Kansas

Everywhich Way But Loose

“Precision instruments are designed to achieve an idea, dimensional precision, whose perfection is impossible.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

So this phrase had me thinking about this idea of perfection. Which as I’ve discussed before is an issue of mine when it comes to planning and control. Is perfection really impossible? If it is then it that what drives my desire to succeed, the attempt to capture or manifest something that can never really happen? I’m beginning to think this is true. I once had a painting teacher say that he never sought to paint what sits in front of him, but yet his interpretation of that thing. Because if he wanted an image of that thing he’d just take a picture. This was an interesting idea to me because still to this day it rings true. I think it is the journey that I seek, the tale that surrounds it, the drama even at times. Because if it gets perfected or completed flawlessly then whats the point of seeking something that ends so finite and leaves no potential for improvement. Or maybe more importantly it’s that the idea of the thing is already perfect. While the final my never be as intended the pure intention is the important component.

 

 

Day Fifteen

 So today is the day I look forward to every summer. The first day of the Biker Roundup. It’s the day I get together with one of my best friends, wherever we may be that year and spend the next three days with he and his father, their respective motorcycle clubs to ride the streets and fraternize with my biker family. That’s who this is to me, not just a collection of people, but a collection that is family after so many years.

Today started out like any of those other days. I left from KC about 8:30 am and went to the bank and to drop off a birthday card for a friend. After talking for a while I headed out toward Tulsa. The ride was good headed through the back roads of southern Kansas. I ended up taking the less traveled route to avoid the tolls which are a plenty as you go through to Oklahoma.

One of the things I enjoy about this Road King is that when all loaded down it wants to control my speed for me. It does a pretty good job of capping me out at around 80 mph. I  feel like this is good for me. I have a tendency to want to pick up some speed and kick up some dust. So the back roads were treating me well. Though unfortunately the small town police didn’t appreciate my new-found desire to travel at lower speeds. I missed a speed limit drop and next thing I knew was looking at sirens. 10 miles over apparently deserves a ticket. Ugh.

Things Get Real

Back on the road this is when things got tricky. After a few hours, into what should only have been a four-hour ride I was looking forward to rolling into Tulsa by 3pm. Well I noticed the bike pulling strangely so I looked everything over and primarily checked tires and all looked good. Back on the road it got drastically worse about 15 minutes later as the back-end began sliding out from under me completely. That’s a flat back tire.

After a look, I was right, completely flat. Oddly a guy with an air compressor truck immediately stopped to help and we tried to fill it. Tried, being the key word it was losing as fast as we were filling. I hadn’t hit anything so we couldn’t figure what was happening other than maybe it came off the wheel just slightly. So time for emergency roadside assistance. The insurance was called and we pushed to get a lift to a shop.

Unfortunately when you’re in the middle of nowhere things take a while and I was in the middle of nowhere. Mile marker 32 down US-169 South, just past Thayer. My directions were specific and exact. Though it took sometime to clarify everything. After finishing up the call, I went to charge the battery on my phone and to no luck, my charger had a busted fuse. So strategic phone powering for a bit. But first a text to my friend so if I end up on the news missing someone knows where I was.

Stranded windshield notes...

Stranded windshield notes…

The tow truck finally got there and we push the bike onto the lift and head back in the opposite direction toward Chanute, KS and a shop that can change the tire. The shop was closing in an hour so we had to rush it. They got the tire done at some expense, and were nice enough guys. Though the almost two hours stranded on the side of the road now turned into three and a half and I missed my check in deadline for the hotel in Tulsa. So we cancelled the room and just waited to see if I’d make it in before the morning.

Back on the road about 6:45pm I pushed on. At this point delirious from the multitude of issues this trip has wrought upon me. A flat tire just happens, I get it. But that tire was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Financially and emotionally. All I could now do was laugh and panic at how much I’ve tapped into every resource. But I had to get to Tulsa. I rode until I needed gas and while filling up met a group of Zodiacs from Higginsville, MO (I believe, Higgins….). They asked me if I wanted to ride with them the rest of the way and they were some much needed company. A little older, they were road tested and took their time for a quick Walmart stop but the company and conversation was worth the extra time added.

