Author Topic: Around Lake Superior  (Read 4581 times)

ORedenbacher

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Around Lake Superior
« on: August 14, 2013, 10:07:31 AM »
Our 18th wedding anniversary was celebrated by taking the Triumph Tigers around Lake Superior, just Hank & I.  The ride would be my first lengthy bike trip on my own bike.  It would be my 2nd bike trip ever since my trip with Hank on his VFR about 17 years ago.  Somewhere in between, we had jobs with limited vacation time, no motorcycles, and little kids.

Hank downloaded a lake route map on to his Droid from http://www.ridelakesuperior.com/maps.php.  Other than the map, we didn’t do much research.  Our plan was to not have much for plans other than to do the loop & try to make it home to Watertown on Sunday.

Watertown was the beginning of the trip for Hank.  While he rode away on Tuesday, I jumped in the truck and hauled my bike to Detroit Lakes, MN, along with the kids who would be spending the next handful of days with Grandma & Grandpa.  We met up in Detroit Lakes, spent the night, and headed out on a sunny and unseasonably cool Wednesday morning.



We stopped in Walker, MN, for breakfast around 10AM.  It was busy inside & took longer than we’d hoped.  Many times later that day, I wished I had eaten three large breakfast platters instead of the conservative veggie breakfast burrito I chose.



Gas stop in Floodwood, MN.  For the most part, we had the roads to ourselves between Walker & Duluth.  Trees, hills, lakes, and sunshine.



We had a great view of Saint Louis Bay and part of Duluth as we rode in to West Duluth on highway 2.  But, I wasn’t able to snap any photos here due to the traffic.  For riding photos, I had my Droid on a Ram mount on my handlebars.  It took two fairly easy steps to take a picture.  However, bumpy roads ruined many a photo with blurred images.  Here’s a photo of us crossing the bay on the Richard Bong Memorial Bridge. 



We rode along the south side of Superior first.  If we were to go again, we’d do the north side first for a few different reasons which I’ll come back to later.  The bridge took us into Wisconsin.  Our next stop was Bayfield.  I didn’t care for Bayfield.  It was full of tourists milling around, and the streets were often sloped which made muscling my loaded bike at stops and slow turns unfun for this rookie.



On the road again.



Lake Superior view at a stop sign.



Pit stop.  By about now my throttle hand & arm are waking up to a new world of aches.  Hank really seemed  to be enjoying his cruise control.  Food sure sounded mighty good.  The breakfast burrito had worn off a long time ago. Our goal was Ontonagon.  Beyond these details, this was a really great riding road we were on – canopied with trees, hills and curves – disregard the frequent wide gravel patches and pot holes.



To be continued…

ORedenbacher

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2013, 10:12:11 AM »
We passed by an Americinn in Silver Bay, MI, that looked pretty good – on the lake with a large sandy beach area.  But, we were going to Ontagon, MI.  Ontagon, we soon learned, had no rooms or cabins available – they were booked solid.  The nice lady at the one resort said there’s not much to stay at down the road but she could probably book us a room back at the Americinn in Silver Bay.  As Hank talked with the lady, I stood out at my bike and inhaled a Snickers I had packed during a moment of rare genious (at least that’s what I thought while I ate it).  I was far beyond being hangry and no longer interested in waiting for a meal.  I have no tolerance for starvation.  The world got a little brighter after the Snickers.

Here we are in Silver Bay around 7PM or so at the hotel at last.  The Americinn was a refurbished older place but decent enough - a restaurant/bar connected to it.  Nobody was being picky at that point anyway.



Wisconsin brews.









Thursday morning, we headed out of Silver Bay in the 8 o’clock hour.  Our ride continued to give us glimpses of Lake Superior – just glimpses though for the most part.  The U.S. side of the lake had some well marked & nice looking wayside stops, but we didn’t have time to stop at most of them.



I could have spent a day just sitting at a beach.  The beaches were large - the sand was great - the waves were tame.





Back on the mission to ride around the lake.  The weather was just right.



Did I mention that I stocked up on food at the first gas stop that day?



Brimley, MI, was our final destination for the day.  It’s a small town just before Sault Saint Marie where we would be crossing into Canada.  We cut off a portion of the drive up the large peninsula (with the city of Houghton) on it in order to get us in a hotel by 5 pm.  We stayed at Willabee's in Brimley which was a decent enough motel.



