By Paul Berglund
I might have mentioned, or you might have inferred, that I have a delicate posterior. I’m all “princess and the pea” when it comes to motorcycle seats. So when my dear friend asked me if I wanted to ride the Trans Wisconsin Trail with him, I hesitated. It would be a fun trip, but it would mean riding my dirt bike, with it’s dirt bike seat for hundreds of miles over several days. All day long. Oh, and by the way he also invited a woman and an actor to join us. Did I mention we would be camping?
My dirt bike is a KTM 500 EXC. KTM makes horrible seats. I’m talking about their street bikes. The “seats” that they put on their dirt bikes aren’t meant to be sat on. I’m not kidding. My friend owns a KTM dealership. He goes to the KTM dealer meetings in Mattighofen, Austria. Two years ago he was in attendance and after they had introduced the new models for the year, they asked the dealers if they had any feed back for KTM. One dealer stood up and asked if they could put better seats on their dirt bikes? He said his customers were complaining about how uncomfortable they were. The man from KTM responded angrily that if his customers where siting down while they were riding their KTMs, they were doing it wrong. Sitting on a KTM is officially doing it wrong.
So that black vinyl covered wedge that I assumed was a seat on my KTM, was in fact not. I would be better off sitting on mercury laced florescent shop light bulbs. Less chance of injury that way. So I ordered up a real seat. I chose one from Seat Concepts. (http://www.seatconcepts.com, 951-487-0195) My next task was to figure out what to bring to “go camping”. I’ve not been motorcycling and camping at the same time. Especially not in the company of a woman or an actor. What would that be like?
I do own a tent for some reason. Well, I do know why. It was on clearance at Cabela’s and it’s orange. A combination that I can not resist. I don’t like to be uncomfortable when I sleep either, so I also own an inflatable, air and foam camping mattress. I have spent a few nights on it and found it to be very un-KTM like. I stopped by Sportsman Guide and bought an orange sleeping bag out of their clearance bin and I was set to go.
When my new seat arrived, I bolted it on and tried to pack all my gear onto the bike. My bike looked like the Joad’s truck in the movie The Grapes of Wrath. It seams that comfortable air mattresses do not roll up very small. The whole rig looked ridiculous, but I would be prepared and I would be comfortable.
I’ve been around women all my life. I throughly enjoy their company. This woman that would accompany us used be a guide in the Boundary Waters. She was a motorcycling novice, but a camping expert. Her skills would be a valuable asset on our trip. I wasn’t too sure about the actor. On the appointed day, the four of us set off on our adventure. The ride down to the start of the Trans Wisconsin Trail was over two hundred miles. I was delighted with my new seat and my traveling companions. However annoying you would guess a person who makes a living as an actor would be, this actor was less so.
Once we found the start of the route at the Wisconsin and Illinois border, we turned north. Most of the roads are paved at the beginning. As the day wore on, more of the roads turned to gravel. The day was sunny and warm and our pace was leisurely. Our camping expert was setting the pace somewhat slower than the rest of us would have liked to ride, but we were all having lots of fun.
At 5:00 we broke out the map and found a campground that wasn’t far from the route. It was a state park and camping was $5 per person. We were all getting over 50 miles to the gallon with our bikes, so this was turning out to be a cheap way to travel. Once the tents were pitched we went into town for some Mexican food. We lit a camp fire back at the campgrounds but once we sat down to watch it, we all found that we were very tired. Off to our separate tents, me with my deluxe mattress, and we were all asleep instantly.
At 5:00 am a light rain woke me up. I decided to get up and start packing before it got heavy. We all had the same idea. We packed, mounted and road off to find coffee. It rained off and on all day. The scenery was fantastic. Southwestern Wisconsin is one of the prettiest places on earth. If you transported humans from any time in our history, from any part of the world to the lush green valleys here, they would think it to be paradise. Even in the rain.
Day two ended when we reached where I 94 crosses Wisconsin. We were all tired and wet so we pupped out and got hotel rooms. The next day was warm and sunny again. The challenge for day three was sand. The gravel roads were now sand roads. An hour into day three and the sand got the best of our camping expert. The bike high sided and she landed on her shoulder.
Here’s my theory. People who haven’t played sports like hockey or football, or made a habit of crashing dirt bikes like I have, are shocked by the violence of being thrown from a motorcycle. It hurts. What gentle, non-stupid people lack is a gauge for how badly they are hurt. Those of us who do stupid things often find ourselves standing on shaking legs, trying to guess if our nose, thumb, arm or other body part is broken. Our equally stupid friends will insist that it isn’t broken, we should rub some dirt on it and get back on the bike. That’s just how we roll.
This was our camping experts first crash. She was standing next to her bike with a concerned look on her face. I didn’t know what to do because she didn’t know what to do. We all stood there looking at each other. No one wanted to be the first to tell her to rub some dirt on it and get back on the bike. So I asked if she wanted to go to the emergency room. She said yes. That ate up the rest of the day. Turns out she was fine (till the bill came, it was three times what she paid for the motorcycle she was riding). Our adventure was over. I jumped on the freeway and rode home. I got my station wagon and trailer and went back to pick up the rest of the gang. We’ll have to finish the second part of the Trans Wisconsin Trail another time.