By the numbers

So it’s official. I, along with my brother have been riding motorcycles for forty years now. We got our first bike, a Honda Z50 mini-trail in the spring of ’73. Those first five years were a whirlwind of riding every chance we got, after school, weekends and summer vacations. By ’78 I had started racing motocross and even got a part time job at the local Honda shop putting bikes together after school and on Saturdays. Those were heady times. Every year brought new and exciting models to oggle and dream of owning “someday”. The next five years saw me continuing my carreer as a mechanic and achieving the rank of expert at motocross racing, only to have my ambitions of turning pro dashed by a broken collarbone towards the end of the ’81 season. The following summer my son was born and so I decided to be somewhat responsible and give up the racing, for a while. I had even sold my streetbike that year in order to pay for some machine shop equipment so I was down to just one lone trailbike that seldom got ridden. That was a tough summer as I rode my bicycle to work most days. The next five years saw me taking a new job at a more progressive motorcycle shop across town and leaving that for a stint at IBM in ’85 after working at Cycle City for two years. A couple more new streetbikes appeared and a project three-wheeler was completed during that time. By ’89 I had tired of the corporate rat race and took the leap of faith and started my own repair shop out of my house. That first year was tough but then word got around about my place and the work came in. I started motocross racing again after a nine year “retirement” when they started an over thirty class called “Vet”. I was a vet, alright, in more ways than one! In ’94 we moved the shop to Zumbrota and I bought the farm out by Wanamingo and proceeded to run the business and start the barn remodeling job at night and on the weekends. My racing days came to an end with the move but I still managed to go trail riding now and then. By ’99 I had closed the shop and decided to go back working for “the Man” at various shops in the area. In the process I started racking up ten thousand miles per year on the first of several streetbikes, one of which I still own, the ’84 Nighthawk. Then in ’04 I figured out that over the years I had owned and ridden more than thirty five motorcycles up to that point and had racked up more than one hundred thousand miles on them, not to mention the thousands of miles bouncing around in the dirt during my racing days! I have had some injuries over the years but nothing spectacular and I had a run-in with a deer in ’04 with the Nighthawk that I don’t wish to repeat but all in all it has been a fun forty years. These days I still ride to work most every day during the summer and my brother and I take our annual trip to Davenport for the Vintage swap meet and races. We plan on going to Ohio this July for the huge AMA Vintage motorcycle days event as a way of celebrating. I will keep you posted on that as well. Here’s hoping the next forty are just as fun. Happy motoring!

Only in Minnesota…

Only in Minnesota can you be dealing with snow one week and the next be mowing the grass. By the looks of things I will have to do some “spot mowing” this weekend. Crazy. All that snow sure melted fast and underneath was green grass just waiting to shoot skyward. My wife even spotted some asparagus that was ready to pick today. A week ago we were dealing with the worst snowstorm ever for May. Go figure. Most fields are still too wet around here for farmers to do any serious digging, mine included, but it won’t be long unless we get a bunch of rain. Might be a late planting season, if that happens. Whatcha gonna do?
Grin and bear it, I guess. The old saying rings true around here; if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour and it will change.

Wet and Wild

P255-397-256-298-000h-0010-c10-l076-02-0360-1080-0359-1079-000-LB00-1So it has been a wild couple of days around here. Monday and Tuesday was warm and wonderful and I rode the bike to work. Even though I got wet coming home Tuesday night it was still not a bad commute. Wednesdays forcast with a possible three to six inches of snow that night made my decision to drive the Subaru to work that day. Coming home Wednesday night proved to be an adventure. After leaving Lake City at twelve thirty, where there was just a bit of slush on the roads, I made it to county road 16 that heads west through Bellchester. I had only traveled three miles or so when I had to wait for some emergency vehicles. There were two huge tow trucks moving a large milk truck out of the ditch. It was snowing heavily by that time and the slush would coat the headlights making them as dim as candles. Once the tow trucks were clear of the scene, I resumed my journey homeward, following a sherriffs deputy at about thirty miles per hour in the deepening slush and snow. If you went any faster there was a danger of being sucked into the ditch. Visibility was quite poor and it was slow going. I had a feeling that I might end up in the ditch at some point but the mighty Subaru just kept on plowing along. I met a snowplow rig just outside of Zumbrota. His headlights were caked with slush and I wondered if he could see where he was going. I drove the last four miles home on the wrong side of the road just to stay out of the deepening slush. It seemed that the closer I got to home, the worse it was. Our driveway wasn’t too bad, which surprised me and I arrived home about a half hour later than usual. That bed never felt so good after a white-knuckle drive like that one. And to think that it was May 1st! They will be talking about this one for years to come.
Thursday moring I spent blowing/ pushing snow with ‘Ol Bessie. What a workout for the old girl! There must have been at least a foot of snow on my car in the morning. The heaviest stuff must have come down after I got home. I can’t imagine anyone driving in those conditions. I made a pass just wide enough to get out so I could make it to work Thursday afternoon and then today I had to do it again as the driveway had more drifts from last nights wind. While I was working on the driveway a crew from the power company attempted to come up and they got stuck in the corner when they veered off the plowed portion and got hung up in the two feet thick slush. I gave them a tug with ‘Ol Bessie and they were on their way. While that was happening, my neighbor Jerry came slogging up through the ditch and wondered if I could plow him out. He was without power for all of Thursday night and had borrowed the neighbors kerosene heater in an effort to stay warm. I gave him a ride back to his place and after cleaning up his driveway and yard, I headed back home for lunch. By this time it had been raining several hours and I was a bit damp. First time I have ever had to blow snow in the rain, even though most of the time I was just blowing slush. There was so much snow that slid off our roof that it piled up on the sidewalk at least three feet deep in front of the door. We had to go in and out of the shop door until today when I was finally able to shovel and blow a path to the front door again. Wet and wild. What’s that saying? April showers bring May flowers. Don’t believe it.