By Paul Berglund
I was born in February and have lived my whole life in Minnesota. I would put my motorcycle away in the fall and resuscitate it in the spring. Winter was all about enduring the hibernation. Each spring starting my motorcycle was like the first cry of a new born babe, and my life could resume.
Putting a motorcycle on a trailer and bringing it somewhere nice to ride always seemed wrong to me. (Especially around the first week of August.) So when I bought a dirt bike I made sure it was street legal. Turns out the things that make for a good street bike, don’t help you when you ride off road. So I bought a much lighter dirt bike and a trailer.
My dream was to ride my dirt bike in the mountains of Colorado. With the help of my trailer and some good friends, we made that happen one September a few years ago. That was one of the highlights of my life. I try to go back each year and when I do it’s spectacular. But you can’t ride in the Colorado mountains in the winter, not on a motorcycle. So my bike went in the garage that fall and winter covered my trailer with snow and ice.
And so the cycle of life continued. The leaves would change color, my wife would move three tubs of summer clothes to the basement and bring up three tubs of winter clothes. She’d tapper off the vodka and ramp up the wine and I knew riding season was almost over. I still didn’t like winter, but it was a force of nature I couldn’t change. The holidays and wine would lull my wife into sentimental distractions and there were fewer vodka fueled tirades. Together we could find peace in our bleak frozen wasteland.
Two winters ago that didn’t happen. Winter came early and it was brutal. The streets were clogged with snow before December was over. My wife brought up her winter clothes but never put down the vodka. We were setting records for days below zero. In January both St. Paul and Minneapolis declared permanent snow emergencies because the streets were becoming impassable. My wife would walk around the house wearing three sweaters and muttering curses into her grizzly sized martini. It was a cold and angry winter my friend.
One night I couldn’t sleep. It was February and my birthday was fast approaching. I laid on my back unable to move under the heavy blankets, two cats and a wife that had eaten 7 cloves of garlic for supper. It was then that I remembered Utah. Daytime highs were in the 60s in southern Utah, even in the dead of winter. I had a trailer. My bike was full of corn free premium gas. The next day I sent out some emails. Some like-minded friends joined in and we were off to Moab for the week of my birthday.
Riding a motorcycle for the first time in the spring is magical, fun and life affirming. Escaping Minnesota in February and riding in Moab Utah transcends ordinary happiness and takes you right to joy. I know I’ve talked about this in several articles, but I have to spread the word. You can do this. You don’t have to play golf in Florida or sit on the beach in Mexico to get out of another soul crushing winter in Minnesota. Put your bike and your gear in the back of a pick up and head south. Go someplace warm and ride your bike, in the winter. It’s not just a lifestyle ornament for the weekend, it’s your ticket to happiness, and it’s sitting in your garage.
When you fire your bike up this spring and all those good memories come rushing back, think about how you can have that and discover new and fascinating places in the middle of a Minnesota winter. It doesn’t have to be Utah. It could be the Dragon’s Tail in North Carolina, or the Hill Country of Texas, or The Copper Canyon in Mexico. Next winter I might try trail riding in Arkansas or explore the mountains of New Mexico. Make a plan and it will be easy to recruit your friends. I’m super happy riding my dirt bike on new and exotic trails, but you can bring a street bike instead and ride the curvy roads that snake through the mountains and foot hills of our southern states. It’s your country, go see it.
On this last trip, one of my favorite riding partners couldn’t join us because she and her boyfriend were taking a trip to Rome. He had lived there for a year and spoke fluent Italian, so she would have a deluxe guided tour. I was thinking about her walking into some 500 year old church and looking up at the painted ceiling when we walked into a huge truck stop in Nebraska. We had left Moab that morning and drove till well after dark. Our motel was next to the 24 hour truck stop. We crossed a parking lot filled with hundreds of trucks parked for the night. Even at 10 on a Friday night the restaurant was full. It was a loud happy mix of truckers and local Nebraska families and the whole place was covered with Nascar and other racing memorabilia. One wall was dedicated to motorcycle racing. I was looking at the things hanging from the ceiling, lost in thought of the cathedrals my friend must be seeing, when I felt someone poking their finger into my chest.
A large bearded trucker/biker was grinning at me as he happily jabbed away. His two friends were nodding along with what ever he was saying. I don’t speak biker, nor am I righteous, but I could tell immediately that these were friendly bikers. Both of my traveling companions, Rick and our very own MMM editor Bruce, have owned real choppers and they spoke enough biker to get by. Bruce told me that our new friends had heard some of our conversation, saw our sun and wind burn faces, read my sweatshirt (that said “Moab Utah 1902”) and had rightly guessed that we had just been riding there. He and his companions thought that this was fantastic and they had ridden there also. We were all in agreement. So there you have it. Lots of people are riding motorcycles in other states and having fun. Join us, won’t you.