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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HowlingMad, Oct 18, 2012.
I love happy endings
Finally getting a chance to stop and update, but where to start? There are so many people to thank. First, a little backstory.
Two nights ago I had planned to stay in a primitive campground in the Coronado National Forest in the very south of Arizona near Chiricahua National Monument, but looking at all the squiggles in the road and knowing I would arrive in the dark I decided to stay at Chiricahua. In the morning I was up before the sun and on my way long before the park opened to enjoy some of those squiggles. Without coffee and a very cool morning in the valley I was taking it easy on a road that wasn't quite 4WD, but you wouldn't take a car on it (unless it was a rental car of course). There had been a lot of damage from fires and the roads had been beaten up too. Being a bit lethargic I wasn't pushing the bike and rarely standing, but I did manage to put some light under both tires at least once. And I think that was once too many for my pudgy German girl.
About halfway through the 30-40 miles of dirt road I stopped to enjoy the view, that's when I smelled oil, but it wasn't motor oil. I hopped off the bike to see oil dripping in the dust. Not good. The rear shock was leaking and already covered in dust. Maybe I just like to panic, but my head couldn't stop running all the calculations on distance, delays and costs. Never having dealt with a blown shock before I didn't know what to expect. Would I get to pavement? Would it collapse and become a low-rider? Would my spine need a holiday after my trip? I decided that instead of routing across the very south of New Mexico on Route 9, that I should head back north about 50 miles to I10 where I could find internet or at least cell signal.
At a McDonalds (are they paying me for the advertising yet?) I found everything I needed; coffee, phone, wifi and coffee. I made a few calls and the above posts requesting some help. I started out calm cool and collected about the situation and my wife helped me keep things in perspective. But after almost 5 hours and 672% of my daily saturated fat intake I was somewhat frustrated. Two good friends; RTLLTR and NiceRumble had been at work opening doors (that would eventually create a solution), but I was stuck at a crossroads. I could turn around and head back west 3 hours to Tucson or I could take my chances heading 4 hours west to El Paso. It's Monday and almost no bike shops are open. I wasn't able to find a used shock anywhere online and so my best option was looking like buying a $1k shock online and having it overnighted to somewhere, where I would attempt to replace it in the field. After 5 hours at McDonalds I was getting fatter just sitting there and I wasn't any closer to feeling either option was very good, so I decided to pack up and head east. I didn't want to spend that much money on something I didn't really have time to study, but I was in a pinch.
I packed up my bike and swung a leg over. I plugged in my almost completely drained phone and heard the sound of a new email. I'll check it just in case and took my helmet off. It was a post from TaterHarry with an offer to borrow his shock. I couldn't believe it, 30 seconds later and I would have missed it and probably not checked my phone until El Paso where I would have been too late. And what are the chances that a good soul with a spare shock, also from a 2007 Adventure was just 5 hours away and willing to hand over a $1000 part (yes, the OEM one is now stupid expensive) to some complete stranger with crazy hair?
Meet Harry, just a genuinely great guy who not only saved my ass yesterday but also shared a great porter and very comfortable couch with me without hesitation.
I'm not sure how I can thank him for his generosity and kindness other than to continue to pay it forward (and maybe return his shock).
Although not terribly complicated, I'm not sure I would have wanted to do this swap in the field. Harry provided not only the knowledge and the tools, but you'll notice that I'm taking the pictures and he's doing all the work.
Before going to bed I started to catch up on all of the buzz that I had started and hadn't been able to read until then. There were so many offers for information, other people willing to overnight parts to me and even people who offered to come pick me and the bike up. The outpouring of kindness was almost overwhelming. Thanks to all of you who reached out to help, it will take me a while to get a personal thanks out to all of you.
A very special thanks to RTLLTR (Scott) and NiceRumble (Skip) who made the connections that led to the solution. They are both truely ambassadors to the sport and really define what the two-wheeled brotherhood is about. And of course to Harry and his very cool dog Jake who made me feel at home and allowed me to continue on my journey.
This trip started out as quest for a purpose, but the miles, the cold weather and probably my fears and introverted nature started to make me close up and start building up walls again. This detour in my quest reminded me of how great humanity can be and restored my faith in people. Guess we need these little detours now and again.
With humble thanks
I think I owe you a beer next time we have the opportunity. Thanks again for your help Skip.
Thanks for putting your life on hold to help me deal with mine. It's an honor, Sir.
So glad others can enjoy this too, besides it's nice to have the company.
Howdy Cap'n, see you at Beez's this year?
Currently in Las Vegas, NM. The only gambling here seems to be whether your eggs will be served yellow of grey. Probably going to slab across NM and OK on or near I40.
