Book sales gratifying

Nov. 29, 2012


Until Christmas, we are selling “Motorcycling Montana” with FREE shipping: U.S. buyers will save $9.50; Canadians will save $11.50. These books make perfect Christmas gifts for your riding family members and friends. Send them a serving of the Big Sky Country and do it freight free for the next … 26 days!

The year is coming to a close and it has been a good one. We managed to get just about 10,000 miles on the odometer. A “good season” is one where we don’t have any incidents, so 2012 qualifies.

As of this writing, we’ve had one major winter storm that put a lot of snow down, then iced the streets and highways, so the bikes are now snug under their blankets in the garage, Battery Tender umbilical keeping life trickling to the machines. Ya never know when you might want to suddenly break them out!

I was checking some info last week on which retailers are the top sellers of “Motorcycling Montana.”

In aggregate, that would be Town Pump stores. We distribute through 64 of their locations and in total they have probably moved 1,200 books. One store in Shelby, Mont., managed by Connie Bock, has sold 51 books! Wow! The location, near the east side of Glacier Park, has something to do with their excellent sales, but more likely it is that Connie rides, and so she recommends the books to folks who arrive at her store on two wheels. Way to go, Connie!

Now the single best retailer of “Motorcycling Montana” is Beartooth Harley-Davidson in Billings, Mont. They account for 92 books sold! Congratulations Beartooth Harley! They have a nice display near their checkout counter and apparently make many impulse sales.

Yellowstone Harley-Davidson in Belgrade, near Bozeman, Mont., is our number two individual retailer: 76 books! Way to go Yellowstone H-D! And thanks from all of us at “MM.”

Third runner-up is Big Sky Motor Sports out of Missoula, Mont., a BMW/Kawasaki dealer. Their parts guy, Dean, has read the book so recommends it to their many customers. Thanks Big Sky Motor Sports!

Grizzly H-D in Missoula just started stocking the books in July and now account for 54 books! Awesome and thanks!

Now, here’s a surprise: Krisco Liquor in Missoula has sold 51 copies. What? A liquor store? Yup. They display the book prominently near their checkout and recommend it to riders. That’s all it takes, apparently. Thanks Krisco Liquors!

So, back in May we ordered 2,500 more copies from the printer, Advanced Litho in Great Falls, Mont. (They do first-class work.) Of that 2,500, approximately 1,800 remain. We promised folks we wouldn’t do a revised edition until 2015, which we will commence developing in 2014. But we have decided to not do another printing between now and late 2014. This means the remaining 1,800 copies are just going to have to last until then (which is highly unlikely). Depending, this means – best-case for us – the book could be out of print by the middle or end of 2013, and perhaps unavailable for a year or so. You may want to get one now.

Ride hard, ride free, ride well and ride safe!

Cole Boehler, Author

Recent reader feedback

Hey there…

“The book is amazing! Can’t wait to put it to use next summer. I will be retired and have a Multistrada 1200 that needs to get some miles on it. First up is all around the Yaak!”

Justin Fontaine
Studio City, CA

Last ride of 2012?

Oct. 31, 2012

Looks like I’ll be giving the bike its season-ending cleaning and oil change to night while the temp is near 60 degrees. We’ll keep the tank topped up (with treated fuel) and the battery tender on it just in case we get another nice window. But with big game hunting dates in the second week of November, we’ll likely be busy with other seasonal occupations.

We did get in one last good three-day trip Oct. 12-14, mostly up the Salmon River in Idaho, the the Sawtooth Scenic Byway through Ketchum/Sun Valley to Idaho Falls, then north and past Mesa Falls and through island Park. We then topped Reynolds Pass and dropped back into Montana along the Madison River below Ennis, then on home to Butte. It was three days and 750 miles of magnificent riding through gorgeous country with fall colors aglow and the least amount of traffic imaginable: we had it all to ourselves.

Gotta love the Northern Rockies in the fall!

A great Washington ride

Sept. 15, 2012

Well, we managed to squeeze in a few more good rides:

In mid August we did a little 500-mile over-nighter up to Fort Benton in north central Montana, then back through Great Falls and along some of our favorite roads along the Missouri River to Helena, then home.

