The road of a story worth telling is littered with the debris of plans gone awry.
Serene days of riding pristine roads, mechanical perfection and clear skies are the recipe for painfully boring stories by the campfire. Instead, human nature favors stories of trials, tribulation and ordeals stitched with threads of hardship to outfit our tales of adversity.
Any ride worth sharing includes challenges worth overcoming. Many of our rides have had smooth spots but more include something gone wrong. I was reminded of this during a recent Fly and Ride in the Blue Mountains of Australia.
“It’s the interruptions that are the journey, not where you’re going”.
Ted Simon, the author of Jupitor’s Travels who rode a motorcycle for four years and successfully made it around the world.
Just before departing the Eagle Rider motorcycle rental location, Will, the manager mentioned that insurance companies only cover stolen bikes if they are locked with a kryptonite lock when absconded with. He pointed out the complimentary lock that would be bouncing around in my right side hard-bag. Before leaving, my keys and alarm fob were placed in the bag with the kryptonite lock as the Eagle Rider guys sent me on my way.
After 50 miles it was time to return my borrowed morning coffee (we think we buy it but in reality coffee is rented) and fill my panniers (term for saddlebag in Australia) with snacks for the day. It had been 90-100 degrees the prior day and though the forecast suggested milder weather, I wasn’t taking any chances of running low on water. The rest stop was at the base of the Blue Mountains giving me a chance to get off the M4 (highway) and should allow a quick transition back onto the road for the most anticipated part of the ride. As an aside, embrace the desire to punch me for writing “panniers” – I feel it too.
Before leaving the bike, Will’s message about thievery echoed in my mind. My desire to purchase an overpriced Roadking in a foreign country without the rewards of traditional ownership was minimal. It would be sensible to fish for the keys in my saddlebag and lock the bike down. Unfortunately the lock had smashed open the key fob. I didn’t realize this was the case until I carelessly pulled the key out fo the saddle bag causing it’s chip to fly one direction and the battery an altogether different one. One thing led to another and the Roadking’s alarm sounded summoning inquisitive onlookers who consider alerting the authorities. Scampering around the parking lot, I rescued the fob parts before passing cars had their opportunity to cause irreparable, trip-ending damage. A few minutes of minor mechanical surgery and I would be on my way.
This was only the most recent of the mishaps that have sculpted my riding (and writing) career.
There was the time during last last memorial day weekend’s Iron Butt (Saddlesore 1,000) from Boston to the Tail of the Dragon (North Carolina) when we hit a tornado and freak hail storm.
Hail seemed to be the issue of 2013 as we also found ourselves ankle deep in ice pebbles around Needles Highway and the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota during August’s Sturgis Motorcycle week 2013. That very day, a less fortunate rider and his passenger were said to have perished from sliding off the road just miles from our location (hard to confirm but unfortunately this strengthens the story).
Stories of strife need not be limited to the elements though these may be the majority of our riding woes.
- We have encountered melted wires toward the conclusion of a 3,000 mile ride necessitating a Maglite to be duck-taped to the headlight bezel for a little visibility during the remainder of the ride..
- How can we forget about the road dips on the tail of the dragon that devoured a saddlebag.
- How about the broken regulator on Josie’s snow mobile (Victory Motorcycles) that gave out a mere 276 miles from our Sturgis destination that ultimately delayed our arrival into the Black Hills until 4:30 AM.
- My bike overheating as I passed some of the most Bear Infested parts of Montana on a Solo cross country ride only to be charged by Bison moments later.
- Losing an exhaust hanger on the way to visit the grave of a fallen soldier in Virginia only to be situated right next to a piano store stocking more wire than we needed to MacGyver this roadside fix.
- Getting pulled over in a jerk-water town somewhere in Southern Virginia going slightly over (twice) the speedlimit
- Being caught in a flash flood and forced to pull over in a gas station in North Philadelphia. Key learning: The only way to drink Tall Boys is out of a paper bag.
The mishaps seem endless but they are what make our tales more entertaining. In reality the challenges make our rides more rewarding as the enduring yearning to conquer adversity is the part of human nature separating us from the more feeble species who have withered over time.