“The beginning of the end”
When FedEx says “no later than 4:30, they mean no SOONER than 4:30. So the truck FINALLY rolls in and we have a brand spanking new kickstand safety switch bypass thingie. YYAAAAAAYYY!!! It plugs in to the existing wiring harness and in 5 minutes we’re ready to roll. One last wave to the people at Duke’s who have been AMAZING throughout our ordeal and we’re down the road. We literally get 15 miles west and I start hearing noises. I slow to let a truck in front of me turn off and hear this God awful sound coming from what appears to be the front drive sprocket area. I tell Rod on the com’s that I have a problem. I can hear his heavy sigh through the speaker. I pull over, kill the motor and roll silently to the shoulder. The sound is there, turning with the revolutions of the wheel. We check the chain because we’ve both been having issues with loose, then tight chains and sure enough, my chain is as tight as a guitar string! That’s crazy because ewe both just adjusted them at Hanksville and hadn’t ridden any yet??? So Rod jumped in and quickly loosened it up a bit. After a test ride by both of us, it was confirmed. The sound is not going away and seemed to be the front sprocket bearing. That’s a main shaft bearing and the entire engine has to be torn down to fix it. If I take a chance and ride it, it could seize causing the rear tire to lock up at speed (and we’re riding pavement today) so I’m not taking a chance.
Did I mention no phone service?? Rod suggest we wait and see if someone comes by. As luck would have it, someone did. A guy from the UDOT was inspecting the newly paved section of the road and we flagged him down. He was kind enough to call his dispatcher and had a trailer sent to pick me up. The only problem was the next town with a shop is almost 2 hours away, Richfield UT. He hangs out with us until his dispatcher confirms the tow truck is coming and gives us the ETA, over an hour. It’s starting to get dark and the possibility of the trip ending hits me like a truck. After all the planning, picking the right equipment, installing it, testing, refitting, reinstalling I’ve gone through, this may be where it ends, on a deserted two-lane in the middle of Utah.
The tow truck finally come right at dusk. The guy is super nice and gets ready to load my bike. Now Rod wants his bike on the trailer too because he doesn’t want to ride it nearly 2 hours to Richfield in the dark. So tow truck guy makes the room on a single trailer for our 2 huge bikes. He gets them tied down perfectly and we head out for Richfield in the dark. It’s too bad it’s not still light, because we travel directly through Capital Reef Nation Park. After nearly 2 hours of learning just about everything about our driver, we arrive at the dealership, Jorgensen’s KTM and prepare to drop the bikes. I ask the driver if he can take my insurance and he says “No, I’ll have to give you a bill and you can claim it later to get reimbursed.” That’s not good, I’m super low on funds and not sure what is going to happen. I ask how much and he hands me a bill for $451!!!! FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY ONE DOLLARS!!!! Are you CRAZY???? He doesn’t blink. I ask if a check would work and he didn’t think that was funny (but I was serious, that’s what they’re for, right??). So I ask if he can run my debit card in the AM because I don’t do credit cards? NOPE. You see, I get paid once a month and it happens to be IN THE MORNING!!! Not enough in that account to cover it and can’t do any transfers. Soooooooo, I ask Rod to spot me and I really don’t think he was happy about that (even though his bike got a free ride). Because of my limit budget for the trip and the unforeseen circumstances that emptied my wallet way too soon. The driver took us to the hotel and Rod gets the rooms again, says good night and heads to his room. I go to my room and 2 minutes later someone knocks on the door. I figure its Rod and we’d talk about what our options are from here. Nope, it’s the desk clerk. It seems Mr. Tow Truck guy went to McD’s and got us dinner!! Wow, just when you’ve lost your hope for humanity. I chow down the McNuggets and try to get some sleep. Didn’t work very well because I just kept thinking about this being over and how crushed I am I didn’t make it to the end.
Morning comes and I meet Rod in the breakfast area. We start discussing options and I’m pretty sure I’m done. If it’s the main shaft bearing, that catastrophic. I’d have to have the bike shipped back and fix it in my shop later. We talk about “what if” it’s something else, could I go on? The reality is, no I cannot. You see, I started this journey on a specific budget. I’m unemployed for the most part and my vintage motorcycle restoration gig is not up and running enough to start showing profit. I don’t have credit cards, don’t believe in them. I don’t have a HUGE amount of disposable cash. I had a budget and we blew it in August by staying in too many motels and not camping enough. Also didn’t expect a $450 service / tire bill halfway in the trip. We had agreed to order tires online, ship them to Arrowhead Motorsports and change our own oil. That’ll all cost around $150-$200, NOT $450!! So with $300-$400 in unexpected motels and $250 more to service the bike, I’m $600+ over my budget. I know you can’t control mother nature and we certainly couldn’t have camped the nights we were soaked and freezing, but I think we could have followed our agreed to plan better for sure. So yes, I thought the most intelligent decision for me was to start figuring out how to get home.
We head over to the shop and the guy brings it right in and starts looking at it, takes it for a test ride and thinks it’s what I feared, main shaft bearing. Just to be sure, he wants to remove the rear wheel and chain and check the front sprocket for play. As they do that, Rod comes up and again and asked what I think my plans are going to be. Again, I reiterate I don’t have the funds to go on without taking a risk that I may not have enough in the end to return home from the west coast. I had this planned pretty tight, but had reserves for some extra expenses…NOT $1000 and we’re not even to Oregon and then how do I get home??? That $1000 was to be my funds for renting a truck and driving the bike and me home. If the other guys wanted to join in, it’d be even less! Not now…It’s over and I’m scrambling to figure out the best way to get me and my broke ass bike home.
Then the shop guys calls me and he’s got good news!! The chain was F***** up and he’s got a new one!!! He installs it pretty quick and we both test ride it. NO NOISES!!! Seems to be good!! By now Rod has already returned to the hotel and started packing to leave. He said he’s going to go ahead and go to his friends in southern Utah for a visit like he promised, as he should. I am just not happy how it was left and with him.
I’ll say this as I sit here in camp in eastern Utah, alone. You have no idea how HARD a trip like this is on body, your mind, your bike, your BANK ACCOUNT and you certainly learn A LOT about yourself and the people around you. How do you handle adversity? Do you roll into a ball and hide? Do you lash out and get pissed at everyone around you? Do you think through it and decide what the best course of action is, even if it’s not the one you want?
I don’t know. This didn’t work out as planned. But never the less, it’s been (and still IS, because I’m riding back home!) the greatest adventure and test I’ve ever been through in my life.