Gear and Product Reviews

Book Review: Upper Mississippi Valley by Motorcycle

Written by  April 30, 2006

For those of us who endure several long months of winter, the arrival of spring is a long-awaited respite from confinement. Warm temperatures, for us, signify the beginning of riding season and the anticipation of the pleasure our lifestyle brings. Weekend warriors begin to look forward to bike nights, weekend rides and vacations that include rallies and motorcycle events. But for a chosen few, the planning of riding season and the anticipation of the destination go far beyond riding to the local bike night scene and weekend rallies. The arrival of spring sets the wheels in motion for extended motorcycle travel.

Kay Fellows is one of those riders. She has written a book entitled Upper Mississippi Valley by Motorcycle. The information provided in this book is based on a series of trips taken by the author over “an incredibly wonderful summer and fall.” The first entry in her trip log in the book’s appendix is dated June 8, and the final entry is dated November 3. Her travel covered the country between the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, covering adjacent corners of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

If you have plans now or in the future, to take a scenic motorcycle trip but have not yet chosen a destination, consider reading this book to learn more about the Upper Mississippi Valley. It is a descriptive, comprehensive guide for those who seek a scenic trip covering the lesser-known back roads away from heavy traffic. The pages “will lead you to explore many out of the way treasures.” Published by The Motorcycle Publishing Company, this book is not a travel guide for just any traveler and does not cover well-known tourist destinations. It is written with the motorcyclist and the motorcycle “experience” in mind. For example, roads are described in language that is relevant to bikers: “twisting,” “climbing,” “winding,” and “challenging.” Scenery is described not only in terms of sight and sound, but also aroma and fragrance—something that one traveling in an RV could not appreciate. Businesses are described in terms of their interest or ability to cater to bikers.

The author’s depiction of sights, people, history, and travel are vivid, detailed, descriptive and informative. She maps out her course, road by road, destination to destination and describes everything in between. All pertinent information needed by the motorcycle traveler has been incorporated into the narrative of her travels. Photos of interesting sights and attractions are also included. Unfortunately, they are printed in black and white, so brilliance and detail are not as easily appreciated as a color photo would illustrate.

The final paragraph of the book states, “An old folk song says, “Something is Always Happening on the River,” and that is very true of the Mississippi. If you are looking for a large motorcycle rally or wish to take a fascinating look into history; if you’d like to visit some quaint small towns, sample some great food, enjoy a variety of celebrations and festivals; or if you simply want to ride some scenic and challenging roads, you will find what you are looking for in the Upper Mississippi Valley.”

If you decide that you too would like to explore the spectacular scenery that the Upper Mississippi Valley has to offer, let Kay Fellows be your guide. To get a copy of Upper Mississippi Valley by Motorcycle by Kay Fellows, go to It sells for $24.95.

Book review by Stephanie Wilcoxson