Tuesday – Eden Prairie, MN to Prairie du Chien, WI
We left Eden Prairie just after lunch on Tuesday. Bags were packed, the rain had paused and we set our sights south… via Leo’s South Motorcycles!
The trip to Leo’s was short and sweet – we fueled up at the local servo and I high-tailed it into the airconditioned comfort of the shop to check out the merchandise. Unfortunately the smallest size they had in a cool vest was M and I’m definitely an XS in mens sizing. We did, however find a rain jacket (in pink *eyeroll*) for $20 which was a winner, as well as some visor wipes to go in the tank bag just in case and then Kiwi managed to convince me to leave before any further purchases were made!
Back on the road we thought we were going to head due east to Hastings but apparently the GPS thought differently and we ended up back near St Paul before we crossed the Mississippi (for the first time). The roads were pretty dull until we hit Wisconsin where the Mississippi and St Croix (pronounced ‘croy’) rivers meet. From here we followed the river down to Nelson which was quite nice. We stopped in Maiden Rock to collect some bonuses, at the Pickle Factory in Pepin to eat an afternoon smackerel, then crossed back into Minnesota.
We did some of these roads heading north last year and aside from ‘hey, I remember that!’ there wasn’t much to report apart from me getting a bit frustrated when we rode past potential Game of Thrones rally bonuses which we had no way of collecting (I’ll tell you about my cunning plan for that later).
At La Crosse we headed back into Wisconsin and followed the river again which was nice passing through some towns preparing for July 4th celebrations, and hit Prairie du Chien (‘chain’) about 6.30pm. We snapped a cheeky bonus (time will tell whether the Queen Khaleesi is as imaginative as we are in considering the logo to be sun-like) and retired to our hotel for a cold shower.
Dinner was eaten at the Angus supper club. It was delicious but mostly we had no idea what we were ordering and the waitress, while very sweet, was still in her first week and perhaps a sandwich or two short of a picnic. We had waaaaaaay too much to eat (when I ordered the egg roll appetizer I was thinking the food on the left. What I got was the food on the right!!!)
La, la la… It was yummy, but $90 US later we may need to reconsider our food choices next time otherwise this holiday is going to require us to refinance our mortgage! A short walk back to the hotel via the ‘drive thru’ ATM and we were out for the count. This holiday lark is very tiring!
Wednesday – Prairie du Chien, WI to Evansville, IN
Wednesday dawned warm and humid. We’d agreed we’d get on the road by 7.30am so we were up and at ’em pretty early for a holiday. There was some pretty mist hanging around the hills as we rode out of town but it was still a pleasant 80-something degrees so riding wasn’t uncomfortable.
We saw lots of corn. Lots and lots of corn. And more corn… Did I mention the corn? There was also some kind of fallow crop which I’m assuming was soybeans – we were going too fast to be able to tell with any degree of accuracy, but my very basic knowledge of agriculture told me it had to be something that fixes nitrogen and soybeans or peanuts are my go-to. I think it was soybeans. And then there was more corn… And we were still in Wisconsin!
We paused at a Starbucks in Dubuque (doo-byook??), IA for breakfast – coffee and a bagel – then trundled on down through Iowa on the road to lunch at Champaigne (Champagne?), IL, past some more corn.
We stopped somewhere along the way (I can’t recall where) at a servo with a Subway attached. I got an ice tea and a cup of ice and started wetting down my neck tube and my undershirt and was just happy to be sitting in the airconditioning for a while. It was hot. It was already up around 99F at 10.30 or 11am and it didn’t get any cooler. It was also something like 70-85% humidity and from lunchtime onwards it didn’t drop below 102F – close to 40C. Strangely we didn’t see any real signs of July 4 celebrations in any of the towns we went through. A few had lawn flags and things out, but no parades or anything.
We did, however, pass a place called ‘Kickapoo’. I don’t know where the name came from. I’m pleased I don’t live there. I suspect the primary school taunting is extreme.
