The Big One – aka Oshkosh ’08
by Dave Brock
We’ve always called it the Big One, any motorcycle ride leaving from home and returning in a big loop. Back in the ’70s we did the CCC Trail Safaris a few time, the best were leaving from home with tent and sleeping bags. When Bruce suggested we go to the Oshkosh Airventure, I was ready. Our plan was to ride to Ludington, cross Lake Michigan on the ferry, leave our tent and sleeping bags with Bruce’s cousin at the air show. He has a trailer there and volunteers for the EAA , we’ve always been interested in planes and such.
So this trip was going to be exciting, we get to see the War Birds, home builts, vintage, and helicopters. The next step was to ditch the tent and sleeping bags and continue on to the U.P. and ride some of the CCC’s U.P.D.S. which we had done in ’02 and ’04. When we get the Bridge, we continue on to some of the trails from the CCC’s L.P.D.S. that we had done in’06 down to U.S. 10. From there we’ll try to dirt roads the rest of the way home. I tried to lay the routes from home to Ludington and US 10 to home on dirt road as much as possible using MapSource Roads and Rec.
Day 1. We head out north and west through Waterloo area, lots of dirt roads and on through farm land then to Manistee N. F. What I remember the most in the farm land are the smells, fresh cut hay, sweet clover, onion fields and of coarse dairy farms. One pleasant suprise, we cross the Flat River through one of the few covered bridges in Michigan. 291 Mi., crowded seat with the tent and sleeping bag.
Day 2. We line up on the dock in Ludington to board the S.S. Badger with about 40 road bikes, some headed to Sturgis Bike Week. Good weather, smooth sailing, not much to do on the Badger. I left my GPS on to record the course to Manitowoc. Average speed 15 MPH.- 60 Mi. Off load the Badger onto US 10 to US.41 to Oshkosh. We set up the tent at Jim’s trailer while the Goodyer Blimp is overhead. So many planes of all sort to see!!! 139 Mi.
Day 3. We get up early to try to see as many planes as possible in our one day lay over. There are trams and buses to take us to the different types of planes. War Birds, B-17, B-24, B-25, B-26, T-6, P-51, P-38, F-86, Mohawk, Caribou, F-15, F-16, F-22 (star of the show). Military cargo and refueler jets.Even some Russian Migs. Only one Huey H model (disappointing I worked on them in Viet Nam), Seahawk(Navy version of a Blackhawk) Osprey, Bell 47 and civilian Rotorways. Red Bull Europian helicopter ( I don’t know the type). Many vintage Bi-wings, High wings, sea planes. So many personal plane and ultra lights. They have 3 Bell 47 flying continuesly. I’ve got go for a ride in one!!! They have a really neat museum there and we spend a couple of hours in. >From 3 to 6 in the afternoon they have an air show every day, loops, rolls, smoke, explosions, and flying in formation. The star of the show is the F-22 doing amazing things that defy gravity plus flying in formation with a P-51 Mustang. this event is very well organized, they have 1200 port-a-johns – no waiting.
Day 4. We get rid of the tent and sleeping bags, more room on the bikes and head north to the U.P.. We get off of US 41 onto secondary roads. It rolling farm land to Lena, Wi. to visit Bruces 94 Yr. old aunt and cousins. We leave Lena and head north again and soon we see an eagles nest on a power line.We’re getting closer to the U.P. when we stop for gas we talk to some guys on crotch rockets, they’re going the same way and we meet them again, one them with a flat tire. One of them went back to get some tire plugs but they have no way to pump up the tire. I have a Slime Pump on my bike and Fix-a-Flat and we get them going again.(No good deed goes unpunished!!!) We finally get to gravel roads in northern Wi. Almost to Florence and Crystal Falls Mi. 221 Mi. Motels and showers!!
Day 5. The quest for Mt. Arvon!! We were on two previous U.P.D.S. rides and we were unable to find Mt. Arvon. We left Crystal Falls on snowmobile trails until we got to gates, so we didn’t go around them but went out to the highway to Champion. We were back on track up to Mt. Arvon from the south side only to come to dead ends,I had layed the route out With Roads and Rec. but you can’t always go by whats on Roads and Rec. There is alot of logging going on in that area, making thing kind of confusing so we go to the north side of Mt. Arvon and find blue arrows leading the way. We reach the summit and sign the log and take pictures then continue on. Heading to Marquette we see alot of blueberry pickers. We’re almost to US 41 and I go on reserve and when we stop at 41 my bike stalls and won’t start!!! Bruce tows me down the road to a gas station and we gas up. The bike still won’t start, so we change the plug, tinker with the carburetor and wear down the battery!!! So Bruce says there’s a Walmart up the road and he goes and gets a new battery. We install it and we’re back in business. (Remember no good deed…..) 162 Mi.
Day 6. We leave Marquette on snowmobile trails to Gwinn and then on Gladstone and then U.P.D.S. route to Newberry. 256 Mi.
Day 7. From Newberry to Rexton then on to St. Ignace. In St Ignace we replace a nut and bolt on Bruce’s luggage rack. Some photo op at the Mackinac bridge then on to Bluffs at Black Lake for lunch. Off again to Mio on L.P.D.S. route. The hot tub at the motel in Mio feels pretty good!!! 252 Mi.
Day 8. While in the area, We head to the snowmobile trails to Lumbermans Monument on The Au Sable River, always a good ride. Then to St. Helen and south through the Gladwin area. We get back US 10 area and it looks like rain so we go to a motel in Midland. After we unload at the motel, it rains a couple of times through the night. Got lucky again!!! 257 Mi.
Day 9. Not many dirt road south of Midland until we come across gravel roads heading south. We manage to keep on dirt about 50% of the way home!!! 164 Mi.
1741 MI. Total 218 MI. AVG. per day. Moving AVG.-29.39 MPH. AVG. MAX.- 51.52 MPH. Moving AVG. – 7.25 HR.. Stopped AVG.- 2.49 HR.
More Photos from this ride
Another excellant ride with no major break down and no rain!!!