Ralph and I took our first long ride of the season on Wednesday. We followed MN 47 north to the family cabin near Aitkin. It was a beautiful, picture-perfect Minnesota day, the kind we live for all winter. The sun shone down benevolently from a deep blue sky. The temperature was a motorcycle-friendly 65 degrees when we left Minneapolis in the morning and in the mid-70s when we returned that evening.
One of the things I like about riding a motorcycle is that you become part of the landscape. The corn, which has started to tassel out, seems much closer than it does when you’re riding in a car. You can see lakes and small ponds that aren’t visible from the cab of a truck. As the day heats up, you can smell the water, new-mown hay, the spicy-woody scent of birch trees and the heady aroma of pine.
You see more wildlife, too. As we neared Isle, I spied a deer happily chowing down on some woman’s flowers. I bet she was thrilled. On the way home I counted one deer, three Canadian geese and two herons.
I’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.