Weekend Wandering: Minn-Max Ride

Weather: Too good to be true…

Silly scooters, water is for boats!
Seventeen scooters, all in a row. Minn-Max represents!

Yeah, that’s right. We were a huge pack, ridin’ down the road like a cavalry on sedatives. And we were breakin’ the law, too. If you click on the photo, and look at that curb, you will see it is painted yellow. That means “No Parking” in these parts, hombre, but we didn’t care. When you ride with a pack this large, nothing can stop you.

Not even the Twin Cities Marathon.

Though it did detour us a bit. The original route was blocked by police, to let the runners pass unmolested by motor-vehicles. Ride leaders Bill and Adam led us on a merry chase, up to the roadblocks, and around the block, circling this way and that. Luckily, there were a few riders scattered throughout the formation with CB radios. They helped keep the whole mess of us together, and we made it out of the city without any casualties.

Once we headed out on the rural roads, Scarlet O’Baron and I began to feel the magic of the Minn-Max formula. Larger “maxi-scooters”, from 250 to 650 ccs, can run the highways if they want, without worrying about getting run over by other traffic. But they still try to stick with the secondary roads as much as possible, because that is where all the cool scenery and stuff is.

We rolled along miles of tree-lined boulevards and country lanes, making almost no noise at all.

Especially when compared to similar packs of full-size motorcycles, who seem obliged to sport open pipes instead of mufflers. If loud pipes really do save lives, then quiet pipes must be very dangerous indeed.

Accept that premise, and you have to believe that this was the bravest bunch of adrenaline junkies I have ever ridden with! Stealth is their modus, and they use it to great effect. People actually smiled and waved at us, where they would normally scowl and snatch their children off the street.

You meet the nicest people on a maxi-scooter!

We arrived at the picnic stop, and parked around the perimeter of the boat landing. What a bunch of outlaws! Then we marched across the bridge and invaded the picnic grounds, armed with sandwiches and bottled water. Scary stuff indeed…

The River... always the river.
At the picnic grounds, relaxing, we watched others do their work.

At the picnic grounds, I spoke to Mel, who originally invited me to ride with this group. There, I also met Mark, who had recently completed a seven-thousand mile journey around America on his Honda Silver-Wing. Then, I met Alberta, who had ridden with the group on her stylish Aprilia Scarabeo. That’s the gold-colored scooter, fourth from the right in the top photo.

Let me tell you, all these folks are fascinating, with wonderful stories to tell. I wished we had more time together under the trees, next to the river, that beautiful Sunday afternoon. But the road was calling, and we are, after all, Riders.

It was time to ride.

We left the picnic grounds and headed out to Grey Cloud Island. Now, let me admit right here that I have been lazy with my research. I can’t tell you a thing about the history of the island or what is in store for it in the future. But I can relate a personal connection…

Eight miles east of Osceola, Wisconsin, on the shore of Mud Lake, there is a little two-bedroom house. My family lived in that house from about 1970 to 1974. During that time, Dad was a tree-trimmer for Northern States Power Company. He commuted all the way to the Twin Cities in a 1969 Volkswagon Beetle.

Now, we all know how small the back seat was in those cars, don’t we? Oh, maybe not. Sorry, my age is showing…

Anyway, Dad’s crew was assigned to clear a bunch of brush for some power company project out on Grey Cloud Island, and he decided to adopt three cedar seedlings, or saplings, or whatever they’re called.

He hauled them home in the backseat of that old `69 Beetle, and trans-planted them in the front yard of our house on Mud Lake. I remember them because I faced a most unpleasant penalty if I ever ran over them with the lawn-mower.

The last time I rode past the old home place, those trees were almost thirty feet tall!

Well, let me tell you that Grey Cloud Island is still rather wild and absolutely vibrant with Autumn colors. We rode a nice loop around the island, and proceded north to other destinations.

Scarlet and I left the procession at Highway 61. I had other family obligations to take care of that day. That was too bad, from what I gather. They all went for ice cream, later on down the road, and we missed it.

I’ll be sure to clear my calendar, next time I ride with this Wild Bunch.

12 Responses to “Weekend Wandering: Minn-Max Ride”

  1. Mel Says:


    Great write-up, and it was a pleasure having you along and seeing Scarlet and you in person. I expected you to be taller though according to your picture on the KLR! Must have been on the center stand. Oh well, doesn’t really matter. Hope to see you on another Minn-Max ride in the near future. Did you get the link I sent you on Mark Sampson?


  2. Bill Sommers Says:

    Gary, I spoke these very words today..”quiet pipes please the neighbors”. The friends next door were not too keen on my Python 3 exhaust tones at 6:30 am when I leave for work on my Sportster. But they really like the Big Ruckus.
    I too went in search of Autumn colors this weekend. I rode up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. The elevation is right about 5300 feet. I always have a camera in my tour pack on the Ruckus, and snapped some shots on my way back down the hill. Absolutely beautiful time of year to scoot.
    There is something about Fall colors that cranks my spirit up about 10 notches.
    Have fun.

  3. seagullplayer Says:

    When your in the company of good people anything can be fun. From riding scooters to fishing to digging ditches…

    Looked like a lot of fun. Nice pics.