Our longest tour of the year (so far) began Aug. 29 and concluded Sept. 5 – eight days, five of which were dedicated to riding (one was for a wedding and two were for visiting long-time friends). We covered 1,800.3 miles end-to-end in absolutely perfect weather: high 40s to low 50s in the morning warming to high 70s and even low 80s in the afternoon.

This trip took us St. Regis, Mont., then over the pass and along the St. Joe River to St. Maries, Idaho. We knew the top 10-12 miles of the Idaho side of the pass was getting pretty rough. Well, in late August, that was all being rebuilt and ought to be awesome next spring. We did struggle navigating 50- to 200-yard patches of loose and deeply graveled roadbed, fully loaded, pitching downhill with the front end tending to head where it wanted.

We made our way to the Palouse Country of east-central Washington, stopping in to see our favorite barista, Melinda, at the Eclaire coffee shop in Tekoa. Then it was to Steptoe Butte, St. Johns, LaCrosse and south to routes brand new to us.

With just over one million square miles in the Northern Rockies region, even after riding the area for 30-plus years it is comforting to know there are still new pieces of excellent, extraordinary, incredible, etc. tarmac to seek out an explore.

We crossed the Snake River south of LaCrosse en route to Dodge (great saloon) and Starbuck, where there was a tremendous flea market lining the highway. Re-crossing the Snake, we stopped and enjoyed a break at stunning Palouse Falls.

We cruised deserted asphalt, some of it pleasantly twisted, through fields of grain, potatoes, corn, onions, alfalfa and fruit orchards to Kahlotus and Connell and finally Othello for the night. The agricultural productivity of the region, possible with Columbia River irrigation water and a hot climate, is stunning.

At Othello, I recalled spending a night here in the third week of September in 1983, 29 years ago. I’d been to the coast on my ’83 Honda CB 1100 F. When I awoke in the morning, it was raining. It snowed heavily as I rode U.S. Hwy. 12 over Lolo Pass and into Missoula, Mont. You just don’t forget a day like that.

We kept west, passing through Royal City to I-90 where we crossed it and the Columbia, then took a pleasant backroad to Kittitas. Oooo, Hwy. 821 south through the Yakima River Canyon was sweet but with an oh-so-slow speed limit…and it was being patrolled!

At Selah we headed west through Naches, then Rimrock and White Pass, Packwood to Ashford (very remote but very rough), and Alder, then north to Sumner for the night. It was a short one-hour jaunt to Green Lake and Seattle the next morning. The wedding was equally short and sweet; the best kind.

We pulled out of Green Lake and the Seattle metro area Sunday morning at 7:20. After fully traversing the state, 12 hours and 10 minutes later, we rolled up the gravel driveway of friends Jim and Diane Bailey who have a place along the east shore of the Pend Orielle River about 80 miles north of Spokane.

That long day had us hitting Bothell northwest of Seattle, then picking up Hwy. 2 at Monroe and running that to Wenatchee. We hooked into Hwy. 91A north along the Columbia to Chelan for lunch.

The route to Chelan was all pleasant enough once away from urbania, but it was after Chelan that we began to hit our stride in terms of remote and rural two-lane, much of it mountainous to boot.

Right out of Chelan we found what is apparently a county road that took us through grain country, even a two-mile stretch of gravel before blacktop resumed. We ranged up toward Bridgeport, then east to Grand Coulee Dam and a refreshment stop.

Ahh, things were looking up as we hooked north toward Elmer City, then east to Hwy. 21, then north through Keller to where we picked up the little secondary to the ferry at the Inchelium-Gifford crossing over Roosevelt Lake (Columbia River reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam). Wow, is that some fine mountain riding!

At Gifford we ran to Addy because the slightly shorter route to Blue Creek was under construction. Woohoo! Though speeds were posted at 50 mph, then 35 at the twisty summit, we, er, pushed it a little over that, heh heh. Talk about getting some wear from the edges of the tires!

Then down into Chewelah, another quick pit stop, then across the Flowery Trail (gotta love that name), past the 49 Degrees ski area, giving a nod to a doe, fawn and little buck still in velvet, then dropping down into the Pend Orielle River Valley at Usk.

