Monday, May 20, 2013

The Long Road to Siberia

  As I sit in my hotel room on a dark, frigid, New Years Day in central Idaho, to begin drafting this post, it has been exactly one year since my struggle with thieving delinquents on a warm New Years evening in Chile. My recollection of those events remains strong, however, they also seem distant. After seeing the Dakar Rally slice through the Atacama to meet the Pacific, I returned to Chattanooga having missed the first week of spring classes. The ensuing eleven months were consumed with school, and there was little time for doing anything worth writing about. Fortunately, I graduated with my economics degree on December 15th, bringing a merciful end my undergraduate education.
  As many of you may already know, a sedentary life is not to my liking, and the complete monopolization of my time by studies has resulted in an accumulation of nervous angst. The moment I finished my last final I returned to the road, but not in the typical fashion.
    My R1150gs BMW had lots of storage space, getting me through Central and South America with more crap than I really needed, but it didn't come near to the capacity of my newest set of wheels. The long-wheelbase Sprinter van will pack 5 (perhaps 6) motorcycles, and in conjunction with a 16' trailer it is possible to move more than a dozen bikes. This, in addition to its commendable fuel economy, allows for a serious competitive advantage in the area of cross-country motorcycle shipping. The plan has been to crisscross the county delivering bikes in order to save money for a round the world motorcycle trip this spring. On a somewhat more tedious note, I also thought it a good opportunity to peruse law-schools and (feebly) attempt undertaking the litany of tasks related to law school applications. Blaaaaaaa!!!!!             
                                                                                     SCHOOL'S OUT
Some deliveries are nicer than others
   My Money and Banking final was on the 6th of December, and graduation the 15th, so I booked shipments which took me to Phoenix and back to Chattanooga to fill the gap. Though I didn't have much trailer capacity the little utility trailer that could provided an extra 2 spots. Not quite "utility maximization", but this trip was primarily exploratory. 5,000 miles over eight days is a bit of a sprint, however, everything was coming together with  time to spare until a hub failure on my aging trailer, as I passed through Shreveport, made things more interesting. Fortunately for my parents, who had made a 6000 mile trip from the land of gypsies and vampires to see me graduate, I was able to perform the necessary repairs in a Tractor Supply parking lot and got back to Chattanooga with enough time for a shower prior to donning my cap and gown.
  Following graduation, and lunch with the family, I was collecting bikes for another trip west. A Ducati Streetfighter in Chattanooga, A Triumph Tiger and Honda Blackbird in Atlanta, A KLR in Knoxville, and an RC-30 in Charlotte, were all picked-up within 36 hours of my graduation. By the time I dipped into Florida and made it to Dallas my van and its new 16' trailer were packed to, and perhaps even slightly beyond, capacity.

    Mid-evening on Christmas Eve, in southern Arizona, one of the tires on my new trailer blew, destroying the wheel in the process. Fortunately, the physical damage was relegated to the wheel and tire, but my schedule was shot. Daisy and I spent Christmas in a Chevron parking lot watching old movies on my laptop and feasting upon Lance crackers and gummy bears. After getting back underway I hit the coast and headed north. Upon arriving in northern California it was one snow storm after another.

Though my van has no shortage of commendable attributes, in the area of adverse weather traction, it is found wanting. Between its lack of positive traction (only one of the rear wheels is pulling) and the burden of a laden trailer, many mountain passes were broached in an abysmally slow fashion. It took three days to cross Montana (Three days!!. Shit, I've crossed continents in that amount of time). The perverse bit is the fact that I love driving in the snow. I've always thought it a privilege, being left alone on an unspoiled road, headlights shining through a barrage of falling flakes. However, following snow, often coupled with Blizzard conditions , in California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, I was no longer finding it so novel.
                                               A FULL CIRCLE
This is what -3F looks like
 I eventually emerged from the icy northwest and quickly made my way to Florida, and a more abideable climate. Upon stopping in southern Florida, along Alligator Alley, for a break from the wheel, I found Daisy wading in the water having a drink. I cautioned her against the prehistoric predators, of which she was oblivious, and commanded her out of the marsh. As it turns out, I was correct in doing so. About 200' from where Daisy was taking a dip there were two gators hanging out at the edge of the water. It was the first time in my life I'd ever met any of these fellows.

  After a month on the road, I'd covered about 15,000 miles, using over 1,000 gallons of Diesel to deliver 28 bikes. I was weary and in need of a break.  I booked a hotel on a beach in Sarasota, but was somewhat perturbed to find that I'd done so during what they call RED TIDE. This is generated by a proliferation of allege which gives the water a red hue. In and of itself,  this isn't so bad, however, the allege also depletes oxygen from the water, suffocating most everything in its wake. The thousands of decaying fish which greeted my arrival to the island's powdery shores offered up an increasingly offensive odor, but given the stress of the previous couple of days I didn't really care. However annoying the clutter of putrid fish was it was relatively innocuous in comparison to my recent interaction with that most nettlesome of citrus scourges, the Florida Yankee.        

