30th Annual
Wildcat Mountain Rally

Westby, WI
    "Sometimes.....The Mountain Bites Back"  
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Early History Of The Wildcat Mountain Rally:

In the Spring of 1985, returning from an intrepid journey to Alaska by pickup truck, found me in LaCrosse, Wisconsin looking for the mythical location of a notorious motorcycle crash that happened many years ago. That crash involved a shaft drive V-Twin Prototype from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The only shaft drive ever made by the H.D. motor company. On my way to the site, I couldn't help but notice how much I wished that I was back on my motorcycle at that moment myself! The winding roads had me leaning in the truck seat enjoying the thought that just perhaps the truck might be on two wheels, even if only momentarily, in every corner. No wonder they were here testing that prototype! This was a little piece of motorcycle heaven hidden away in Wisconsin you just never hear about. Interstates 90 & 94 didn't really give away the secret to casual passerbys either!

All too soon I found myself in Wildcat Mountain State Park, on Wisconsin State Route 33, halfway up the hill on the shoulder of a wicked left-hander. This was the spot, the only corner where, in both directions at speed, all you see is sky and guardrail! Yes! This was where they hurt it bad. They then piled the twisted wreck into a truck and departed never to return with a shaft drive motorcycle again. Interesting enough but why would a traveler on such a long journey make it a point to seek out such an insignificant historical location that isn't even marked?

I was contemplating a new motorcycle purchase and had my eye on a new Yamaha or a Harley Low Rider. The new Yamaha was a shaft drive V-Twin called a Virago and my local Harley Dealer was telling me why you'll never see a shaft drive Harley. Because the only prototype ever made was crashed on Wildcat Mountain somewhere in Wisconsin. He went on to say the crash occurred because shaft drives are not safe! I just had to see the location of the crash and I knew that I would find my answer there on which one I'd end up buying. While in deep contemplation, I was startled back to the present.

Several Harley's rolled by, down the mountain on Wisconsin 33, so slow I thought that I could run faster than they were riding. Within moments of the last Harley lumbering by a Yamaha Virago came rocketing up the mountain on Wisconsin 33 whipping by me heeled over and, with a quick wave from the rider, he was gone! Clarity is a wonderful thing! I was now quite sure of two things. Which motorcycle to buy and that my friends in the Yamaha 650 Society would probably love to ride these roads!

I resolved at that moment to do two things when I returned home. Buy a Virago and begin planning a get together with some motorcycle friends to visit Wildcat Mountain. I found County Route P just past the mountain and followed it to Westby. Another fine road to ride! Checking my watch confirmed what my stomach was telling me. It was dinner time. Just on the edge of town was a supper club, so I pulled in. The Old Towne Inn also sported a fine little motel with sliding doors off every room to the parking lot! Hmmm I thought this could be a great place to Head Quarter. Beds, food & drinks!

The folks were nice, the food was great and the prices were right! The best part was the help finding fun roads to ride. Everyone pitched in and told me of the crooked old roads they hate to drive. I loved it! But time to check them out would have to come later. I needed to find my home and take care of important business, a Yamaha Virago of my own!

In the Spring of 1986 that shiny new Virago was mine! I made several trips back to Wisconsin and the Hidden Valleys that I had become so found of. Checking out all of the wonderful roads I had been told of. They were all true! So, late that Fall and Winter I made Wildcat T-Shirts and pins and organized a rally book with routes and guidelines. I was sure that the next Fall would be the most beautiful time to ride the Hidden Valleys with my friends.

In the Spring of 1987 the first warm weekend was in February and I was off to visit my favorite riding place. To my surprise there was still snow on the hillsides and piled in the parking lots! My new friends in Westby just couldn't believe I was back so soon. This is it, I told them. This Fall my friends will be coming to ride Wildcat Mountain and the Hidden Valleys with me. I want to be ready! In all ten riders made the first rally that fall. A grand time was had by all! Don Lawson and Mike Tatkow proclaimed the ride to be everything and more than I had told them. We all smiled. Yes we will be doing this in the fall for a long time to come!

We have and still are today! The ride has been moved back to Labor Day. Warmer weather and more time to ride! Several fun awards have been created over the years... Mike Blackburn started us off with the Bonehead Plaque, Mike Tatkow added the Mr. Fixit Plaque, Don Lawson instituted the Bunny Award, Jim Gosser added the Pooped Piston Plaque and Shawn Trock added the Broken Orr Award. All of which are traveling trophies with much anticipated annual reassignment. The Sorenson's added the Crash With Conviction T-Shirt for worthy rally participants... Jim Gosser filled in as Rally Coordinator for a few years and Shawn & Lynn Trock* are currently keeping the flame alive. As for me, now I just show up and RIDE!

Hope To See You There!
Michael J. Orr

*Current Rally Coordinators are Tom and Tammy Carter
For more information please feel free to contact us by e-mail at cam@wildcatrally.com

Ride Safe,
The Wildcat Mountain Rally Team

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September 2nd - 5th, 2016