Whoa! Whoa, Carney! This is JULY...HOT...JULY! You want me to ride over a thousand miles across Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico in JULY...?
ďI donít care if you are waking up in the mornings with frost and 60 degree temps in the day. Iíd have to ride over a thousand miles in HEAT to get there, old buddy..."
ďYeah, I know youíre at almost 9,000' foot elevation, but itís summer here and all the way to Colorado. In fact, Denver is having 100+ days..."
I remember in January when you were telling me about t-shirt days and beautiful sunshiny day while I was here in Louisiana with the rain and cold. I had to ride 1500 miles in rain, cold and high winds to get there and ride another 1500 miles in rain and Ďburnt chicken featherí weather to get back home. And now you want me to ride over 1000 miles in heat to get where you and Becky are...?"
ďWell, Iíll think about it. I have a grandpaís fourth of July fireworks annual gig to put on. Maybe after.....but Iíll have to think about it..."
I had let him and winter cabin fever withdrawal from riding talk me into taking the trip down to Mexico. Great fun after I go to San Carlos, Mexico on the sea of Cortez, but it was ride out of hell going and coming back.
I thought about going up to Colorado to meet Carney and Becky who were staying just south of Creed in their big motor home. Iíd have some things to do....tune up the bike, get another tire for the bike, pack up all my emergency spares including tire patch kits, diode boards, points/condenser set, alternator rotor, tubes, cables for throttle, clutch, brakes, speedometer, tach, tool box and scissor jack. Then worry about clothes for heat and cold, a few lbs of coffee, tea and camp stove, etc, etc.
I guess I had already decided to go when I mentally went through what I would have to pack. I decided that I would get an appointment to get a new tire that would last me for 3K miles or so. (It didnít) So the day after the annual grandpa fireworks shootout, I started to get it all together.
Tuesday morning early, I headed out for Baton Rouge to get the tire replaced. The Michelin Mac 50 already had 4300 miles on it and it wouldnít make the whole trip. Got to the dealer and they convinced me that a Metzler 88 would do just as well and against my better judgment and experience with Metzlers on other bikes, I just didnít think it would do the job, but since they didnít carry the Michelins, I let him put it on.
Came back to the house and started packing. Letís see now....Roadcrafter for cool and wet weather, house shoes, boots, socks, set of thermals, underwear, 4 sets of pants and shirts, warm jacket and hot weather armor jacket, tools and spares, 10 lbs of Community Coffee, stove, water jug, coffee pot, cups, medicines, spare pair of glasses and sun glasses and.........Took me until late to get it all in the bike and side car. Then I added sleeping bag, air mattress, Kermit chair and ground cloth. Mercy, I had enough ballast in the car that I knew it wouldnít fly.....the bike might but not the chair.
Got up at 0500 Wednesday morning, made a big pot of coffee, fed the cat and went out to the carport. Damn! Couldnít see across the bayou! Fog and mist! Cussed a little and opened the trunk of the Ural and got out the Roadcrafter and struggled into it, being thankful that I had sent it back to the factory to have 8" added to the waist. I sprayed and cleaned the face shield and put on a coat of RainX. Pushed on choke and that R90/6 cranked up on the second cylinder and smoothed right out. Hit 190 west in dense fog.....about 200 feet visibility. Before I got to Port Barre, 6 miles, the Roadcrafter was shedding water, but the RainX was doing itís job. Filled up with Hi-test (that dates doesnít it?) And headed west on US190 and got to Jasper, TX where I could see about 1/4 mile but the mist was worse. Stayed on 190 to Woodville and hit US 287 and rode it up to Childress, TX and decided to shut it down for the night. Next morning I hooked it up and rode through Amarillo, north to Dumas and hit US87 and rode it into Raton, NM then north on I-25 to Walsenburg, CO.
I love that drive up US87 just to see all those cinder cones along the way and that little rest stop at Capulin Mtn. I always stop there and break out the coffee goodies and make me a pot of coffee. Had to make three though....people wanted to talk about the sidecar and, of course, when I said I came from Louisiana and heading for Creed, CO, the usual, ďYou rode it all the way?Ē. Iíd offer them some coffee and make another pot. After the third pot, I did the dishes, packed up and headed north
Iíd gotten out of the rain in Texas some place and the rest of the trip was dry, warm and an easy ride all the way to Walsenburg and checked the map for the route to Del Norte, US160 and filled up. I looked west and saw heavy rain clouds over the mountains so I put the Roadcrafter back on and headed west. It was getting late and I thought getting a motel in Del Norte. I didnít want to run out of daylight before I hit the highway, CO149 towards Creed through the hills along the Rio Grande River. Had to be lotsa deer through there, but I hadnít realized I had crossed a time zone and had time to get to the campgrounds where Carney and Becky were staying.
