Monthly Archives: May 2013
I have to admit, there is something thrilling about joining a big ride. We joined the Twin Cities Victory Riders for a cruise down to Spirit Lake, Iowa, a few years ago. We had the option of taking a tour of the Victory manufacturing plant, but it was a gorgeous day, too nice to spend indoors.
We did the Spring Flood Run a couple years back. Thirty thousand rumbling, snorting motorcycles. It’s a high-octane, testosterone-fueled event (although there were plenty of women bikers in the crowd, too.) We started all together in Lake St. Croix Beach. Some peeled off toward Winona, others headed across the Mississippi River to Wisconsin. Some, I’m sure, got no further than the bars in Prescott.
For others, like ourselves, it’s the ride. Once we hit the open road, we just have to see the next town, feel the next curve, climb the next hill.
On June 15, we’ll join the Hosanna! Bikers from Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville for their annual “Blessing of the Bikes.” The day includes a ride, lunch, blessings and music by the Daisy Dillman Band.
And the organizers said I can take orders for, but not sell, Ride Minnesota. It should be a great day!
All the rain we’re getting this weekend reminds me of the tail-end of our trip to the Grand Canyon. We left Valentine, Nebraska, behind a storm system that was destined to dump record amounts of rain on Minneapolis. It was gray, misty September day. Our objective was Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a straight shot home on US 12 the next day.
The previous day we’d left Colorado, its spectacular mountains gradually fading in the distance as we traveled the Great Plains. The hills of western Nebraska reminded me of a rumpled brown blanket; I half-expected to find a giant asleep beneath them.
The rain got a little heavier and a little colder as we rode north on US 83 toward Pierre. We stopped at a truck stop somewhere along the line. The farmers and truckers just glanced at us as we drank some hot coffee to warm up. We had no choice but to ride in the rain that day. We had to get home.
Yesterday there was thunder and lightning and driving rain. We had a choice, and we opted for my 2000 Saturn as we headed down 35W to Motoprimo to do a book signing. Sales manager Bill Bassett set up a table next to the Victory motorcycles, and Ralph and I spent the day chatting with folks from around the area. The local chapter of Women on Wheels had met at the store earlier in the week, and Bill had ’em primed and pumped to buy a copy of Ride Minnesota.
One of the book buyers was a lively little motorcycle instructor from the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center, Laura Shaffer-Munson. Saying, “Only an idiot rides a motorcycle in a thunderstorm–you’re nothing but a lightning rod,” she told us a story about a motorcyclist who was hit by lighting. Witnesses said the rider continued down the road for a while, then ran into the ditch. He was dead long before he reached it.
Is there anything heavier than a toppled bike? A few years ago, Ralph and I took a trip down US 169 to old Rte. 66 and the Grand Canyon. We stopped for a traffic light in Altoona, Iowa. The bungee cord that held most of our earthly belongings for the trip broke, and the Victory went down. I scrambled to get off as Ralph struggled to keep the motorcycle away from the pavement. The guy in the car behind us got out and helped us push.
Last summer, while working on Ride Minnesota, the bike toppled again. We were in Aitkin, making a left turn from a side street near the American Legion to the main drag. As we started the turn, a local yokel in a pickup truck bounded through the intersection. It was stop or be killed, so we stopped. The motorcycle began its slow descent toward the ground. I hopped off and started pushing. Fortunately, another driver stopped and came to our aid.
Speaking of pushing, I got a call yesterday from Bill, the sales manager at Motoprimo in Lakeville. He wants to talk about book signings and sales. Says he’s “fascinated” by the book. That’s one salesman who has my ear!
Downtown Aitkin, approaching the only stoplight in Aitkin County!
Northway Motorsports, a Victory motorcycle dealer, has agreed to sell Ride Minnesota! The dealership is “way the heck out there” on Hwy. 65 in East Bethel. It’s next to Fat Boys Bar & Grill, a family-friendly biker hangout. I’m acting as the wholesaler to the final seller in this deal, a new role for me. Faith, the lady from Northway who called to order the book, said she thought it would “really move fast.” She also said I’d done a good job on the book–she wanted to get out and try some of the rides. Sweet music to my ears!
One of my favorite rides in Ride Minnesota is also “way the heck out there”–the Gunflint Trail in northeastern Minnesota. It twists and turns out of Grand Marais as it leads you to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There’s only one way in and one way out. But you’ll have to read the book to learn more about it.