    "Whea da fuck's my choppa? I'm loosin' my fuckin' mind ova hea'. Whea da fuck you at?!!!"  This little tirade came close on the heels of a pickup which had pushed my patience, as well as my matrix reasoning, to their limits. Finding a place for a disabled 800 pound cruiser with flat tires, and the widest crash-bars I've ever seen, meant either removing the bars or rearranging my trailer. The owner was convinced that taking the bars off would cause the bike to fall apart. So, after moving five bikes over the span of two hours, I was back on the road, tired, grimy, and ill prepared for a bludgeoning. I had spoken with John, who I'd begun to refer to as Chopper, just prior to the aforementioned stop. At that point I was still four hours from Key Largo, Chopper John's surrogate home. Even without the arduously long stop I'd have still been about two hours away when I received the call which had prompted me to hang up and excrete a mildly-cathartic yawp. Until this point I'd dealt with CJ's barrage of calls in a commendable fashion, and his Fuckity, Fuck, Fuck statements had been responded to as affably as possible. Now, though, I was seeing red. My buddy Arie had the misfortune of calling me as I melted down in the Florida twilight. I had become animated and irrational, but as I delineated plans of dumping the phallic scooter, of crimson and chrome, over the marshy bank of the Okeechobee, a call chimed interrupting my rantings. I left my conversation with Arie mid-sentence, uttering only "ahhh, let me talk to this son of a bitch". I answered firmly and there was a brief silence followed by stammering which shifted into a statement, "ehhhh, sorry fa bustin' ya, balls. My girlfriend told me I was bein' a jerk". I immediately calmed, however, I still wanted this delivery behind me. So as CJ urged me to stop and get sleep, I conveyed my desire to persevere, a notion supported by the hope to avoid abysmal daytime traffic in and around Miami. Upon arriving in Key Largo, at the witching hour of midnight, I was taken aback by the ramshackle nature of Copper J's abode. It was a cockroach infested cracker-box at best, standing in stark contrast to the houses of my average customer, CJ couldn't afford my $650 fee much less a $30,000 Penis augmentation. Perhaps it is unfair, but I find impoverished assholes more agreeable than wealthy ones and I genuinely felt, and still feel, bad for John, his hopes and dreams riding on an absurdly styled hunk of metal. Is this the American dream?; I wondered to myself as I approached CJ's Venezuelan styled rat trap to knock on the door.
  John emerged from the front door shaking his head as he smiled with a weary face. He was short and wiry. A quick observation of his features revealed a distinctly blue collar flavor. Extremely calloused hands supported leathery skin in its assertion that this was a working man. Though CJ's hard life made it difficult to calculate, I guessed that we were of similar age. His smile remained present as he shook my hand and light-heartedly said, " I could fuckin' kill you". I lowered the trailer's ramp and John's face brightened, immediately shedding five years worth of deterioration, and somewhere within his rough exterior The Halleluiah Choirs hit full crescendo. I'd opened a portal to a whole new world and we immediately began freeing the beast from its tethers. Any way you cut it, transporting a chopper is an arduous affair. But the mild winter evening over-watched a beautifully brief jettisoning, and John cranked the engine in celebration. Biased and jaded as I may be, the notes which emerged from the chopper's pipes were nice indeed. John said "dis makes it all wethwhile" as he fed his toy a wrist full of petrol. Key Largo's late night silence was overcome by a supercharged roar that brought a grin to my face. I helped CJ push his 12' long bike to back of the house, carefully avoiding the arrant Budweiser cans. He paid me, said thank you, and I was off. The first of five trips, out, up, and around the U.S. was complete.
                                                           Time to Get Serious
       That Night in icy Idaho where I began drafting this post seems a distant memory from where I sit finishing it up. The weather in the U.K. is still on the chilly side and the threat of rain seems ever-present, but my round the world trip is well, and truly, underway. I think that it's worth pointing out that the mileage covered over the months spanning my graduation and departing flight to London could have seen me around the world twice. However, I've reverted to Two Wheels, and my Future, remains, as ever, Uncertain.
When someone offers you the last of their Micky's, You take it!


  1. Where's my bike, you fucker! Just teasing, anytime between now and April 1 is fine with me.
    Bill Tronson
    Billings, Montana

  2. Delightful! Truly living life and loving living full on! Cathartic and thanks for sharing.

  3. Good to see you again, amigo. Cheers and hope to see you again.