Category Archives: Victory motorcycle

I hate my helmet

helmet jacketI’m not very fond of my DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. It’s heavy, the foam padding is scratchy, and sometimes the visor makes me feel like I’m in a cage. Yet, even though Minnesota law requires helmets only for people 17 years old or younger, I still wear it.

I was discussing motorcycling with my eye doctor (he’s an avid biker) during my last visit to his office.  He asked if I wore a helmet and I said yes. He nodded his head. “Me, too,” he said.  “After all it’s your brain!”

There was an excellent commentary by Darrell Brandt in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week about wearing helmet while riding. There’s a saying among bikers: “If you haven’t dumped your motorcycle, you will. It’s just a matter of time”.  Brandt argues that the same is true for needing helmets, and I’d have to agree.

We’ve had to drop our Victory a couple of times in our journeys around Minnesota and Canada. One time I ended up on my back with my head resting on the pavement. Thank goodnesss for that heavy, scratchy helmet!

The photo in this post shows Ralph’s helmet and jacket after an “up close and personal” encounter with the concrete on I-35 in downtown Minneapolis. He was only doing 35 mph at the time.

Stay safe!

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

Motorcycle Fever

“Got your Harley out yet, Karen?” I asked my neighbor yesterday afternoon. She has a beautiful blue Softail.  “No. The snow has to be completely gone and all the sand swept up before I ride,” she replied.

Mother Nature put the damper on the start of the motorcycle season here in Minnesota last week.  On Thursday, she dumped 8 inches of wet, heavy snow on the Twin Cities and more in rural areas. It’s enough to make you scream. By suppertime yesterday, the temperature had climbed to 62 degrees and there were only a few humps of snow left around the neighborhood — if you don’t count the shady sides of houses and the hard, black-crusted mountains stacked in parking lots, vacant lots and just about anywhere anyone can think of to pile large quantities of unwanted snow.

My neighbor is not alone in her caution. Yet there are motorcyclists out on the streets and highways, dodging potholes and braving sandy intersections because they just. can’t. wait. any. longer. Motorcycle fever has set in. The desire to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair (or across your helmet) is irresistable, urgent. On weekends, the dealerships are crowded with people checking out new bikes, buying new clothing. Some are even picking up copies of Ride Minnesota.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of tourism materials from Wisconsin so Ralph and I can plan some summer rides.  In the meantime, our great-niece in California has sent us a Flat Stanley. After reading the book in school, she has sent him to us so that we can bring him along on some adventures. If he’s lucky, Flat Stanley will get to ride on Uncle Ralph’s Victory some time this week.

Packing Up

RIDE-MN-Cover_WEBWith temperatures edging up into the 40s and 50s, you can bet that motorcycles will be cruising around the Twin Cities this weekend. I know Ralph will be out in the garage installing new turn signal lights on his Victory cruiser. As for me, I’ll be at the Donnie Smith Bike & Car Show at the River Centre in St. Paul.

I have a case of shiny new copies of Ride Minnesota out in the garage. Today, I’m packing up my “show box”, filling it with more copies of the book, bookmarks for giveaways, extra pens, my cashbox, signs and an easel for displaying a poster-sized version of the book cover. It’s the biggest event I have attended as an exhibitor — more than 18,000 are expected to attend. (Gee, I wonder if I have enough books? Yikes! I’d better pack an order form, too.)  I also have to make sure my cell phone’s charged and my card reader is ready to go.

Thanks to Audrey Johnson of Motorcycle Life EXPO for inviting me to share her table. We’ll be at Booth 22 on the main floor of the show.

The streets and highways haven’t been cleaned yet. Watch out for gravel and keep the shiny side up!

 

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.

Buttoned up and hunkered down

RIDE-MN-Cover_WEBIt’s been damned cold in Minnesota this past week. Snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures have definitely put a halt to motorcycling. Our Victory has been lovingly washed and polished and stored for the winter, its battery removed to a warm indoor place.  God knows when it will next cruise the highways and byways.

