(Because of the time lag between the bike show and the first spring issue of MMM, my editor decided to pass on this column. However, I still like it so I'm putting it on my own page of Geezer articles)
Incredible, isn't it? January in Minnesota and we get to spend a weekend pawing over motorcycles that our local dealers would keep behind glass rather than expose them to every Tom, Dick, and motorcycling wannabe Harriet. As many things as they get wrong, you gotta give Cycle World some credit for being cool enough to put on that show. And the fact that Toyota pays for a bunch of the show makes me look upon my two rust-bucket Toys with a little more affection.
Having put my stuff together the night before, I don't need a lot of prep-time. So, I crawl out of bed about fifteen minutes before a buddy picks me up for a trip into the pit of Minneapolis. I'm stumbling into my boots and coat about the time he pulls into the driveway. I'm out the door before he gets a chance to even think about turning off his car heater.
We've done this trip a three times in the past three years, so we have the schedule, finally, figured out. No point in getting there early, so we head for Keys and a breakfast built for six. It's a struggle, but we do what we always do and my dog wouldn't find a scent of a past meal from our plates. We still have an hour or more to burn before the Convention center doors open, so we talk about bikes and guitars and women. The sort of guy-talk where hope never stops springing eternal.
Finally, we've worn out our welcome at Keys because a line of folks has built up at the door and they all look hungry enough to be threatening. We hit the road, aiming in the general direction of downtown Minneapolis, by way of Willie's Guitars, a shop my friend has never seen and I never tire of seeing. Willie's isn't open, but we blow ten minutes staring into the windows and fogging up the glass.
Finally, we're on the direct path for downtown Minneapolis. I'm not a fan of downtown, uptown, or around town Minneapolis. Jesse, the Gov, thinks St. Paul was designed by "drunken Irishmen" and I'm equally convinced that Minneapolis was laid out by a tag-team of drunken pro wrestlers. The highway and freeway system is about as user-hostile as Microsoft's legal team. There are only a few places in the city, which I visit as rarely as possible, where I can get in and out without getting lost. Today, the Convention Center turns out to be one of those places; at least on the way into town. I even manage to direct my ride to a parking structure, where we find a slot on the 2nd floor, just a few feet from the skywalk entrance.
At the site, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that not only did my favorite editor ask for a press pass, but the show's administration people actually issued one for me. I've obviously spent too much of my life in the rock and roll world, where you always assume that everything can and will be screwed up. Being the crude and rude guy I am, I leave my friend in the ticket line and head for the Suzuki booth.
If you have never worn a press badge to a trade show, you really need to try it sometime. All riders should be issued press badges. At least I think it was the badge that made the difference. It seemed to me that the vendors and bike reps were a lot nicer to me than usual. I, in exchange, was a lot more ruthless to them. Two victims wearing Suzuki badges were forced, as best I could tell, to listen to me rant about the center stand that is missing from the SV650's accessory options while being available for the Hyabusa.
These guys actually paid attention to my argument, or pretended to, and took notes. I caught them glancing at my press badge, every couple of minutes, as if they were trying to decide what MMM was and if its readership was worth the abuse they were suffering. I milked my moment under the florescent lights for all it was worth and repeated the experiment at every booth I visited. The Harley guys weren't particularly interested in Suzuki SV650 center stands, though, so I'm going to write something mean about them at a later date.
After a long day of exposing the limits of self-control to motorcycle vendors, we left the Convention Center, found our car in moments, and got lost finding our way out of Pro-Wrestler-ville. Eventually, we made it back to Willie's, which was now open, played a bunch of vintage guitars, bought a couple of noisemakers, and ended the evening drinking beer and eating bar food. January doesn't get any better than that.