Category Archives: Ride Minnesota

Making the most of a short season

Benefit ride for the St. Cloud Children's Home

Benefit ride for the St. Cloud Children’s Home

The motorcycle season is short in Minnesota. It says so right on the back cover of my book, Ride Minnesota.  Now that we’ve left winter behind, we’re in the rainy season when thunderstorms can crop up just in time for rush hour and dampen your ride home from work.

A lot of people ride their motorcycles to work. I temped recently at Thomson Reuters in Eagan and entire sections of the parking lots (there are multiple lots) were designated solely for motorcycles. It’s nice to have a motorcycle-friendly employer. Motorcycling to work not only saves money on gas, it also gets you there sooner, thanks to the diamond lanes on metro freeways.

Still, there’s nothing like riding two-lane blacktop on a sunny day. Discovering what’s just beyond that next curve lends an air of mystery to a ride, whether it’s another set of curves, an uphill climb or a cow grazing peacefully in a nearby pasture.

Today’s gray, rainy weather gives me another chance to work on building my retail network.  Here’s a list of places where you can purchase Ride Minnesota.  Here’s to sunnier days ahead!

Eat My Words Bookstore, 1228 2nd St. N.E., Minneapolis. MN 55413

Harley-Davidson Shop of Winona, 1845 Mobil Drive, Winona, MN 55987

Indian Motorcycle Twin Cities, 2967 Hudson Rd., St. Paul, MN 55128

Mankato Harley-Davidson, 1200 N. River Drive, Mankato, MN 56001

Northway Sports, 21429 Ulysses St. N.E., East Bethel, MN 55011

Route 65 Classics, 14954 Aberdeen St. N.E., Ham Lake, MN 55304

St. Paul Harley-Davidson, 2899 Hudson Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55128

Trav’s Outfitter, 7315 Hwy. 65 N.E., Fridley, MN 55432

Twin Cities Harley-Davidson-Blaine, 1441 85th Ave. N.E., Blaine, MN 55449

Twin Cities Harley-Davidson-Lakeville, 10770 165th St. W., Lakeville, MN 55044

SubText Books, 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55102

Zylstra Harley-Davidson, 19600 Evans St NW, Elk River, MN 55330

Splitting the lanes

Ralph and I just spent a week in southern California, which has to be — weather-wise — motorcycle heaven, especially when you get away from stinky, exhaust fume-ridden I-5 (“The 5”, as it’s called locally). Getting off the  freeway allows you to follow the coast, drive along citrus orchards and make you feel like you own the world.

Fresh ocean breezes notwithstanding, California has a law that scares the hell out of me. The Golden State allows motorcyclists to “split” the traffic lanes.  Maybe it’s because I’m still relatively new to motorcyclng, but I find it unnerving to have a biker come up from behind me, swerve to the white line between the lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehciles and zip to the head of the line. I worry about their safety, especially when traffic moves a little faster. It would be so easy to get a little too close, bounce off a  car  and end up on the pavement. Whitelining is allowed in Texas, too, and in England, where motorcyclists sneak up on you from the left. In Minnesota, the freeways have designated motorcycle lanes, for which I am grateful.

I’ll be doing some “splitting” of a different kind this weekend.  I’ll be at the Fury Motorcycle open house tomorrow morning from 10:00-1:00, promoting Ride Minnesota. Then I’ll move up to East Bethel for the open house at Northway Sports from 2:00-4:00. Yesterday afternoon, I heard back-to-back commercials for both on KQRS. Let’s hope the weather is better than predicted!

Ride Minnesota Reviewed by Clutch and Chrome

Clutch Chrome reviewI just stumbled upon this nice review from Clutch & Chrome Magazine, from July 16, 2013.

 

 

You Meet the Nicest People

Back in 1963, Honda Motorcycles ran an advertising campaign that proclaimed, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I’d like to amend that to “You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle.” Period. It doesn’t matter the make or the model, bikers are some of the nicest people I’ve run across in a long time.

I stopped out at Indian Motorcycles in St. Paul today and dropped off some copies of Ride Minnesota. Although owner Art Welch wasn’t interested stocking the book, he has graciously allowed me to snag a little counter space in his beautiful store. Can you believe it, almost every motorcycle on his show floor has been sold? There’s a lot of pent-up demand for Indians (Polaris has done a good job of marketing them). I hope the long winter and pent-up feelings extend into book sales, too.

I also stopped next door at St. Paul Harley Davidson. The folks there haven’t yet decided whether or not they’ll take the book, but John in the parts department invited me to a seminar on motorcycle touring that he’s giving in April. I’m already booked that day, but I appreciate invitation and the enthusiasm. In fact, so many people involved in motorcycling have been so helpful and encouraging.

I saw some bikers on the road today, and there were quite a number of folks buying parts and new batteries for their bikes to get ready for riding season. The temperature hovered around 45 degrees, but the weather was an ever-changing mixture of sleet, snow, sunshine. It’s the annual wresting match between spring and winter in Minnesota.  Still, it won’t be long until the rumble of a well-tuned motorcycle is heard again.

Living in the Past, Thinking About the Future

I’ve been living the past for a couple of days now, re-tracing routes that Ralph and I drove last summer. I’ve written about a couple that I want to include in a new version of Ride Minnesota (don’t get excited, it’s long ways off). I’m also trying to make something out of our tour around Lake Superior. It was a completely different trip and didn’t fall into the same pattern as Ride.