At this point we’d covered about 1,400 miles, yet this last 30 miles was the absolute best piece of moto-road on the whole trip … and it was entirely new to us! There’s a reason (actually several) that I journal my trips. This one will call us back!

The lack of motion was welcome

It was dusky – almost dark – as we rolled the last 19 miles up the river shore to our friends’ brand spanking new home. There we cooled our jets for a couple of days with good brews, good barbecued chicken and ribs, and some fine cocktails including a little Sailor Jerry rum with lime and ginger ale.

None of what we rode home was new, but it was all grand: to Usk and Newport, then Plummer, Idaho, Moscow, Kendrick, Orofino, Kamiah, Lowell and Lolo Pass. About 20 miles from the top of the pass, visibility was down to 100 yards due to forest fire smoke. I was afraid we’d run into a road block any minute but we made it over and down into Missoula, Mont., and back home to Butte, our apparel stinking like a campfire.

This tour represents what sport touring is all about: Riding a good bike with a good companion over excellent roads that are both familiar and new, seeing new sights and communities while meeting great people, then taking a break to hang with family while a nephew gets hitched, and hooking up with 25-year friends for a couple of days to celebrate their new home.

Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.

– Cole Boehler

Some early season regional rides

Aug. 10, 2012

My, how time flies!

Where has summer gone?

We have been so busy with our new publishing project – the monthly Northern Rockies Rider – and with trying to squeeze in a few good rides, that we haven’t had time to post here.

We got our new shipment of books and probably 400 of the second printing are now in distribution. This is a second printing, not second edition. We did put some effort into cleaning up the text and expended more effort on further photo color correction, so it is definitely an improved version.

It has been a dry summer but the riding has been good, with the exception of a few forest fires that have put some smoke into the air.

What’s your definition of a “good motorcycle ride”?

Ours is: “We returned without an incident or problem.”

Pretty simple.

By our definition, almost every single ride we have taken qualifies as “good.”

However, beyond “good” we hope to apply adjectives like “incredible,” “awesome,” “spectacular,” “fantastic,” “extraordinary,” “amazing,” “magnificent” and more.

Maybe it’s global warming, but we find early- and late-season rides now seem more plausible than ever before, so we may yet get in another good, long one.

We have to note several trips we’ve taken so far this year that qualify as “incredible, awesome, spectacular, fantastic, extraordinary, amazing” and “magnificent.”

In late April we rode 1,500 miles in Montana, Idaho, British Columbia and Washington, then back through Idaho and home to Montana. We did this with one quite tolerable day of rain and four days of beautiful sunshine, one of which we rode, for the sheer joy of it, in shirtsleeves in 80-degree air!

In May, again in three days of perfect weather, we rode some fantastic Idaho routes: to Boise, then Lowman, Stanley, Salmon and home through Montana’s Big Hole River valley.

In early June we got in a few days and 800 miles in our favorite part of Montana, the northwest corner of the state – the Yak Country, Lake Koocanusa and Flathead lake. Even illness and foul, wet weather couldn’t entirely devalue that tour.

We were busy with work and motorcycle shows and events during much of June and July, so didn’t really get out again until early August.

That time we covered about 1,000 miles in three days. There were six of us (three of us siblings with our mates) on three bikes. That tour covered the Beartooth Highway of Montana and Wyoming, the St. Joseph Scenic Byway and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.

Those three legs would probably qualify for most North American Top Ten lists, and certainly anyone’s Top Twenty list. “Incredible,” yadda yadda…

Ah, life is sweet.

Happy book owners

We love positive feedback from purchasers of “Motorcycling Montana.”


This came in today, May 7.

“Hi Cole,
“I bought this book for my boyfriend. He has looked through it and loves it! Smart choice on the spiral binding. He can’t wait to do some of the rides in the book. I think we saw it in a bar that was selling it actually.

“Great Book!

