MILWAUKEE -- Harley-Davidson owners made their way to Milwaukee Tuesday, Aug. 28 for the 115th anniversary celebration -- despite severe weather that's resulted in flooding Sunday, Aug. 26, Monday, Aug. 27 and once again on Tuesday across the state.
In an effort to ease strained relationships, FOX6's Ted Perry played ambassador, guiding two Canadian riders into Milwaukee, but he might've just made things worse, and Mother Nature certainly didn't help.
At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, scores of bikes left the Harley-Davidson dealership in Onalaska, bound for the interstate, and eventually Milwaukee. Ted Perry and two others had different plans. Greg Amyotte and Joanne Cardinal are members of the same HOG chapter in British Columbia, Canada. Ted Perry asked them to join him off the beaten path.
The first stop was Grandad Bluff Park in La Crosse -- which turned out to be the only spot where they didn't have to worry about flooded roads.
Not far from Vernon County came the first of many disappeared paths -- sending this crew deeper into the countryside, the land of one horsepower rides. The group in Amish Country saw more buggies than bikes. They found themselves lost, which really was half the fun.
"If you don't have some challenges on your trip, it's not an adventure. A true adventure has challenges," said Cardinal.
"We're still doing good. We're still dry, so we're OK," said Amyotte.
"So nobody's mad at me yet?" said Ted Perry.
"Nobody's mad at you yet. We're still waiting for that burger though. I'm getting hungry," said Amyotte.
Lunch was proving harder to find, however, as floodwaters gobbled up more country roads. The group found one stretch in Sauk County wasn't fit for man, motorcycle or mouse.
"Weather does weird things and you gotta adapt," said Amyotte.
Adapt they did -- to an oasis in Reedsburg, where they found a pub, some burgers and a side of cheese curds. They also found some keys, and any rough moments from the morning were quickly forgotten.
"All the twisties, the hills, the rolling hills. We saw some stuff that, where I live, we don't have. We don't have any Amish. We saw enough buggies and horses to fill my day," said Amyotte.
They were, as Canadians tend to be, great sports about all of it, and Cardinal learned more about Wisconsin roads and language.
"A bubbler..." said Cardinal.
Ted Perry reported his newfound friends were safe and sound in their hotel room, and when the weather cleared, they were expected to be out riding in southeast Wisconsin, including a stop Wednesday, Aug. 29 as thousands of bikers descend on Veterans Park.
Harley-Davidson's 115th anniversary is much bigger than just Wisconsin. It involves Harley owners from across the country and world.
At Veterans Park on Tuesday, FOX6 found license plates from nearly half of the 50 states, including Oregon, Texas, California and Florida. We even saw one bike from Poland, and talked with a group that traveled from China. They called themselves the "100,000 Miles Club."
"Five years ago, I came here for the 110. This time is the second time I came here," said Zhou Kenny Jing.
"It's always great to run into people that are from other places in the world that come into our country and we open our arms to them. That's what we should do," said Elias Jimenez.
The celebration culminates Sunday, Sept. 2 with the parade through Milwaukee -- which FOX6 will carry live.