That’s my dad with his rebuilt Indian motorcycle in the olden days here in Duluth. He found the parts and did the rebuilding. He loved bikes then, just like my brothers love their motorcycles today. (My sister prefers motorboats.)
I had my biker days, too, when I freely explored the yard from the back of my racing tricycle. Put your lips together and blow – you won’t get that Lauren Bacall whistle, but the revved up sound a fast-moving trike makes … if your lips are flapping as you pedal.
I dug the Red Flash out of the basement recently in honor of our story about “Looping the Lake” on the back of a motorcycle. The trike looks pretty worse for wear, with a torn seat and rust spots. I expect that I’d look similar after 40 years in our basement.
I toyed with becoming a grown-up biker, like my dad and my brothers. The idea lasted three days – the sum of time that I attended a motorcycle safety class. The teachers, young fellows serving on a U.S. Strategic Air Command Air Force Base, were fearless when flying nuclear weaponry around the world. Having me in their class terrified them.
It started off badly. That first day, every time we stopped our motorcycles – provided by a local cycle seller and I’m still sorry about the scratches and the broken mirror – mine fell over, with me on it, then under it and then needing the two young airmen to lift it off me. We tried three bikes of varying heights, weights, widths and CCs (that’s biker talk) before we found one that I could hold upright. I went home after that first class harshly bruised from the knees down, like I’d been in a bar fight with nasty gnomes.
But I came back the next day and the next. I nearly aced the written test and managed to pass the riding test, too. By that last day, I could start, stop, avoid or ride over unexpected debris (log in the road!) and do the proper hand signals. I got my certificate. After class, the two young fellows, who had been patient and encouraging the whole time, said, “Wow. We didn’t think you’d make it.” Thanks, guys.
I never felt the need to be in control of a motorcycle again, though I don’t mind hanging on behind someone who knows what he or she is doing.
You don’t need to be a biker to learn from those who love the motorcycling life, and T.W. Day’s story in this issue reminded me of that all over again. Repeatedly, bikers talk about the joy of the ride and the importance of paying attention along the way. On a bike, you feel what’s going on around you, too. None of this, “It’s pouring rain so I’m just going to stay in the car all the way from Thunder Bay to Wawa.”
That get-out-there-and-do-it attitude is reflected in a number of our stories this issue. Artist France Austin Miller of Bayfield, Wisconsin, fell in love with painting and didn’t let a job in geology stop her from pursuing her passion. In our recreation guide, you’ll meet youngsters learning to ride the wind in sailboats; a boat builder who moved near the water so he could build a boat; and some families who turn “hide-and-go-seek” into a lifelong recreation with geocaching.
You’ll also meet the folks at a hospitality house in Marquette who help others during times of medical need, while our Recipe Box introduces an Upper Peninsula woman who gathers her own wild ingredients (leeks) and a Duluth woman who created a recipe using local produce (and more leeks).
This close to Lake Superior, with all of the natural beauty and welcoming people surrounding us, there’s even more reason to live life like a biker – get out, get going and, what the heck, make that revving sound along the way.