It was well past sunset, about 8:30 p.m., and the temperature hovered around 30 degrees. But that didn’t stop one adventurous biker from riding his motorcycle past our house Saturday night. If there’s a “call of the wild” for bikers, it’s the distinctive rumble of a motorcycle engine. I expect we’ll hear many more “calls” this week as winter releases its icy hold on the land and on our psyches. I’m looking forward to it.
I had the chance to run down to Lanesboro, Minnesota, last week and deliver copies of Ride Minnesota to Pat Shanahan, who will open his new motorcycle shop/hotel in May. Iron Horse Outfitters & Inn will be a place to buy and sell used motorcycle gear, purchase new stuff, and even some very special one-off motorcycles. A four-room inn is under construction above the store, and it will cater to bikers. Pat’s operation will be a great addition to Lanesboro, and a wonderful place to kick back after a day of riding. If you haven’t traveled the hills and curves of Fillmore and Houston Counties, you’re in for a treat. Southeastern Minnesota has some of the best motorcycle routes in the state. I describe some of them in Ride Minnesota, and I hope to ride a few more this year.
Another area worthy of attention is up around Ely. Folks in the Iron Range are working hard to promote motorcycle tourism in their area. The Minnesota Arrowhead Association has produced a map called “Ride the Arrowhead” that shows paved scenic motorcycle routes in Northeastern Minnesota. Ralph and I are going to try to ride some of these routes this year. You can download the map at Explore Minnesota. If you do ride to Ely, be sure to check out the International Wolf Center on the north side of town. It’s a great way to get in touch with your “wild” side, and your visit helps fund the study and preservation of wolves.
Get out and RIDE Minnesota!
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!
Ralph and I took time between chores today to hop on the motorcycle and ride to Taylors Falls, Minnesota. After having snow dumped on us earlier this week, today’s temps (current reading, 73 degrees), were just too nice to ignore. Although April is nearly at an end, the countryside is a dull brown, more like what you’d see in at the end of March. Small ponds have melted, but the larger lakes still have ice on them. That didn’t stop Minnesotans from hiking around Interstate Park in shorts and tank tops, though! One climber had a really nice (as in ouch!) sunburn going.
We climbed a rocky place near the St. Croix River and ate our lunch, basking in the sun like lizards. It was great to watch soaring birds (I think they were turkey buzzards. They didn’t look like eagles) and smell green grass and wet dirt! I have to admit that I was not prepared for the sight of high school prom-growers walking down the trails to the river. Flowing, sparkly gowns and tuxedos are totally incongruous in a wilderness-like setting.
I packed the only four copies I have of Ride Minnesota into our saddlebags, but we didn’t have much occasion to socialize with other bikers. That’s ok. There are other rides to come.
If you drive MN 95 from Stillwater to Taylors Falls, you may run into this guy. He’s at the Franconia Sculpture Park which is at the corner of MN 95 and US 8. The park is open year-round, dawn to dusk, and it’s free. Read more about it in Ride Minnesota, which should be listed on Amazon.com any day now.