“Got your Harley out yet, Karen?” I asked my neighbor yesterday afternoon. She has a beautiful blue Softail. “No. The snow has to be completely gone and all the sand swept up before I ride,” she replied.
Mother Nature put the damper on the start of the motorcycle season here in Minnesota last week. On Thursday, she dumped 8 inches of wet, heavy snow on the Twin Cities and more in rural areas. It’s enough to make you scream. By suppertime yesterday, the temperature had climbed to 62 degrees and there were only a few humps of snow left around the neighborhood — if you don’t count the shady sides of houses and the hard, black-crusted mountains stacked in parking lots, vacant lots and just about anywhere anyone can think of to pile large quantities of unwanted snow.
My neighbor is not alone in her caution. Yet there are motorcyclists out on the streets and highways, dodging potholes and braving sandy intersections because they just. can’t. wait. any. longer. Motorcycle fever has set in. The desire to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair (or across your helmet) is irresistable, urgent. On weekends, the dealerships are crowded with people checking out new bikes, buying new clothing. Some are even picking up copies of Ride Minnesota.
I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of tourism materials from Wisconsin so Ralph and I can plan some summer rides. In the meantime, our great-niece in California has sent us a Flat Stanley. After reading the book in school, she has sent him to us so that we can bring him along on some adventures. If he’s lucky, Flat Stanley will get to ride on Uncle Ralph’s Victory some time this week.
Snow fell earlier this week, pretty much ending the motorcycle season for most sane riders. There are still a few diehards out there dodging the slick piles of leaves (the trees are finally letting go!) and braving the cold winds. On Tuesday, when the evening commute was accompanied by a mist of snowflakes, I passed a woman riding primly on a scooter. She wore a visor-less helmet and had a lap robe draped across her knees. The fringe tossed in the soggy wind. She looked like a granny minus her rocker. She had to be uncomfortable.
I just received a notice from the Hosanna! Bikers were cancelling their November ride because of the weather. Time to batten down the hatches.
Ralph and I celebrated our October wedding anniversary with a ride along the Mississippi River to Reads Landing, where we had lunch at Reads Landing Brewing Company (great sandwiches, local beer). The trees were just beinning to turn color then, and the weather was a little on the cool side, but not uncomfortable. If you had told me 34 years ago that I’d be riding on the back of a bike at age 60, I would have laughed my head off. Now there are times when I’d like to make it a way of life.
After lunch we drove a couple of miles further south to Wabasha and crossed the river to Wisconsin. We were immediately passed by a posse of crotch rocket dudes. Heads down, speeding through the curves, they clearly weren’t interested in the changing leaves or the tall limestone bluffs along the highway. Time will come when their testosterone levels drop and they’ll want to slow down and actually see where they’re going. By then, maybe, they’ll be ready for a book like Ride Minnesota.
October was a good month for the book. I sold 21 copies in one day at the Twin Cities Book Festival. The owner of SubText Books in St. Paul dropped by and said she wanted to sell the book in her store. And I learned the name of another place in Cambridge that may be interested in carrying it. The following weekend was not quite as successful–I sold just 13 copies at the Home Improvement & Design Expo. But that’s more than I would have sold had I stayed home. And, I learned about a Dunn Bros. Coffee initiate called coffeeandbooks.com that I have to check into a little more thoroughly. The month ended with word that Hennepin County Libraries had ordered the book.