It’s September and I’m trying to figure out where the summer has gone. My summer of 2014 has been completely owned by our home sale and new home purchase. We decided this Spring to sell our home of the past 10 years. It was a five bedroom, 3 bathroom house that no longer housed our four children. It was time to down size. We bought a house in NE Minneapolis that is about half the size. This translated into getting rid of half our stuff. My lovely wife did most of the work. I was not nearly as helpful as I should have been. I’m much better at accumulating stuff than I am at getting rid of it.
I’m sure you’re wondering what any of this has to do with motorcycles. For starters, I had to sell a bike because we won’t have room for it. I’ll be lucky if I put 5,000 miles on my road bike this summer and finally, I haven’t been trail riding since last fall. On the upside, I have been enjoying some fond memories of past riding experiences. A couple of things triggered this. Feeling older because my kids are all gone and I’m moving to a smaller house, and a Minnesota 1000 sticker on my tool box.
The Minnesota 1000 is a long distance road rally put on by Team Strange every year. It used to always be on Father’s Day weekend. I’m not sure if it still is. The first MN 1000 was also my first. I am rider #9. I believe there were only 10 or 11 of us. It was my first long distance road rally and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended up riding the rally because I put together the artwork that was used for the t-shirts, plaques and other MN 1000 swag. The rally was put together by Eddie James who I met through a mutual friend.
I rode the rally on a 1972 Moto Guzzi 700 Ambassador. I rode it with a friend which I learned was not the way a true long distance competitor does it. Rallies like this are best to be ridden alone. The rally started and ended at the original Bob’s Java Hut (across the street from it’s current location). We got there early in the morning, received our route sheets and headed out on our adventure. The rider with the most points wins. It’s not a race. We started out doing well and then the rain came, ditch-filling, gutter-washing rain. The distributor cap on my old Guzzi filled with water and the bike died. After drying out the cap and applying some Vaseline to it’s outer edge to create a somewhat water-proof seal, we set out again. The rest of our ride was fairly uneventful. The weather cleared, we got to ride some great roads, and we made it back in time.
I didn’t win anything that first year. I didn’t even make 1,000 miles. The winner was a woman whose name I believe was Jessica. She rode a ‘70s Triumph Bonneville and had to push it the last couple of blocks back to Bob’s. She also didn’t go 1,000 miles but she had the most points. Being smart goes a long way in winning these types of rallies. I was awarded a plaque for that first rally. I received an award for having a non-functional odometer. Basically, “congratulations, you’re an idiot”. It’s hard to compete in a road rally without being able to verify your miles ridden. Like I said, being smart is really helpful.
I rode four more MN 1000s after that first one. They were all great adventures and ridiculous amounts of fun. I never won but I got better with each mile ridden. I met a lot of amazing people at these rallies and have a ton of respect for Ironbutt competitors. It’s been over ten years since my last MN 1000. I might have to give it a go in 2015. All my bikes have electronic ignition and working odometers. That’s probably more prepared than I’ve ever been.