Frances Bonnett

Missoula, MT

Back to the printer

Well, the BMW shop in Missoula, Big Sky Motorsports, ordered a case (16) of “Motorcycling Montana” touring guide books last week, the Town Pumps Convenience stores were shipped over 200 in the last couple of weeks, and today the World Museum of Mining just ordered 10 more. We’re now down to about 100 books so I contacted the printer last week and scheduled another press run for June 1. My sister, Kim, just finished reading proof again, and we are working on improved photo color correction, but will have new files to the printer on time. This means we should have new books in hand by about June 21. I hope the last hundred lasts long enough… but I can see it won’t. Any delay in filling orders shouldn’t be too long.


Epic ride

I just rode 1,600 miles in five days: Day 1 – Butte, MT to Bonners Ferry, ID; Day 2 – to Creston, Kaslow, New Denver, Nakusp and Vernon in B.C.; Day 3 – then south to Republic, Colville, Ione, Usk and Spokane, WA, then Plummer, ID; Day 4 – then back into Washington to Tekoa, St. John and all over the Palouse County, to Colfax and Pullman, WA; Day 5 – then to Moscow, Kendrick, and via P1 to Orofino, then over Lolo Pass on US Hwy 12 to Lolo, Missoula and home. Rained from Missoula to Trout Creek on Day 1, then warm and sunny, hitting almost 80 on Sunday and Monday. A storm went over US 12 (Lolo Pass) before I did on Day 5 so the pavement was wet and I had to keep the corner speeds down. Just past Lowell, there was a motorcycle wreck that happened about 30 minutes before I passed through the scene. Later I read a 47-year-old Florida woman, a passenger, died and the driver was taken to a hospital. That will slow you down! Still, an awesome ride on some of the best motorcycle roads in North America.

Motorcycles: You’ve got to love them

By Cole Boehler

Editor and Publisher

Northern Rockies Rider

Editor’s note: I’ve often marveled at the tribalism that characterizes the motorcycle nation. We intend, however, to keep this periodical non-denominational. So, no brands specified here.

In my 34 years of riding, I have owned a couple of dozen bikes, but just seven that I’ve considered my “main ride.” Every time I’ve sold one of these, I’ve had regrets … well, with the possible exception of one of them.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I get very emotionally attached to my rides. They all represent some of the finest memories of my life; each of these sold bikes could tell a part of my life story.

In 2003 I found the bike that was and is nearly perfect for me. It does everything I need and does it well. I got it at a great price with 1,350 miles on the clock.

It is comfortable, provides reasonable weather and windblast protection, is good looking (in my opinion), is very powerful, has great brakes (non ABS), corners like it’s on rails, has multi-dimensional adjustable suspension front and rear, has integrated hard side cases and will haul a lot of stuff, gets good gas mileage (42-46 MPG), takes 87 octane, and is dead reliable (a blown fork seal in 75,000 miles).

One minor downside: It weighs 650 pounds fully fueled.

I wasn’t really planning on selling it but my brother-in-law and sister wanted to get back into riding – on a limited budget – so I made them a very nice deal, about $2,000 below book value. In addition, I know the maintenance history of this machine and its condition so can send them on their way with a high degree of confidence.

But, man, it hurt to see the tail light disappear down my driveway with someone else at the bars! I loved that motorcycle, the best one I’ve ever owned.

Of course, I’d like to still have my first bike. It wasn’t very practical and vibrated worse than a … well, vibrator. But it could pull a fine first gear wheelie and had this very cool “arrest me red” paint job. Puppy love to be sure, but love nevertheless.

The second one I owned … that’s the one I wouldn’t care to have back. It was a torture rack with the worst seat I’ve ever experienced – think proctologic exam.

I sold it to a friend and he sold it to another mutual friend who crashed it at 85 miles per hour. He lived to tell about it but the recovery was long and painful. I learned that bad road rash is treated just like third-degree burns.

The third bike, another one with dazzling red paint and custom gold pin-striping, served me well, but I sold it to my brother. I loved that bike, and especially remember the way it seemed to pull like a catapult in second gear.

So why did I sell it? I had the means to purchase the fastest production bike made. I really didn’t need more power and speed; I just thought I did.

I rode that fourth one three years and posted 25,000 miles. It went down the driveway without me after The Boy was born and there was no time (or money) to ride. That broke my heart. I was no longer whole without a two-wheeler handy.

