Moto No Go

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.

Big Bear Chase Me

*Just a note. This will be the first of a number of

back to back posts catching everyone up. Internet has been

extremely spotty as have other issues

 

“A photograph can show an image in which time is static, a mirror can show an image in which time is dynamic.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Its odd how you begin to process information so differently. I feel like this trip, which I think its fair to call it a journey. This journey, has made me step back to view it almost in 3rd person. Like I’m watching a television show and almost simultaneously intrigued and disgusted. Today I find myself thoroughly intrigued. I’ve been trying to think about having faith. My devotional backed this today as it talked about Isiah and faith through his words, also the past few days as seen through the actions of the apostle Paul. Faith is hard, its challenging and it doesn’t come easy. I think thats the thing most people don’t see. They think its easy and a cop out. That you’re some rube for believing in something you can’t see or putting something in the hands of the divine because you can’t do it yourself. Its neither of those. Its a matter of knowing there’s something beyond you and tapping into the interconnectivity of the universe. Its about having the ability to grasp what happens in your life and keep pushing forward knowing its not going to beat you. Its not about giving up at all, its about seizing it fully and completely.

Day Thirteen

So still in Galena, IL today I had to ride out to Rockford, IL to file the police report. I have to head back west in order to head toward Tulsa so it makes sense if I stay here again. And at least I know someone to hang out with. That being said, this morning I hit the road to go fill out the police report.

What a ride. I don’t think until today I really realized how good the bike rode. The US Highway to Rockford went through a number of small towns and over hills and in beautiful country. The Road King handled them like a champ. Actually that’s where the title of this one comes in. Does anyone remember the scene in Armageddon where they’re looking for Micheal Clark Duncan, “Bear”. Bruce Willis says soemthing like, “he’ll be the only big black man in Virginia riding a Big Dog” and they cut to the scene of him hitting the dirt roads with the police chasing him on the bike, dirt cloud billowing behind him over the hills and the road. That’s how I felt today, like nothing could get in my way.

Anyway, it was somewhat uneventful as to the stop in Rockford itself. I went into the police station, filled out the report with the very nice officer and then turned right around and came back. I relaxed and took care of insurance stuff today mostly. Called to make sure the paperwork was all in order and there was nothing else needed from me. Uploaded the report and checked my status with the Harley shop back in LaCrosse as they’re putting together a repair / total estimate for the insurance adjuster. Basically did all those things you do after filing a claim.

I did go walk around Galena more. I went to the river and the other small historic area in town. It does have a draw to it. Most of the shops closed at 5pm which was a bit of a downer since I had saw a shop that sold a plethora of hot sauces. I wanted to try something new to burn my insides. Nonetheless though it provided time for a beer or two in the middle of the day and a chance to snap some photos.

IMG_4966693626201

IMG_5028868927508

 

I decided to ask my friend if she wanted to grab dinner, so we ended up at a steakhouse that has good reviews and the menu caught my eye earlier when I was going through downtown. Plus I love steak. I’m a carnivore at heart playing the role of an omnivore on stage. Actually I’ve drastically cut down on my red meat consumption, part of the whole new and better me plan. Either way we went to Log Cabin steakhouse. It was delicious. There’s no photos from this because it was kind of dark inside and it didn’t seem like the right atmosphere for it. Plus they’d have come out badly.

The meal itself though was on point. I debated the pork chop because I wasn’t terribly hungry, I had an appetizer with a beer a few hours earlier. Or considered the Bit O Each, which was a sampler of a porkchop and their local best steak cut. I was talked into the second one and could’t be happier. The portions weren’t as big as I feared. The pork chop was tender and juicy, grilled to perfection and seasoned just right, with a hint of pepper and thyme that came through and a slight citrus that infused with the juices. The steak was a perfectly cooked medium and equally as delicious. Tender, with a hint of char from a grill and a perfectly flavored. The aroma of the steak really took over the plate and was a perfect compliment to the pork chop. My only complaint was the salad. I haven’t had one in probably a week and it was drenched in dressing. This made me sad. But my inner meat eating belly dinosaur was content that he had been satiated.

