Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Stig Lives In St Paul....

I have now been reading blogs since about September last year and I have followed quite a few, mostly about motorbikes. One that I enjoy reading a great deal is Everyday Riding, by Chris Luhman. What I like about it is that Chris has a number of bikes and rides them all year round – in the sun, wind, rain, snow, ice – whatever the elements throw at him, Chris is out there.

Not long after I published the map of my route Chris contacted me and said he lives right on my route and would I like to get together and also have a place to stay? Of course! Not only do I get to meet Chris, but I would get to see the Ural (his Russian motorbike and sidecar) as well.

Well, arrangements were made and diaries checked and after riding up the Mississippi, I approached Chris’ house. As I did so, something occurred to me – I had no idea what Chris looked like or even roughly how old he was! I found his house and immediately saw Chris’ bike collection and his wife’s bike as well.

I unloaded my gear and we chatted for a short while before setting out on Chris’ Ural for a ride. Here is Chris riding the bike....




















Another with Chris on the Ural....


























We had stopped in a car park and Chris was very kind to let me have a ride on the bike. Now, I have never ridden a motorbike with a sidecar and while it did feel a little strange not needing to lean, I soon got the hang of it. Braking and accelerating does odd things to the front end though, with the steering wanting to alter its direction as you brake or accelerate. Not a problem, but you need to be aware of what is happening. Here I am with a big grin on my face....




















Another taken by Chris from the sidecar....




















We stopped to admire the view of downtown St Paul.....




















And the capitol building....




















This is St Paul Cathedral, not too dissimilar from its namesake in London....



























Here is Chris outside the Cathedral.


























I mentioned to Chris that I was not sure of what he looked like before I actually met him and that I could not recall seeing any photos on his blog of him when he was not wearing his helmet. It is of course very Stig-like. If you don’t understand this comment, then you need to stay in more and watch more car shows on tv!

It then occurred to me that Chris could actually be the Stig! The Stig lives in St Paul!!!!

I took a few clips of the ride from the seat in the sidecar and I have made them into a short video here. I must apologise for the picture quality and the sound (which is awful) but I like the video so so and it will always remind me of what a great time I spent with Chris, that I have decided to include it here anyway....



The two of us went out to dinner in one of Chris’ favourite restaurants and afterwards sat up way too late just chatting about bikes, blogs and tours we have done. Chris and his wife Vicky are about to ride the entire length of the Mississippi starting this week – you can read about the plan and route for their trip here. I wish them well on their ride.

Chris, thank you very much for your hospitality and friendship. If you are ever in London, I will do the same for you! I will watch your blog and follow the progress of your river run with keen interest.

After I left Chris’ house the next morning, I rode along some of the roads we covered the night before, but it was dark then, so I returned to take a few daylight pictures.....

A very nice bridge over the Mississippi....


























Downtown Minneapolis....




















One of the bridges that connect buildings in the downtown area to save people from having to cross at street level in the very cold winter months.....

10 comments:

SonjaM said...

And here I was thinking the American Stig would be super-sized. Great, you guys could meet!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

I thought that the Stig had a PINK outfit ?

You two looked like you had a great time on the URAL. What a pleasure it must have been for Chris to have such an accomplished Videographer on board. Imported too at great expense.

I think that construction zone was planned

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Paul said...

ah, a side car, the perfect solution for Jackie's luggage!

Chris Luhman said...

Bob: Canadian Stig is pink, not the US stig. :)

Gary: Great post! Nearly made me choke on my chai snickering. The construction zone really wasn't planned. As soon as I saw it, I couldn't resist. The Ural is best on unpaved surfaces. Loved your video! We just might take you up on your offer; we haven't been to London yet. Think you'll have your own sidecar by 2011?? haha :)

PS: bridges between buildings = skyways.

Chris Luhman said...

Gary: I was just thinking... we both have GoProHDs and lots of mounting options, but we used the point-n-shoot! haha. I think we were having too much fun to think about using our better cameras! :)

Milwaukee Dan said...

The side car looks like a hoot! Nice video.

Charlie6 said...

That bit of road construction looked like a piece of cake! To a Uralista that is.... : )

If the timing is right, we could try another attempt at Rollins Pass with you as the monkey, it should rattle your teeth loose if I do it right.

Rollins Pass attempt 1

dom

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

bobskoot said...

Gary:

I notice you are coming up to Council Bluffs. It is just across the river from Omaha, home of the Liard zoo. There is a big dome where they have artificially created different climate zones. It may be the largest in North America. They can create monsoons and the animals are roaming free inside. Snakes, birds, sloths.

I was there many years ago and missed out on the Strategic Air Command. (SAC), as it was closed on that day. I belive that the SAC would be worth seeing. It is a graveyard of abandoned military planes and there are bunkers about a mile below the surface. This was suppose to be the command centre should a nuclear war break out. It is located in the geographical heart of America for a reason and was the instigator of the internet.

Omaha is known for their Steak houses. Have a meal on me, I will pay you back later (LOL)

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Eve said...

Loved the video!! Laughed out loud the same time you did!!! What a riot! We watch plenty Motor shows but I must say I may have been not paying enough attention...I'm sure my husband has heard of the Stig...I'll quiz him when he gets home.
Hey Gary...did I miss the 6000 mile photo???
Ride Safe...even if you are in a sidecar!!!
:-)

Gary France said...

Sonja – LOL. Actually American Stig was quite a normal size.

Bob – I have to agree with Chris below. It is the Canadian Stig that is in touch with him feminine side. We had a great time, but we both laughed afterwards because we both have GoPro cameras, but we ended up using my P&S for the video! I think it was planned as well.

Paul – Maybe, but Jackie wants a trike!

Chris – I had a blast, especially in that construction zone! I am glad you liked the video. It was poor quality, but somehow that didn’t matter – the fun we were having still came over.

Dan – A hoot indeed!

Charlie6 – To the experienced Uralista I probably have to agree. To a city-boy from London, no. I am game for another ride anywhere in a Ural sidecar!

Bob – Thanks for your great ideas, but I went passed those areas on the day I had to cut everything short due to the hospital visit. I even saw a sign for the SAC and would loved to have gone there, but I ran out of time. Even though I didn’t stop in Omaha, I had the meal on you later anyway. It was delicious, so thanks!

Eve – The Stig is in the best tv programme about cars ever made. It is called Top Gear and you can get it in the US on the internet. I don’t have the web address, but I know Chris Luhman does as he is an avid fan, Maybe Chris will read this and post the link, but be warned, it is very addictive!