by Kevin Driscoll
Ouch. Ooohh. Yeesh. Yikes. If I fell off a ten story building onto pavement square on my backside, I don’t think I’d hurt more. Contrary to popular belief, I am not entirely stupid so I knew my backside would suffer. I just wasn’t smart enough to know how MUCH it would suffer. I’m also just dumb enough to have enjoyed myself even with the incredible discomfort. What’s the saying? “A bad day on a motorcycle is better than a good day at work.” Fishing, motorcycling…you get my point.
As a new rider I have written about my new experiences that my serious riding co-workers and friends have exposed me to. My little Dual Sport and I commute most every day nine months a year, ride dirt and have even tried ice riding. When Editor Wanchena and I were talking at a motorcycle trials a few weeks back, he mentioned long distance riding in the ButtLite. So I looked it up. It is insane. The Iron Butt is even worse. After reading about this masochistic absurdity it put me to thinking; the longest ride I’ve done is Shakopee to Osseo to get parts.
I wanted to try something longer. Now I know the rider of the average cruiser could out distance me with all the effort it takes to twist the throttle because my dual sport, which can flog a dirt trail as easy as it glides through city traffic, is not designed for distance riding. It has no fairing or windshield and has a seat that gets uncomfortable on my 30 minute commutes to work. So I decided to start small with a little camping trip down the Mississippi to the Winona area. Its only about 150 miles each way, so how hard could that be?
I decided to add camping to the ride because after getting an RV a few years ago I found I missed roughing it. I also liked the challenge of trying to pack it all on a bike that isn’t designed for packing. First thing was to build a rack since, surprise, I couldn’t find an after-market rack for a Husqvarna. I bungie-corded on an old milk create (I know the milk crate strapped to the back of a motorcycle is cliché but it’s hard to beat for functionality) and shopped for backpacking camp gear. I figured if the gear was designed small and light enough to be carried on your back I should be able to carry it in my makeshift cargo holder. Just to keep it real I figured I’d carry all the food I’d need for the trip and have to cook it. A bag full of power bars or eating at restaurants sounded like cheating to me.
Packing wasn’t too bad. It was only the third or fourth try before I felt I had it right. Tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, cook stove, 6-pack cooler for the perishables and the dry goods in my backpack. Cooler, stove, sleeping bag, rain gear and little odds and ends fit into the crate neatly. My favorite thing about milk crates is that what can’t be fit inside can be strapped to the outside, which I did with the tent, mattress and duffel. The Husky looked ridiculously top heavy, but everything was so light I didn’t notice it at all when rolling.
All righty then. Fueled up, packed up and GPS zeroed its time to hit the open road. Well, the road didn’t open until I was off 494. Stop and go Friday evening traffic set me back a lot. You Out-State readers feel free to laugh it up. Now running late, I push as hard as I can to reach the campground before nightfall. The other reason I bought an RV; trying to set up camp in the dark and swarming mosquitoes is never fun. I made a mental note of all I wanted to see for the return trip as I pushed down 35 on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi.
I wasn’t even to Prescott before I knew I was in for a painful ride. One hour in and it already felt like I was sitting on ice skate blades. I moved around, shifted weight and rode the pegs as much as I could, but there was no relief. Ow, yikes and Son-of-#$^!! Stupid, but committed. I’ll suffer but I’d reach my goal. The evening was just too nice and my first experience on winding country roads through the river bluffs too intoxicating to even think of turning back. So THIS is what it is all about! It was so nice I was able to forget my bruising back side for whole minutes at a time!
I reached the campground at 8:00, started a fire for cooking and set up camp. It was pretty uneventful other than the old guy across the road in a 5th wheel making fun of my little tent. Yep, it is small, but it works great. I was up early, cooked, cleaned up and packed up and on the road home by 8:00am. I took the same rout home as I drove out on.
The seat was torture from the moment I swung a leg over. About half of the way back I passed a BMW GS for sale sitting in the back of a pickup. Time for a mid-trip bike upgrade! I pulled in the clutch and started to slow, but I figured trying to buy one of the best adventure touring bikes made while I was in pain didn’t put me in the best bargaining position. “My house for your bike? DEAL!” I engaged the clutch and continued down the road, tearing up just a little.
I won’t waste print space telling you what a great route WI 35 is because it looks like all you riders already know. Other than the perfect morning and fantastic roads, the real spirit lifter was all you other motorcyclists. There were many sections of road that were only motorcyclists and lots of them. Most all of them waving or giving thumbs up. (or were they pointing at the half-wit touring on a dirt bike? Hmmm.) I felt like I was being cheered on and definitely like I was a part of something much bigger. I AM a motorcyclist.
While I was stopped at one of the many historical markers, snapping a few obligatory photos of the Husky in front of the plaque, a gentleman pulled in on his FJ1100. While we chatted, I eyed the Corbin seat on his bike and wondered if it could be duct taped onto the Husky. Since I only had about 60 miles to go, I figured a roadside mugging for a bike seat was not a good idea. But, when I told him of my seat issues, he told me how his seat was never uncomfortable and how he goes out on long rides all the time without any backside problems. I jumped on my bike and took off before I changed my mind on the mugging thing. I pressed on.
Once home, the GPS read 333 miles and seven hours of travel time. The mileage fit, since I was only half in hell. The Husky rode smooth with little vibration and I arrived feeling fresh and ready for more…if it weren’t for my #!&*in’ bottom! Hey, if not for the seat I might STILL be out there!
I will find a way to beat the seat problem or get a bike that is actually made for sport touring and will ride distance again. Until then, the Husky will be used for what it was meant for; daily commute, trails and ice.