While I’m studying road maps and Google satellite images and recalling what I saw, felt and experienced, I’m also trying to stake out my territory in motorcycle dealerships for the upcoming riding season. While I haven’t heard the rumble of a bike in my neighborhood yet, I have been visiting bike shops in the Twin Cities area.

The Indian dealership on I-94 in St. Paul said I could bring in a few copies of the book to sell. They don’t want to run it through their inventory, but they’ll put it out on the counter and collect the money for me. Fair enough. Fury Motorcycle in South St. Paul invited me to its open house on April 26. Justin Olmeim tells me they had 2,000 bikers at their event last spring. It’s an offer I can’t refuse! Northway Sports in East Bethel, one of my first and best supporters, has an open house the same day. Somehow, I’ll have to find a way to attend both events. King Solomon, where are you?

The generosity of the biking community in allowing me to hang out at their places of business, to carry my book and encouraging me to get out and push totally defies the tough-guy image that leather, studs and loud bikes proclaim.

Waiting to board the ferry to Madeline Island.

Waiting to board the ferry to Madeline Island.

Signs of Spring

I am so sick of this long Minnesota winter I could chew roofing nails! It definitely was a lot more fun when I was a kid and played in the snow and didn’t worry about breaking my bones. Ah, but there are signs of spring, despite below-zero temperatures (at the end of February? Ya gotta be kidding me!).

The first sign is a review of Ride Minnesota in the March issue of Thunder Press, a tabloid that reaches some 60-70-80,000 Harley Davidson owners. I can’t wait to see it.

As a result of that review, I received a call from Audrey Johnson, who organized the Motorcycle Life Expo that Ralph and I attended earlier this month (in a snowstorm). She’s got a booth at the upcoming Donnie Smith Motorcycle Show at the St. Paul River Centre, and asked me if I’d like to join her and sell my book at her booth.  Would I! I’m already checking my booth supplies. I think I’ll need to order more books.

The third sign is an invitation to do a reading of Ride Minnesota at Eat My Words Bookstore here in “Nordeast” Minneapolis.  I’m so excited that Scott and his son, Peter, are hosting this event. It happens at 3:00 p.m. on March 22. The store already has copies of the book on consignment, but I’ll bring more copies.

I’m revving my book marketing engine. By the time the snow melts and Ralph and I can get on the highways, it’ll be in high gear.RIDE-MN-Cover_WEB

Creeping Toward Spring

EatMyWordsLike many Minnesotans, I am really tired of the meteorological roller coaster we’ve been on since, well, Christmas. It’s been so cold for so long even the icicles have stopped growing.

There has been some relief on the weekends when the temperature slowly wiggles its way up to 15 degrees. This past Saturday I took time to visit a new bookstore in “Nordeast”, Eat My Words. It’s on 2nd St. and 12th Ave. N.E., across the street from Dangerous Man Brewing (their chocolate beer is wicked) and kitty-corner from St. Cyril & St. Methodius Church. Eat My Words deals in rare and used books and books by local authors. The owner took three copies of Ride Minnesota on consignment, and we talked about doing an event in March.

The days are slowly getting longer, if not warmer. Bikers are definitely thinking about spring. Ralph and I are heading to another motorcycle show this Saturday, the Motorcycle Life Expo, at the National Sports Center in Blaine. I’ll make more book marks this week to hand out as we mingle with the bikers.

Spring’s gotta come sometime!

Spring Rollouts

The headline in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune says it all: “Indian Motorcycle shifts into overdrive as spring nears.” Polaris isn’t the only one shifting gears. As  Minnesota weather continues to stay in the deep freeze, there are signs of spring in the motorcycle world.

I’m getting more and more emails for motorcycle gear. And last week, the editor Thunder Press called to ask for a high-resolution photo of the cover of Ride Minnesota. He’s publishing a review in the March issue. The tabloid reaches around 70,000 Harley Davidson owners, so I’m looking for a boost in sales.

A couple of weeks ago, Ralph and I attended the International Motorcycle Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. While Ralph sniffed around the new motorcycles, particularly the Indians and the Victories, I handed out book marks with a photo of the book cover on it and the words, “Available from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.” I’ve seen a slight uptick in sales on Amazon since then.

It’s time for me to shift into gear, too, and start promoting spring sales of Ride Minnesota. And to start writing another book, about our Lake Superior Circle Tour.

Googling Myself

Okay, I admit it. This is work-avoidance at its most digital. I was looking up information on an attorney in Texas and decided to see what comes up these days when my name is typed into Google. I found this blog, my website, mentions about organizations I belong to, references to my out-of-print books and this review of Ride Minnesota from Clutchandchrome.com. Trolling further, I found myself in the newsletter of the Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. It’s nice to know my PR efforts yielded some fruit.

At -1 below zero, only a true nut would ride a motorcycle today (if it would even start! Ours is up on a stand for the winter.). It’s a good day to stay close to the fire (or the radiator, in our case) with hot chocolate and a book. Preferably one on motorcycling in Minnesota…

Need a REALLY last-minute Christmas gift? Instant delivery guaranteed.

RIDE-MN-Cover_WEBDesperate times call for desperate measures.  If you truly need a stocking stuffer for your biker buddy, visit Amazon.com and download a copy of Ride Minnesota for his or her Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Minnesota-Great-Motorcycle-Rides-ebook/dp/B00E7YSYUS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1387894235&sr=1-1&keywords=Ride+Minnesota  It’s only $4.99, and Christmas delivery is guaranteed!

Merry Christmas!