Anyway, lunch at another Starbucks involved a cold drink, a sandwich and re-drenching my shirt and neck tube. At this point I had no qualms getting half-naked in the bathroom to run my shirt under the tap – anything to keep cool was fine with me. Probably 40 minutes later we were back on the road again.
Our last break of the day before the run to Evansville and a hotel was at Newton, IL for fuel. It also involved me walking into the cool room where they store the beer and the wine and just standing in there for a while pondering where I went wrong with my holiday plans. I’m pretty sure my colleagues at work are going to be considering checking me into a mental institution when I tell them that I used a day of my annual leave to go be outside in 40+ degree heat and 70+ percent humidity in full riding gear for 10 hours a day.
I think Kiwi could see (and hear) that I was struggling a bit with the heat. I try not to whine too much, but even I knew I was getting whiny about how gross it was. He kindly purchased a 7 pound bag of ice for us and told me he was putting the airconditioning on for the last leg of our ride. It may not have been quite as good as the airconditioning in a car with a roof, floor, doors and windows but I was very grateful. Sitting with ice in your lap is a pretty good feeling and when it started to melt and I could drip icy water down Kiwi’s back. Small things amuse small minds I suppose 🙂
We crossed the Illinois river into Indiana and then finally, we arrived in Evansville and that cold shower was something to behold. Shared dinner of a Club Sandwich and a Cobb Salad at the local Denny’s was just what we needed and the bed was comfortable and clean.
I have incredible respect for people who do outside jobs here and those who lived here before electricity. I would have been happy to jump into a swimming pool fully clothed the way I was feeling on Wednesday afternoon. I really hope we get some cooler and/or less humid weather for the rally otherwise my ‘sure, I can do 12-14 hour days, no problem!’ is a work of fiction…
Thursday – Evansville, IN to Lexington, KY
I got a sleep in! Woo hoo! It was a couple of short hops to Louisville (Lewevle said really quickly), KY for a tyre change and then to the start hotel in Lexington – a total of only about 3 hours on the bike so a very cruisy day!
We started out late because the tyre change wasn’t until after lunch and despite some attractive roads through the Hoosier (‘whos’yer’) National Forest, the heat was back and we were keen to just get where we were going. We swung past the Starbucks at the Louisville University campus for some more airconditioning, some food, and a GOT bonus (Yay for the Cardinals!) then headed for the dealership at about 1pm.
The BMW dealership was just around the corner and beautifully airconditioned. They had more Harley Davidsons than BMWs and unfortunately the smallest size cooling vest they had in stock was an L… But then I saw the BMW K1600 Grand America. OMG. Want!
To be honest, I don’t know what else you get for the $28,000US price tag but the pillion seat alone was worth the money – shaped for an actual human butt! Despite substantial ribbing from all and sundry on Facebook the Kiwi could not be moved to exchange our current steed for either the black or the gold beast. It’s sad really. I considered bribing the mechanics to drop the RT off the lift so we could get a good deal on a new showroom model but thought better of it in the end. And a 10 day ‘test ride’ might result in some awkward questions at the airport from law enforcement… So we left with new tyres and a clean bike but an unimproved pillion seat.
The ride to Lexington was pretty but largely uneventful. We nearly missed our exit at one point leaving Louisville but not quite, we stopped to fuel up briefly and then managed to ride through some blessed, blessed rain just before Lexington! The gauge hit 107 just before the fuel stop – in the shade it was a little cooler but not a lot – but the rain brought things down to a very pleasant 80 and I wasn’t at all upset to hear the ‘tink tink tink’ of raindrops on my helmet.
We arrived in Lexington, checked into the Griffin Gate Marriott and once again showered off and grabbed some food. It was awesome. The evening was spent saying hello to old friends as well as meeting people I’ve only ever met on Facebook or known ‘about’. It was great listening to stories from other rides and other ‘first rallies’ and I’m very grateful to Linda and Terry Lahman as well as Jim Owen and the McPhees for sharing their stories and making us laugh!!
So that was how we got here… More next time about what we did next. And if you want to see exactly where we went, this is the Map of our Route!