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I should be home tomorrow as long as nothing weird happens… (or, Famous Last Words)

February 1, 2014

You know that special time in the morning between the time you should have jumped out of bed, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the time you actually haul your carcass out of bed?  That time when you just lie under the warm blankets knowing that you need to get up, but aren’t going to, and that nothing in the day to come could ever feel as nice as stretching out on that bed, under that blanket, at that time?  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about…

A while back, during that time, I was reading (on my phone, it was too early to mess with the computer) one of my motorcycle forums and came across a thread asking about the strangest thing to happen on the forum members’ motorcycle rides.  While reading some of the replies my mind drifted off to some of the more, uhhh, interesting delays in my rides.  Every ride has its little delays and detours, but every once in a while something truly memorable happens. More or less in chronological order, here are some of my favorites.

NinjaPadreIslandMy first interesting motorcycle delay was with the Ninja 600 that I wrote about last year in my post Blast from the Past.  Back in 1990 I was just a guy that liked to ride motorcycles.  I didn’t know much about them beyond the fact that they were fun to ride.  Mechanical problems?  Nope, they won’t happen to me…  This invincibility complex was destroyed on the way back from a weekend trip to Corpus Christi, TX.  My buddy and I were riding back to San Antonio when a BMW decided to pass me.  The nerve of that guy…  Here I am, a stud on a Ninja (one that looked like the bike in the movie Top Gun, no less), and he had the gall to pass me – in public, no less?  I couldn’t have that.  I down shifted, rolled on the throttle, and put on my best “Eat my dust” smirk inside my helmet.  I heard the engine wind up, and then wind down.  Somewhere between my smirk and the tires my show of superiority was falling apart.

Hmmm…  After I stopped the bike I noticed the new thing sticking out of the engine and the puddle of oil under the new thing.   That was  all the information I needed to conclude that I had blown the engine.  I vaguely remember looking at least once on the trip to see if the bike had oil.  Knowing what I know now, I realize that I don’t know how old the oil was, if there was too much, or if the bike was actually in any shape to attempt the trip in the first place.  My buddy gave me a ride to a nearby ranch house so I could call the guy I borrowed the Ninja from and tell him I broke his bike and that I needed a ride back to town.  Good times…

That, so far, has been the only mechanical delay I have had, though other people’s problems have occasionally delayed me too. In 2007 a friend of mine and I were on a day trip from Augusta, GA to Hilton Head Island, SC.  I was on a Kawasaki Vulcan 500 that I owned for a short time and my friend was on his Harley Davidson FLXTQRGTZA FrankenGlide (I don’t know what it was originally, but it definitely looked like something that Frankenstein’s monster would have ridden.)  We stopped to eat lunch and I was shocked, shocked to find that his FrankenGlide wouldn’t start after lunch.  We bought a rope and I tried to pull start his bike.  All that did was draw a crowd.  At the time I was glad that there wasn’t any video proof of what we were doing, though now I really wish there was a video somewhere. Defeated, I gave him a ride to a car rental place (That ride – the two of us on a bike not quite big enough for me alone – was almost a story in itself.)  We left the bikes on the island and drove back to Augusta, returning the next day to recover the bikes.

In 2008 my brother and I participated in a long distance motorcycle rally called the Land of Enchantment 1000.  The ultimate goal of the ride was to visit as many checkpoints in the state of New Mexico as we could while riding over 1,000 miles without riding an excess of miles beyond 1,000 miles.  Pay attention to that last part, it comes into play shortly.  Sometime in the way-to-damn-early in the morning, somewhere between Albuquerque, NM and Las Cruces, NM, my brother ran out of gas.  A couple of miles (that he didn’t ride) after he stopped I realized that he wasn’t behind me.  There was no traffic on the interstate as all of the sane people were in bed at that time, so I easily saw his headlight a couple of miles back and turned around to find out what the problem was, adding another couple of miles to my total mileage (again, miles that he didn’t ride).  Pleasantries exchanged, we siphoned some fuel from my tank into his and we continued down the road.  At this point we didn’t realize the significance turning around to help a brotha’ out would have in the final results.  We completed the rally without incident and headed for the scorer’s table.  I didn’t know how, or if, there would be any ranking,  but I was pretty sure that we would have gotten the same score.  The final results?  Of the finishers, we finished last and next to last.  Specifically, I finished last and my brother finished next to last because he had five fewer miles.

2008 Land of Enchantment (LOE) 1000 rally - results excerpt
Michael Crandall  10/04/08  Suzuki Bandit      1,012 NM-1000  
Casey Crandall    10/04/08  Honda VTX1800S     1,017 NM-1000

OK, that wasn’t really much of a delay, but I like to take every chance I get to remind my brother what I sacrifice for him.

SONY DSCEarlier in 2008, while I was returning home from a trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (and Tattoo Extravaganza), the group I was riding with was delayed by an hour or so by a traffic jam caused by the combination of bison and tourists on the road.  I suppose that if we really wanted to we could have snaked through the stopped cars and critters, but the scene was kind of cool so we waited patiently for the traffic jam to clear itself.

I have had one major weather delay while on my trips.  While riding in the mountains just west of Colorado Springs, CO, my wife and I took a side trip to visit Seven Falls, a string of seven connected water falls.  We knew that there was a chance of rain; we had been rained on the day before when we were riding up to Pike’s Peak.  The rain arrived while we were in the middle of the 224 steps that must be climbed to go from the bottom of the falls to the top.  The previous day’s rain was a pleasant shower, this wasn’t.

By the end of the thunderstorm the road leading up the canyon to the falls had been covered by rocks and mud.  It took a couple of hours for crews to clear the road enough for four-wheeled vehicles to leave the canyon.  We only had two wheels so the staff wouldn’t let us leave until the road was more passable.  During the three to four more hours it took to finish clearing the road, my wife and I were the only customers left at the falls and were therefore treated to an incredible tour of the area once the rain stopped.  After the road was cleared we continued our trip and headed towards Denver, CO.  We were again delayed by rain and waited out another wave of the storm at an Outback Steak House.  That had to be one of the best dinners I have had with my wife.

Finally, the best of the delays.  The title of this post is a comment I made the night before I was delayed for several hours in Wells, NV.  In May of 2009 I was on the last leg of a trip that started at my house in Wyoming, went up to the Pacific Northwest, came down to Reno, NV, and then turned east for the dash home.  As I approached the town of Wells I could see that all traffic was being routed off the interstate and then corralled at two nearby truck stops.  After parking the bike I walked inside one of the truck stops to find out what was going on.  I heard several different stories, but they all had the central theme of some sort of bomb on the interstate.  The actual situation was a guy drove away from the police after they tried to pull him over for speeding.  Using the means available to police they were eventually able to stop him.  At some time during the chase the guy called the police and told them he had explosives in the truck and he was ready to use them.  The police were able to determine that there were no explosives in the car, but it took them about five hours to be sure.  While I was waiting I called my wife to let he know what was going on.

“Hi Sweetie.  Do you remember last night when I said I would be home today unless something weird happened?”

“Yesssss?”

“Well, something weird happened…”

As I explained the situation I could tell she didn’t believe me.  After I got home she told me that she thought I was just trying to squeeze another day of riding out of the trip, but then she saw a story on the news about the situation.  Saved by the news… (Thanks to Salt Lake City’s KSL News both for covering the incident and for the video below that I shamelessly borrowed from their web page.)

Yep, I have had a few interesting delays in my time. The nice thing about these kind of things is that, for the most part, long after the annoyance of the delay has faded away, the cool, or funny, or bizarre story still lives on.

G26

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