It seemed only fitting the steel eagle of La Crosse’s Riverside Park soared 35 feet above the gathering point of American Iron’s River Run 2016. American is in our name, something we take pride in. We were on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, the most fabled river in American lore. Indian Motorcycles, a company whose name is inscribed in American motorcycle culture, was hangin’ out with us and hooked us up with a couple of sweet rides for the event, Buzz snagging the keys to the Chieftain with the performance cams and kit while I got the keys to a Roadmaster splashed in the sharp Springfield Blue and Ivory Cream paint.
Thought it was cool the first two American Iron fans I met rolled up on a 1936 Sport Scout and 1947 Harley Model ‘U.’ Will Lusignan, President of the Driftless Antique Club of America, brought out his old tank shifter to share while Duane Olsen of Black River Falls had his Flathead sitting curbside.
The diversity of bikes that showed up were as unique as the people themselves. White Bear Lake’s Rick Mereness gets a vote for “Coolest Grandpa” for bringing his grandson Easton along for the ride, Easton taking in the sights from his perch atop the pillion of a 2012 Electra Glide. There was “Charlie Romeo Alpha India Gulf” Cooper, aka Craig, who did the 750-mile ride to La Crosse from Tulsa, Oklahoma the day before and hooked up with us for the adventure up the river and Minnesota’s Patriot Ride, too (Be sure to check out our 2016 Patriot Ride Report & Photos). Craig’s trusted mount was a 2009 FLHTP, a former Tulsa police bike now doing duty as a civilian vehicle.
Leah Misch’s Scout has seen over 17,000 miles in less than a year, Misch knocking out 10,000 in the first two months of owning her new bike during a soul-searching trip of our country. The La Crosse native would lead our group on a scenic tour to Indian Motorcycle of Twin Cities, fittingly on a motorcycle called Scout. There was “Bandanas by Michelle’s” gloss black Roadmaster all dressed up with 15,000 Swarovski crystals, including the script on the tank and the special 75th Sturgis air cleaner. Her license plate says a lot about Michelle, who is “LVNLYF” on her Indian. Her license plate holder, stamped “You’ve Just Been Passed by a Girl,” is another clue to her personality. There were bikes with plenty of personality joining us for the River Run, from a slammed and stretched big-wheeled bagger with blazing orange paint to an Ultra Classic Electra Glide complete with sidecar.
Tour guide Misch got our ride off on the right foot as she led us over some backwood sweepers you’d probably never find if you weren’t a La Crosse local. Before long we’re running parallel to the river, green canopies broken by rocky buttes. The wind is whipping leaves in the trees and stirring up whitecaps on the water. Riding along the Mississippi, the landscape sings the songs of Faulkner and Twain, tugs doing the delicate dance of steering barges 10 times their length down the turbulent waters. You sense the river’s ancientness where it’s wide as a lake, the waters witnessing the evolution of North American cultures who have lined her shore firsthand. The further north we get the more the river seeps into the surrounding countryside creating carpets of moss and marshes, the area feeling more like Louisiana than Wisconsin. Nobody complained when the group made a pit stop at the Nelson Creamery to get a big scoop.
Pulling into Indian Motorcycles of Twin Cities, the dynamic duo from Acapulco Restaurante Mexicano had tasty tacos, burritos and cold drinks waiting for our group. Local musician Lyzander provided the party’s background tracks as he laid down some mean Zeppelin on his acoustic guitar. Tasty grub, a cold one, and live music – Twin Cities Indian owner Art Welch knows how to treat a hungry group after a good road trip.
We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share the open road with readers, to talk shop and swap stories, then sit down and share a meal. We appreciate your support and can’t wait to ride with many of you again. The Kickstart Classic is right around the corner, the vintage motorcycle event taking place July 28-30 at Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley. Hope to see you there.