Monday, January 31, 2011

Breaking Down Sucks

Do you ever think about the worst place you can breakdown? I know its passed through your mind and surely it has for me as well but to be honest it happened in one of the worst possible locations and at the worst times. This is why I am a adamant about keeping my bikes in tip top mechanical shape and also about chatting with folks along the road, as you never know who might be of some help.

Long story short is that I was on a solo 3000 mile run to go up to the Hundred Years Rally outside of Spokane, Washington while I was living in San Francisco. The whole trip was going great, seeing new sights and the Dyna was purring along through the hot and dusty eastern swaths of the high Sierras, Cascades and through the Palouse of Idaho. I kept thinking that on my way back to the coast I just had to go to the top of Mt. St. Helens and see my first active volcano and damn if that place isn't remote.

As luck would have it, the day was perfectly clear and I walked up to a neighboring peak and was able to watch the volcano spitting out smoke and in be in awe of something that over 20 years earlier turned the top of the snowy peak into an ashen pock mark. I happened to chat with a few fellow riders and then we were all on our way. On my way back down the mountain, I heard a few sputters and then my motor completely died, poof. Luckily I was on a downhill so I coasted into a rest area. With sunset coming very soon and no cell phone service I was royally screwed. Without even noticing, the same guys I had talked to earlier happened to be going in my same direction and pulled over to help. They raced back up the mountain and were able to find a park ranger who was able to call in a tow truck from Vancouver, Washington which was roughly 90 miles away.

As we were all chatting with the park ranger, he then proceeds to tell us how lucky I was to get some help. Not only were we directly in the path of the lava flow, if it were to blow again that day, but bears were thick in this area and he was about to head out for the day. Yep, all by my lonesome with no food, no water, no shelter and deep in bear and volcano country, awesome.

When I got to the local Harley dealership, they found the issue but were absolutely clueless as to how the stator could be fried black but all electrical was fine and still fine 4 years later. I am still convinced it was the volcanic activity that day and potentially the electrical storms around the volcano but who knows. Needless to say I owe a huge thank you to my fellow riders, the park ranger and to Harley Davidson of Vancouver, Washington. Yall got my ass back on the road and only lost one full day of the trip. THANK YOU once again, pay it forward.

Highway 730 in Oregon

Viewing Mt. St. Helens from the East

Looking into crater as it was active

Dusty and hot day of riding in Idaho