Dinner in Duluth

29 September 2004

Yesterday I ran up to Duluth for dinner on my bike. (About a 300 mile round trip.)

Crazy? Possibly. But it sure was a nice ride.

Some of the bikers in and around Duluth get together on the last Tuesday of every month just to hang out and BS at Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake. Some the bikers that I hang out with here in Minneapolis like to run up to Duluth to join in (any excuse for a ride) and yesterday I joined them.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. (Today looks like more of the same.) It was a gorgeous clear, sunny, crisp fall day. A perfect day to take off early from work and go for a ride.

So I did.

Gus and I had made arrangements to meet at Tobies in Hinckley (about half way to Duluth) at about 5:00-5:30. I left work in Mendota Heights around 3:10 and headed North. Traffic was actually not bad until I got to the I-35E/I-694 interchange. There was an accident (no injuries that I could see, just two cages that tangled) on the side of the road causing some rubbernecker backup, but once I was past that I opened it up and had clear sailing all the way to Hinckley.

Every time I go for a long ride on my K1100RS I remember what I like so much about it. It feels kind of big and heavy (which it is) during my daily commuting and around town driving, but get out on the open road and it just eats up the miles and asks for more. I was running along at about 80+ and the Fuel+ was telling me that I was getting ~48MPG. What's not to like about that? It feels so effortless to cruise at that speed on the K1100RS. I also have an R100RS that I really like to ride, but pushing it along at 80+ is quite a bit more work. It'll do it, but you know that you are pushing it. The K bike will loaf at 80+ all day and feels like it really wants to go faster (which it is fully capable of doing.)

So I made pretty good time up to Tobies. I got there around 4:30 and as I was getting close I starting thinking I might have to wait for a bit until Gus showed up. I was trying to decide whether I should buy a copy of "Bikes and Buns" or "Rice Car Tuner" to read while I waited when I pulled into Tobies and there was Gus, gassing up his bike. Perfect.

Gus was riding a KTM 940 Adventure to review for Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly, a local motorcycle rag that he writes for, and said that an LD mount it isn't. Only ~35MPG and the seat is like a 2X4. I'm glad I wasn't on it.

So Gus gassed up, we BSed a few minutes and then saddled up and rode on up to Duluth.

Although I'm not a huge fan of Interstate driving, it was a nice ride. The leaves are starting to turn color up there and it's very pretty. We boogied along at about 80 and made pretty good time into Duluth. I like Duluth. It's a nice city. I'd think about living there if I could figure out what to do to make money.

We got to Sir Benedict's around 5:45 and (no surprise) we were the first bikers to arrive. So we went inside and ordered a plate of nachos and a couple of Stouts. As we were heading outside to sit on the patio, a guy on an RC51 pulled in. He must have been doing at least 206MPH! But as there were no cops around to give him a ticket, he just parked and came inside.

He came and sat with us and we BSed for a bit. After a while some more bikers started showing up on some neat bikes. There was an Yamaha RD500? two stroke V4, way cool. Someone else showed up on an unfaired CBX. A couple of old Triumphs and Nortons, and some other misc stuff.

After a while, Victor, Sev and Jim Winterer showed up from the cities. Then Andy Goldfine (Aerostich) showed up. There was much BSing and hanging out. Then Victor decided that everyone there could test ride the KTM!

There must have been 10 people who took that thing out for a ride. Every one of them came back with a big grin on their face. Gus was concerned, but Victor wasn't.

It was a beautiful evening to be sitting on a patio looking out over Lake Superior. We watched the boats come and go, the beautiful sunset and the full moon rising over the lake. It was Fecking Brilliant!

And cold. I was getting concerned about the ride home. But I had brought my electric vest, my Aerostich fleece and a sweatshirt. By the time we finally left I had them all on and was still cold.

Then I plugged in my vest. I love my vest. By the time we were leaving Duluth I was seriously thinking about turning it down! Man that felt good.

The ride home was wonderful. A little cold, but the vest kept me nice and toasty. My toes got a little chilly, but that's about it. It was a clear night with a full moon. The fields were full of mist that glowed in the moonlight.

We rode down to Tobies in a pack (Gus, Sev, Jim, Victor and me) and then Gus and I headed straight home from there. The rest of them stayed at Tobies for a bite to eat and a cup of coffee.

I usually say that I hate riding at night. My night vision is not the best (not dangerous, but not great,) but last night was a great ride.

When we came into Circle Pines there was a shopping center on the right side of the road with a big parking lot. There was a cloud of mist hanging about 30 feet above the parking lot and the freeway that was flat on the bottom. It was really cool to drive underneath it and see all the lights reflecting off the bottom.

I got home about 11:45, tired, a little stiff and sore, but I could have ridden for a while yet as it was such a beautiful night.

A wonderful trip. I'm really glad I went. But I doubt I'll go next month. The end of October in Duluth? Brrr...