Because I don’t have a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license, going along for the ride is mostly what I do. I sit on the back of our Victory and delight in the scenery around me. I smell the fresh air, lift my face to the sun and sing. Such was the case a week ago Saturday, when Ralph and I joined riders from Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville. The occasion was the annual Blessing of the Bikes. (We figure you can never have too much insurance when you’re riding a motorcycle.) This time, both of us were along for the ride, which began at the church in Lakeville. The Lakeville police escorted our group of 75 bikes out of town. It was kind of nice to have them go ahead and change all the traffic lights as we approached. It kept the group together. From Lakeville we rode to Hastings, where we stopped to take a look at Vermillion Falls. We’ve had ample rain in Minnesota this spring, so the falls were cascading in full force. From Hastings, we followed the Ravenna Trail to the outskirts of Red Wing. On the way, we passed the Prairie Island Indian Community, where the Mdewakantan Dakota have built their homes in circles. We passed Treasure Island Casino, then turned right onto U.S. 61 for a short ride to the Welch Road. I was so busy looking at horses grazing in pastures sprinkled with daisies, Holstein cattle that turned their heads to watch us ride by and woods filled with bright purple phlox that I forgot to keep track of the roads we were riding on (that’s true relaxation!). When we came into Cannon Falls, the group headed north out of town. Soon we came to a one-lane bridge that neither Ralph nor I knew existed. It was the highlight of the ride. This weekend, Ralph will join hundreds of riders for the Patriot Ride at Anoka County Airport. I won’t be along for this ride, however. I’m staying behind to sell copies of Ride Minnesota.
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 Minnesota, 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.
If you don’t believe in God, ride a motorcyle. Seriously. Because when you’re on a bike, you’ll find occasions to talk to a higher power. Take today, for instance.
We joined the Hosanna! Bikers today for the 20th annual Blessing of the Bikes. We met at Hosanna! Lutheran’s sprawling parking lot. Pastor Mike Swecker gave us a prayer and sent us on our way. I didn’t count the bikes, but there had to be at least 100.
We were headed south on MN3, making a left turn onto the Vermilion River Valley Road. A long stream of bikers is hard to miss. Nevertheless, as we headed into the turn, a man in a blue SUV made it very clear: he. wasn’t. going.to.stop. He bore right down upon us and didn’t even slow down! Ralph and I were directly in his path. I looked straight into the cab of his vehicle and his expressionless face told me he wouldn’t mind tiddly-winking a biker or two onto the highway. Somehow, by the grace of God, all of us made it.
“Jesus Martha!” were the first words out of my mouth, followed by “Thank you, God.”
The rest of the ride meandered pleasantly around the Cannon Falls area. The highlight of the trip was the dead end in which we circled around 20-ft. diameter grove of trees and headed back to Lakeville.
Back at the church, we listened to the Daisy Dillman Band (how did I live through the ’80s and not hear them before this?), ate hotdogs and had our Victory prayed over by members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. Oh, and I sold four copies of Ride Minnesota. Thank you, God. It was a good day.
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!