 A bar/grill was right next door to our motel.  While we relaxed after our meal with some tap beer, an older gent rode up on a Honda Ascot.  Hank and Mr. Ascot were instant friends as they talked about motorcycles.



Hanging up in the bar - this is about right.



About 2 AM, I wasn’t sure if it was food poisoning or a flu bug.  The bathroom got a work out for several hours.  I don’t get sick very often.  No photos.



ORedenbacher

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2013, 10:15:35 AM »
We hit the road around 9:30AM on Friday.  We filled up with gas on the U.S. side of Sault Saint Marie.  After that, we came to a tollbooth for the bridge into Canada.  $3 per person.  The skies were getting darker as we crossed in to Canada.  The bridge was backed up with cars waiting to get over to the U.S. side.









At customs, we simply had to provide our passports & say we were riding around the lake.  We didn’t even have to remove our helmets for photo ID verification.   Once through the gate, we expected a nice clear shot to the Trans Canada Highway.  But, there really wasn’t one as far as we could tell.



As we started out, we were a bit stunned how much different the Canadian side of Lake Superior is.  Whereas the U.S. side is beautiful with rolling hills and trees, the Canadian side is more rugged with a lot large rock and roads cut through rock.  Not so rolling.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get many photos while riding on the north side.  The winds were gusting heavily off the lake for a good part of our first day, and a moderate rain kicked in later.  Before the rain started, we pulled over in Pancake Bay for a meal.  The towns were definitely spread out and smaller on the north side.  So, we watched pretty carefully for food/gas.







At this stop, we ran into an unhappy rider.  His back tire wasn’t holding air.  The dog didn’t seem to care.




Road construction wasn’t too bad.





Friday night, we stayed in Terrace Bay at the Imperial Motel.  We’d called Thursday night to make reservations knowing that there weren’t a lot of places to stay on this route.  Our room was small but recently renovated.  We were able to park our bikes right in front of our room door and eat at the Drifter’s restaurant within the building.  Our only gripe was that we could hear every footstep of the folks in the room above us.  That evening, we learned that our credit card companies froze our accounts due to suspicious activity with our charges in Canada.  So, we paid with cash until I called & straightened that out.





On Saturday, we were up early to enjoy the sunny day.  We hit the road 6:30 AM CDT.  Temps dipped under 50F as we rode.  We had on our cold weather gear and all was well.  We were hungry by the time we reached Nipigon.  So we stopped and grabbed our last meal in Canada – eh.

After Nipigon, the geography turned more like that of northern Minnesota.  Probably because we were almost to northern Minnesota – eh.  Customs was just a bit more thorough as we re-entered the states.  They asked some questions about our travel and had us remove our helmets to verify our passport photos.



Right after the border crossing, we pulled over in Grand Portage to fuel up in U.S. dollars.



If we have the chance to revisit Superior, we’d take the north side first through Canada – and probably only the north side (back & forth) as we preferred the rugged geography and would like to explore the area more.   Another (minor) reason to head up the north side first is that you are then always on the lake side of the road and have easy ins/outs to the scenic stops that can pop up out of nowhere.

A little farther down along the shore, we drove to the Grand Marais marina hoping Verizon would finally have coverage in that area – and we were in luck. Coverage (phone and data) had been poor to nonexistent since entering Michigan.  Hotel WIFI was a must along the way. 



We couldn’t find any hotels with availability around Duluth when calling around Friday night.  So, we drove south along Minnesota’s scenic North Shore until the Silver Bay area and then turned west into Minnesota.  Destination - Virginia, Minnesota.  We followed most of the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway.  We had the roads mostly to ourselves again.  We made some good time as a result.  It was another beautiful day for riding.



« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 10:52:20 AM by ORedenbacher »

ORedenbacher

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2013, 10:21:25 AM »
We stayed at the Americinn in Virginia, MN.  Food and drink were right next door.  The waitresses dressed like it was 110 degrees in the shade…  It was only about 75F in the sunshine.



Very few rooms were available even in Virginia for Saturday night.  We ended up having to get a suite for an exorbitant price.  Our room was on the side of the building next to the train tracks.  Apparently every room comes with these.



At 10 PM , we found our room also came with dirty sheets as we pulled back the covers.  I won’t go into details.  But, I think we’ll camp on our next trip.

