Okay. Itís established that Iím going. The only person on the planet whose input will influence the demands of my soul said, ďGo.Ē
Already a burden has lifted. Come hell or high water, Iím friggen gone. Strange twist of fate that both of those would actually come.
Work took more attention that week. My schedule just changed . . . Iím back on night support. Not necessarily a bad thing. Weíll have to wait and see. Oh, and the frustrating thing about work? Well, I love what I do. Really. Iím also good at it. What could be the problem then? Hell, I donít know. Best as I can figure, thereís nobody in our company driving the bus . . . or if they are . . . theyíve been drinking heavily. And of course, by "drinking heavily" I mean that they've drunk so much they are actually dead, and their corpse, which is so pickled that it won't actually rot, is propped at the helm. And it never had a license to drive the darn bus anyway. So there.
A bit of work to rearrange the schedule, more work to see if the Dell corporation was trying to kill me again. Dell seems to have this thing about selling me ďflaming bricks of deathĒ. Iíve been a part of every recall theyíve had for batteries and also the little brick power supplies that were burning houses down a couple years back . . . oh, and the laptops a couple years before that . . . and the power supplies in the desktops before that and . . .. Itís actually a high number of recalls. Scary stuff . . . that.
Iím amazed to find that my thousand dollars worth of laptop batteries arenít actually on the recall list. I donít believe it though. Not for a second. Their track record of trying to blow me up in a spectacular way is hitherto unblemished. They wonít quit now. Look for the ďflaming brick of deathĒ battery recall to significantly expand.
Even as I type this . . . I'm kind of eyeing the laptop sideways and ready to toss it off my lap. There! That accounts for any of the many typos you're bound to find in this report. Yeah, that's it. "Flamingbrickofdeathicitious" is the inability to type brought on by tenderness associated with flaming bricks of death being plopped on the lap . . . far to close to "the boys".
Dell is NOT, by the way, where I got my ďLikely to suffer spontaneous flaming deathĒ nickname. Thatís yet a different story that Iím sure I will tell later . . . but probably only after a very long ride . . . and after I get laid (a long ride of a different sort!)
So, Iím going. I let a couple friends know in case they wanted to come with me, and posted it on the VRCC board and my forum in case others wanted to meet there.
My friend Dean took me up on it. Dean rides The Big Orange Couch. Thatís his 2002 Goldwing. At least, I call it The Big Orange Couch, as I donít think heís named it yet. Bikesíve gotta have a name.
The Big Orange Couch needed a final drive oil change before we left, as Dean, like any wise Texan, had been putting off maintenance during the summer. We tend to put that off for the deep winter, when the temperature drops below 100 F for a day or two. Itís hard to squirt 80w/90 into a Goldwing gearbox if the lube catches fire as it exits the bottle. Makes for a pretty cool flamethrower, but most riders don't really relish pointing a flamethrower at the rear end of their ride. The sizzling noise and cooking bacon smell that is your ass burning up on the scorching pavement is a bit distracting anyways.
I figured weíd find a patch of morning shade and get it done before we pulled out so I told him to ďcome on.Ē He said heíd see me before lunch Saturday.
The morning of the ride I woke excited, and with a lighter spirit than Iíd had in some time. Strange that it was effecting me that way. Iím no stranger to riding. Iíve been doing this for years, and 1000-mile ďspur of the momentĒ rides are not terribly uncommon for me.
As I thought about it I realized that the ďspur of the momentĒ rides WERE becoming uncommon for me. Responsibilities and limitations . . . self-imposed and otherwise . . . had changed the way I lived so slowly that it had snuck up on me. I wished Iíd understood earlier. Thereís not much Iíd change . . . Iíve few regrets in life . . . but Iíd definitely change this.
Maybe itís not too late. After-all, I was about to go on a sort-of spur of the moment, unplanned and unmapped ride. With new excitement I fairly bubbled about the trip.
Pity I couldnít seem to get anybody else in the house to share my enthusiasm.
