Blog Archives

Living in the Past, Thinking About the Future

I’ve been living the past for a couple of days now, re-tracing routes that Ralph and I drove last summer. I’ve written about a couple that I want to include in a new version of Ride Minnesota (don’t get excited, it’s long ways off). I’m also trying to make something out of our tour around Lake Superior. It was a completely different trip and didn’t fall into the same pattern as Ride.

While I’m studying road maps and Google satellite images and recalling what I saw, felt and experienced, I’m also trying to stake out my territory in motorcycle dealerships for the upcoming riding season. While I haven’t heard the rumble of a bike in my neighborhood yet, I have been visiting bike shops in the Twin Cities area.

The Indian dealership on I-94 in St. Paul said I could bring in a few copies of the book to sell. They don’t want to run it through their inventory, but they’ll put it out on the counter and collect the money for me. Fair enough. Fury Motorcycle in South St. Paul invited me to its open house on April 26. Justin Olmeim tells me they had 2,000 bikers at their event last spring. It’s an offer I can’t refuse! Northway Sports in East Bethel, one of my first and best supporters, has an open house the same day. Somehow, I’ll have to find a way to attend both events. King Solomon, where are you?

The generosity of the biking community in allowing me to hang out at their places of business, to carry my book and encouraging me to get out and push totally defies the tough-guy image that leather, studs and loud bikes proclaim.

Waiting to board the ferry to Madeline Island.

Waiting to board the ferry to Madeline Island.

Once is Never Enough

We’ve heard a lot lately about bikers showing off–popping wheelies and performing dangerous stunts in traffic. Perhaps the worst is the gang-banging that took place in New York last week. Authorities there are still trying to sort out what really happened, but it sounds like a minor bump from the SUV to a motorcycle spiraled out of control.  And then there’s the Minnesota woman who was drunk and drove into a man and a woman on a motorcycle. They’re dead because she cross the center line. I have a T-shirt from a recent book siging at Northway Sports, It’s from Allstate Insurance and it says, “Once is never enough. Look twice for motorcycles.”

You won’t have to look twice for me tomorrow at the Twin Cities Book Festival. It’s at the MinnesotaRIDE-MN-Cover_WEB State Fairgrounds, in the Progress building.  (That’s the north end of the fairgrounds. The Salem Lutheran Church Diner –where you can buy Scandinavian egg coffee during the fair– is just in front of the door.) The festival runs from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and there are author lectures and book signings going on all over the place. My table–111–is on an outside row, across the aisle from Rain Taxi’s used book sale. I couldn’t be happier with my placement. I’ve signs and a big poster advertising Ride Minnesota. I have my Square for credit card sales, which I’m eager to try out. The biggest temptation will be to refrain from visiting all the other tables and coming home with a big load of books. (So many books, so little time!)

I hear the weather is going to be good tomorrow, if a little windy. If you’re out riding, come in a browse some books. If you’re a bookworm like me, well, you know what to do!

“Beyond the Bookstore”

Record snow depth on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula is 139 inches.

Record snow depth on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is 139 inches.

Once you’ve sold the first 100 copies of your book to your family and friends, you have to work a little harder. I just received notice from Amazon that the book I ordered, “Beyond the Bookstore,” has  shipped. It’s supposed to be filled with ideas for unconventional ways and means of selling books. I’ve been doing some of that on my own, making appearances at motorcycle dealerships with a saddlebag full of copies of Ride Minnesota.

Showing up at unexpected places is a fun way to market a product, if somewhat time-consuming. In the next few weeks, I’ll be at Northway Sports (September 28), the Twin Cities Book Festival (October 13, sponsored by Rain Taxi) and the Home Improvement & Design Expo (October 19-20). I have no idea what to expect from the last one, but Northway is going to loan me a hot new motorcycle to attract attention and keep me company in the booth.

Showing up at unexpected places reminds me somewhat of motorcycle touring, when you often find things at unexpected places. This summer Ralph and I took the Lake Superior Circle Tour. One of the great places to ride along the way is the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan. That’s where we came across this gigantic thermometer that measures snow depth in the area.  It’s something we never expected to see. The record snow depth, by the way, is 139 inches. I’m damned glad I didn’t have to shovel it.

Hot Weather, Hot Bikes

The temperature is supposed to go into the 90s today here in Minnesota, with high humidity. Major stickiness. One way to cool off might be a take a ride on a hot bike. Northway Sports in East Bethel is hosting the Victory demo truck today and tomorrow. Come out and try a 2014 Victory motorcycle!

No, I am not a paid spokesperson for Victory. I am, however, the author of Ride Minnesota: 23 Great Motorcycle Rides in the North Star State and I’ll be at Northway today and tomorrow to sign copies of my book.  So ride on up to 21429 Ulysses St. N.E., right next to Fatboys Restaurant!