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Life Is a Road, the Soul Is a Motorcycle

Life Is a Road, Get On it and Ride!

Life Is a Road, Ride it Hard!

Life Is a Road, it's About the Ride

Life Is a Road, Volume One

Storm Rider

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The Soul Is a Motorcycle Get On It and Ride! Ride It Hard About the Ride Volume One Special Edition Stormrider

Gas Run

8/29/03

Blasting westbound on I-20 through the heat I again reached up and cracked my visor a bit to wipe the sweat from my eyes.

I had come over 300 miles so far, and a quick calculation told me I had several more hours of riding before I would get home. A particularly rollicking tune began on my mp3 player and I grinned and gave The Dragon just a bit more throttle. The big Valkyrie motorcycle was loping along easily despite the extreme weather, and I was reveling in the ride.

It was HOT out here. The afternoon sun was broiling me and the air temperature near the asphalt road was easily over 120 degrees. The 85mph air stream was more like being deep-fried than cooled and the ends of my fingers were beginning to hurt, despite the light leather riding gloves. For some time I had been shifting one hand or the other into my lap to provide some relief from the heat (thank you cruise control!). Inside my heavy leather boots my toes had gone numb some time ago from the searing temperatures.

I wiped more sweat out of my eyes. Despite the discomfort of the helmet, I was glad to have it, as with this speed and this much heat, I would burn my ears and eyes in the blast-furnace winds without it. Heat exhaustion and exposure would occur faster if I were more exposed to the winds. It can occur in as little as an hour for the unprepared motorcyclist. A helmet and light jacket or denim shirt will dramatically improve your endurance. People are often surprised by this phenomenon.

Such is riding in the Texas summer…and I love it!

Bridges that pass over the highway (overpasses) are rare out here—seldom more than one or two exits in any given 20-mile stretch, but the contrast between the darkness underneath them and the stark sunlight was amazing. In the fraction of a second it takes to pass underneath one I was all but blind and completely unable to see the road surface itself. During one such encounter in the incredibly deep, dark shadows of an overpass I barely caught a glimpse of a parked motorcycle as I zoomed by. Cooking along in the left-hand lane and passing an 18-wheeler blocked most of my view but I gathered a fair amount of detail anyway.

V-twin model engine, single rider. He was sitting in the shade on the concrete embankment and his body language told me he was worn out. I guessed his bike was dead and had been pushed into the shade. In this heat and sun, shade is a precious commodity out here. I was quite sure he needed help. It is a given that if you are out here you need water.

Due to my speed and the truck traffic I was unable to pull over. The median and high-speed traffic really did not encourage an illegal turn so I continued on five miles to the next exit. As I roared up the ramp I noted that I needed gas anyway, so a trip to the convenience store commenced. Inside of two minutes I had the big cruiser fueled and ready. I also grabbed a cold 6-pack of 20-ounce bottles of water, and on a whim, a half-gallon bottle of “emergency gas” that the store had on clearance. This is a product that was introduced a couple of years ago and is supposed to be able to run a car or truck that is out of fuel, but is less volatile than gasoline so it can be stored in the trunk without danger for years. It seems to be fading from the market at the moment. This store had it on sale for $2.99. I shoved the water and the fuel in the canvas bag I keep strapped to the back seat for just such occasions…as well as for my camera, sunscreen and the like.

I was guessing that the stranded rider was out of gas. I have a lot of experience in these conditions and know that another aspect of riding at highway speeds in this heat is that the fuel mileage on a motorcycle can drop drastically. With many bikes carrying less than four gallons of fuel and some with as little as a half-gallon reserve I have seen this catch even veteran riders by surprise. As an example, the mileage on my last bike, Well Oiled Machine, my old Midnight Special, would drop by over 30% at high speed in the heat. The Dragon, my 2001 F6 Valkyrie cruiser, is much less effected by the heat and carries over five gallons of fuel so I am less dramatically impacted…but my range can still be cut by over 20 miles in the right conditions. In this terrific heat, I am always ready to take a break before the bike is anyway.

Vroooommm! Back on the freeway I go, eastbound this time. Man I love getting this bike on the highway. The massive cruiser will accelerate from 0 to 80 mph faster than the speed of thought. Entrance ramps are about 10 times longer than they have to be for me! Five miles back to the bridge, and no eastbound exit to whatever road goes over the highway, so I continue another seven or so miles to the next exit. Around again (screech, vhrooom, screech, VROOOOM) and another seven miles before I slid to a halt in a cloud of dust under the bridge with the stranded biker.

I really was not trying for a spectacular entrance, but I was loathe to slow down too much on the freeway as the cars and trucks were giving me no space as I approached the bridge. They seemed to be making a point of ignoring my turn signal and frantic hand signs. I popped out from between two cars, left the highway surface onto the dust and gravel-covered shoulder at over 70mph, and skidded a bit in the gravel as I braked to a halt.

When the dust cleared the stranded V-twin dude was asking, “Where the hell did you come from?”

I just grinned and removed my helmet as I got off the bike. I opened my bag and handed him a cold bottle of water. “I’ll bet you could use this.”

“Oh hell yes!” he said as he opened the bottle.