The rest of the night was nice. We chit chatted a bit and then I got caught in some rain so we sat outside to talk while waiting for it to let up. Even though it wasn’t far back to my hotel I didn’t want to get soaked. It was really nice of her to hang out with me. It was funny people watching in a small town like that. Trying to figure out what those few people still out and about on a Tuesday night are doing at what wasn’t very late, but late by small town time. The streets in most places I’ve lived and been would still be bustling with energy and bodies. Soon after the rain lessened and I decided I could ride in that. After a goodbye to another friend from the road I headed to the hotel to finish packing and prepare for the ride out in the morning. Again, my friends are awesome.

I have decided I would not make the trip to Colorado. This hurts the most. I really wanted to see little Bennett and the family. I can’t tell you how much I miss my best friend from the Kansas days. Monica will always be my pale skinned sister who tans like a champ and is the most urban country spirit ever. I love those Leikers. So this means a special trip has to be planned sooner rather than later. I’m sure while there they may even try and talk me into opening my bar.

Today’s Map

Apprx Miles: 160 / Top Speed: 90 / Best Moment: Learning to use the cruise control. I must have rode three miles with no hands / Best Song: “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” by the Temptations

Pleasant round trip to visit the police… never thought I’d say that.

If nothing else this trip has shown me just how gorgeous our country can be. It saddens me in a way because there’s so much ugliness attached to it. Politics, war, racism, poverty, you name it and its there. Its muddies the water of what this place is and makes people like me convicted to committing to this place. My heart so often isn’t in it. I want to leave and run far away, to get away from all the stuff that makes me afraid to start a family sometimes, stop in small towns or walk streets at night or believing in those who are supposed to help the masses. Out here though, on this open road, right now… its beautiful.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

“He was after something.That is important. He was after something and he used the knife because that was the only tool he had. But he took on so much and went so far in the end his real victim was himself.”

Zen and the Art of Mototcycle Maintenance

 

So I’m still searching for meaning. I guess thats what we’re all inherently doing somehow though, right? I have to admit though that I feel like there’s something important for me here about letting go. My friend told me that almost a week ago. Maybe these issues are lessons in learning to let go and stopping trying to control. Letting His plan guide me. It seems that the more I push on this venture the more disastrous it has become. In ways though I find that I have let go. The anger and frustration at least never reared their head to the extent it once would have. Maybe I’ve taken bigger sttrides in recent years then I even know. There’s a certain peacefulness in the acceptance of it all. Maybe thats what it means to go with the flow… not so much to let life happen, but when it does responding in kind and not slamming against it. Allowing change to manifest change, instead of change manifesting chaos.

Day Nine

Note the lack of capitalization. Its because I don’t feel like screaming the day anymore. Namely, in that I don’t feel the pressure of the day anymore. Its passed and this is life. Its thrown me some curve balls recently so I’m stepping back up to the plate ready to bunt instead of swing for the fences. First allow me to clarify something fromt the last post.

Option #4… I spoke about trading the bike in, getting on some new wheels and keeping it moving. By this I in no way mean that the trip is still on. What I mean is that my life has to move on and some traveling still needs to happen. Some will think its impractical to buy a new motorcycle on what may seem like a whim. They could be right, I won’t deny that. But let me make my defense. I have to get home. Thats a simple one, and yes there are cheaper ways to do it but those don’t solve the issue of what to do with the old bike. So trading it in makes some sense as it disposes of it and gains a replacement. Second, I love to ride. Lol. Third and oddly important to me is my work. Many of you know I’ve spent the last few years working on a project documenting African American bikers and the culture that somewhat surrounds it. I spend most of the summer shooting for this work with the bulk of it coming in the next week at the National Biker Roundup. I had quietly committed to myself that this would be my last year photographing for it. It would make 4 years and this years intent was to capture things I feel like I missed in the past few years and complete the body of work. I’m not just documenting others but part of myself as illustrated through them. This effort is lost without a motorcycle and I couldn’t accept that for personal and professional reasons.

My heart on wheels. You were better to me than I was to you.

My heart on wheels. You were better to me than I was to you.

