Bo and his KTM 990 Adventure - ready to experience some off-road riding!
Jim was the lone Huskvarna rider and he made it all look easy
Dan's pristine KTM 690 Enduro - it wouldn't stay that way for long! Dan was also the prototype tester for the CJ Designs tail rack for the 690.
JJ on his BMW R1200GS - he ran with us for the first day and then had to head back home for other commitments.
Wayne on the KTM 950 Super Enduro - I think this bike has earned the name "Bone Crusher" since I was riding with a broken big toe from an earlier "incident"!
The ride starts out nice and easy for the first day. Good gravel roads, paved back roads and scenic vistas in the rolling hills of South Western WI
Beautiful riding in the woods with a little creek crossing
Scenic overhang just North of Cassville. The trail/road runs along the Mississippi river and the train tracks in this area.
We all stopped for quick picture and then mounted back up and got under way. We had 370 miles planned for the first day since it was fairly easy riding but that didn't leave much time to waste
Just South East of Black River Falls we routed onto some sand roads just to make the last 20 miles of the first day a little more interesting. Bo gets his first taste of sand riding (he wasn't so sure he liked it)!
Day one ended at Black River Falls and we were staying in hotels on this trip so we pulled up to the “Orange Moose” at the Best Western and unpacked all our “stuff”. This was also a good time to check over the equipment and make sure everything was working ok. Since we had planned this trip out in advance and had a group of pretty experienced riders it seemed that everything was in pretty good shape and just some minor adjustments were made for the second day’s ride.
We also met two more of our group at the hotel, Jason on a BMW 800 GS and Jeff on a KTM 690 Enduro R. We all relaxed, had dinner at the hotel restaurant and swapped stories of the days ride. Our second day was coming fast and we had some more difficult routes planned so we hit the sack and got some sleep.
Day two started with a short road ride to the gas station where we met the last member of the group, Bill on his KTM 950 Adventure. Bill would ride with us for just part of day two and then he was off to visist his family in Northern Wisconsin.
The Teraflex tire was working good on the 950 SE but the first day was a little squirrely until it wore in a bit. The carbon fiber Remus exhaust was great and the carbon fiber body panels matched well. (All available from Petrie Motorsports)
Loading up for day two, several of us were using KTM or Wolfman roll-bags and CJ Design rear racks. The combination worked well and kept everything dry and clean.
Jason does a last minute tire change in the hotel parking lot. For some reason he thought knobbies might be a good idea instead of those nearly slick tires BMW puts on the bike!
First break of the day, the trails are starting to get more technical and the sand is a little deeper. We ran mainly atv trails from Black River Falls to Thorpe.
Craig on the "Super Tanker" showing the way through the sand
Jason and Jeff finding their way through the woods
Dave on his KTM 640 - ready to take on the world!
Most of us crashed in the sand at least once - Bill had the good fortune of being one of the first and getting caught on film (digital?)!
Lunch stop at Thorpe, WI - The Thorpedo Restaurant. For once the guy on the Harley was the odd-man-out.
Lunch at the Thorpedo. The food didn't go to waste!
The next section of trail was the "Dead Horse"... we were about to find out why the horse died!
Maybe it was that Sasquatch by the stop sign that killed the horse
Notice any resemblence? Jeff is kind of a recluse, eccentric guy, and he travels to remote areas a lot...???
Jim contemplates his fate as we head into the "fun stuff"
Jeff motors into one of the first big mud holes
Dave was the next to dive in
Dan's thinking "what's the big deal"?
Wayne's thinking "watch out for that slippery log and that nasty rock, you don't want to go swimming just yet."
Nobody knows what Jason was thinking but he just rode on thru - no worries!
Ok, we all made thru that mud hole. Now get ready for the next one! This was a pretty nasty section that got the bikes and riders "warmed up".
Now it's time to go swimming! This is a pretty bad picture so maybe I can deny that it's me wallowing around in the mud hole with my bike upside down, under water! I guess the bike isn't "new" anymore.
At least I wasn't alone. Jeff thought he would be the smart one in the group and go around the big nasty mud hole. Ooopps!
With a little help from Craig, Jeff managed to drag the bike out. I think he was just testing the waterproofness of the Wolfman bags!
Dave found the right line thru the hole while Dan and Jason watched and learned
Drive about 50 yards and then guess what? Another huge mud hole!
And then another... Jason and Jeff basically gave up on being cautious and just plowed thru and made it! That's them taking a break on the bank (or shoreline in this case).