Biker4evers met up with us on their Tigers in Virginia.  They got in late Saturday night.  So we met for breakfast Sunday morning, and rode back with them to Akeley.  It was great to see these two again!  We rode with them in Missouri earlier this year.  We dodged a lot of dead, puffy armadillos together on that trip.



And then, on to Detroit Lakes where my Tiger was loaded up along with the kids who also had a good time but were ready to go home.



Great trip!  Like everyone else after a trip, our question is when can we get away next?

The Yeti

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2013, 05:04:18 PM »
Very nice report Cara!

2 complaints:
Those cell phone pics are not quite up to par with what I've come to expect from you. :)
Give Hank a camera, I'm tired of looking at him!  ;)
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ORedenbacher

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 05:54:17 PM »
Yeti, if you only knew how many times I picked up my Canon and Contour to pack them in my hard luggage.  Next time, less socks and shirts - more cameras!

Hank

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2013, 06:49:49 PM »
I agree it would look better with less Hank and more Oredenbacher :)

Hank

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2013, 08:11:19 PM »
Oh and that Ascot was absolutely MINT.   It was the cleanest 84 ANYTHING I've ever seen.   I snapped a few pics of it too.   I've seen a few of the FT (single cylinder) Ascots now and then but the VTs are really hard to find in any condition.  It was cool to see for sure!

Hank

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2013, 08:22:49 PM »
Here are a few of my crappy cell phone pics.  As always, I got home and said, "I wish I would have taken some pictures".

Cara on one of the beaches (which btw are like her favorite things in the whole world):



She looks happy to be starving, tired and sore!:



Some pretty awesome gas mileage (it was slightly optimistic):



The minty Honda Ascot:



And one more:


greatbuffalo

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2013, 10:06:06 AM »
Thanks for the report, I really have an itch to take a real ride. The Tiger and I have been strangers this summer due to time, weather and health, none of which have all cooperated and come together at any time. Really thinking about doing something at rally time. Its just so much better having someone to ride with. I really am jealous on two issues. First, the Tigers are awesome and I wish I had a newer ride, and second, Its great that both of you ride. For one reason or another, my wife doesn't ride. SHe does have some ortho issues that make this difficult and I think at her age, she would think it too late to start now. She also is not comfortable riding with me for any length of time due to her ortho issues with her knees. I have considered and pursued to sidecar option which I think she would enjoy if she would open her mind a bit. All that being said, I'm very fortunate that she supports my love of riding.

As for that Ascot. I had a friend a number of years ago that had 5 or 6 of these bikes in several configurations. One was a fully outfitted tourer VT with all Vetter gear, fairing, bags and trunk. What a sweet setup, and for an 84, still got 48 mpg. These bikes are a true joy to ride, super well balanced and the riding position is one that can be sustained for hours on end. I have seen several for sale over the past 6 months or so but everyone on I've seen is obviously gold plated.

Thanks again for the great report Cara, it added to the desire to get out there.
Did I ever tell you: " I HATE MUD!" ?

ORedenbacher

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2013, 03:58:13 PM »
As luck would have it, I experience pain in my hips when riding in either of our vehicles or running too much.  When on a motorcycle, no issues ever.  We need to join up for a Triumph rally ride some fine day.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 04:21:47 PM by ORedenbacher »

loingrader

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2013, 10:55:04 AM »
Awesome ride report.  Good on you guys to get some time away on the bikes and great job Cara on doing it solo and documenting it so very well.  I really enjoyed it!
You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime - Burt Munro

Dr Psyko

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2013, 07:32:04 PM »
I agree, great report, fun to see the pictures. I've always had trouble figuring out why people rode big dual sports, now I get it. They're not great on the trail, but great everywhere else! Duh!
11th Commandment: Thou shalt not slide through life.

Hank

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 06:38:20 AM »
I agree, great report, fun to see the pictures. I've always had trouble figuring out why people rode big dual sports, now I get it. They're not great on the trail, but great everywhere else! Duh!

That's about right.   Better than a cruiser, sportbike, or touring bike on gravel and min. maintenance roads, but better than everything except a touring bike on the road.  At least that's my opinion after owning a few.  And some (KTM 950, Tiger 800 etc) are very capable off road in the right hands.  The 1200 is a bit big for anything too nasty but it is a great all arounder.

tannerc

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Re: Around Lake Superior
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2013, 05:31:05 PM »
a little of the main subject

anyone looking for an ascot?



listed @ $899 dollars on ADV

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