Three years later I bought one almost identical to the one I’d sold (different paint) and rode it for the next 10 years. This was when our son was growing up so I only put 33,000 miles on that one since riding opportunities involving any distance were rare.

It was air-cooled and the old girl began using oil, about a quart every 500 miles. Then I could see a very small oil leak developing near the head gasket. Rebuild or replace?

Again with a heavy heart, I replaced it with a modern water-cooled beast that also was the fastest production bike made – but for only its first year of production. This was an awesome machine that took good care of me while delivering incredible fun. We toured extensively, yet only got one ticket –­ a minor miracle! Some of the high jinx could have landed me in the slam.

But because of the bike’s ergonomics and my aging body and arthritic vertebrae, even with bar risers, it had to go, too. Another lost love. A friend bought it, which was nice. He even let me ride it occasionally. Unfortunately, I did not know Ed was a manic-depressive basket case. He finished his own life at the end of a rope in his garage.

I bought it back from his estate (kind of like remarrying the spouse you had divorced), then eventually sold it to my nephew. I think several years later it was then traded on a new bike. I wish I still had it, if only to go out and do the occasional hooligan high-speed rip, to really get the adrenalin flowing.

That brings me to the bike my sister and her husband now own. Yup, another red one. I don’t name my motorcycles, but this one was an exception: Mahtowin Duta. That’s Lakota Sioux for “Red Bear Woman.”

I’d loosely estimate my wife and I spent 1,500 hours in Red Bear Woman’s saddle, maybe 200 days. Yes, a true and trusted friend who never let me down, just did exactly what I expected at all times. I loved that bike!

But, ahh, I found a blue one of the same model that is two years newer and has 54,000 fewer miles. I picked her up in early March. I think this may be the beginning of another love affair. Mahtowin Toh? Blue Bear Woman? I don’t think so.

As my late father reached his upper years, when he’d purchase an item of quality and durability, he would often lament, for example, “Well, that’s probably the last pair of boots I’ll need to buy.”

I’m thinking, “Well, this is probably the last motorcycle I’ll need to buy.” Maybe the last bike I’ll love?

Ya think?


– Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.







Beartooth Harley Davidson buys 32 copies of Motorcycling Montana

Beartooth Harley Davidson and High Mountain Motorsports in Billings, Montana, had an initial quantity of 18 copies of Motorcycling Montana. They called yesterday and were down to just one book so they bought two more cases (32 books)! This is a top flight motorcycle dealership and they know a thing or two about retailing and merchandising.

In addition, the Town Pump convenience stores in Montana initially ordered 510 copies. We sent them 110 more copies in late February and now have 71 more copies we’re getting ready to ship.

We’re now down to about 200 copies from the initial press run of 2,600 and the motorcycle touring season hasn’t even begun here. Looks like I’ll be talking to the printer in Great Falls, Montana, early next week to set up another run. To maintain my price, I’ll need to order another 2,500. But, man, that ties up a lot of money! Besides, where do I store 156 cases of books? My bikes will not be sitting out in the weather while their parking spots are filled with books! Rent a storage unit? More expense!

Alpinestars motorcycle touring boot review

Equipment review w/pics (2)

Editor’s note: This product review is from the April, 2012 edition of our new sister publication, Northern Rockies Rider. The author also wrote and published “Motorcycling Montana.”

By Cole Boehler

Editor, NR Rider

Item: Alpinestars Web Gore-Tex touring boot

Available in full and some half-sizes from 3.5 to 14, apparently no specific widths.

SRM price: $239.95

I bought my Alpine Stars Web Gore-Tex touring boots at a Cycle Gear store where, I believe, I paid a $189 sale price.

I typically wear a size-10.5 boot so bought the Euro size-45 which is supposedly equivalent. The boots are closer to a typical US size-11 which was fine with me since they accommodate extra-heavy wool socks, even with silk sock liners, and still fit okay, if slightly loosely with regular cotton socks.

These were comfortable, not stiff, right out of the box, requiring virtually no break-in. They are an all-day boot you could get away with in an informal office or restaurant setting: reasonably good looking and conservative with just a dash of “high-tech.”

I have more comfortable shoes but not more comfortable boots. They are not a factor when considering long walks. However, it still feels great to pull them off at the end of the day!