Some of us tried to go around this big water hole but it didn't prove to be much easier. We had a lot of tip-over crashes in this short section. Tire selection proved to be a critical factor as well as being on a 500 lb. bike with a nearly 40" seat height!
Craig takes a picture as we head into the Dead Horse trails. I think he thought it might be the last time we were all alive! Check out Jim's pop bottle "air" seat on the Husky. He claims it works good!?
Our destination for the end of day two was the Black Bear Lodge in Drummond, WI. They have a 3 room motel, bar and restaurant and a gas station across the street – what more could a bunch of Bikers possibly want? Once we made it through the treacherous Dead Horse mud pits we came to a split in the route; either continue on the Dead Horse trail or take forest roads for about 25 miles to Drummond. I had just about killed myself 4 or 5 times and was pretty tired from wrestling the big 950 SE through all the mud (basically a wimp) and opted for the forest roads. Not to mention that I had burned out my headlight when I dropped the bike in the big water hole and we were getting close to evening. So myself and 4 others in the group took that option while Craig and Jeff rode off on the trail to see if they could beat themselves up some more.
My group had a beautiful ride on gravel roads right up until we came into Drummond. We pulled into the gas station, filled up the bikes so they would be ready for the morning and then parked in front of our room for the night. About 15 minutes later Craig and Jeff rode up just as it was starting to get dark. They said the trail wasn’t as tough as the section we split at but still had some challenges.
There were lots of new riding stories to tell that night and the whole group seemed to be enjoying the trip.
Black Bear Lodge, Drummond, WI. Basic rooms but they had everything we needed: Beds, showers, bar, food and gas.
Black Bear bar and restaurant - we pretty much took over the place
Remember that pristine 690 Enduro - Not so much anymore! Loaded and ready for day three. We did about 20 miles by trail to the Delta Diner (in Delta, WI) for breakfast.
I think I gave the CJ Designs foot peg extensions and clear clutch cover a pretty good workout. Everything worked great and no failures.
Our breakfast stop at the Delta Diner. Our group L to R: Jason, Wayne, Bo, Billy the Diner's Living Mascot, Craig, Jeff, Dave, Jim & Dan.
The Delta Diner is a unique place with great food and a very friendly staff. I highly recommend you stop in and enjoy it yourself if you're in the area.
Craig and Jim enjoying the "trail tails" and breakfast at the Delta Diner
The trails in this section got pretty challenging with some soft 1′-2′ deep sand in several areas. Most of the guys didn’t have to much trouble with that but I was finding that my bike/setup/tires just didn’t work in the deep sand. I had to slow down to 1st gear in some of it and just paddle my way through and if I came to a stop it was nearly impossible to get going again and gain momentum. This got pretty frustrating because we were hitting a lot of sand and it took a lot of extra effort just to keep the bike upright. Bo and Jason were having similar issues and took a road route around the sand trails. I was stupid enough to tough it out and paid the price by having to “dab” with my broken toe to keep from going down several times and causing some fresh pain. But, we all made it to Cornucopia via various routes and from there it was on to Lake Superior and the ending point at the state campground at the tip of Wisconsin.
The Northern tip of Wisconsin on Lake Superior - We made it! Depending on our starting points it was about 635 miles in two days to this point in the trip.
A beautiful day at Lake Superior. This trip was certainly a different experience than last Fall when Craig & I did this trip in 4 days of rain and 45 degree weather.
Craig & Jason relaxing on the rocks at Lake Superior
So that is the end of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail but that leaves us at the opposite end of the state from where we all live so we were only halfway! This is where Craig’s GPS skills come in handy. He built a route from Superior that heads Southeast to Minocqua, our destination for night 3, and then on down the Eastern side of WI for day four. And we used atv trails, snowmobile trails, forest roads, a little bit of single track and roads where we had to connect the trails.
When we left Lake Superior we ran gravel roads for a while and then paved roads along the lake shore through Bayfield and Washburn and then you turn the corner coming around off the peninsula and go through Ashland. All of these are beautiful towns on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior and we were enjoying the views over the lake and Apostle Islands. Once we got through Ashland we hit atv trails for most of the way into Minocqua where we stayed at the Aqua Aire Motel which is across the street from the Minocqua Brewing Company. Great place to stay, eat and get a good micro-brew beer.
We came across this river waterfall somewhere on the way to Minocqua on a little dead end spur trail
The downstream view
We were enjoying the view but the flies and mosquitos were enjoying us! We didn't last long there since we seemed to be the main item on the menu.
