So, Sunday I took a shorter jaunt, and rode some spots that are really growing on me, to the point that I'm not sure there's a better stretch of road that's this long in the whole state. I'm talking 20 miles of constant curves that are somewhere between "Tight Sweepers" and "Loose Twisties."
I started out from Appleton and headed north and west to Shiocton, which is an uneventful ride across farmland with a few gently sloping hills. I filled up in Shiocton (The River Rail bar has very good wings; regrettably they do not feature in this report), and turned north onto WI-187. 187 follows the Wolf River, and has some nice curves past farms on one side and riverfront homes on the other. There are spots to watch for farm equipment, but very few vehicles were out as I headed north toward Shawano.
The road straightens out after the Shawano County line, and a brief detour around Shawano and along the edge of Shawano Lake permitted me to avoid too much traffic and stop-and-go lights. I eventually hooked up with WI-47/WI-55, and followed a Jeep Wrangler filled to the brim with what looked like college kids from Madison. These authentic speakers of Truth to Power seemed to be doing everything possible to irritate me, which worked pretty well as we crawled onto the Menominee Reservation and into Keshena.
Just north of Keshena, we both turned north on WI-55, which winds through the woods along the Wolf River. This road is a recently repaved hidden gem, and if someone were enterprising they'd open a t-shirt shop at the Langlade County line and sell "Wolf Tail" shirts and stickers.
Elevation changes, nicely engineered curves, and billiard table road surface awaited me, as soon as I could get around the goofballs in front of me. I managed to pass them early in the northbound run, and soon had the road to myself. The bright sun filtered through the trees, which nearly sealed me into a green tunnel, made lighter and sharper by the mirrored visor on my helmet. I switched my music off and listened to the ST's motor as I switched between 3rd and 4th gear, keeping my speed at a reasonable rate above the posted 55-mph limit. A universe made up of nothing but me, the engine, and the green tunnel sprang up out of the black pavement as I wound my way through the forest.
My plan was to ride past the Langlade County line, and to turn around in Langlade at the intersection of WI-55 and WI-52. I started to catch up to some slower traffic about 3 miles south of County WW, and decided I'd turn around there, ride to one of the riverside pullouts, and stop for a snack and some water. I turned around and stopped a couple miles back south into the reservation. I took my jacket, helmet and gloves off, cracked open a container of granola ("I'll show those Madison hippies!") and sipped some water from the Camelbak. Only the rare sound of a vehicle heading up the road interrupted the sounds of nature, and I relaxed and enjoyed the slowly moving river in front of me.
Here's my ST in "Ghost Rider" pose:
I decided to cross the road for the stereotypical "Cycle Porn" shot of the ST:
I elected not to bring my "real" camera with me, so I only had the camera on my Blackberry. After I clicked the button to take the second picture, I walked across the road and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and to the left just in time to see a bald eagle swoop in and grab a fish from the river. I could not get the phone camera reactivated in time to snap a picture of the bird as it lifted into the air, flying through what moments ago was the frame of photo of the bike. Cursing my bad timing, I started to gear up and shortly after left for another run through the reservation.
This time I turned onto WI-47 and then quickly onto County VV, which is also BIA-5. VV is nice and curvy too, with trees on both sides of the road and little traffic. I followed this until it eventually became County G, riding through Gresham and down to Clintonville before heading back to home.
All told it was about 170 miles, and most of it with a smile!
- Despite an ability to ride 55 at 65 mph or faster, one must be careful: There are occasionally Shawano-Menominee Sheriff squads there at the numerous slow vehicle pulloffs, and in the worst-case scenario a tribal police car would catch a rider speeding. Oncoming traffic crossing the centerline is not uncommon, and the limited sightlines mean that one can catch up to a slow-moving car without much notice.
- In addition to the occasional presence of LEOs, that making a "Res Run" is common in local sportbike groups, so one does see squids of various types on 187 and 55.
- This is a road that runs through the Menominee Indian Reservation, with some of said residents harboring resentment toward non-Menominee Indians.
- There are also pickups, trailer-pulling vacationers, and the odd drunk driver on this road in both directions, so hanging over the center line on curves is discouraged.
- County WW as described above as my turnaround point turns into County W, which runs through the forest to Mountain, and eventually Crivitz -- assuming there's not a ton of gravel in the corners W is well worth the effort as it is quite pretty and features many curves.
- Gas and food are present in Shiocton (Shy-ock'-ton), Shawano (Shaw'-no), and there's a roadhouse-type bar at basically WW and 55.
- I've never seen a deer on 55 through the Reservation, but did see a small brown bear on the side of the road just south of Langlade in 2009.
- I think that's it.)