WI Rustic Roads: Sawyer, Ashland, Bayfield Counties, R95, R108, R111

Published Wednesday, December 27, 2023 by Bryan

In contrast to last week's video, where two of the county's roads were in other videos, this week we have three counties in one video. Most of R95 and R111 are in Sawyer county, but the last couple miles are in Bayfield and Ashland counties. Given the length of these roads, it might have made sense to split up the videos. But seeing as it's also the quiet week at the end of the year, why not fill it with extra ride video?

In the middle of Rustic Road 95, you'll see me miss a turn that I then have to turn around to correct. In fact, this is the second time I missed an important turn on R95. The first time was a few weeks earlier, and caused me to miss this entire loop.

This happens to me once in a while, because I don't use GPS (neither dedicated unit, nor phone app) for most of my riding. I write out a list of turns on a stack of index cards, and mount those somewhere visible. I like it, it works for me. But it does mean I miss a turn occasionally - the map isn't the territory, and the sign I need might not be there, might say something else, or might be contending with my attention to some other sign, view, etc.

The reason I still don't use GPS more often, is that missing a turn rarely causes me any real trouble. If I'm out on a no-GPS ride, I'm out to explore, and missing a turn just means I'm off to explore more. Way more often than it seems like it should, that extra exploration is actually one of the high points of the ride. For example, this wrong turn took led me down the remainder of "Upper A" road. This is what it looks like on a map:

A map of where Upper A road turns off of Rustic Road 95. The rest of Upper A road has many twists and turns, several of what have a smiley face pasted next to them.
Annotated map of the intersection where I missed the turn.

I do have some ideas about ways I'd like to improve my navigation setup, but it feels like too much of an uphill battle to argue on the internet for things that most people don't want. I tried building some of them on my own this year, and had fits of success mixed with failure. If I return to those projects in 2024, maybe I'll make enough progress to feel like sharing it. If you're interested in non-GPS, yet still digital navigation, let me know.

Rustic Road 111 was not difficult to navigate, but is quite the selection of surfaces. Both of the Forest Roads leading from the east and northeast ends are several miles of gravel. County Road S, the northwest entrance is paved, but is in terrible shape - holes all over the place. Linking the gravel to the broken pavement is Moose Lake Road, which is one of the smoothest roads I've been on in the state, and it's nicely curvy. Take a bike you enjoy in all sorts of situations - it's a good time.

Rustic Road 108 is the one of the three that is entirely within Sawyer County, and it almost feels out of place for it. It's much shorter. But it also keeps the theme of a mix of road surfaces. See if you can spot the deer before I do a little later in the gravel segment.

Categories: Motorcycle Travel WIRR