Now’s a good time to sit by the fire (or in our house, the radiator) and read. And what better book for a motorcyclist to read on a cold winter’s day than Ride Minnesota? The book is a great gift item — a stocking stuffer! — for the motorcyclist in your life.  And, from now until December 18, I will gladly sell you a signed copy for just $8! Talk about a cyber deal! That’s 20 percent off list, and unlike the one you can order from Amazon, it will be personally inscribed with the biker’s name and an appropriate message.

You have 10 days to take advantage of this offer. Why just 10 days? I gotta make a deal with Santa to pick it up and deliver it to you by Christmas!

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the biker who has everything, Ride Minnesota is it. Email me at the address below to order. And yes, I take credit cards.

cynthia.sowden@gmail.com

Merry Christmas!

Fall Riding

Victory Motorcycles just posted on Facebook about adding a windshield to your motorcycle so you can better enjoy fall riding.  While it cuts down on the wind, a windshield isn’t the only reason to get out and ride this fall. There’s the sunlight on your back and shoulders, the fresh breezes and, of course, the fall colors.

The colors here in Minnesota are delayed by a couple of weeks, thanks to the winter that lingered into … May. Ralph and I were in north central Minnesota last weekend, and the ash trees were the only yellow we saw. Poison ivy or Virginia creeper (who’s going to get close enough to find out which?) provided splashes of red. Otherwise, everything is still summer green.

The weather-guessers have already changed the weekend forecast from rain on Saturday to showers ending by early afternoon. In a couple more days, the rain may evaporate completely!

If you’re out riding on Saturday, stop in at Northway Sports for their fall open house. I’ll be there, selling and signing copies of Ride Minnesota.

Hot Weather, Hot Bikes

The temperature is supposed to go into the 90s today here in Minnesota, with high humidity. Major stickiness. One way to cool off might be a take a ride on a hot bike. Northway Sports in East Bethel is hosting the Victory demo truck today and tomorrow. Come out and try a 2014 Victory motorcycle!

No, I am not a paid spokesperson for Victory. I am, however, the author of Ride Minnesota: 23 Great Motorcycle Rides in the North Star State and I’ll be at Northway today and tomorrow to sign copies of my book.  So ride on up to 21429 Ulysses St. N.E., right next to Fatboys Restaurant!

Ready to Ride

Swimsuits, check. Sunscreen, check.  Long underwear, check.

When the kickstand goes up tomorrow morning, our Victory’s nose will be pointed north (instead of south, toward work). We’ll leave early for a week-long ride around Lake Superior. Maybe we won’t need the longjohns, but you never know how warm it will be on the shores of Gitchi Gumi.

After leaving the Twin Cities, we’ll start our circle around the lake at Duluth and travel eastward across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We’ll cross the border into Canada (Passports, check.) at Sault Ste. Marie. It always amazes me how the U.S. side of the lake is so filled with towns and people, but the Ontario side is so sparsely populated and wild. Toronto and Nipigon are a long way–even worlds–apart.

The camera is packed and ready to, and my notebook, too. I want to add another book to what I hope will become my “Ride” series. I know others have circumnavigated Superior and written about it. But this will be our ride, our experiences and insights.

We’re excited, and anxious to be on the road. And we’ll be doing our best to stay safe and, as the women from the Christian Motorcyclists prayed during the Blessing of the Bikes, to “remain upright.”

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Exploring Minnesota Via Motorcycle

This is a do-over. I unintentionally hit the publish button in the quick publish mode. I will not use that mode again!

As I was saying, riding with a group of motorcyclists is fun, but I also find it confining. It’s a lot of work keeping track of the rider ahead of you, the guy on the side and the ones following (even though I’m not driving!). More so than in a car. And, of course, you end up sniffing a lot of motorcycle exhaust.

That’s why Ralph and I like exploring on our own, discovering hills and valleys, curves and straight-aways, new sights, new sounds, fresh air. Just us. That’s how I came to write and publish Ride MinnesotaRIDE-MN-Cover_WEB, to share our experiences other motorcyclists who want to get out and explore Minnesota. There are a lot of interesting places in this state, and we haven’t seem ’em all–yet.

I’ll be at Motoprimo in Lakeville tomorrow afternoon, in conjunction with the Victory Demo Truck Tour. I’ll have copies of Ride Minnesota on hand, ready to sign and purchase. Come and see me!