home the road got wet again but I just missed the rain.
The Beginning... cause it certainly can't be the end.