Stolen Ride Down a Dead End Street

Weather: Rainy morning followed by a damp, cloudy day.

There’s a big storm headed our way, coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. At least that’s what the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild says. What a racket meteorology is! It’s the only profession I know of where you can be wrong so often and still keep your job.

I drove the cage to work today, because I didn’t want to soak the Black Baron in corrosive road brine for fifty-three miles. It was raining hard when I left home this morning, but then it tapered off to nothing throughout the day. I drove through a couple of sprinkles on the way home, but you know what I was thinking… I should have ridden.

My wife had a doctor’s appointment when I got home, (nothing serious), so I hung out with my daughter while she was gone. When she returned, the streets were fairly dry, and I was itchin’ to ride. With Amy’s blessing, I donned my Darien, helmet and gloves, and practically sprinted out to the garage. I would have to get this one in quickly, because the green blob on the weather radar was already approaching the 494 side of the freeway loop around the Twin Cities. With the helmet and gear on, I felt like a fighter pilot scrambling on an intercept mission.

BB and I rolled out of the driveway and headed south. He is such a smooth-running, comfy character. We stayed off the rush-hour highways and headed for Concord Street. This runs through the stockyards in South Saint Paul, all the way out to the ever-sprawling suburb of Inver Grove Heights. I cherish the old buildings and the few independent businesses still operating there, because I know that eventually they will be replaced by the clone-stores found in every strip mall across the country. Progress, huh? And this is a good thing for whom? (Oh, but it’s so conveeeeenient!)

Hey, who put that soapbox there? Sorry…

Speed limits on Concord are right in BB’s sweet spot. Thirty-five mph zones roll into forties, then fifty as you get farther away from the business center. We rode Concord Street all the way to the end, and turned right on something called Courthouse Road.

I had never been here before, and it was a fascinating ride. We had just passed one of the suburban strip malls I mentioned, but here, only a half mile down the road, we were riding past old red barns and pastures. I know for a fact that only a few more miles south lies the prosperous modern community of Eagan. But right here in the middle, caught between the big city and the big-time `burbs, was this bucolic interlude of charming rural character.

Please don’t tell me these are what they call “Hobby Farms”. But of course, that’s exactly what they are… Well, they make for much better scenery than Starbucks-Blockbuster-McDonalds. We rolled past some marvellous homes, tastefully hidden amongst the trees, across many acres of rustic lawn.

Eventually, we came upon a Dead End sign. A lady was walking her two dogs, off-the-leash, right down the middle of the road. I pulled up cautiously, lifted the visor on my helmet, and played the lost traveller.

“Pardon me, but I think I’m lost. What neighborhood is this?”

She smiled and said, “This is OLD Inver Grove”. She really emphasized that “old” part.

“Are there any other roads like this around here?”

She thought for a moment, and then shook her head. “No, we are very fortunate to have this one, so close to the city. Where were you trying to go?”

“Well, to be honest, I was just sort of wandering around. I thought I would steal a ride in between rainstorms. I live in West Saint Paul, and I guess I should be heading back now.”

Again, the gracious smile… “Well, the only way to get there is back the way you came.”

I thanked her, and then the Black Baron and I turned around. We rode away slowly from that little pocket of the American Dream, and made our way back to Concord Street, and the cheap side of town.

It started raining lightly along the way, and the wind was starting to pick up. We pulled into the driveway as the storm gathered strength. I tucked BB in for the night and headed into the house.

The rain is beating down hard on my roof as I type this. I’m sitting up here in my attic, in the dark, listening to the drip-drip-drip of the leak around our skylight. I’ve placed a large bowl under that, and it has never filled up even during the worst storms of the past two years.

Yes, I am a bad homeowner. The trouble is, whenever it’s nice enough outside to tackle a job like fixing that leak, it is also perfect riding weather. I’ve never been able to resolve that conflict in favor of the house. That’s also why I usually have the longest grass in the neighborhood.

Hey, a man has to have his priorities, right?

13 Responses to “Stolen Ride Down a Dead End Street”

  1. Bill Sommers Says:

    Gary, I just came in from my shop to grab a bite, and check your blog. Whats funny is that a friend came over to help fix my welder, and his young son said “you should mow your lawn”, and I said “I’d rather be riding”. When I saw what you had written, I read the lawn part out loud to my wife, telling her that “you see, I’m not the only one”. Even though she just looked at me and said “yeah” then walked out of the room, I still felt great. TALL GRASS RULES! *Bill*

  2. irondad Says:

    Wisdom from Irondad:

    When it is stormy it is too wet to fix the roof. When it is dry the roof is as good as anybody’s. Houses will be here a long time. Golden riding opportunities are more fleeting and must be snatched quickly. In the end, treasures are stored in one’s life and heart, not in buildings.

    Ride free from guilt, Grasshopper.

  3. Ron Johnston Says:

    I love that kind of ride – no set destination, and someplace wonderful just happens. Sweet!