The mildly cleated soles offer good traction on any surface. An extra layer of material is added to the boot toe exteriors to prevent undue wear from the bike’s toe-shifter.

The boots require low effort to slip into. A quality interior skirt liner tucks in as the inside zipper is pulled up, then a two-piece hook-and-loop-secured leather flap folds over the entire zipper. The hook-and-loop material used is of high quality and has not lost any of its adhesive qualities.

The top three our four inches of the interior boot upper is luxuriously padded which allows for a snug closure with no chafing of the shins.

I have thick calves and when wearing thick socks, the zipper pull can require some force, but the zippers and their tangs have handled the stress well. I can get my leather pant legs – opened and closed with zippers – fully and comfortably over the boot uppers. Ditto my Draggin’ Jeans or Carhartts.

I was quite satisfied with the boot for the first three seasons, though I discovered they were not “waterproof” as promotional literature states, but rather were “water resistant.” Further reading indicates Alpinestars makes a reference to a “water-resistant upper” but I believe the leaks I experienced came from between the leather boot lowers and soles.

It did take a couple of hours riding in the rain before I felt the sole of my left foot getting cold and wet. When we reached our destination after four hours of rainy riding, moisture had begun to seep into the right boot as well. Riding through showers hasn’t been a problem. An all-day torrent?; not recommended. I still pack my lightweight rain booties.

About halfway through the third riding season with maybe 30,000 riding miles on these boots, I noticed the tread blocks on the soles were wearing strangely, then finally wore through in their fourth year, revealing the tread blocks themselves had ribbed and hollow interiors. Surely that saves weight and materials but means a disappointingly short sole life.

When I saw the holes in the sole, I contacted Alpinestars, sent them pictures, and told them I thought the sole was defective, that surely in the molding process these had failed to cast and fill properly.

The company response was there was no defect, the holes in the sole treads were considered “normal wear and tear,” but that the company would replace the soles for me at no charge. I sent them in (at my own expense) and they were returned to me within four weeks with brand new soles.

In comparison, the soles on my second-hand, 10-year-old, rode-hard-put-away-wet Belstaff boots, which the Alpinestars replaced, exhibit hardly any wear. The Belstaffs served as backup boots when the Alpinestars were back at the factory.

I have crashed twice in these boots: once at a track day at perhaps 25 mile per hour; and once running a gravel back road, probably at 15 or 20 miles per hour. The track crash left only a scuff on the right outside toe and another toward the heel. The gravel incident did virtually nothing more to the boot – I probably just re-scuffed the existing scuffs as both crashes were on the right side.

My wife has the same boot. She was along when I hooked a rut on the gravel and went down. Both of our right feet were pinned under the rear of the bike when things ground to a stop. My foot was between hers and the ground, hers was between mine and the bike’s passenger peg.

An after-crash diagnosis revealed my wife sustained a high-ankle fracture. These boots do have light plastic armoring in the ankles.

These are touring boots, not racing or competition boots. Did the boots not provide enough protection in our relatively light crash? I believe the injury would have been significantly worse without the boot armor. I think the boots did what could be reasonably expected, no complaints.

Soles and waterproofing aside, the rest of these boots have held up very well. The liners, zippers, hook-and-loop closures and exterior finish all have proven to be very durable.

At a relatively low price, these boots represent perhaps a fair value.

Satisfaction – 2.5 stars

What the company says:

“Alpinestars™ Web Gore-Tex is a high quality waterproof and breathable boot that can be worn every day of the year.”

*Full-length zipper closure system for easy entry and exit.

*Plastic molded shin plate covered by a pressure stamped section of leather.

*Internal support is provided by injection-molded plastic on the ankles.

*Internal heel counter.

*Internal toe counter is layered under the leather.

*Alpinestars’ exclusive vulcanized compound sole with unique side wrapping design.

*Water-resistant full-grain oil leather upper.

*Injected PU shifter area.

*Waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex® lining.

*Soft micro fiber instep flex zone.

*Removable anatomic perforated foot bed Velcro® calf adjustment.

*Multi-density EVA padding.

*Rear reflective insert for increased visibility.

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