It's Frank's fault. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! It hadn't dawned on me to run 1000 miles in 24-hours before I talked to Frank Wedge, director of the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club, at the Iowa Moto Guzzi Rally last year (1998). Frank lives in Larned Kansas, and regularly rides big miles on his Guzzi. The fire in his eyes and the level of excitement were contagious.
When I got home I got on the Internet and started gathering information on long distance riding. The Iron Butt Riders Association website had a wealth of information and stories, tips, and an events schedule. Low and Behold, there was a listing for something called the Minnesota 1000.
"Honey, guess what we're doing in mid June?!" My ever tolerant wife, Donna - upon hearing what I'd signed us up for, simply asked what days she would need to take off work and she started making a list of needed equipment. As per Iron Butt Riders Association suggestions, we bought electric vests, new helmets, and better rain gear. The bike itself needed nothing as it was already equipped with a great seat, hard bags, a windshield, and a throttle lock.
And so the adventure began! We left Watertown, South Dakota on Thursday, June 17, 1998 for Minneapolis. Our goal was to find Warner Power Sports, just off Lyndale Avenue, where Friday night's riders' meeting would be held. Then we would hit the mandatory stops so that we could get away from the Minneapolis metro area as soon as possible.
Saturday morning the rally began. A Polaris Victory rider at Warners (I was introduced to him three times and still don't remember his name) gave us directions to Midwest Cycle and Trackstar Motorsports. This would be valuable information later.
Being from South Dakota, I lacked all the skills needed to negotiate
Minneapolis traffic, so at Friday night's meeting when Eddie James
announced the starting line was at Bob's Java Hut on Lyndale Avenue, and the finish line would be at Trackstar Motorsports, our strategy began to take shape. We would plan our route so that we could exit and re-enter Minneapolis via Interstate 35 exit at Lyndale Avenue and follow the route from Warners over to Trackstar. It was probably not the most efficient route, but it was a safe one.
Friday night we laid the maps on the floor of our hotel room and went to work. We decided the higher speed limits and familiar roads of South Dakota were our best hope, so we laid out a loop through Chamberlain to Wall, up to Firesteel and back across. This way, if we thought our timing was off, we could simply turn north, shorten our route, and make up the time.
Saturday morning the sadists known as Team Strange threw out two more stops shortly before the green flag dropped - Owatona Minnesota, and Aberdeen, South Dakota. Without consulting a map, I decided that we would ignore Owatona, since I had no idea where it was, and would only take it if we happened across it. Aberdeen, on the other hand, was a given.
When the flag dropped, we got out of Minneapolis as planned and headed down I-35 in the rain. As we rolled south on I-35 we saw a sign, "Owatona thirty miles."
What luck! I conferred with my copilot as to where in Owatona we needed to stop as I looked for the off ramp. We rolled into the Perkin's parking lot in Owatona right on schedule. We parked alongside one of the expert class riders from California. He was coming out as we were going in. He nodded, got on his bike and left. I stepped inside and asked for the Minnesota 1000 rep, as directed. Only then did I notice that it clearly said on the run sheet, "Between 9:00 and 11:00 P.M." We were 12-hours early!
Donna and I enjoyed a quick laugh at our rookie mistake, and we continued south on I-35 to I-90 west. Sioux Falls is a familiar city, so we got off at the airport exit and grabbed fuel and a bag of cheeseburgers on the way over to the Harley dealership. During the mandatory twenty minute stop at Sioux Falls, we reviewed our route, and decided to drop Wall, and instead just cut north at Chamberlain to Gettysburg so that we could make the Aberdeen stop between 9:00 and 11:00 P.M. In retrospect, this strategy was not sound, Chamberlain was worth far too few points for the miles we would have to travel to get them.
We made the stop just west of Chamberlain as planned, and turned north to Gettysburg only to find that the Cenex wouldn't accept our Visa card without the PIN, which I honestly don't know. Luckily for us, a local farmer pulled in and let us fill up using his Cenex card. We paid him and were on our way back south and east to the rest stop outside of Miller, South Dakota to check out the historical marker.
Suspicions confirmed, the monument didn't say anything about Lewis and Clark, but informed us about the early settlers in the area, and on the other side it gave directions on how to read branding irons.
We refueled in Miller and headed north to Aberdeen, where we found Team Strange members enjoying a nice meal and laughing at the silly motorcyclists that came in asking for their autographs.
One rider asked us how we were doing so far. I thought he was inquiring about miles, so I said, "I'm not sure, but I think when we're done it will be about 1100 or so." His eyes went wide, and he sputtered. "That will never be enough to be competitive." In retrospect, I'm sure he was asking about points, not miles, in which case we were doing just fine.
Aberdeen is only one hundred miles or so north of our home in Watertown, and Watertown is only thirty miles from Milbank, which was on our list. This was perfect! We pulled up to our house at about midnight. Donna made soup and sandwiches while I regrouped and reassessed our plan. Only then did I notice the 2800 points available for doing nothing for three hours.
Gadzooks, 2800 points! We jumped on the bike and went to the end of the street to get a fuel receipt from the Kum and Go. The mentally challenged individual behind the counter gave me the receipt as requested, but the time on the receipt said 11:42 P.M. when it was actually 12:42 A.M. He corrected this for me, wrote in the date and stamped the back with the store's check stamp. We then went home to grab a quick two and a half hour nap. When we awoke, we gathered our equipment and hopped back on the bike to grab another receipt before leaving Watertown. We grabbed some granola bars at the convenience store on the corner at the intersection of Highways 81 and 212. This is when Donna noticed that the cashier at the Kum and Go had listed the date as the 19th, but since it was after midnight, it should have been listed as the 20th. So back to the Kum and Go we went for the correction.
We were unsure what Sunday morning traffic in Minneapolis would be like, so we opted not to take Milbank, and headed instead into Minnesota, grabbing a couple more stops on our way back to Minneapolis.
We stopped for fuel in New Prague and tried to pick up a six pack of pop, only to find that they did not carry six packs, only 12 packs. Curses, so that was their evil plan! My guess was that six packs were not available within sixty miles of Minneapolis, this is why they were worth so many points. We stopped at four more places on our way to Trackstar before finding a six pack of 10 ounce commemorative bottles of Coca Cola at a grocery store.
We worked our way across town to Trackstar Motorsports as planned and clocked in with time to spare. Only upon checking did we discover the points auditors would have accepted six or twelve packs.
Our route added up to 1144.8 miles, and our total points were good enough for third place in the two-up class, which was a real thrill for us first-time competitors. Our post ride inspection revealed a dangerously defective rear tire. It was certainly not safe enough to ride back to Watertown. The good folks at Trackstar helped us with this problem, and we were on our way. Thanks Guys!
We'll be back next year with a new Guzzi and a fresh strategy . Meanwhile, if at 3:00 A.M. ya see a couple on a red and black Guzzi wearing matching road race jackets on a desolate back road, "It's Frank's fault!"