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Get Your Motor Runnin’

Sunset, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sunset, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Steppenwolf”s “Born to be Wild” is running through my head this morning. An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning reported a new event in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, that townspeople hope will become an annual event: “Dennis Hopper Day.”

What a change from the ’70s, when “Easy Rider” was a cult hit and Hopper and Peter Fonda played misunderstood, pot-smoking bikers! Dennis Hopper Day featured a rally and  a ride out of town. As in the movie, bikers were accompanied by a police escort. This time, however, they toured scenes from the movie instead of visiting the local jail. Much of this change of heart can be attributed to Hopper himself, who made friends with local Navajo and Hispanic families and broke down cultural barriers during filming. Hopper died in Taos in 2010, but his spirit lives on.

New Mexico is a wonderful place to ride, with long, open stretches, snow-capped mountains and canyons to explore. The food is good, too. Navajo fry bread, right out of the pan, is a heavenly treat, and the New Mexican version of chili can blow your head off.

If  the desert Southwest isn’t on your travel itinerary this summer, look closer to home. Ride Minnesota (you knew I had to sneak a mention in somewhere) can be your guide to some great weekend trips.

Get your motor runnin’ / Head out on the highway / Looking for adventure / In whatever comes our way 

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.

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 and” 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.