Weather: Ahhh… Summer in Minnesota
Of course, everybody knows that last Sunday was Father’s Day. Here in Minnesota, we were blessed with sunshine and warmth all day long, and it was a gorgeous day to ride.
That was a good thing, but it almost made me late for Blind Lizard!
Now, The Blind Lizard Motorcycle Club has asked me not to publicize the location of their annual gathering, because the place will not support the kind of huge crowds that show up for First Thursday, and to do so would only ruin it for all of those who have been coming here faithfully, lo these many years. `Nuff said about that.
What I can tell you is that this is a long tradition amongst our motorcycle hippies in and around the Twin Cities, going back to the Seventies. These are not your typical “bikers”, in that they tend to prefer the more exotic sporting machinery from Europe and Japan.
Popular culture knows them as Cafe Racers, and I once rode proudly amongst their ranks. This is the kind of thing that lives in the blood like a virus, and I’m sure it will flare up in me again one day. I can only hope that my family obligations have been satisfied by then, because this madness comes on strong!
I first caught the Cafe Racer virus in Southern California, in 1988. That was when I first saw a Ducati, just like the one in the photo below, at European Cycle Specialties in Garden Grove.
I photographed it, and kept that picture in my wallet until I could afford my own Ducati 900 SS some years later.
Take the paint job of the bike above, and apply it to the bike below, and you have a good approximation of Gogo, my 900SS from “Diary of a Cafe Racer”.
But the Cafe Racer virus caused me to do Bad Things on public roads. Eventually, that always leads to trouble with The Law. Hello, my name is Gary, and I am an adrenaline junkie.
After that, I bought a KLR and tried to rehabilitate myself. With the help of my little family, I’ve been mostly successful. But oh, these damned things still sing that siren’s song of speed to me, every time I gaze upon them. Some day, I know, I will NEED one again…
Whew! Well, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s talk about how the day unfolded.
Early Sunday morning, I found myself wandering around the house in the dark. I was restless, and my mind just wouldn’t stop chattering about all manner of things that I can’t do anything about right now.
So, I did what I always do when I feel like that; I rode.
Frogwing and I found ourselves in Wisconsin as the sun came up. Nobody else was out yet, and we had the roads to ourselves. County Road This led to Rustic Road That, pavement to dirt to gravel and back.
We put in many miles before looping around to Hudson for refreshments.
At a place called Pudge’s, I met a fellow named Russ, and his friend John Weaver. John is a radio newscaster for Minnesota Public Radio. Russ wasn’t riding on Sunday, but John most definitely was. He had a second-hand Honda CBR 600, and he looked like he knew what to do with it.
We left Pudge’s together, and rode over to his house to ask his wife’s permission (ack!) for him to accompany me to Blind Lizard. When that was granted, we joined the high-speed traffic stream heading for… oh yeah, never mind. I can’t tell you…
By the time we arrived at Blind Lizard, all the T-shirts were sold out, and there was no more anything to eat or drink. It seems that the crowd is already getting too big for them to handle.
At least most of the really cool bikes were still there.
Take the Rickman Metisse in the photo below, for example. I can’t tell you much about it, because the owner was just leaving. I didn’t even get his name. But the fellow on the left is the aforementioned John Weaver, and the fellow on the right, so stylishly attired in his formal gowns of office, is the Dictator for Life of the Twin Cities Norton Owners Club, otherwise known as Greg Meyer. This is a Fairly Dangerous Man with a wrench, and best not left alone with your daughter.
My friend, known around here as “Buster Brown” showed up, as expected.
However, this time it was extraordinary because he had crashed his dirtbike on Saturday, which knocked him out cold for about five minutes and resulted in many contusions, abrasions, and a lacerated kidney.
Apparently, they kept him in hospital all night Saturday, and he showed up at Blind Lizard on Sunday wearing a morphine halo, accompanied by his long-suffering lady, Shelly.
Tres formidable, my friend.
The sounds of exotic engines firing up signalled the end of Blind Lizard for another year. Saying goodbye to all my friends, old and new, I mounted Frogwing and we thumped on out of there.
When traffic backed up at the entrance to… the main road out, Frogwing and I did our signature Off-Road On-Ramp maneuver, and left them all behind with a roostertail of municipal dirt and grass.
Consider it our salute to the Blind Lizard, and all his desciples. See you again next year.