Got there about 7pm Mtn time and was greeted by Carney and Becky as the long lost son. They made me a pot of coffee and put on the makings for a big sandwich. I needed that coffee and sandwich and an hour to relax and come down from the ride. I offered and Carney accepted the chance to ride the rig since he had been without his rig for three months and took off on the old bike with the excuse he had to go and make a phone call.( In the deep valley they were staying in couldnít get cell phone connection and we had to go up the road toward Creed about three miles to get service.)
Hummingbirds! Iíve never seen anything like it. They had three feeders out and had to refill them almost every day! In the mornings, there would be about 6-8 birds trying to feed at each one. If I put my finger up against the feeder they would land on my finger to feed. During the day, there would always be 6-8 buzzing (humming?) around to feed. They werenít scared of people. They would fly and stop about 7-8 inches from my face to look me over. Amazing! I spent 10 days being mesmerized by those beautiful birds.
Carney pulls a Jeep behind the motorcoach and uses it to see the country side. We took a couple rides around the mountains over roads I wouldnít want to walk over! We took the Engineers Pass road up to 12,800' elevations, above the tree line into the snow line. A ride into Lake City and others. He wanted to take me into some ďprimitiveĒ roads, but I refused......if the ride to Engineers Pass was not ďprimitiveĒ, I didnít want to go. Not on roads with a mountain on one side and a 1,000' drop on the other and only 6-8' wide on boulders for a road bed. Nope. I have airplanes inverted, vertical dives, hammer heads, tight spins, rolls and I canít get up on a 10' step ladder or go up to a window in a tall building and look down: legs just give out. Go figure.
A couple days before I left to come on back, the temps in Denver were record highs...102F to 104F. I checked out the bike and MERCY, the back tire was almost gone! Only about 1300 miles on it and it would not get me home. I started planning to try to get to Fort Worth, TX and have Perry Boushong put on another tire and check out the rigging on the rig. That prevented me from stopping on the way back to see a great riding buddy, Cissy Myrick in Brownwood, TX. I didnít think that I could go on down to Brownwood and if I couldnít find a tire, I couldnít get back to FW, TX on that tire.
I bid Carney, Becky, Creed, CO and the hummingbirds adieu after a ten day stay and got back on the road to Walsenburg then south. I hit rain north of Raton, but watching it, I decided it was just a small shower, so I decided to keep going and not put on the rain gear. BAD DECISION! That sucker GREW big, FAST. Rode in heavy rain for 10 miles until I couldnít keep up the speed. Slowed to 35 or so and got on the shoulder to let traffic pass. Just before I got to the top of the pass, I lost a cylinder. Something got wet. I almost pulled it down to a stop when I reached the top and decided to keep going down to Raton on one cylinder instead of stopping....I might not be able to get it started again and I didnít want to have to try to dry things out on the side of the road in the rain. I got the RPMs up to about 4K and kept it there in 3rd gear until I got through Raton to US87 south and headed down the road with the other cylinder coming on and off after I got out of the rain. Kept going and it finally dried out and started ticking and humming along, being itís old sweet self.
By this time I was getting cold from being thoroughly wet, boots full of water but drying out in that warm heat. Went along fine until I looked up ahead of my route and saw another big storm I would have to go through. This time I stopped and got the Ďstich out and bundled up. Felt better, warmer. Got to Capulin and got under the overhead of a closed up gas station and the rains hit. I sat there for a half hour or so and waited out the weather. When it slowed, I pulled up to the restaurant and got a much needed cup of coffee and a long conversation with the grill chef about BMWs. He rode one as his only transportation. It was a really nice 75/5.
I ran out of the rain clouds before I got to Dalhart and rode into Dumas and decided to shut it down. Found another cheap Patil Motel and checked in. Went out and found a BBQ joint that had a smoker going in the back and decided to pig out....and did. Got a good shower and hung up the wets to dry out and sacked in after figuring out the mileage to Fort Worth, estimated the time to run and decided to sleep in: wouldnít have time to get a tire and a few other things the next day and would have to overnight north of Fort Worth. Slept in.