Finally rolling into the hotel at 8pm, I hunted down my crew at the track and waited for them to come get me into a room. Dirty Red was gonna let me crash on his couch for the night. My second dad always comes through for me. It took just over an hour to meet up, in that time I grabbed my first meal of the day and snoozed on the sidewalk outside the check in area while my phone charged in an outdoor outlet. I was exhausted.

Once my people arrived, my boy Big Red immediately knew that I was done. The first thing he did was give me a hug, told me he was glad I made it safe and put the rest of a bottle of Jack Daniels in my hand and said, “it’s all yours.” I love my brother, he knew not even to push the night on me. He helped me unload the bike into his pops room, and said we’ll see you in the morning but I’ll text you tonight if you feel like coming out. And that’s how the night ended. Eventually curled up on a couch without extra blankets in the hotel so a sweatshirt for a blanket and a towel around my feet.

Parking lot full of my road family

Parking lot full of my road family

No way this dude has been here only one day!?

No way this dude has been here only one day!?

All in all, I can say one thing at this point. This trip has beaten me. Crushed me and broken me. I don’t want to continue, I just want to go home. In every sense of the word I’m exhausted. I don’t think I have anything left in the tank. Today has given me a flat that set me 20 minutes and 30 miles back with three big guys piled into a truck cab, not pleasant. Paying almost $400 for an emergency tire, even less pleasant. Watching three clubs ride past while broken down on the side of the road, the least pleasant. That’s what you do as a biker, you check on your own. When someone is standing out on the side of the road you check on them. Enough said. Either way I’m in debt, I’m tired, I’m worried and I’m done.

Today’s Map:

Apprx Miles: 205 miles / Actual: 263 miles / Top Speed: 80 mph / I’m too exhausted to take note of anything else

* Addendum: This post is finally going up

three days late. Two more posts will follow

by the end of the day.

All Roads Lead Somewhere

“We are at the classic-romantic barrier now, where on one side we see a cycle as it appears immediately – and this is an important way of seeing it – and on the other side where we can begin to see it as a mechanic does in terms of underlying form – and this is an important way of seeing things too.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

So that barrier. I’m not thinking about it in the same terms as Pirsig addresses it here. Although maybe I am. I see this vision of the ideal vs the actual. I am a proponent of the actual. The ideal is a fantasy that continuously leads one astray. It’s the pessimist point of view, but it keeps me grounded and forces me to evaluate each decision. I don’t mind that. But it also makes me thing about the importance of being aware to both sides of the coin. That within each moment there are two sides, with each decision, every option is valid. Not to say each is ideal but each is valid. That is something I often forget.

I tend to get blinded by my own rationale and motives. Hopefully not to the detriment of others but definitely to the completion of the task at hand. Even in relationships its easy to forget that the pendulum swings both ways and that all things must be taken into consideration. I think I’m going through that in life. I find myself at a personal / professional impasse and wonder how to rectify what my heart wants to move forward vs what my head tells me to do. Maybe we all walk that path. My head usually wins these battles. Practicality and reason to me are key decison factors but there are times the heart wants what it wants. Right now both are fighting to be louder than the other.

Day Fourteen

Today something happened.

I realized I’m not finishing this book. The loss of days has taken its toll and I realized that its hard to read every night when you’re sleepy! Or when catching up with old friends or your wonderful hosts, the last thing you want is to be rude and disappear to read when you could be laughing over beers. Its like 500 pages and I’m not far enough in. But I will continue and I may continue to blog until the end of it, even from home. So there’s that revelation.

In the meantime, I departed for Tulsa, OK today but not before deciding to spend the night in Kansas City. I put out a call to friends to see who might put me up, or put up with me and thankfully multiple replied. Even those closer to Manhattan, and I thank them dearly but it’s just too far out-of-the-way. So oddly in the end it was two former students who offered me a place to lay my head. It’s wonderful that my profession has allowed me to form friendships from what were mentor relationships. Not that every student and I are close, but those that are like little brothers and sisters to me and that is a positive. I enjoy seeing them succeed and move forward in life. Still to this day I’d bend over backwards for them.

