Chapter 9 – The wingspan of a free spirit

This is an excerpt of Chapter 9  and I thought it is a nice story to remember.  It seemed that to those times all my vehicles had names.

“Henry” was my car and my home and ” Quasimodo” was my streetbike. Here in the pictures you can see Quasimodo at its best.  I only can say that this bike was beyond difficult and unreliable – but nevertheless it was fun. The combination of heat and injuries on my part and  technical failures and inadequacy of  touring on the bike’s part made this trip the most memorable of all.

I went flying through the red sand of the Monument Valley, drifting and sliding, enjoying the freedom and adrenaline of dirt bike riding, feeling like a young mustang just released into the wild. My mustang analogy came to a screeching halt somewhere in the middle of the valley, when I ran out of gas again and had to wait quite a while for the others to come along. This was not the first time this had happened on this trip, and we already had figured out an effective mode of towing my bike to the next gas station.  After about five miles of riding with Bernie’s foot pushing my bikes rear end we finally arrived at the only gas station for a radius of at least one hundred miles, totally exhausted from the heat.

Besides being sweaty and covered with layers of dust from the valley’s red sand, I was still limping. I felt like an old cowboy who’d been riding through the baking heat of the endless prairie, happy to find a way to feed his horse, when I finally put the hose into the gas tank of my bike awaiting new life. The pavement was melting like butter in the sun, and the tar stuck to the bottom of my tennis shoes.

            While filling up, I saw that the bike was starting to tip over in slow motion. Its side stand sank into the ground like a toothpick through a club sandwich. I tried to prevent the worst but reacted too late; the bike toppled over like it was nothing more than a plastic toy in a stiff breeze. A closer inspection showed that the side stand hadn’t sunk into the tar as I’d first thought; it had broken altogether. The side stand’s welding seam, loosened by the merciless vibrations of the engine, was now neatly severed from the bike frame, clearly resigning its duties. No side stand meant that I couldn’t park the bike anymore unless there was a wall or other firm, heavy object I could lean it against. Now I needed to look for a shop with the equipment and the willingness to weld the stand back on to the bike. Just in case it could be salvaged, I put the broken part into my luggage. Even in the sweltering desert heat, the mood of the travel group was frosty; they were getting fed up with my bike and its problems. Now we also had to worry about how to prop the bike up every time we stopped, and it was about to get worse…a lot worse. The bike lay in the hot sun like a dead coyote. We picked it up, and, as usual, Bernie tried to kick it back to life for me. Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. As Bernie’s profanities echoed through the valley, I noticed that the drive chain was hanging off the rear sprocket. How the hell had that happened? Somehow, I had lost the safety nut and bold of the front sprocket, which made the sprocket rotate off the drive shaft and the chain rotate off the sprockets. Both parts were most likely somewhere out in the desert of Monument Valley, gone forever.


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