Got to Fort Worth, alerted Perry I would be arriving early in the morn and got myself a room as close to downtown on I-35 as I could to beat the morning traffic horror. Went Ĺ block to the Cracker Barrel restaurant and again pigged out on my favorite CB meal, chicken and dumplings. Went back to the room, cleaned up and put the body down and watched TV.
Up early and packed the bike and ate a Ďcontinental breakfastí. Iíve got to ask here.....what continent? Iíve had breakfast in all the major European cities and most cities further east to Thailand and donít remember being limited to coffee from a machine, bagels, packaged cream cheese, fruit and cereal. Again I ask, which continent? Got on I-35 south at 0730, little traffic and I was there in 20 minutes. Didnít want to run at anything over 50 because the rear tire was out of tread! Couldnít see any cords, but they were ready to show. I didnít follow the directions given so had to backtrack a few miles after I decided Perry knew how to get to his place and behold! there it was.
When the crew came in, Perry took my bike back to the shop and pulled the tire and replaced it with one he said would give me at least 4500 miles if the bike stayed rigged and had him repack the bearings and grease the splines I had changed only 3K ago. He found the chair bearings loose and fixed that. I had him pull the front wheel and grease those. He found the front brake hose worn and had him replace both....they were only 31 years old. (Sheesh.....they donít make Ďem to last do they) He checked around and saw that the throttle cables were worn so I pulled out the set I had in the car and he replaced them. He didnít like the way I had tuned the carbs and he put his magic ear to the pipes and tuned them up to a beautiful idle. I had been having trouble with my turn signals and we found a turn relay in a junk box and replaced it and the trouble went away. He took the bike out to the freeway and rode it to check the alignment and came back and declared it as good as it can be. He found the rear brake system hard to apply and took off the cable, made a funnel and oiled it from the top......much easier to apply and we adjusted the brakes so that the tug brake locked up before the car brake.
He figured out the bill while I walked around the ďgoodieĒ area and looked at some interesting rigs. He has a completely restored BMW R75 of WWII vintage, complete with paint, markings of the correct units of the German Army and it is complete with a MG34 machine gun, ammo cans, fuel cans all other goodies. Beautiful restoration.
He also had a R100RT with less than 2900 miles on it since new! I want that bike and almost had him make out the bill of sale. When I got home I called him and asked if he would take my Ď95 R1100RS on trade. He said he would but he had it there on consignment and the owner wanted cash, $6000. I thought it still a good deal for a 100K+ touring bike that is simple and just about new. Oh well....three bikes are enough, I guess.
I paid the bill and got *.* back on the road. (*.* because it hadnít told me itís name yet. Looks like 28K miles in a little over two years, it would introduce itself to me. Maybe itís shy.) Rode back on 287 to Jasper and had enough for the day. It was getting dark and I needed a break. I checked in at that little motel that I had stopped at when I picked up the bike from Perry when I had it built two years ago.( How I made it that far from Fort Worth without killing myself with only 15 minutes of instructions on sidecar operations, Iíll never know.)
I closed down the Golden Corral with the buffet and overdid it, I think. But what the hey, I donít usually eat lunch when I am riding: maybe a light breakfast, no lunch and pig out come dark. They only charged my half price because the line was half way taken down. I asked the manager what they did with the food left over. She said they usually dumped it into the garbage. She said they use to give it to poor people, rest homes and orphanages, but the liability got so high that the home office wonít allow them to do that anymore. She said there was very little food saved over from one day to the next. What a waste. Many needy people could be fed. Oh well, things do change, I guess.
Next morning, I got up and rode the 200 miles back to the ďCampĒ. Shut it down and immediately started to unload all the gear and put it away. I donít like to leave all that stuff for later. Within 20 minutes, it was all stowed away. Sure does take a lot less time unpacking than it does to pack . I would suspect the time difference is the ďdeciding timeĒ needed to figure out what to pack.
Went into the house, turned on the coffee pot and made some real Cajun. Put on the stereo and put in an Albert Collins tape, turned on the computer and saw I had 1100 messages from the Airhead List and the IBMR list. I looked through it drinking a cup of coffee and got all the personal messages and deleted the rest.....really didnít want to go through all of those. I listened to all the messages on the answering machine and called those that needed calling. If the rest are important, theyíll call again. If not, it couldnít have been that important. I turned off the ringer on the phone and hoped Carney wouldnít call again for a couple months. Opened up a can of the catís favorite. Made another pot of coffee and started up a Cajun tasso stew, a pot of rice and a pot of motherís smothered potatoes with onions, garlic and smoked deer/pork sausage.
Itís good to be home...