The hotel we stayed at let us use their garage to park the bikes in overnight. Even the garage was so clean we felt guilty taking off all our muddy gear in there. This a shot of us pulling out on the morning of day 4.
We were all pretty tired at this point after three long days of hard riding but we did get some dinner and enjoyed some micro brews at the Minocqua Brewing Company before calling it a day. It was good to sit back and relax with the guys and plan our next days ride.
By day 4 it seems that everyone is either too tired or lazy to pull out their cameras and take pictures of the days events. So I have less pictures to post but I’ll try to give a little more commentary.
The last day of the trip is actually some of the most beautiful scenery and good trails. I hate to admit we got breakfast in Minocqua at McDonalds, after trying several other places that weren’t open or closed for the season. The middle of May is the in-between time for tourism in the area so a lot of places were not open on a Monday morning. Part of what I enjoy on these trips is eating and staying at small local establishments that have some character and uniqueness so eating at McDonalds wasn’t exactly on the top of the list. But it was (arguably) food and we were hungry.
We headed out on some nice paved roads through the forest mixed with some forest gravel roads and trails. The weather was perfect again – this trip was the absolute opposite weather wise compared to last fall when Craig and I did the trip in four days of rain and cold. This trip was sunny and 70′s for most of the time. The challenge in planning these things is you never know what you’ll get. The week before we left we had a solid week of rain and 45 degree weather so we just got in on the right side of it this time.
Experimental road is a great forest gravel road that meanders through the forest. I just liked the name, it would have been more appropriate for some of the crazy stuff we were on the last two days.
One of our little jaunts through the woods
This was a overgrown trail that obviously hadn't been used for a while. We had to do a little trail maintenance to get through.
Clearing a path
Dave on the 640 Adventure
Dan on the 690 Enduro
Jeff on the 690 Enduro R
Jim on the TE 610
As we headed South the forest opens up a bit and we hit the gas pipeline off-road riding area and some new challenges. Last fall when we went through this area it was wet and muddy and the sand was set up pretty firm. This time the sand was loose and deeper and I had the same issues as earlier trying to get through the sand without crashing. It seemed like every time we came around a corner that we hit more sand sections. Actually I think Craig was trying to kill me but it didn’t work! I did manage to drop the bike a couple of times but no big problems other than getting exhausted trying to hang on for dear life in the sand.
Dan had managed to keep his bike on two wheels for the whole trip until about 500 yrds. from the end of the last sand section when he came around a corner and pitched himself over the bars. I came up on him collecting himself and the bike and there was no serious damage to either one so we continued on.
This brought us to the end of the off-road riding just North of the Appelton area and it was paved roads and interstate highway from there on to get us back to our various homes. So from there we all started to split off on our different paths with Craig, Dan and I headed to the most Southern locations we ran most of the way home together. We had a lot of great riding on this trip and put on some pretty good mileage for the terrain we were riding with a four day total of just under 1,200 miles. It’s that last 150 on the highway that gets to be a grind and you just wish you were home already. But we thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the riding buddies and the four days of getting away from everything else.
So this is what the bike looked like after 1,200 miles of dual sport riding around the state of Wisconsin. Time for a serious bath!
Sometimes it seems like it takes as long to get all the dirt off as it did to put it all on.
Part of any adventure dual sport ride is being prepared for conditions, whether that is 45 and raining, or sunny and 75. This group of riders all had their own mix of products they used but there are several items I consider indispensable for the bike or rider.
Rox pivoting bar risers to bring the bars to a comfortable position for stand-up riding.
CJ Design foot peg extensions provide a good platform for stand-up riding.
Heated grips are really nice on the cold/wet days
CJ Designs billet rear rack makes a great platform for bags and gear
KTM or Wolfman roll bag luggage keeps your gear dry and clean
Klim or KTM riding gear to keep you dry, ventilated, protected and warm when necessary
Alpinestars Scout boots keep the feet dry and protected
Thanks for checking out the ride report on the Petrie Motorsports/CJ Designs Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail ride.
A big thank-you goes out to Craig from CJ Designs for spending a lot of time working out the GPS routes and leading the pack most of the way. We plan to do more of these trips so if you want to get involved and ride along leave us a comment here on the blog. Please let us know what you think and if you’d be interested in doing this ride or something similar. Fall isn’t that far away and we may be ready to go for a ride!