So after a multitude of early morning phone calls, I got on the road about two hours later than planned. For some reason everyone and their mother decided to call me this morning. So my day lagged behind the start I had hoped for meaning I was going to be running in the heat, which is exactly what I was hoping to avoid.

The Mighty Mississippi

The Mighty Mississippi

Chills.

Chills.

So the long road south began. Within an hour or a little more though I realized the excellence of this journey. The National Motorcycle Museum sat in my path and of course this is a necessary stop, no questions asked. I was like a kid in candy store, needless to say I was overly geeked. So here’s a few pictures from what absorbed the next almost two hours of the trip.

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After that I made a hop back an exit to JP Cycles to make a buy for my man who had a busted part on his bike. Unfortunately they didn’t have the part but they did have my mirror adapters. So after grabbing what I needed I got back on the road. Though not before realizing my shoe was in the midst of a blowout, so more duct tape

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The drive to KC then began. Overall it wasn’t bad. I realized that without the extra weight of 20 something days worth of stuff my new bike gets a bout 45 miles to the gallon but once loaded down I lose about 5 miles per gallon. That made me a little sad, but that’s also to be expected.

I felt the need for at least one picture in Iowa. This seemed appropriate as the first person I met from Iowa was from Grinnell. Since I was here for gas I decided this was a good photo opportunity. Plus Iowa is all hay bales and barns… but it was a great midwest drive. It reminded me of home in a way.

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The arrival into KC was about an hour later than hoped because of the long stop earlier but I arrived and met my two former students Matt, who was putting me up for the night and Ally at a new BBQ restaurant there in town. Before I go into that, I will just point out that these two are great. Matt maybe is the central figure in what is my favorite study abroad story of all time and Ally was always one the funniest and most genuine people I’ve ever had in class, who also designed a sweet Dept Pub Crawl T-Shirt back in the day. Back to the point at hand though, food.

We went to Q39, a new spot in town. It’s really trendy and cool, they claim to have won a number of awards. Thesse are all things that concern me from the jump. BBQ joints to me should be a hole in the walls for them to be really good. The trendy new “cool” place scares me away sometimes, but we’re here now. Two things immediately calmed my nerves though, the first being an impressive craft been list – I went with a New Belgium 1554 Black Ale.The second was the amazing aroma of BBQ in the air, it smelled amazing. I went with a 3 Meat Sampler plate – homemade chorizo sausage, brisket and ribs with baked beans and a white bean cassoulet.

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The BBQ was delicious, it was really dialed in by the sauce which had a great whiskey hint to it in every bite. The ribs were by far the best part of the meats, and were tender and perfectly cooked. I really can’t say enough about the quality of the food. It was a perfect meal to end my driving for the day. They seemed to really find the balance between the smoke, heat and traditional taste of the chorizo. The brisket was the ideal texture which is often my issue with it, many places overcook it. Q39 nailed it, I can see why they win stuff. The flavors really all came together, but the smoke taste was throughout and really that’s the best part to a good BBQ. Sweet with a hint of spice, the sauce also livened up the entire meal. The meets were all tender and well cooked.

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As you can see, I devoured the whole thing. I couldnt’ have been more surprised and more impressed by something I thought I wouldn’t enjoy. it’s a good addition to the long list of Kansas City BBQ spots. I’d absolutely recommend it. I’ll also add my saying that I have never really been a fan of beans of any kind but both sides were delicious as well. Sure it may have been the meat in them that helped but that works for me.

After dinner I went to Matt’s’ and he showed me around and set up my bed. The best part about this though was as we’re setting up Sharknado 2 comes on. I can only imagine how amazing the first was and now I need to go watch it. Immediately. I’m going to go dream of sharks, bombs, tornadoes, and b-list actors now.

Today’s Map:

Apprx Miles: 435 / Top Speed: 85 / Best Song: Who cares, I went to the National Motorcycle Museum… that’s the best moment.