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Goodbye, Champ. Hello, Harley.

"Champ" passing through the Needles Tunnel in the Black Hills in May.

“Champ” passing through the Needles Tunnel in the Black Hills in May.

 

Our new Harley is ready for its first adventure. He'll have to earn a nickname.

Our new Harley is ready for its first adventure. He’ll have to earn a nickname.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We said goodbye to our 2002 Victory Deluxe Touring Cruiser this past weekend. “Champ” (named for his champagne-and-cream paint job) had taken us 48,000 miles since we picked him up second-hand in 2007.  He went to the Grand Canyon via Route 66, climbed Colorado’s “Million Dollar Highway”, visited all four corners of the state of Minnesota, drove around Lake Superior, followed the Mississippi River from its source in northern Minnesota to New Orleans, and took us safely through the Black Hills. He also served as a weekday mule, transporting my husband to and from work.

It was sad to see him go, but he was an orphan. Polaris made that particular style only one year. Parts were had to find. At 52,000 miles, he had given good service.

We went down to Harley-Davidson of Winona last Saturday to take part in a pre-Sturgis bash and promote my books. (The photo of Champ, by the way, is on the cover of my new book, Ride the Black Hills.) We took the opportunity to test-drive a couple of Harleys and wound up trading Champ for a 2016 Road King.

The ride home from Winona on Hwy. 61 was highly enjoyable. The weather was beautiful and the Road King handled the curves so smoothly! We’re heading out soon for Glacier National Park. It will be fun to discover how the “new kid” handles the mountains.

Riding with gestures

biker greeting_edited-1There was an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune the other day about new technology that could enable drivers to operate cars with hand gestures. Google has apparently already purchased a company called Flutter that makes software that allows people with webcams to operate Netflix and other apps by making signs. The article didn’t offer many specifics as to how this new car technology would work. Point left to turn left?

Motorcycle riders have been making signs for ages, especially when they ride in groups. Leaders use hand signals to tell others in the group to slow down, watch out for road hazards or stop for refreshments. The signals are fairly standard from group to group.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a downloadable chart on its website that demonstrates the gestures far better than I can describe them.

I can’t imagine (but I could be wrong) that the day will come when motorcyclists drive their bikes by gestures. Although the bigger cruisers can be equipped with cruise control, most of the bikers I’ve met are “hands on” types who like to do their own mechanical work and stay in control of the bike at all times.

There’s one gesture that I know will never be replaced by an “app.” It’s the biker-to-biker greeting like the one we received on our trip around Lake Superior last summer.

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.

Book Signing at Diamonds Tonight

Fresh off an 1,800-plus circle tour of Lake Superior, I’ll be at Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, 1618 Central Ave. N.E., tonight. The local vintage motorcycle group will be meeting, and I’ll be there at 6:30, ready to sell and sign copies of Ride Minnesota. I’m looking forward to talking to the bikers and just plain old having a good time.

Several people have asked me if cars can follow the motorcycle routes described in the book. Yes! In fact, some of them may be easier (or at least more comfortable) in a car. More on that in a different post.

See you tonight!

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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