Normally I get up at 4:30am for my commute to work, but on the weekends we tend to sleep in. I should have been able to, but couldn't due to wanting to ride, so I was up early.
Waking the wife to make sure she didn't really want to endure hours of slogging through 300+ miles of record Texas heat got me a fine ADVRider salute.
Hmmm . . . it didn't . . . actually . . . mean that she wanted to go, so I figured it meant the literal interpretation of the symbol. Cool! There are some advantages to being married! I thought to myself as I took a flying leap back into the bed. She kicked me out. Unfortunately, it didn't mean what I thougt it did either. Sigh.
Next, I went out to talk to the cat.
Yeah, he cared deeply about it. Sigh. I'm pretty sure he's flipping me off too . . .
BTW, here he is in an older photo just to give you some scale . . . he's a twenty-two pound Maine Coon. You should see him when we really stretches out. That's a yard stick (or a 0.9144 meter stick . . . or a 0.181818182 rod stick) behind him!
Well, if the wife, and the cat want to ignore me, how about the dog. You know, man's best friend and all that?
Yeah. He perked right up when I started talking to him
But when I got to the part about slogging through the record heat
Yeah. That's what I thought.
Now, everybody knows the trick to beating Texas heat is . . . cholesterol!
See, it's like this. Heat melts things. Cholesterol is from fat . . . and is a thing . . . and heat melts it. So, if you don't have plenty of things . . . stuff . . . whatever . . . in you to melt, well then . . . it'll just be you that melts, right? So . . . that's eggs and the makings of a BLT sandwich . . . and the requisite Texan's glass of iced tea (the civilized world would not exist without iced tea, I assure you). I'm . . . ur . . . saving the dog bone to munch on later.
Breakfast done, It's time to crack open the door to the record temperatures
It wouldn't have suprised to have flames rush in under the door ala "Cronicles of Riddik".
More music was playing in my head.
When the door shuts
Donít worry about me
Itís not attention that I want from you
I need you to trust who Iím going to be
and in everything that Iím going to do
Folks often ask my wife how she can be okay with ďlettingĒ me go ride by myself. In 2004 I was gone a month for my Alaska trip. Three weeks in 2005 for Route 66. At least two weeks together in every prior year, sometimes longer. The truth of the matter is that she does worry, but long ago learned that there is an element to my spirit that would simply die if confined.
Because Iím not afraid of what I donít know
For understanding is all that I yearn
What is for sure is Iím going to go
I going to live and Iím going to learn
I mentioned it above, but a wandererís soul is a pesky thing. The problem is that it canít be confined, at least not in any permanent way . . . at least not without destroying it. Carey knows me well enough to let me fly.
And I know there will be mistakes that I will make
But I know theyíre no worse than chances I donít take
Right before your eyes Iím changing.
New life on the inside
I am changing.
She knows that for me, riding is a time to test the man. Itís a time to charge the soul, gain perspective, and help me to process and understand the world around me and my place within it.
When the door shuts
It shuts finally
A new person that I have become
Iíll follow my heart to my destiny
The living in fear and the sorrow is done
I stood in the garage a moment, wondering at the intense loneliness and other confusing feelings coursing through my soul. The taste of them is familiar, but usually reserved for those uncertain moments before and during a very long ride when Iím not sure of my course . . . when Iím not sure Iím headed the right direction.
ďDirectionĒ has little to do with the course of the motorcycle however.
Why do we all end up alone
Why do we always have to find our way back home
Why do we all end up alone
We gather no moss, just like a rolling stone
Enough angst. Riding recharges me, and Iíve always known it. I just hadnít realized how badly I needed it this time.
The hell with it. It was time to fly.
As the door rolled up on the bright Texas day I was pleased to find my friend Dean and The Big Orange Couch had just arrived and were waiting outside.
I do like to ride alone, I lust after it actually . . . but having friends along is nice too . . . as long as the group doesnít get big enough or youíre unfamiliar enough with the other riders that the group itself (not the individual riders) begins to impact the dynamic of the ride.
