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Last Rides

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 that I have to check into a little more thoroughly. The month ended with word that Hennepin County Libraries had ordered the book.

Reads Landing Brewing Company graciously offers motorcycle parking.

Reads Landing Brewing Company graciously offers motorcycle parking.

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!

Home Again

Grand Canyon park closed. Sign near Ash Fork, AZ

Grand Canyon park closed. Sign near Ash Fork, AZ

What a difference between traveling in a car vs. riding a motorcycle! Ralph and I just returned from a trip to California following the death of our brother-in-law. We lacked funds for a short-notice plane ride (and qualifying for “bereavement” fares is a pain in the butt!), so we drove the interstates. No time for backroads, although I have to say I-70 is the most scenic interstate I’ve been on, with lots of twists and curves through the Colorado Rockies.

We came back through Arizona and New Mexico to avoid the snow storms in the Dakotas. I enjoyed seeing the Southwest again: the red-striped rock formations, the blazingly-blue skies, the ruins of old Rte. 66 in the background. We got to eat Navajo food again (I love fry bread, but watch out for the cactus pads–they have a laxative effect!). But I missed feeling the sun and the wind and smelling the fresh piney air around Flagstaff.

By the time we hit the drizzle that accompanied us from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Minneapolis, I was thankful for the heater in the car.

Now, it’s back to work and back to promoting Ride Minnesota. I’ll be at the Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Fesitval this Saturday at the State Fair grounds. It’s in the Progress Center, and it runs from 10:00 until 5:00. Excuse me while I go check my supply of books!

“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.