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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Novelist, faculty member, motorcycle enthusiast Terry Davis taking his cycle passion public

Opening shop in Rapidan

To his fans, it's no news that novelist and Minnesota State Mankato English faculty member Terry Davis loves the rolling thunder. But it may come as a surprise that Davis is taking his passion public, with a cycle shop in Rapidan.

By Ron Gower, special to The Free Press [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 5/30/2007]

Photos by John Cross
Terry Davis with motorcycles
Along with vintage used motorcycles, novelist and college professor Terry Davis will carry a line of new British Enfield bikes such as the one he is in the process of assembling for sale in his soon-to-open Clandestine Classic Cycles in Rapidan.

Clandestine Classic Cycles inventory will include vintage British bikes such as the 1957 BSA in the foreground and the 1907s-era Triumph immediately behind it.

RAPIDAN — To fans of novelist Terry Davis, it’s no news that he loves motorcycles. They play a role in most of his fiction and articles, and Davis riding around Mankato on a Norton or Yamaha is a familiar sight.

Now Davis is carrying that passion a step further in real life. He will open his motorcycle shop, Clandestine Classic Cycles, in Rapidan, with a grand opening Friday.

“I’ve always had some kind of cycle shop hidden away, wherever I lived, and even now, out of the way in Rapidan, it’s a ‘clandestine’ place.”

This time, though, the shop is on a large scale, and he finally has room for all the cycles he has collected.

“I’ve always wanted to have a real full-size bike store, and when I saw this building for sale, I knew it would be perfect for my shop. It’s probably a case of arrested adolescence, but if I’m ever going to do it, now is the time,” says Davis, who has been an English professor at Minnesota State University for 20 years.

Davis is best known as the author of “Vision Quest,” “Mysterious Ways,” and “If Rock and Roll were a Machine” and has been a major figure in the creative writing program, where he teaches screenwriting and adolescent literature as well as fiction writing. His novels have won awards from the American Library Association and New York Public Library as best books for young adults. The novel “Vision Quest” was made into a 1985 movie.

His interest in cycles began growing up in Spokane, Wash., where he was also a wrestler and basketball player, and has continued throughout his career. Davis says to him cycles have always been a symbol of independence and also just a way to get outside. “They also are demanding: You have to be constantly alert and aware of the world around you. That’s not a bad exercise for a writer.”

No matter where that writing career took him, he found time and space to ride and “tinker” with bikes and also to buy used motorcycles that interested him.

Those bikes — more than 70 of them at the moment — will be on display in the huge building he’s purchased on the small town’s main drag and converted into a modern store and shop. It is an eclectic assortment — from Triumph to BSA, Norton to Yamaha, mainly a “retro” store, but with several new Royal Enfields at the top of the line.

“My aim will be to sell good vintage bikes at a reasonable price,” says Davis, who plans to run the store himself while on sabbatical this year.

He plans to restore and service all the bikes he sells, and assisting him will be a partner, Paul Matejcek of Mankato. Matejcek recently graduated from MSU with a degree in speech therapy but will concentrate on cycles for the time being. The store also will sell some accessories and memorabilia, including Clandestine Cycle T-shirts with the motto “If Rock and Roll Were a Machine, It’d be a Motorcycle.”

Although Davis says the shop is only a hobby, it’s a hobby on a grand scale, and in a way just the culmination of what’s always been a major passion with the writer.

“It’s a risk, at age 60, but something my whole life has been leading to. This is something that will keep me going, just as riding cycles does.”

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