So this brings us back to the world of motorcycle shopping. I don’t want to do it, I can’t really afford to do it. But nonetheless, I’ll do it and I’ll make due. I was hestiant to post this info because I feel like I’m divulging too much of my own business and almost flaunting the idea of buying a bike. What I just said is true though, I really don’t want to buy a new bike. I love my Mean Streak. It was my first big boy bike, I learned to do maintenance on it, take care of it. Learned to ride for real on it. Learned how to be part of the biker community I love. Part of me identifies through it and I want to see her live again. But practicality rears its ugly head. I don’t ride like its designed to, I ride much harder, I ride distances… a lot. I push gears and add things to my bike to make it into something she’s not. That’s not fair to her. But she’s still part of who I am. She always will be. I love her, I always will. But alas all good things come to an end and it pains me that this one too must pass. So I don’t want a new bike, I want that little piece of my heart back… but fate has intervened.

 That being said day nine was spent running errands with my friend Ben and bike shopping, test driving, etc. I had saw some bikes that interested me the day before and planned to test drive three more by days end, hoping that one may become my bike. The sole goal, find a good touring bike thats suited for my style of riding, my size, my taste and that I can see myself on hopefully for some time. So, here we go…

TEST RIDES!

You saw the one from last night in the last post. It was a good ride and a powerful bike. it has all the bells and whistles I liked at the right price, but as it turns out its a gas guzzler. Test Ride #1 is a bust, no Honda VTX.

This next gem was a good option. Had a lot of the touring features I’m looking for, though it turned out not to be all that I had hoped. The bars came back too far and hit my knees, this is a short mans bike. Plus the pick up just wasn’t there. Something felt wrong about a Yamaha anyway.

Test Ride #2 - 2007 Yamaha Road Star

Test Ride #2 – 2007 Yamaha Road Star

This next ride kind of had my eye from first considerations of a new bike. The paint job and styling is my taste through and through, not too mention its an aggressive engine and torque heavy ride. It has the power like my old bike, you can feel it as soon as you hit the throttle. The gears run low so you’re in third up to 50 and you never touch fifth I really did enjoy this bike. Its issues were minor but could get frustrating. The vibration in the bike is really noticeable as you shift gears up and throttle to speed. And some of the touches I like would conflict against the matte black possibly. Though its definitely made to tour, the hard saddlebags are a nice touch as well.

Test Ride #3 - 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. (Suzuki Blacked Out Special)

Test Ride #3 – 2013 Suzuki Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. (Blacked Out Suzuki Special)

Apparently the dealer was getting nervous because I was on the test ride for awhile. But sometimes selfies and sightseeing just happens.

Sometimes you gotta selfie as evidence. I fear this is happening too often.

Sometimes you gotta selfie as evidence. I fear this is happening too often.

There be cows back yonder

There be cows back yonder

Sister Guadalupe Shrine if I remember correct. How is this in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin!?

Sister Guadalupe Shrine if I remember correct. How is this in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin!?

This last stop of the day was at the Harley Davidson dealer. Ben kept joking about “this guy rides into town on a Kawasaki and rides out on a Harley, its a perfect Wisconsin tale!” I’ll admit, I didn’t want to like it. The day before when he showed us the bike I wasn’t crazy about it. I’m not inherently a Harley guy, I just like to ride. I also don’t get into paying extra for a name like its some requirement or status symbol. It doesn’t connect with me. But we were here, I figured I’d test ride it. I was pleasantly surprised. It had real torque and power, but great handling. That surprised me the most. I was most surprised by this bike all day. I’m not a fan of the old school paint job and styling to some extent, but it tours like a beast. Its another one that you ride third gear until almost 50 and never touch sixth until the highway and about 75. Another good ride.

Test Ride #4 - 2010 Harley Davidson Road King

Test Ride #4 – 2010 Harley Davidson Road King

Which means test rides 3 & 4 are options. I’m gong to run numbers and follow up with my insurance to check on the old bike and see where we are on that one in the process. Other considerations for bikes were limited. I was shown a few other Harleys, and a looked at Goldwings, real hardcore touring bikes. I’m 38, not 58. I’m not ready for a radio, heated seat and cupholder yet.  I still want a bike I can ride to the grocery without it being an ordeal or looking like I’m going to ride across the Sahara. All joking aside this is stressful, I like the last two, but never wanted to be buying a new bike right now. I’m torn and a little concerened but in a way feel committed to this task, not just the trip but my life and my work. As they say, the show must go on. Eventually I’m getting another bike soon… why not now.

