“The Long Road Home” Prt.3
I had been riding a little while by the time I pulled into Denio Junction. I came up the road from the west and there it was, like a mirage. A couple fuel pumps next to an old convenience store. The pumps hadn’t run in a long time but I had just flipped to my reserve tank about 5 miles back. I wasn’t all that worried. After all, I had a full gallon in my saddle bag. I figured that would be enough to carry me through to Winnemucca where I could fill up proper.
I began the ritual of gearing down. Gloves first, so I would have an easier time working the straps. Then undo the buckles for the leather tube tote I wore around my neck. Next, the helmet followed by the facemask and goggles. The mask was too big for me so at speed it stretched out and did very little to shield my face. I decided I would deal with it today and fix the problem tonight at camp with the sewing kit I had brought. You should always bring a sewing kit on long journeys. They come in handy all the time. I piled everything up on the seat of the bike and unzipped my jacket.
In front of the convenience store, across the lot was a field. It looked to me like the front yard of a farmhouse. There was a trike style soapbox car that looked like it had been welded together from bicycles, car parts, and playground equipment.
A little further into the field was a hulking monstrosity of a motorcycle. A pieced together Chopper standing no less than ten feet (3 meters) tall with wide ape-hangers. The Giant lay dormant and leaning to one side. Its undercarriage strangled by the bloodthirsty weeds of the field. Upon its tank the beast was branded “Gods Ride” in white paint.
My feeling about the place was equal parts fascinating beauty, and creepy desolation. I reminded myself I had just run a long stretch of miles without very much human to human contact and decided my nerves were just overtaxed. I decided to focus on the beauty. I didn’t have to try hard, it was a beautiful place. The old dried wood of the fence posts the dusty smell with just the hint of moister. I turned around and walked into the building.
The interior was antiqued and quite lovely in the dim light from the windows. The wood was warm, and everything was made of wood. The place looked more like a saloon. With an ease and gravity only caffeine fiends know, I zeroed in on the coffeemaker and poured myself a cup. I paid my piece at the counter and began a slow waltz around the building, not really taking note of anything just observing. After all the attention I had given getting from Adel, my brain was quick to let go of its computation and analysis duties to simply let the world move by at a safe crawl for a while. There were pamphlets for a semiprecious stone mine near the area with little ample pieces. I made some small talk and sipped my coffee till the pull of the road began to tug on my collar. Walked out into “big yellow sun” so bright I had to take moment in the shade of the awning.
I walked over to Trudie. The bike of a man should have the name of a woman and Trudie fit that Suzuki Intruder like latex.
I knelt near her rear and unbuckled the saddle bag. Removing the gallon of fuel that I had stored, I toyed with the idea of heading north about 25 miles or so to where I had heard there was a gas station that hadn’t closed in the 90’s. “That would be like an extra fifty miles. An hour at least.” I looked up to the torrid master in the sky. “I don’t want to waste that much time.” That’s what I told myself. I figured most of the way to Winnemucca was downhill and that alone would conserve enough gas for me to make the hundred miles there. Looking back, they should have called the place Denial.
I filled the tank as best I could and replaced the empty container. As I geared up I walked around the motorcycle and checked all her working while whispering to her a prayer only riders know, and no one has ever been taught. The words are often different, but the feelings are always the same. They render down to “I love all you’ve allowed me to experience. You’ve protected me this far and for that I love you. Please don’t kill me today. Thank You.”
I swung my right leg over the seat and settled down onto the seat. Flipped the switch and turned the key. I love it when she starts up like that. Like she is just as excited to be out on the open uncharted road as I am. It’s funny how when you’re out on the road, you begin to feel relationships with the Sun, Wind, your transportation. The things you depend on become your family away from home and your only comfort.
It was a fabulous day for riding. The wind was just crisp enough on this side of the mountain to keep the burning sun off the black leather of my gear. I felt good. I was making fast time and heading downhill. I figured I would get into Winnemucca on fumes, but I would make it there.
The change in scenery was striking on this side of the mountain.
The dessert on this side was less sage brush than cacti and clump grass. The environment seemed flat and open by comparison. I began to feel like I was treading into an old western film. To tell you the truth I felt like I was about to ride of the page of a Stephen King novel.
I began to admire the beauty while keeping my one eye open for a sign of “Desperation.”
“What the…Oh, Right. Out of Gas.” As I coasted the bike forward I did pass a sign. It said .04 Grade incline. At least it wasn’t a steep incline. Making sure to stay on firm ground I pulled the bike to the side. Now at a dead stop I began to feel the heat.
It seemed I had gotten myself into a bit of pickle. I swung my head around to look back up the road. No cars coming. I stepped off the bike and removed my gloves, chest-pack, helmet, mask, and jacket. I hung the helmet, mask and gloves off the left handle bar. I then strapped the chest-pack my other gear on the passenger seat. I retrieved one of my water bottles from the pack and set it on the seat. I laid my jacket over it all, gripped the handlebars and began pushing.
A few cars and trucks passed but no one was stopping. I kept pushing. I would make it about fifty feet or so and have to rest for a minute and take a drink from my water supply. I was down to my last bottle and still about 4 miles out from Winnemucca when a car did stop. It was heading in the opposite direction but I wasn't about to tell the guy behind the wheel that.
He called me over to cross the highway. I dropped the kickstand and trotted over to where he had pulled off the highway. "What's the problem?" He called out as I crossed the street.
"Ran out of gas." I called back. As I approached I noticed multiple maps on the dashboard and passenger seat.
The face of the man brightened at the mention of a problem he himself had had experience with. "Been there, man. Hey, you got a container? You're only a few miles outside of town, but you don't want to try pushing it that far."
"Sure do. Wouldn't have made it this far without it." I answered.
"Go grab it. I'll head back to town and fill it up for you."
I damn near ran back to the bike. Calling, "Thank you, Thank you," over my shoulder and to the heavens above.
As I handed over the container and the man in the car pulled a U-turn and drove off I grabbed my bottle of water and turned it up in the sun. I realized as the last of the water entered my mouth, that I had just run out of hydration, I was in the middle of a real deal dessert, with 500 lbs. of motorcycle and gear without fuel.
I told myself, "If this guy doesn't come back, I'll be sleeping right here." It was that realization that directed me to grip the bars again and continue pushing. Like Sisyphus, would push my sinful rock up this hill till salvation arrived, I made it to my destination, or my legs gave out and I was forced to set up camp on the side of the road. At least to stream of cars was picking up.
To Be Continued...
(I would like to take this time and thank everyone making the telling of this story possible. Thank You All)
To catch up with our journey thus far or to reread our tale to date. Please follow these links to earlier posts in the series.