Goodbye, Champ. Hello, Harley.
We said goodbye to our 2002 Victory Deluxe Touring Cruiser this past weekend. “Champ” (named for his champagne-and-cream paint job) had taken us 48,000 miles since we picked him up second-hand in 2007. He went to the Grand Canyon via Route 66, climbed Colorado’s “Million Dollar Highway”, visited all four corners of the state of Minnesota, drove around Lake Superior, followed the Mississippi River from its source in northern Minnesota to New Orleans, and took us safely through the Black Hills. He also served as a weekday mule, transporting my husband to and from work.
It was sad to see him go, but he was an orphan. Polaris made that particular style only one year. Parts were had to find. At 52,000 miles, he had given good service.
We went down to Harley-Davidson of Winona last Saturday to take part in a pre-Sturgis bash and promote my books. (The photo of Champ, by the way, is on the cover of my new book, Ride the Black Hills.) We took the opportunity to test-drive a couple of Harleys and wound up trading Champ for a 2016 Road King.
The ride home from Winona on Hwy. 61 was highly enjoyable. The weather was beautiful and the Road King handled the curves so smoothly! We’re heading out soon for Glacier National Park. It will be fun to discover how the “new kid” handles the mountains.
It’s what you get after spending seven to ten days riding a motorcycle. Similar to jet lag, it persists for a couple of days after you park the bike in the garage. The sound of an open throttle brings it all back — the wind, leaning into a curve, the hum of a well-tuned engine, the vibrations under the foot pegs.
Traveling by motorcycle is far better than going by plane. There are no TSA inspection lines. No two-hour waits at the airport. You just get on the bike and go.
We just returned from a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It’s early; motorcyclists were few and far between. So were the other tourists, in fact. Compared to a sunny day in July, the viewing plaza at Mt. Rushmore was practically empty. And we had many roads all to ourselves. A great way to get away from meetings, deadlines and political debates. In a couple of months, Spearfish Canyon and the roads leading to Sturgis will be filled with the rumble of Harleys, Victories, Hondas BMWs.
By then, I’ll be well over my motorcycle lag and ready for more adventures. The motorcycle season is open! Get out and Ride Minnesota!
One of Ralph’s dreams is to ride the Victory to Washington, DC and join the Rolling Thunder rally. Honoring fellow veterans fires his imagination in a way that going to Sturgis doesn’t.
I have to admit, there is something thrilling about joining a big ride. We joined the Twin Cities Victory Riders for a cruise down to Spirit Lake, Iowa, a few years ago. We had the option of taking a tour of the Victory manufacturing plant, but it was a gorgeous day, too nice to spend indoors.
We did the Spring Flood Run a couple years back. Thirty thousand rumbling, snorting motorcycles. It’s a high-octane, testosterone-fueled event (although there were plenty of women bikers in the crowd, too.) We started all together in Lake St. Croix Beach. Some peeled off toward Winona, others headed across the Mississippi River to Wisconsin. Some, I’m sure, got no further than the bars in Prescott.
For others, like ourselves, it’s the ride. Once we hit the open road, we just have to see the next town, feel the next curve, climb the next hill.
On June 15, we’ll join the Hosanna! Bikers from Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville for their annual “Blessing of the Bikes.” The day includes a ride, lunch, blessings and music by the Daisy Dillman Band.
And the organizers said I can take orders for, but not sell, Ride Minnesota. It should be a great day!