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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!