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2/14/18 - Our Wisconsin Magazine submission

Rustic Roads, a dog and a Russian motorcycle


        
Motorcycles and dogs have been a part of the fabric of my life as far back as I can remember. Unfortunately, it’s hard to bring those 2 things together. So in the past, when I would ride some of the Rustic Roads on my motorcycle – my dog would have to stay behind. That changed in April of 2017 when I bought a 2013 Ural motorcycle.

The Ural is the only motorcycle that comes from the factory (in the Ural mountains of Russia) with a sidecar attached. I’ve always had a fondness for sidecars; I like the look, the versatility & the uniqueness of them. Plus, a sidecar gives more protection from the wind & weather for the passenger and are more stable in bad weather.

The extra stability from the 3rd wheel is what makes a sidecar motorcycle rig (commonly called a “hack”) perfect for cruising the Rustic Roads – some of which are pretty “rustic”. Soft sand, deep ruts & loose gravel, so often found on the Rustic Roads, are the bane of 2 wheel motorcyclists. The Ural, with a top speed of maybe 70 mph – going down hill with a tail wind – is an ideal machine for riding the back-roads. It’s like they were made for each other. The light traffic makes them a great place to learn to ride a very different kind of machine.

After a few short trips by myself & teaching my yellow Lab, Annie, to wear her goggles and other safety gear – we set off to ride some of the roads in Winnebago and neighboring counties. Those day trips went so well, we headed out for some of the rustic Roads farther from home in Oconto, Green Lake, Adams & Marquette counties. In a couple months, we had ridden the 10 Rustic Roads required to get the Rustic Roads Motorcycle Tour Patch, so I sent in pictures and requested 2 patches. After all, Annie did ride all 10 roads, too.

Over the summer we road a total of 15 of the Rustic Roads and by fall, we had our patches. Annie may be the first dog ever to have gotten the patch. I don’t think Annie enjoys the scenery as much as I do, but she loved meeting all the people who would take her picture, running on the beach and swimming in Lake Michigan or sniffing out squirrels in a new woods. And she loved to ride with her nose in the wind – something dogs and bikers have in common. By the end of summer, we were riding several hundred miles and 10-12 hours in a day.

With the first year having gone so well and feeling more competent on this off-center motorcycle, Annie & I will set out this year to ride more of the Rustic Road system together, with the ultimate goal of riding all 120 Roads some day. A fun little quest to see the Wisconsin countryside, take some pictures of our beautiful state & see some new places.

Most every biker will tell you, it's not about the destination, it's about the ride. 
I don't know if anyone has ever ridden all 120 Rustic Roads on a motorcycle before, I doubt anyone has done it with a sidecar motorcycle and it's a pretty good bet no one has EVER done it with their dog. 
And that should make for a lots of fun rides.

So if you see us in a gas station, or on the road – be sure and say HI. And please – watch for motorcycles while you are driving - especially on the often narrow Rustic Roads.


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” 
 Robert Frost

Annie and I - geared up and ready to go
RR104-2Annie checking out the next road while she waits for me to take the "proof"  picture.
RusticRoad48-3Annie looking down Rustic Road #48
The Motorcycle
              Tour patch on Annie's harness.Annie with her patch on her harness



Mark Manson
          - short piece on the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck







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