Ridin' Around with John Boettcher


Winter in northern Illinois may not be as bad as in some places, but there are usually enough snow and sub-zero temperatures that can make motorcycling uh...... interesting!

I thought I'd write about some of the fun I've had this season. I believe it was December 17th when we got hit with a pretty good blizzard. They announced at work that it was bad enough to close the plant at 11:00 A.M. I could feel myself getting pumped up as I put my snow gear on and headed to the Eldo/sidehack. Most of the plant employees were scraping their windows while their cars warmed up. I was wiping the six inches of snow from the seat that fell since 7:00 A.M.

I mounted some 70s style enduro tires to the Eldo a few months back so the traction is pretty decent. I pulled out of the lot with ease. Cars were barely moving as I headed home, but traffic eased when I turned on to some secondary roads. I came up on a snowplow that was pelting me with salt, so I waited for the passing zone and zipped around him. He just shook his head as I went by. I stopped home for a few minutes to unload a few things and headed back out. A few people stopped shoveling their driveways to stare as I rode by. The snowmobilers were popping out all over. A few of them gave me the "thumbs up" when they saw me.

It was still snowing hard when I arrived at my parents house, but no shocked look from my father because he's used to it by now. I ended up turning a normally 20 mile round trip into an 80 mile ride. I rode around my neighborhood a bit and then off to a friend that lives just over the Wisconsin border.

Over 12 inches of snow had fallen by this point. The Eldo/hack was handling the mess just fine. I even had to overtake another snowplow. My friend wasn't home, so I headed to my normal watering hole about ten miles away. The local cop shook his head but smiled.

It was dark when I left Johnsburg and rode over to Woodstock to get something to eat. The wind had picked up which made for some interesting snowdrifts. I had no problem getting a seat at the bar, it was fairly dead. The ride home put me a dash over 200 miles for the day. Darn good fun!

I bought my ten year old daughter, Jennea, her first motorcycle in January. Since Moto Guzzi doesn't make a small dirt bike, I had to settle for a new Yamaha PW80. Fortunately the day I brought it home, it was in the 30ís (F), so she got a chance to try it out. It didn't take her long to get the hang of it, and she sure had a lot of fun.

I try to make it to the Illinois Guzzi breakfasts when I can. There's one in DeKalb that is 50 miles away, and one on the Chicago southside in Lemont that is about 80 miles away. There are usually a couple of other winter riders that show up so at least I'm not the only nut.

It was about 8 degrees (F) when I left Wonder Lake for the DeKalb breakfast on February 10th. The raT-3 was running good. My hands got a little cold by the time I got there, but it was suppose to warm up to 30 degrees (F) later, so it wouldn't be as bad later on.

After breakfast I rode off to Albany, Wisconsin, for MG Cycle's open house at their new location. It was up in the 20s and mostly sunny making the 80 mile ride quite pleasant. There were a few snowy sections from the wind but nothing too bad for two wheels. I said hello to CHEESEHEAD and Gordon and was surprised to see Ace Mallot there tuning up a Sport. Rumor has it that he may be turning wrenches for the MG Cycle boys. I talked a bit with Dave Jackson and Joe Rybecek along with a few others, but I'm just so bad with remembering names. The place is a lot bigger than the Brooklyn shop. I left after a couple of hours, and it was still nice out. I rode up to Janesville and across some county roads and state routes to Lake Geneva before heading home.

I've been wanting to take the Eldo/hack out on the ice on Wonder Lake, but the heavy snow had been crusted over the lake since the big snowstorm making it a little too deep to get through. Well, the weather warmed up for a few days in February melting all the snow, leaving about an inch of water on top of the foot thick ice. The temperature dropped and froze the water and left a sheet of glass for a surface. It later snowed and left about an inch of cover. I saw a few snowmobiles out there and the downhill entrance to the lake looked easy enough, I just wasn't sure if I'd get back up it when I was done! It did go easy and the lake was very slick. I had to let the tire spin a bit until the bike was rolling, then back off the gas and the tire would bite and away I'd go, I got it up to about 30 mph and then busted it into a slide. The rig spun in circles over and over again with no input from me. The following week the snow was packed down and it was much easier to get moving. I was pulling the kids around on a sled, and they hung on with all they had. I went down to the lake a few more times and was goofing around flying the hack and actually rode the rig around while sitting in the hack.

I just got back from the Chicago Southside Guzzi breakfast in February and put the raT-3 away so I could take the Eldo/hack up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I decided it was time to move up a notch on ice riding. Lake Geneva is a much bigger lake than Wonder Lake with a lot more activity. There were three airplanes equipped with skis giving rides, ice boats everywhere, and motorcycle ice racing! It was great, especially because most of the bikes were old Triumphs and BSAs. I knew a few of the guys including a former Guzzi guy, Tom Wottreng, so they let me take the hack out there and do about ten laps on the track. It was a blast power sliding the hack through the turns but I was no match for the ice bikes and the studded tires they're set up with. They flat-out blew me away! I had a great time!  

Well, I ought to get out to the cold garage and get the raT-3 ready for an extended weekend ride to Daytona for bike week. I need some new material for next month!


Copyright ©1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com