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Push, push, push

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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!

Break-in ride

Ralph and I took time between chores today to hop on the motorcycle and ride to Taylors Falls, Minnesota. After having snow dumped on us earlier this week, today’s temps (current reading, 73 degrees), were just too nice to ignore. Although April is nearly at an end, the countryside is a dull brown, more like what you’d see in at the end of March. Small ponds have melted, but the larger lakes still have ice on them. That didn’t stop Minnesotans from hiking around Interstate Park in shorts and tank tops, though! One climber had a really nice (as in ouch!) sunburn going.

We climbed a rocky place near the St. Croix River and ate our lunch, basking in the sun like lizards. It was great to watch soaring birds (I think they were turkey buzzards. They didn’t look like eagles) and smell green grass and wet dirt! I have to admit that I was not prepared for the sight of high school prom-growers walking down the trails to the river. Flowing, sparkly gowns and tuxedos are totally incongruous in a wilderness-like setting.

I packed the only four copies I have of Ride Minnesota into our saddlebags, but we didn’t have much occasion to socialize with other bikers. That’s ok. There are other rides to come.

If you drive MN 95 from Stillwater to Taylors Falls, you may run into this guy. He’s at the Franconia Sculpture Park which is at the corner of MN 95 and US 8. The park is open year-round, dawn to dusk, and it’s free. Read more about it in Ride Minnesota, which should be listed on Amazon.com any day now.
Lizard Lounge

It’s about the bike, stupid!

Last December, RoadRUNNER magazine published my article, “The Other Grand Canyon,” a story about a ride Ralph and I took through Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. The editor asked me if I had any photos of our motorcycle at the canyon, and I had to tell her no. Until that time, it had never dawned on me that to most readers of motorcycle publications, the trip is about the bike as much as it is the scenery. I am after all, just a tourist riding on the back. I tried to keep that in mind as I worked on my forthcoming book, Ride Minnesota, looking for exciting backgrounds for “heroic” shots of the bike.

Here are the details on our bike: It’s a 1508cc 2002 champagne-and-cream Victory Deluxe Touring Cruiser. Rlaph added true dual ceramic-coated pipes because, he says, he gets better performance and gas mileage. (It made the bike a lot noisier!)

We purchased the motorcycle secondhand from a guy who said it had been made for one of the executives at Polaris. It had just 3,000 miles on it. Since then, it’s been to the Grand Canyon and back and all over Minnesota, and the total is now several thousand miles north of 30,000.

One of the cool places we found was the Gold Mine Bridge near Redwood Falls. It’s one of the few wooden bridges left in Minnesota.

Gold Mine Bridge, near Redwood Falls

Gold Mine Bridge, near Redwood Falls

It’s “in the mail!”

The physical proof of Ride Minnesota is on its way to Minnesota! It’s been a longer process than I anticipated. There must be a lot of self-publishers out there.

CreateSpace works differently than what I’m accustomed to. I’ve always marked up the layout and passed it back to the graphics person to make the corrections. With CreateSpace, you make the corrections yourself and re-submit the manuscript each time you make a correction (I was allowed two rounds because the first round included making an index from the first set of proofs.). I now have multiple copies of the “final” manuscript and a couple of PDF proofs filed in my computer.

It’s certainly not motorcycle weather here in Minnesota today. After receiving 7 inches of snow this week (15 in some parts of the state!), we’re still waiting for spring and riding weather. Here’s a photo from last summer, taken at the Cascade River pullout along the North Shore. This photo is in the book, but it looks very different in black and white.

Cascade River pullout, North Shore Drive

Cascade River pullout, North Shore Drive