Green Acres is the place to be. Farm livin’ is the life for me. Land spreadin’ out so far and wide. Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
The opening lines to the old “Green Acres” show, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, come to mind as I begin this Madison, WI, Shamrock Tour®. But unlike Green Acres, where the wife is stuck in Hooterville on a derelict farm and dreaming of New York City, a little patience will reward city slickers and hayseeds alike on this trip, which departs from Wisconsin’s vibrant capital city each day to explore a slice of upper Midwest farmland.
Where Are the Moose?
Misconceptions are quickly erased as the tour begins following a proper send-off breakfast. Sharon and I have never been to Wisconsin before, and the expected northwoods scenery is nowhere in sight. In fact, the rolling green hills look suspiciously like those surrounding our southern Ohio home. Our 2014 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom pulls with authority in the crisp early September air, and the cool 70-degree temperature will be sorely missed later in the day if the mercury reaches the expected 90-degree mark.
Though rough, the roads are well suited for the V-Strom’s relatively long-legged suspension. Nearly constant surface irregularities are smoothed out and the alternating sweepers, coupled with the patchwork pavement, turn the job of picking a line into a wonderfully engrossing task. Our first stop comes in Reedsburg when the Deli Bean coffee shop addresses our “vitamin C” deficiency. Route 33 offers up a steady stream of interesting tarmac tracing the undulations of the land, culminating in some genuine hairpin switchbacks before descending into the town of Ontario.
Runnin’ on Empty
Fuel and food options have been frequent thus far, so we press on without much concern about the availability of either until the fuel gauge drops to its last indicated bar on the dashboard display, and our stomachs mimic with an audible growl. We’re finally able to address both in Viroqua, well past the halfway point of our loop. Those with smaller fuel tanks be advised; keep your tank topped off when you can in the morning!
Motorcycle & Gear
The Wright Stuff
Anything resembling mountains are a distant memory now, and the roads change accordingly as we wind through rolling farmland after lunch. Eventually, even the sweepers lose their willpower and the path straightens. Nearing Spring Green, we spot signs directing us to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin house, also known as Taliesin East. We swing by the visitor’s center hoping to gain permission to snap a few photos, but it’s late and we’re forced to move on without a good look at the home, which was Wright’s personal residence for a number of years. Completed in 1911, the house has survived arson, murders, a major electrical fire, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Anyone unfamiliar with Wright’s work will be stunned at his influence on American architecture after touring one of his homes.
Our 250-mile loop has been a long one, and after a simple pizza dinner in our room and a bit of prep work for tomorrow, we officially sign off with a flick of the light switch.
Today’s Special: Countryside and Curves
Day two begins what will soon be a familiar pattern for the tour: Clear, deliciously cool mornings followed by a slow progression into a 20-degree daily temperature rise topping off at a bearable, but steamy, 90-degree mark. Another pattern emerges as well; roads in and out of Madison take a bit of time to morph into something enjoyable, at least for those who like to wear the sides of their tires out before the middle. Once the morning is well underway, however, the tarmac picks a meandering route through the seemingly endless countryside and offers perhaps a few more curves than expected given the terrain.