I then grabbed one for myself. I had not had a break in a while either.

As the cars and trucks roared past we worked our way through two bottles each with no further conversation. I was not being anti-social, I always enjoy meeting other people, but I was in a deeply reflective mood induced by several hours of high-speed highway driving. I was unwilling to break my state of mind at the moment. I had needed this ride…I had thinking to do.

Thirst slaked for the moment, we looked at each other. I stuck out my hand. “I’m Daniel.”

He smiled. “Good to meet you Daniel. I’m Kevin. Thanks for the water. Where did you come from anyway? I did not see you coming…you just appeared out of a cloud of dust!”

I just smiled as I turned around and grabbed the emergency gas out of my bag. As I handed it to him I said, “Kevin, I am just guessing, but I’ll bet you could use this too.”

He looked at the label a moment. “Yep. Did not expect to run out so soon. I’ve been here a while. Even the troopers won’t stop.” He looked at me with a strange look in his eyes. “How did you know I would need this? Do you just carry this stuff around with you? And how the heck do you carry cold water anyway without an ice chest?”

I told him the truth as far as it goes. “I had a feeling you would need this stuff. I picked it up at my last gas stop.”

I saw him eyeball my trip odometer. Most bikers reset it to “0” each time they fuel up so they can keep track of how much fuel they have used (many motorcycles have no fuel gauge). “That was almost 20 miles ago!” He blurted out. “How did you know?”

I just grinned and waved in the direction of his bike. “Shall we get her running?”

He added the emergency gas to the tank. Smells kind of fruity. The bike did not want to start. This stuff is not gasoline, so the bike was not responding well to it. He cranked until it sounded like his battery was on its last gasp.

“Hold up a minute!” This stuff was less volatile than gasoline and I was remembering that the label said it was for a “hot engine”. I squatted down and touched his engine. It was cool…well…at least as cool as it can get when it is over 100 degrees in the shade. Anyway, it was no warmer than ambient. He had been here a while.

Hmmm. Cool engine, less volatile fuel. I guessed that he was flooded. I also guessed that if the bike did not start with this try his battery would be gone. I know bikes and I did not want to try to push start anything in this heat.

I still had my hand on his engine, mainly for balance as I was squatting. “Hold full throttle and try again.” At that moment a truck whooshed by and I closed my eyes against the dust just as Kevin pushed the start button.

The V-twin instantly grumbled to life. It sputtered a bit on the odd fuel, but it was running.

“Jheeze!” He was looking at me with an odd expression on his face. “Thanks man, I really appreciate this!”

I stood up and headed for my bike. “I’ll follow you to the next station.”

I chuckled as I put on my helmet and gloves. As he had driven off I overheard him saying to himself, “Never had someone ‘heal’ my bike before, nobody’s gonna believe this.”

As I followed him to the next exit I started thinking about the events of this encounter from his perspective. If he had not seen me go by the first time, or pulling off the road when I did stop I could see how the entire encounter could appear a bit…well…surreal.

I’m afraid I was a bit amiss in not correcting his rather odd impression of me. As I pulled up beside him at the pump he said, “Thanks again! You want to stop for dinner? I’m buying.”

I stared out at the road a moment. REO was singing in my ears as my mp3 player started a new song. The sky was clear, the highway was ready, and The Dragon was calling. My heart beat faster, and my throttle hand twitched involuntarily. “No thanks, it’s time for me to fly.”

“Ok. Well thanks again! You’ve got a nice bike.” The massive gleaming black and chrome Valkyrie always gets some comment. “Where are you headed anyway?”

I looked out at the blazing sky, back at the road, took a deep breath, and smiled. “West…just west.”

I nodded to Kevin and stuck out my hand. “I’ll see you on the road!”

As he carefully shook my hand he said, “I don’t doubt that at all.”

Some miles down the road I burst out laughing. I had just realized I was wearing one of my favorite shirts. A simple black “T” shirt with white lettering. It has a paraphrase from Shakespeare on it…my favorite…kind of my motto, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Seems particularly appropriate.

Blasting westbound on I-20 through the heat I again reached up and cracked my visor a bit to wipe the sweat from my eyes.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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The Soul Is a Motorcycle Get On It and Ride! Ride It Hard About the Ride Volume One Special Edition Stormrider

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Life is a Road, the Soul is a Motorcycle went on sale March 5, 2003 and is available at Amazon.com, IUniverse.com or your favorite on-line bookseller. You may also order it at your favorite bookstore, including Barnes & Noble.

Life is a Road, Get on it and Ride! went on sale April 12, 2004 and is available at Amazon.com , iUniverse.com icon, or your favorite bookseller including Barnes and Noble. Get your copy today! It is also available in Adobe E-Book format from iUniverse.com .

Life Is a Road, Ride It Hard! went on sale August 11, 2005. It is currently available in softcover, hardcover, and E-book at Amazon.com,  iUniverse icon, or your favorite bookseller, including Barnes & Noble.  

Life Is a Road, It's About the Ride went on sale October 18, 2006. It is currently available in soft or hard cover from Lulu.com, Amazon.com, or anywhere else you buy books.

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The page last updated: 7/6/2010; 8:57:16 PM.