Great Job! A lot of people I am sure thank you for continuing this journey.
To TaterHarry- If you are following this ride report, Just wanted to offer a tip of the helmet to you. Riders like you define what makes the adventure riding community great! Kudos to you. You do know that what goes around comes around.
And Harry has a bike lift too. Nice!
Oh, geez, now I feel bad for not having returned the heat gun that I recently borrowed from TaterHarry. Good thing there is a happy hour in Santa Fe tonight.
Yeah, about that heat gun :ddog You owe me some propane!
Actually a torch with a pencil flame was the right tool for the job; we were melting (potentially red) Loctite, and I didn't want to soften the paint on the swingarm.
I was happy to pay it forward, I have been bailed out of jams before (H/T Selaznog ), and I'm sure I'll need the Karma again.
It was a pleasure to meet you John, and if I'm ever in your neck of the woods I'll be sure to pay a visit.
You are a good man! That's why I love ADV riders. Without a second thought Harry stepped up and offered his help and equipment. When I tell these stories to non riders they don't believe they are true. "what a complete stranger offering parts and tools" "are they crazy"
Yep maybe a bit crazy, but always there to help. As you probably figured out last night, John is a good guy and needed a little "help from above". I think you gave him more than a motorcycle part, and a few tools. Great timing!
Thanks again Harry and I hope you will call on us here in the Northeast should you make it this way. I've got a few beers to buy you.
You meet the nicest people riding a motorcycle
I stopped at McDonalds for coffee and wifi in Las Vegas, NM (Not NV) which isn't too far from a little town called Truth or Consequences, NM. It was a little chilly yesterday morning and I was focused on warming up and getting online to say thanks to everyone for their help and concern with my shock. Like my not-so-distant relatives trampling the tall grass, I circled the parking lot once or twice to scout the best spot where I could see the bike while caffeinating.
As soon as I took off my helmet I could feel someone walking towards me. It's strange how we can sense people's energy, and my guard went up immediately. I didn't know why, it was just a feeling. Perhaps it's because when someone wants to say hello, they seem to approach you as cautiously as you might approach them, but when someone wants something they seem to take a very direct track. It didn't help that he approached me from behind. He was an older fellow, late 60's or so but with high mileage. From his baseball cap to his fleece coat to his very clean jeans, he looked well put together. Only the rough silver growth on his sunken face that years of smoking can give made him look homeless. His cigarette and raspy voice confirmed my suspicions. "Nice rig" he says "looks like you got everything you need". Somehow I knew this isn't what he came over for and I politely said thanks while keeping a somewhat aloof disposition.
I grabbed my things and locked up the bike as if I had a purpose that didn't invite conversation. As soon as the key came out of the lock his intentions became known "got any money to buy some breakfast?" said the gravelly voice. I paused, looked at him, looked at his cigarette and said "no, sorry". But it was the look that he gave me that really bothered me. Since we aren't good verbal communicators, guys are good at looks and his look said plenty. He expressed disappointment and anger as he glanced at my very expensive kit. How could I have so much and all he wanted was change? The extra stank he put on his look made me a little angry and instead of moving about my business I paused to share a look that said he was poking the bear and it was time to move on. I was angered by his reaction and I could feel it inside me, and so could he. I waited until he understood and started to retreat then took an extra second to ensure that nothing was easy to lift from the bike.
As I headed for the entrance I notice my new friend wasted no time and tackled an older couple in the lot. I follow the three of them into the restaurant. There's a line and awkwardly, I stand behind my friend. He turns around, sees me and has a funny little smile as if to say "hah, see? I win." Good for him. I was impressed to see that the older couple he followed in decided to buy him breakfast instead of giving him money. I would ponder on this for the remainder of the day. Although I'm not sure whether giving him anything was right or wrong, I sure liked the old couples style. What a smooth way to handle the situation. I have a great many more miles to travel before I know a fraction of what some of these old-timers know, but I put that little pearl away for a later day.
I spent a few hours updating the blog and writing thank yous to all those who had helped me the previous day. With a great view of the parking lot I watched my buddy finish his breakfast and continue to hustle cars exiting the drive thru. I sat thinking about the experience and the previous, similar event.
I wrestled with the similarities again, given the previous day I too was asking for help. Instead of change for coffee, I was asking for $1000 parts. He was better dressed, cleaner than me and clearly not homeless compared to me who was two days without a shower, wearing 5k miles of dust and dirt and relatively homeless. That didn't make me feel any better. What was so wrong about him asking for money? Was it the cigarette? Admittedly, that bothered me for sure. The average price for smokes in NM is $6.88. I could see a pack of them in his left pocket. Had he skipped his fix, he could have had 1090 calories (510 from fat, btw) of McDonalds Big Breakfast (with hotcakes!) with enough change for a large coffee. Or was it his look of contempt? Or was it me?
