If you were expecting Flashback Friday, then you might be disappointed. This seemed like a great day to wrap up the Great Trip North Adventure 2013. Flashback will return next Friday.
Up early in Tifton, Georgia along Interstate 75. My usual routine is to get the bike packed and ride in the dark for a while for a change of pace. My luggage affixed, my antler well secured, it is time to get out of long-ass Georgia and into Florida. I begin thinking about all kinds of things: I wonder where Norah is this morning? Can I stop by and see her? It will be nice to sleep in my own bed. What did I miss? Can I turn around and do it again?
Then it happens. I had not been on the road long, but long enough to want to end the trip and rest. About 2-5 miles north of the I-75/I-10 interchange I begin getting a little vibration from the front tire. Kind of like when you are on grooved or rough pavement. I slow up a bit, and think, this is odd. It's not going away. Then I begin to smell rubber and just like that a pop and the bike is wobbling back and forth and keeping it steady as I slow is pretty hard.
Like a guy riding a wild bronco, I luckily was able to keep the bike upright as we rolled to a clumsy stop. The handlebars were wobbling something fierce and my main objective was to keep the bike upright and manhandling the bars to remain in a fairly straight trajectory. I didn't fall down and kept that rocket fairly straight, but my arms are sore and exhausted from the strength necessary to glide it to a stop. But stop I did, and safely.
Well, here we are. Three hours from home and I am stranded on the side of the road. The engine off, it becomes quiet, except for the occasional car and truck whizzing by. It's still early, so there's not too much on the road. As I get off I lean forward to confirm what I already know.
Getting off and wrestling with that sinking feeling that happens when one is in a situation like this I examine the tire and see that it is not only blown but off the rim as well. Having already gone through the Denial stage I move on the Guilt phase. I'm pretty sure the tire was up to snuff, I just got it last year, and the 26 point safety inspection by the Yamaha place should have spotted it, right? Well, after approximately 2200 miles, probably not. That's my job.
I now begin the Anger phase and start thinking, why of course, It could only happen to me. Blah blah. This is where I would spend the next hour or so. Bucolic and solitary, it looks peaceful, right? Problem is, there are gnats here from Illinois that start making my life a lot uncomfortable.
Along the side of the Interstate, my bike, which has done a superb job of taking care of me, sits alone and broken. It is strange to no longer hear the drummmmm of an engine and riding along; the hum now displaced by sounds of nature and quiet and the occasional vehicle whizzing by.
A butterfly sits perched on a flower having breakfast, unaware and uncaring that I am a stranded traveller now dependent on the kindness of strangers.
This spider was also having breakfast and while I was on the phone almost ran into his gigantic web that stretched from some shrubbery to a fence post. When I think of how close I came to walking into...eewwwoooowwww.
This is where I would normally write a sad essay on breaking down and having to shell out an ungodly amount for towing let alone a tire. This is where I would normally say I have to spend the night in Lake City because they can't get to me until late in the afternoon. But no. I was back on the road in 4 hours. And this is why:
I have been a regular member of the Motorcycle Towing Service out of Denver Iowa for many years. For a nominal yearly fee they will arrange for towing and direct that tow to the nearest mechanic/dealership to fix your machine. I called and woke up a sleepy Casey who for some reason was in New Mexico. After confirming my membership and trying to ascertain where I was (Mile Marker 440), he dispatched Daniels Towing out to rescue. Within an hour of his magic a guy named Tim came and we loaded up the bike.
It wasn't too long of a drive to Interstate Cycles in Lake City where my bike was the first repair they made for the day. It was a small dealership but they had a tire for me and it wasn't long before they had one on, and I would be back on the road.
Tim from Daniels Towing. Tim has a new baby girl, 9 weeks old and although this was his first cycle tow, he did pretty gosh darn good. He was a nice guy and earned a tip for his good work. The tow was free because of MTS, and the tire was, well, it was expensive, but I guess I needed a new one anyway.
Back on the road and feeling great after being dead in the water, here I was back flying. I didn't want to hassle with the Tampa traffic so I stayed on I-75 instead of I-275 to St. Pete. I decided a ride to the South and drive up north over the Skyway bridge was reasonable. I wanted to have lunch so I picked McDonald's on 34th Street as my first stop in town before home.
Funny, I knew I was home when as I turn the engine off and dismount a lady standing in the parking lot asks me if I had any money so she could get some food. Since sidewalk panhandling was outlawed a couple years ago, the denizens of the streets have found another way to ply their trade. It is called "aggressive panhandling" and what they do is mark out a territory around businesses. When cars pull up they ask for money. I read just this week that the Council is debating that issue and may ban it as well, since the business owners have been raising a ruckus over it.
Lunch over, it was time to check in at Shawshank and when I arrived everything seemed the same. So much so that I wanted to hop back on the bike for another long trip. But before I can do that I have to have certain nether regions heal, or I need a gel foam pad for the seat.
My thoughts race attempting to process the trip, the experience, the anxiety of roadside trouble and the sandwich of waiting to begin the adventure, the adventure itself and the end. I want re-do's. I want to stop at that foggy bridge and take the best picture I have ever snapped. I want to ride more with my buddies up North, I want to slow down and erase the destination part of my brain. Just like my travels of 9 years ago, I press to hard, too fast and miss out on things. I understand now it is me...simply part of the way I operate. Only with someone with me to slow me down could I change. But like the oft-quoted and now overused idiocy phrase, "it is what it is." Another trip someday, I sure hope so. Another chance to slow down, I sure hope so. Another ride and another adventure, I sure hope so.
My adventure was over.
DAY THREE MILES: 319
TOTAL MILES UP: 1,425
TOTAL MILES BACK: 1,317
TOTAL MILES (EXCLUDING RIDES UP THERE).............2,742