To Wisconsin and Back

On my way to Door County, particularly going through Milwaukee, I rode in a constant stream of Harleys. This weekend was the 105 Anniversary Rally in Milwaukee. Not only was the factory on I-294 giving tours, but almost every dealership in the Milwaukee area had some sort of hog-roast or party lasting from Friday night through Monday afternoon. Riding north is very different from riding south. For the most part it is different because I ride a Kawasaki.

In the South, riders are relaxed and casual and give the friendly, left hand pointed down, motorcycle greeting to every bike they pass. There is no discrimination between the Harley riders and the rest of us. Everyone who is free enough, crazy enough, and iron-butted enough to ride down the I-75 corridor through the long sloping hills and mountains of Southern Tennessee and Northern Georgia, through the horrible stop and go traffic of Atlanta, into the scorching heat and enormous bugs of Florida, shares the feeling that all other bikers are to be acknowledged with a friendly point or a nod of the head. And when it rains we all stand under the same green-yellow lights at the Citgo station smoking cigarettes and exchanging our origins and destinations.

When I approached Milwaukee, the traffic was backed up all the way to the exit for Racine, which is Wisconsin highway K where we usually stop at Arby’s to eat, use the restroom, and fill up the car. At the next exit nearly every motorcycle began exiting the highway, and I needed gas, so I joined them. It is challenging enough to drive stop and go in a car; on a motorcycle it is almost impossible because your clutching hand, the left, gets tired and you grow weary of trying to negotiate between balancing and stopping. So I pulled into the BP along with everyone else. In the North, especially this close to where the coveted bikes are produced, the Harley riders are less than friendly to the rest of us, who ride bikes that get better gas mileage than cars. There was no standing together under the awning over the gas pumps. There was no friendly conversation between them and me. There was no casual waving, nodding, or acknowledgment that either the guy on the BMW or I existed.

There I was, parked by the building in the shade sitting on the sidewalk drinking my water and eating some Flaming Hot Planters Peanuts. There they were lounging comfortably in the picnic area, which they had completely overtaken by parking their bikes in a protective circle around the perimeter, smoking full flavor cigarettes in hard packs so they would survive the 70 mile an hour ride, and trying to guess what had happened to back the traffic up for 30 miles. Eventually we learned that a semi had rolled over on the ramp where I-94 splits to I-294, and traffic started moving again.

I walked back to my bike and began the journey north again. Alone. In a sea of Harleys. As far as the cars were concerned, we were equally bad.

Stuff from my other, old, defunct blog. Over the weekend, I went camping. This was not your run of the mill, go the a state park, drive up to your campsite and unload your stuff camping. We packed in all of our equipment on a two mile hike, and gathered wood in the forest all around, and went to the bathroom in the woods or a really smelly pit toilet. It was the last true weekend of summer, so the toilets were ripe. We took in too much food as usual, and it took two trips to carry everything out. Of course quite a bit of that excess was empty beer cans, but it still was quite a heft.

We rode our bicycles all over Door County. The first day we rode 22 or 23 miles and swam at School House Beach. For the first time, I actually swam out to the buoys that mark the edge of the beach area. I think I swam about 500 yards or more. I can tell you that swimming in open water is much more challenging that swimming in a pool. Even small waves impede your progress in a way you don’t expect: they slip into your mouth and try to kill you. We also found a new restaurant right by the beach. I had hummus and pitas, Ginger Beer, and a Guinness. Everyone else had paninis and Tim had a really tasty looking soft pretzel with mustard. It was a great change from the greasy, poop-inducing Alby.

That same day we rode in Peninsula State Park, but we didn’t reassert our “manhood” by climbing the really high hill. Instead we rode down a new road that was more beautiful than the other one anyway. The only thing missing was the beautiful view of the bay with the sailboats. We ate dinner at Digger’s, which has gone upscale. They still have pizza, but they now have onion strings instead of the famous beer battered onion rings that we go there for. At any rate, they had a new veggie burger that was fantastic. They make them there from nuts, seeds, and beans. They are served with and herb aioli that I asked them to kindly leave off.

The next day we rode about twelve miles total and went through my second favorite part of the Door: Cave Point. The ride is beautiful, the houses are fantastic, and the waves womping the shore make my heart sing. All in all the trip was a successful combination of relaxation and exercise. I feel rested and I feel like I can go from here. Forward.

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