Nightfall, and after a long tiring ride we turn into the drive of The Inn at Timber Cove, our tour base camp. Hidden behind old, massive trees, this romantic Bed and Breakfast lies in a lush green meadow. The owners Tina and Brian Miller escort us to our cottage and light the fire. As the wood crackles cozily in the fireplace, we dive in on their welcoming gift, soon devouring two thick, delicious pieces of homemade raspberry cake.
The First Loop
The sun is on my face and I hear birds singing far away but they aren't the reason I wake. A louder mosquito had just launched a dive-bombing attack and my eyes popped open with the wild, reflexive twitching of my hand.
After a terrific, calorific breakfast served in our room, we are, literally, ready to roll. I feel like the Doughboy, but moments later we're feeling lighter and cruising the Road King and Ultra Classic along Hwy 2 and Hwy 13 to Bayfield. A stiff breeze blows through the narrow roads of this quaint town located on the pristine waters of Chequamegon Bay, where everyone catches the ferry for trips to Madeline Island, the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands. Fourteen miles long and three miles wide, it's home to only 180 people year-round, but many nature lovers and stressed-out city dwellers are drawn to its long sandy beaches. No wonder Bayfield is so busy this morning. Planning to stop by later in the afternoon, we hope the wind is milder and the temperatures higher so we can enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the sidewalk cafes.
We pass the Red Cliff Indian Reservation and Siskiwit Bay before taking a left on county road A in Port Wing. After the smooth sweepers along the shore of Lake Superior, a ruler-straight part follows to lead us south over rolling hills. The wide-open landscape is fascinating and incredibly clean. The only dark spots in all the greenery are cows. In Iron River, we stay on A for a few miles longer before we take a left on N. These, of course, are some of Wisconsin's "alphabet roads," a network extending over the entire state. And for the motorcycle enthusiast that means mostly narrow, empty roads. Sometimes the surface is a bit tricky. Potholes and gravel reminds us to ride cautiously. On Hwy 63 we share the road with plenty of other vehicles, but this experience lasts only 15 miles until we take off on H. With smooth up and downs, and some tight turns and soft sweepers thrown in, we race through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Still in the forest, but already back on Hwy 2, we ride back towards Ashland. I discover a nice additional loop, so I use my signal and lean the bike into a sharp left turn back onto Hwy 13. In Washburn we take C, winding over a remote plateau and ending up at the shoreline village of Cornucopia. Back on Hwy 13, we head back to Ashland. Only the coffee break in Bayfield delays an early arrival in Ashland. As we had hoped, the temperatures are mild and the wind is gone when we find a seat in the green grass at the village's little park. With coffee in a foam cup in our left hands and a tasty ice cream in the right, we review our first loop.