    Rubber Down.

  4. irondad Says:

    That’s right. We bad!! Bad to the bone, man, bad to the bone. Actually, I’ve always considered loud pipes and the other “accessories” to just be smoke and mirrors. “If you ain’t enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it” is one of my operating philosophies. Looks like you all live that, too.

    That “loud pipes saves lives” crap is really starting to get to me. Last Thursday night in class some young man piped up with that. ( pun intended ). I’m sorry to say I more or less jumped his ass in front of everyone. The cool thing is that he was actually sort of shunned by his classmates. Most seemed to agree with me. At least I hope it wasn’t just because I was the instructor.

    Then there’s the thing about helmets causing injuries in accidents. We just had a letter to the editor in our local rag. This man is active in ABATE. His wife took the class twice but couldn’t get over her fear. The husband had put them down three times when they were riding.

    Anyway, the letter said that they finally had evidence that the helmet caused some bruising of the neck. Give me a break, will you? The bruises would be the least of the worries. “His head was split wide open but thank God he didn’t have a helmet induced bruise on his neck”.

    Just come out and say that you want to have a choice. Don’t spread stupidity as a defense.

    Sorry, soap bubbles are rising. I’m out of here!



  5. jim Says:

    Well, sounds like you had a nice ride. I didn’t go to Bikes Blues and Barbque in Fayetteville. Too many people and too much noise. We went to Bentonville as they had a vintage bike show and car show in the town square. There was a band called the Ariels which was really good. Susan and I sat on lawn chairs and people watched. Our friend David Carlson had a 72 dt360 entered in the show and he was awarded first place trophy for Japanese class.
    This friday we are going on an overnight ride somewhere in the Ozarks. We don’t have a set plan, just going wherever we feel like it. David is going along and possibly his wife.
    Anyhow enjoyed reading about the scooters.

  6. Steve Williams Says:

    Sounds like a great ride. I’ve seen a noticable difference between those who ride modern and maxi scooters and those who ride vintage machines. Seems like a completely different reason for owning and riding. I realize this is a broad brush but generally speaking the modern scooter riders are interested in riding—a lot.

    These scooters are quiet. I can come home sometimes and my dog doesn’t even wake up.

  7. Dan Jones Says:

    Man Gary, I was downright jealous. I had wanted to go on that ride. When I saw what a beautiful day was developing, it almost brought a tear to my eye. Fortunately, I was able to take care of family obligations by 1:00 and still get out for a nature walk and later a great scoot around Lake Minnetonka and parts West.

    Today Hiyo and I checked out routes to develop our “Discover Golden Valley Parks and Trails” ride for the bicycle club. I was amazed at the number of beautiful parks and neighborhoods in G.V.

    I’ve found the scooter to be perfect for this task as it allows me to more easily explore streets and neighborhoods than a car would. Being completely outside of the vehicle also hints at how it will feel on the bicycle.

    Anyway, I’m glas you got to ride with the Minn-Max group. Pretty nice bunch of folks.

    BTW Tony from Baron and I will be at First Thursday about 6:00. Stop on down if you have the time.

  8. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Sorry it took me so long to respond… it’s that work thang.

    Mel: Oh, you crack me up. No, the KLR wasn’t on the center stand. I’m a perfectly average 5′ 9″ in my socks. The confusion comes from the fact that my deeds are larger-than-life. ;^)

    And yes, I know who Mark Sampson, aka “Big Dog” is. I wonder when he’s going to get a job…

    Bill: My neighbors like me a lot more since I bought the KLR, and then the scooter. The Termignoni race pipes on my last Ducati made me a pariah for awhile there in the late `90s. Now that I’ve got quiet bikes, all has been forgiven.

    SGP: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    irondad: Soap bubbles? Did you fart in the bathtub or something?

    jim: I envy you your freedom. All of the rides and events I attend this time of year have an undercurrent of desparation about them. It seems we always loathe the coming of winter. Someday I would love to take the whole month of October off work and just follow the peaking colors from north to south, maybe even ending up in the Ozarks. It will probably never happen, but it is nice to dream…

    Steve: You said a mouthful there. With some of the hardcore vintage buffs, or “Scooterati”, as I have dubbed them, it’s all about that whole punk/mod lifestyle.

    Strangely enough, I find a lot of the same behaviors and prejudices coming from other folks who claim a Lifestyle® centered around a particular brand or type of motorcycle.

    As much as I love my motorbikes, I won’t allow them to dictate how I live or dress or who I hang around with. Aren’t these people essentially letting some corporate marketing department tell them how to live? No thanks!

    Ramblin’ Dan: I’ll see you at Dulono’s.

    Ride well,

  9. The Snark Says:

    I’m replacing Bikebike II with a scooter.

  10. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Snark: That’s wonderful news! Do they have the 250cc sport scooters in KL? Or are you going for something in a 2-stroke? Details, please?

    Ride well,

  11. Mark Harris Says:

    Gary, it was a pleasure meeting you.


  12. L. Duran Says:

    Any body know why Honda stopped making the Ibg Ruckus PS250 scooter?