GPS coordinates-N 46º47.688′ W092º05.298′
Open 7 days a week, 7 am to 11 pm (more or less)
by Kevin Wynn
The last couple times I’ve been to Duluth have been very short visits. The last time I didn’t even have time to stop, as I was in the early hours of fifty-hour lap of the Great Lakes during the TeamStrange Great Lakes Challenge in 2002. Before that, it was passing through to collect a bonus point during the ’99 Minnesota 1000/24 Hour Rally, another TeamStrange event. I seem to remember being required to check the port of call on the William A. Irvine ore ship. I was within the city limits for, maybe, twenty minutes that time. This trip was a little better, as I knew I’d see some good friends and eat some good food. The Very Boring Rally, named and designed in the usual understated manner of Andy Goldfine, owner of Aerostich/Riderwearhouse, was meant to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Roadcrafter riding suit. The event was suitably boring, and just about exactly what I expected it to be. I’m looking forward to the 25th anniversary celebration in 2008. Thanks and Congratulation to Andy and his crew at Aerostich Riderwearhouse.
I had rolled into Aerostich in the early afternoon, just in time to find my friends ready to go find some lunch. I quickly registered, bought a shirt, and after fielding the usual questions from riders interested in my FJR1300, we roared (or maybe whirred and whooshed) off to the famed location of the Duluth equivalent of our local First Thursday event. Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake (Sir Ben’s, for short) is where Last Tuesday takes place. Near as I can tell, it attracts 40 to 50 bikes most months, mostly of European origin, but all civilized types are welcome. The crowd is fitting for Sir Ben’s, as it’s about as close as I can imagine to an authentic English roadhouse. Converted out of a service station 25 years ago, it’s a rustic feeling joint. There is outdoor seating with a view of Lake Superior. On this fine afternoon, I could hardly have asked to be in a better place.
The menu may at first glance seems like light fare, primarily sandwiches and nacho platters. I wasn’t sure what to try so I asked Jessa, bartender/chef do jour, what she’d recommend as the classic Sir Ben’s sandwich. The answer was the Avocado & Bacon on their seven-grain bread, which I further loaded with tomatoes, sprouts and jalapenos. This was a truly more than I could eat in one sitting so I split it with my buddy, Chuck. Once outside at the table with the rest of the boys, the sight of this tasty monster prompted a couple more orders. I don’t know if anything else could top it, but the King Jack Pastrami on Pumpernickel looked like an interesting bet to try next time. Gus & Tim split a platter of Black Bean Nachos and proclaimed them highly commendable. And the special Sir Ben’s recipe Iced Tea was declared to be “kick ass”.
When a hard-core gang of take-no-prisoners, badass bikers riding BMW’s, Honda’s, Yamaha’s and Suzuki’s give such high praise, you better pay attention. Some of this group even went to so far as to try one of over 100 different beers selections, many of which I’d never heard of before. There are dozens of wines, several non-alcoholic beers and a proper selection of coffees and espressos.
If you’re in town looking for music, Sir Benedict’s hosts various artists four nights each week. Wednesday is Blue Grass night; Thursday is Celtic sounds; with a variety of local performers on Friday and Saturday. It’s within walking distance of the Fitger’s Inn complex and other accommodations, too.
To get there, exit I-35 North at Lake Avenue, left 1 block to Superior St., Right 9 blocks to Sir Ben’s.
Well fed and looking for trouble, the gang sauntered across Superior Street and half a block south to the Portland Malt Shop (706 E. Superior St., 218-722-6998, GPS-N 46º47.599′ W092º05.375′) for ice cream and malts. While waiting in line to fatten ourselves further, a few non-riders made mention of our riding suits. Known hooligan Mark Foster allowed as how he’d been asked, while wearing his red one-piece ‘Stich, if he was a pilot. I’d heard of riders being asked if they were firefighters before, and we often joke about how we all look like Power Rangers ™, but I’d not heard that one before. A little while later, a happy ice cream-eating tourist asked me, wearing my Darien suit, “So, how was sailing today?” Man, if I didn’t have three scoops of chocolate and mint chocolate chip ice cream dripping down my hand, me and the buoys, I mean boyz would’ve taught this rube to show a little more respect.
I’d had a good day so far, with more fun to come back at the Very Boring Rally site at Bayfront Park and quick ride back to Minneapolis to look forward to after dark. A good day indeed. See you on the road.
Now, where’d I park my sailboat?
Eat well. Ride well.
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