Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Scenic Bypass

One of these vehicles drastically reduced the amount of time it takes
to cross the nation and revolutionized inter-state travel with it's capacity
for previously unimaginable speed.  The other is a train.
On a fine spring day earlier this year, the weather was tolerably warm, the sun was shining, and so far as I could tell, there weren't any road closures to prevent me from taking a ride along the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway.

So I rolled Triumph out of the garage and got moving.

One of the nice things about living on the Middle Coast is that it never takes more than about twenty minutes to get into the middle of nowhere. It's fantastic feeling like I have the road entirely to myself, and I couldn't have been more than ten miles outside of town before traffic disappeared.

That's not to say that there weren't other people out. A lot of other bikes passed by, along with a handful of cars. But most of the time I felt like I was on my own.

While there weren't many sections of road that I would call twisty, the road was pleasantly curvy and, of course, full of interesting things to see and explore. I'm sure it would be possible to make a day of the ride, stopping in the small towns along the way for coffee, ice cream and other essentials.

I should probably revisit this spot in the fall, when the leaves change.

Despite how it looks in these photos, I didn't really ride any distance on gravel roads, except to park and take photos. It struck me how many gravel roads there were, just waiting to be explored, however. I'll have to go back and check them out, eventually. Though, between you and me, Triumph doesn't particularly like loose gravel.

"I could tear this road up if I wanted to. I just don't want to."
"I know, Triumph."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The New Hotness from Ural

Apparently that tent is where the rhythm section has to sleep.
Bassists do tend to stay up late and can get rowdy...
[Photo swiped from Ural's website.]
Ural has released a new special version of the Gear Up. They're calling it the Sportsman Package. If you dig the Gear Up, well, you'll probably dig the Sportsman Package too. They've added a few fun tweaks:
  • High powered LED fog lights and headlight
  • A "Forest Fog" powder-coat paint scheme
  • Sharp looking tan seat and sidecar covers
  • A ceramic undercoating to help protect the underside from whatever you care to bounce it off of.
  • Nifty blacked-out engine
  • Rear bumper for the sidecar 
One of the things I really admire about Ural is their dedication to ongoing innovation, improvement, and performance. They're a company that's not afraid to say, "This thing is good already, but it could be just a little better." You just never know what kind of cutting edge improvements they're going to come up with for the next iteration.

Also, it's already July. Aren't we about due for this year's special edition announcement? I'm already excited about it...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visiting the Oldest Dairy Queen in Minnesota

One of these brings delight to children big
and small. The other is an ice cream shop.
It turns out I'm terrible at saying "Today I shall ride that-a-way," pointing in a random direction, and then just going. While, ultimately, my destinations are just excuses for the ride, picking a destination forces me to sit down with a map and figure out a route. That way I can go to places I haven't already been, and I can pick the squiggliest looking lines on the map to work into my route.

As such, I have a small mental list of destinations to ride to, and I regularly peruse the Roadside America and Atlas Obscura sites looking for intriguing entries. One of the places I've been meaning to get to is the oldest Dairy Queen in Minnesota.* Located in a scenic parking lot in scenic Roseville, not terribly far from the actually scenic Como Park in St. Paul, it's the kind of roadside stop I couldn't resist.

It's a pretty neat building. I would like to see it lit up at night.

I think up above I mentioned sitting down with a map and figuring out my routes? Well, access to a map and clearly written directions or not, I have a talent for getting way off course and entirely lost in the wrong Twin City altogether when I just want some damn ice cream finding interesting alternate routes due to happy navigational accidents. As such, I found myself riding past the famous trolley-themed noodle parlor: The Old Spaghetti Factory. I waved as I rode past - there was no time to stop for OK pasta, there was a Dairy Queen to visit!

ATGATT. Well, almost.
Soon enough, I had Triumph pointed in the right direction again, and enjoyed a leisurely cruise along Lexington Avenue. Lexington weaves through Como Park for a few blocks, which was a nice change of pace after hurrying along I94 amidst all the drivers who seemed to think I wanted to race them.

It didn't take long to reach the Dairy Queen, which was a good thing, because by that time I was in serious need of soft-serve ice cream. Thankfully, they still had some for me.

Ice cream cone in hand, I noticed a Music-Go-Round nearby.  If you're not familiar, they're everyone's favorite overpriced-used-guitar shop. In the window, I saw several pretty things covered in lustrous, orange Tolex.  It was a very good thing for my wallet that I was on Triumph that day, because otherwise the temptation to head inside and perhaps leave with a fine British guitar amplifier would have been hard to resist. I didn't dare go in.

I wasn't sure if the anthropomorphic ice cream cone
was trying to lead me, or chase me away.
After enjoying some ice cream and a stretch, I hopped back on the bike and had a pretty uneventful ride home again.

Now I just have to figure out what roadside curiosity I should ride to next.

*Apparently this is somewhat open to interpretation. In my more recent research, I've discovered that there is a Dairy Queen the same age in Rochester. Hmm. Maybe I need to visit that one too. You know. For science.