Often times the things we see in others is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves but are not yet aware. Maybe I'm not feeling very good about spending money on a trip with no plan yet. Maybe I'm just not feeling very good about myself , perhaps because I don't have a purpose, like a homeless guy dependent on others for so many things. My wife holds the fort, pays the bills and consoles me when I'm down (besides often acting as a travel agent). The rest of the family goes on standby to help my wife or me in case of need and my friends help arrange motorcycle support and put their lives on hold to help me with trivial drama. I say trivial because although a mechanical failure on a trip is huge for me, it would look pretty to small compared to a loved one in a hospital.
I spent the rest of the day pondering the conversation (through manly grunting) without resolution or closure. I'm not sure whether my feelings or actions were correct. I felt a little disappointed in myself that I allowed the inner Silverback to flare up instead of the Aikido way that I've tried to follow. I miss training and look forward to keeping that discipline in my life, but I'm surprised at how quickly I failed a simple test.
Although I've been somewhat successful at disconnecting my identity from my profession, I also know that I need a profession. I need that focus and purpose in life again. I hope that I can remember that I'm not my job when I return while still attempting to be exceptional at my mission.
While staying with my uncle Dick, I had a few hours to finally start to put some words toward this part of the quest, but it's still long winded and I owe it to you to trim it down. I hope to find the time before I'm home to complete this.
Thanks for following along.
Enjoying the report! So much honesty and thought here for "just a ride report" but I'm diggin' it!
In reference to the stranger in the parking lot, it is my opinion that you were just caught off guard... I reckon that since you had thoughts after the fact, it says enough about you to know that you do care about folks. To me, it's as much about how someone asks for help as much as it is what they are asking for. Just my $.02...enjoy the ride and if you need anything on your way home let me know. I am in Kentucky so you may be coming through my neck of the woods.
Great RR. I thoroughly enjoyed it so far and thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
One thing you said that rang true.
That is so true. Now, when I feel myself being annoyed by someone, I realize that is a characteristic or flaw in myself. I've forgotten that so it was a reminder to me to treat others how I want to be treated. Thanks for bringing that to lite.
You have a very diverse resume. Wishing you all the best in finding something you enjoy doing.
Thanks gentlemen, glad to have you along for the ride.
Snow and cold going on back here now but there is a window of opportunity opening up for you to get home safely. This weekend through Monday we are forecast to have temps in the 60's and nearing 70 on Monday.
I've been thinking about the generalist vs. specialist issue for the last few thousand miles and realized something that helped me not feel pigeonholed. I've been wrestling with the idea that I might be forced to specialize in something again to be properly employable, but then a parallel hit me that gave me hope.
After Engineer Pass I remember laughing aloud in my helmet at the stunning contrasts that these bikes are capable of. My tires had cuts and bites and chunks missing from a trail where it seemed only specialized vehicles would dare tread. And yet, with no modification, no adjustments I was on my way to Ouray at 75mph and cruising comfortably with heated vest and grips purring along in relative luxury. What an amazing machine I thought, the more I push these bikes the more I become impressed with them.
The embarrassing part is that it took me days to make the connection with my dilemma. Considered the widest little niche market, the dual sport bike seems to have caught on everywhere and riders choose them for all sorts of reasons an put them to work in a wide range of duties. Most of us are probably here for similar reasons, because we too appreciate a machine that isn't the best at anything, but great at lots of things, especially when they're really pushed. I'd like to think that I too am the master of nothing, but pretty well rounded and capable of excelling in specific areas when needed.
I was looking for synonyms for "generalist" and was struck at what I felt was a positive description. From MacMillan : "someone who knows a lot about a wide range of subjects" It gives me some hope that if so many people can appreciate the generalist nature of dual sport bikes, then maybe someone can appreciate what I have to offer.
Now, where are they? How do I find them? How do I market myself to someone I don't know for a job that may not exist yet? I welcome your ideas.
Photo unrelated, but made me smile.
Thanks Skip, I'm pushing some miles lately to try to squeeze through that window before it closes. I ran the math today despite some very exciting scenery in Oklahoma and it said 1683 miles to home, which is a minimum of about 5 days for a tenderbutt like me.
P.S. Currently just north of Tulsa, OK. Someone please turn off the wind turbine. I think we already know this is a flying brick.