In the end, we all ride alone anyway.
I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
I donít know where it goes
But itís home to me and I walk alone.
I wouldnít have it any other way.
Preflight on a Valkyrie is easy. She's shown here in a picture from some damn mountain or other in Colorado this summer. Seems I forgot to take any pictures of her before this trip. 14,000-and-something feet come to mind (highest paved road in North America).
Oh, yeah. The preflight. Hmm. Still got tires. Canít poke a pencil through the tread.
Yes, thatís a car tire on the Valk. Go HERE if you want to know more about that. Yes, it can turn (I drag hard parts all the time). No, I donít think it would work on (insert any 500 pound machine name here). The key is ďheavy cruiserĒ. Valks, Rockets, Wings, some others. Remember Muscle cars? These are Muscle Cruisers. "Power Cruiser" I believe is the term coined for the Valkyrie.
Yes, I know Iím a test pilot.
I like being a test pilot.
Add some fresh batteries for the MP3 player and a map and weíre good to go!
The mp3 player is important. I'm pretty sure the Valkyrie won't run without tunes (I mentioned I'm passionate about music, yes?) Oh, and yeah, someday Iíll update the mp3 player to an IPOD or something similar. Right now Iím sticking with the Panasonic CD/mp3 thingy. It holds close to 12 hours of music, runs 50 hours on 2 AA batteries, and for some reason, just wonít friggen die.
It quit once on the Alaska run . . . when I was on my way home and somewhere in British Colombia and slogging it through the same damn storm system for the 3rd day in a row (Iíd ride the storm all day, break out of it late in the evening, it would pass me in the night, and Iíd catch up to it in the late morning). Anyway, I went to change the batteries and had to dump several ounces of rain water out of the player. I noticed the water was kind of muddy, so I submerged the thing in a stream to clean it out. Lather, rinse, repeat until foamy. Add new batteries, wipe the bigger droplets off the CD and presto! Still working.
Now, Iím not old fashioned or anything, but itís earned its place. If itíll run, Iíll use it. Not bad for $19 bucks huh?
May as well check the mileage. If I don't take a picture, I won't remember what it was. Mostly, to me, miles are irrelevant.
Hmmm. Damn near 94,000 miles. Might actually have to do some service on this machine someday. Valkyries rock by the way. I do maintain my machine well, but basically abuse her with reckless abandon. Those havenít been easy miles, and aside from normal interval maintenance items (tires, oil, filters, battery) all Iíve had to do in all these miles is change one weeping seal, replace the alternator brushes, and replace the pinion joint (kind of a cupped/spline joint on the final drive). The brushes and pinion I could make the case are normal wear items, but I wonít quibble. And, oh, that's not counting the parts I've torn up. Smudged crash bars, scraped off pegs, and worn out touring bells (Gremlin Bells) are just normal wear items.
Dean decided to take a nap.
. . . or maybe that was changing the final drive oil. Thatís about a 5-minute job on the Ďwing . . . which is a very good thing. See that sun creeping down the truck and into our shadow? When it reaches us weíll roast ala Chronicles of Riddik so itís time to get gone.
Oh, and yes, thatís a car tire on The Big Orange Couch too. Go HERE if you want to know more about that. We're just a radical bunch, down here in Texas.
Credit cards, money, and first born all in the wallet to sacrifice to the oil companies, and we're ready, willing, and equipped.
It was time to hit the road.
I couldnít get much higher
My spirit takes flight
Cause Iím alive
songs on this installment (in order of appearance)
Right Before Your Eyes--HoobaStank
End Up Alone--Nine Days
Boulevard of broken dreams --Greenday
I'm Alive --Celine Dion
Alexandria, Louisiana on a Saturday Night Navigation:
--Index-- --Part 1-- --Part 2-- --Part 3-- --Part 4-- --Part 5-- --Part 6--