  4. Dan Jones Says:

    Right on. Gary. I grabbed a ride during the lull myself. Not as cool as your’s however–just a trip down to the Hitching Post for a cargo net to hold my gym bag in place on the passenger seat. Still and all it was good to ride. Spent the rest of the day moving junk around in the garage–sort of like one of those thumb puzzles where you have to get all of the numbers in the correct sequence–so that Hiyo and my wife’s car could park in the garage.

    Come the next sunny day and I’ll be heading out Medina Road to Baker Park and back on 24. Quite a number of maxi-mansions and horse farms out there now and beautiful rolling hills and twisty roads. I love it in the Spring when the smells of freshly turned soil and Winter composted leaves fill the air.

    I feel a great riding season coming on.

  5. Tom Staggs Says:

    Sure enjoying your articles one suggestion.
    Put a picture of you on the Black Baron instead of the one on the site.
    This the scooter you are writing about.
    Keep up the good write.

  6. Tiff Says:

    Priorities? Abso-lutely. I’m riding home this afternoon (t- 83 minutes and counting….) and I have to stop off on the way, which means I get to ride all 120 miles on back roads and moorland passes….damn I have a hard life…..

    On the subject of names for bikes, I’ve yet to come up with a good one for the Sprint ST, apart from (the obvious) “Trinity”, or “Trinny” for short…..

  7. jim Says:

    Yep, its all about prioritys. Wish you were here today and that includes everyone reading this blog, as Susan and I are riding down to the ouachita mtn. range. Staying the night in a lodge on top of a mountain and then taking the long way round on the way back. Weather looks to be about perfect today also.
    Yep, ya got ta git dem prioritys right.:)

  8. Bob Says:


    A “bad” homeowner wouldn’t use a bowl at all.

    You are an “innovative and resourceful” homeowner with an incisive clarity of purpose.


  9. jim Says:

    I think I had better proof read my comments, seeing as how I can’t spell priorities. Duh, Susan had better check my work.

  10. Burt Kaufman Says:

    How about giving us some info on your current ride, I figure it’s got to be a little bit higher speed than previously. I guess we need to wait for the break in process to be complete, huh? I’m dithering between a 250 and a 500 cc machine. I live in the Land of Endless Expressways, myself.

  11. Gary Charpentier Says:

    OK, from the top…

    Bill, I’m glad to lend mutual support. Indeed… when you are a Rider, home is where the tall grass grows.

    Irondad, you are Confucious on wheels.

    Ron – “…and someplace wonderful just happens.” I like that. Mind if I steal it sometime?

    Dan, we have the same problem. I’ve got to do my garage this weekend, so we can fit my wife’s new scooter in there along with the Black Baron and Frogwing, the XS650 vintage racer, and all of my miscellaneous collection of moto-junk. Our car has been sentenced to live outdoors forever.

    I know the roads you are talking about. Hunter Lane, Willow-something, Tamarack… do those sound familiar? I’ve had a few wonderful rides during my lunch break out there.

    Tom, I used the photo of Frogwing because he is going to be a regular here as soon as I bring him out of hibernation. See the shot of the Black Baron in “Gentleman’s Express” for now, and watch future entries for more photos. When I finish doing the development work on BB, I will be switching to another Baron motorbike. Don’t know which one yet, but that’s part of the fun.

    Tiff, I think “Trinny” is a great name for your Triumph. Then, when people ask, you can explain that it is short for “Trinity”, and expound on the virtues of the venerable Triumph triple until their eyes glaze over. That’s always fun….

    Jim, you are an evil man. Why do you torment me so? Yes, I’m jealous, and yes, I’ll be riding down there as soon as I have both the money and vacation time to make the trip. (Keep up the good work!)

    Bob, thank you for clearing that up. I feel much better now. With a group of enablers like you all in here, I can keep procrastinating forever!

    No penalties for bad spelling in here, Jim. It’s the thoughts that count.

    Burt, I’ll save you the dithering: Get the 500. The 250 might be able to sustain Expressway speeds, but it will be at the limit of it’s capabilities there. The 500 will still have emergency power on tap, in case you run into a contested merge.

    The 250 is perfect for two-lane highways and city streets, but I will only do short runs on the Interstate with it. You might even find that the 500 gets the same mileage as the 250 on the Expressway, because it won’t be working as hard.

    Okay, blunch is over, and I’ve gotta go.

    Ride well,

  12. Burt Kaufman Says:

    Thanks for the information. That should be enough to convince the wife. Safety is a larger displacement motor!

  13. Dick Aal Says:

    Take a look at the website here.
    This is a gyrocopter/motorcycle. When you hit stopped traffic, you can just spread out the rotor and take off over them. See if you can get one from them for your blog this summer. That would be a treat!! You can have a motorcycle (admittedly 3 wheeler) and a copter in one under 20K.