by Gary Charpentier

The first annual Milwaukee to Minneapolis Cafe Race was held on the Fourth of July this year and, by all accounts, was a huge success. I had intended to ride this event, but a family emergency kept me close to home and Abbot Northwestern Hospital for the entire weekend. This race, originating at the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee, ran the course of some 500-plus miles on non-Interstate roads to finish at Bob’s Java Hut in Minneapolis, where I was present to greet and interview the first four finishers.

The route was kept secret until all the riders were present and ready to start. The rules were laid out and checkpoint procedures explained at a riders meeting, then the race began with a “Le Mans Start,” which means the riders all ran to their bikes, started them, and roared off to glory! Unless they had a balky kick start, vintage mount…

At the finish line, a tired rider on a ’81 Kawasaki GPZ1100 was the first to arrive. The bike itself was a well preserved example of one of the first fuel-injected sport bikes, and this first place finisher missed the vintage cutoff for the event by only one year, as 1980 and earlier models were classed in the vintage category. Rick LeFauve rode up to Milwaukee from his home in Chicago for this race, and when he arrived at Bob’s Java Hut his total mileage for the day had to be over 600. I bought him a beverage, and after he had time to settle in, we sat down with some other riders so he could regale us with tales of the road.

The first question on my mind was, “How many cops?” Rick was the first rider to pass through the many sleepy burghs along the route, so the law enforcement presence was minimal. Rick saw two police units on the entire ride, both of the local force variety. He was prudent (or lucky) enough to slow down while passing through their territory.

Close on his heels was Ducati 900SS-mounted (Second place? Shame on you!) Chuck “Ace” Simonson from Milwaukee. Chuck crossed the finish line with cords showing on his rear tire. After one off-road excursion, running out of gas, and going several miles in the wrong direction after a checkpoint, cops were the least of his worries. However, after the first two racers stirred up the hornets nest, the remainder faced a much more alert constabulary.

Steve Giantoli and Greg Mariani rode together for most of the race. Greg came all the way from Phoenix, AZ to participate in this unique event, and he will be taking home a couple of warning citations as souvenirs of his visit to Wisconsin. At one point, while riding through Dane, WI, these two were clocked at a heinous 40 mph in a 30 mph zone (gasp!). Steve pulled over, Greg did not. The officer lectured Steve on his dangerous behavior, and then followed him for about eight miles hoping to catch up with the felonious Greg, so he could preach the gospel of law and order to these two misguided youths and save them from themselves. Alas, no Greg. The officer turned around and went back towards town, where Greg had been apprehended by an unmarked unit. After a full search of his clothing and belongings (obviously he must have been a criminal if he didn’t pull over the first time), Greg was also let go with a warning. Both riders were pulled over once more each, while they were separated, but they kept their cool and didn’t divulge a word about the race. However, now the cops were awake, and that couldn’t have been a good thing for the riders who came through later. Lesson: Ride fast, get there first.

Out of 32 riders who started in Milwaukee, 30 eventually made it to Bob’s Java Hut. The two that didn’t had mechanical failures. There were no crashes en route. Nobody was injured. No arrests were made. Trackstar Motorsports donated a brand new rear tire to second place finisher “Ace” Simonson, so he could have a safe ride back to Milwaukee. As far as I know, no animals or innocent civilians were harmed or even inconvenienced in the course of this event. Kudos to the brothers Johnson, for their brilliant planning and organization of this adventure.

Now, I am really bummed that I had to miss this event. This is what we need to keep the Cafe Racer movement alive in the ’90s and beyond. Singular acts of hooliganesque heroism are fine, but the true spirit of Cafe Racing means competition. Competition and bragging rights. The increasing technology being used by law enforcement and the media-driven political correctness movement both serve as formidable deterrents, not to mention the increased traffic of weekend tourists. Keeping this sport alive requires dedication and commitment, such as that demonstrated by our intrepid band of M2MCR riders. Although individualistic by nature, we can’t continue to enjoy our favorite pastime without cooperative efforts such as this put on by the “Total Blur Motorcycle Club”. One by one, we can be rounded up, our licenses taken away, and our free spirits crushed by a society that no longer has the fortitude to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve individual freedom. As one of our rebellious forefathers once said, “We must all hang together, or we shall surely hang separately.”

I look forward to next year and the second annual M2MCR. Gogo and I will be there. Look for us up toward the front of the pack busting the ton and stopping for nothing but gas…well, that or at one of those little Mexican restaurants that I can never resist. Hey, it IS called CAFE racing for a reason, you know.


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