Fergus Falls

Weather: Read on…

Zero dark thirty. I stepped out of my front door into silence, engulfed by a light mist. It was the kind of mist that puts halos around streetlamps, and muffles every sound.

My girls were still asleep as I made my way to the garage. I had stopped for one last look at their peaceful, slumbering faces before I put my riding gear on. That mental snapshot would stay with me until I returned to them in one week’s time. If everything went according to plan, that is.

When I was gone, they would awaken to drizzle falling from a gunmetal gray sky. The Windsock and Crystal Ball boys had let us down again. They had predicted sunny skies and beautiful weather for the whole week. But when I tuned in to the Weather Channel this morning, I saw the big, green ghost of a rainstorm on the radar. It was reaching it’s ethereal tentacles up towards I-94, trying to get a grip on that road before Frogwing and I could outrun it. There was no time to lose, we had to hit the road fast!

Frogwing was waiting impatiently for me as the garage door rose in it’s tracks. I had saddled him up the night before with bags packed for a week on the road. He couldn’t wait to start pumping that fresh oil through his system, spinning gears and chains and pounding that single huge piston up and down at five thousand rpms as we ate up the miles towards Fergus Falls.

Yeah, Fergus Falls. A little outpost on our northwest border with North Dakota. The Company has a plant there, and I had a job to do. They wouldn’t exactly be happy to see me, they never are. But they would be expecting me. So, I pulled the choke and pushed the button, and Frogwing started with a muted roar. Yeah, that confounded mist again.

It was dark until we cleared the city limits. Frogwing’s single headlight beam stabbed through the darkness, illuminating road signs and the backs of tractor-trailor rigs as we plunged on through the gloom. The first pale light of dawn tinged the eastern horizon as we rolled past Saint Cloud.

What names we have, here in Minnesota. Maybe you remember a certain silly movie, where Charlie Sheen’s Indian character spoke in words taken right off a Minnesota Map: Minnehaha, Owatonna, Minnetonka, Wannamingo…. What a strange land I come from.

We rode non-stop, and as the sky turned from black to gray, I could see rainstorms in my mirrors, reaching out for us from the southern horizon. We beat them this time, but we still have four days to go. Tomorrow: On to Aberdeen.

4 Responses to “Fergus Falls”

  1. Markus Says:

    Gary, just located your blog here from motobloggers intl’. (as mentioned over there, I read your CafeRacer diary alot back then)
    Nice work, and I like the fact you’re associated with ridetowork.org.

    anyway, I look to enjoy your blog here.

    P.S. Us Texans don’t care what kind of “nutritional value” your “yankee chili” might have….the bean thing is just plain wrong. ;)

    Good luck on your trip-

  2. irondad Says:

    Got to join you on the wet part. First light rain after several days of 90 (f)plus weather. Felt a little skittish on the freeway. Left early to avoid as many commuting idiot cagers as possible. Had to stop, though. A state police motor officer had a bad spill while unsuccessfully trying to avoid a blindly charging cager. One of the riders who came through the training I wrote about on my site a while back. Bike totalled and officer a mess. Hope to get more information later today. “There but for the grace of God go I”. Hope for the best. My stomach is still knotted up.

    Thought about you yesterday. I taught our flagship cornering class yesterday on a track. One of our instructors showed up on his refurbished KLR. Man, can that bike breeze around a track!!!


  3. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Markus: Thanks. I’ll have to go over to MBI and look at what you wrote there. FWIW, I’m not a big fan of beans in chili, as long as it has big chunks of onion and maybe some bell pepper… something to give it more texture and variety.

    But I guess it makes it easier to judge in a cookoff if you limit the ingredients, huh?

    Irondad: Sorry to hear about the crashed motor-cop. Hope he gets well soon. Yeah, the KLR can dance, with the right partner. Frogwing and I have proved that on many occasions.

    Ride well,

  4. irondad Says:

    Here’s an update on the motor since I started the thread. All the State Police Motors are friends of the few of us who do police training. There are only 7 motors in the state’s unit. The officer involved was my friend Jason, relatively new to the bike duty.

    Jason was responding to a call but not running “code”. An older man in a pickup misjudged the speed of the bike and tried to beat him to an intersection. The classic “left turning vehicle”. Jason hit the right rear tire of the truck and went over the bed onto the street on the other side. The good news is that Jason is bruised but not broken.

    Don’t have the rest of the information like if the ABS was activated, or whatever. The bike is totalled. It was one of the new BMW’s which are turning out to be awesome bikes for police duty.