Tomorrow decisions must be made. To be continued….

Oh, on a side note I had bear sausage jerky tonight. It was spicy and amazing. I love hunters. I also discovered the hideout of the infamous Potato King. It’s right over there.

I hear he's a chip off the old block!

I hear he’s a chip off the old block!

Dead in the Water

*Part Two

“The Lord lifts up the humble… and takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” ~ Psalm 147

It is upon me. The question eats at me, asking what have I learned from this experience. Tha’ts where I wander to in the recesses of my mind and I’m left to debate the validity of that answer. I feel like this trip has stolen some of my thunder in its utter failure. It has officially broken me.

I cannot speak to my level of sadness as it varies. As there are times that I can laugh about it and others when I want to crawl into a hole and be alone. Though I am getting over the bulk of it and seeing the peculiarity of the situation. While I can’t ascertain as to why this happened (nor can the guys at the shop) I know that for some reason I’m here and for some reason I’m not as stressed by it as I would think. In particular not as stressed as I’d have been a year ago. Maybe that’s the point of all this. For now though I’m still attempting to process and absorb. As my brother told me, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Day Eight

Day eight. Hmmmm… where to begin. So the bike is dead. Dead dead. This is the sight that began my day. The bike rolling on a mysterious trailer into La Crosse, WI to a shop that will hopefully save me.

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Lets just get it all out in the open. As I traveled through the highways and byways of Wisconsin the engine cut out and lost power, eventually leading to a terrible knocking, all over the stretch of a mile. This leads the shop to believe that a rod has been thrown or a broken piston but either way we’re looking at a cost of repair nearly equalling that of the bike itself. So what do we do. How do we proceed?

IMPASS

Easy answer. We don’t the trip is dead. I notified all of my wonderfully accommodating friends in the great west of the United States that I would not be visiting this summer.

Though this has not been a complete loss. Amongst my griping my roommate quickly pointed out that our friend Ben lived in La Crosse. After a phone conversation he agreed to take me in and house me for the evening and help figure out getting me around and whatever can be done. Again, a direct blessing from above. Not in a facetious way, but directly. I had no idea I’d end up here, I had no idea he lived here. I can’t put it anymore bluntly. He and his wife have been more than accommodating and amazing.

Ben and Little Leo

Ben and Little Leo

So throughout the day we discussed the steps to proceed. We priced out a repair, looked for a replacement engine and all to no avail. So the next option is how do we get me home. What to do with the busted bike? All the logistics. Well the answers aren’t simple and they’re a plethora of options.

1. Fix the bike at a crazy cost and time, having to come back for it later

2. Ship the bike home and deal with it later

3. Sell the bike as is

4. Trade the bike in on something used and keep it moving

5. Buy something else and keep the old one adding in a previous option

Needless to say, we’ve gone around the block. But in the end, option #4 seemed to be the best up front bet as I could almost break even. This means something simple though. The trip funds go into a new purchase, still killing the west as much as people tell me to continue.

So let the hesitantly bad timed bike hunting begin!

Test Ride #1 - Honda VTX 1800

Test Ride #1 – 2004 Honda VTX 1800

In the meantime we’ve also began the process of seeing if my insurance can step in to help total the bike out under one of my various policy addendum. So more on that to come.

The blessings don’t stop there though. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of my hosts friends from the neighborhood. They are truly kind and generous people that have helped make this more of an adventure than a punishment. Our nights have been filled with beers, laughter and camaraderie. Not to mention a new bow. Things may get straight Thunderdome in here.

Thank you Steve - This could absolutely be trouble.

Thank you Steve – This could absolutely be trouble.

*As a side note, you’ll notice the lack of food posts. Again, my funds are beiing reallocated so they may be less forthcoming than before. This saddens me the most maybe. Plus I’m feeling a little less adventurous these recent days.