Eleven days on the road meant sleep was no longer a problem. I had lost any anxiety about the Ural, Lola, or myself for the trip. My thought process was very simple and uncluttered. Unpack, eat, sleep, repack and ride. See new things and meet new people. Pretty small todo list for each day.
While not as ruthless as the previous evening, the formation dive-bombing insects were still out, in good numbers. I had a theory that they were tracking their targets by height and body heat. My white-man fire confirmed my theory when they all hung high and away over the flames.
My signal fire brought over a couple more doggy friends for Lola and Simon too. Much butt sniffing and posturing commenced. Simon concluded that the black lab was a male, and immediately started humping it.
The morning skies were very overcast. Doesn’t make for the best pictures, but does make for cool, enjoyable riding. The threat of rain was omnipresent of course, but with good roads all the way into Idaho, we expected to really lay out some good miles today.
It was a really great morning. The roads were fantastic and the Ural was running strong, pulling easily up and down the roller coaster roads in third gear. After I rolled over some mild washboard, I heard a faint “clangclangclangclang”
. I looked down, and saw my muffler swinging wildly in the breeze.
I was immediately angry with myself. I told myself several times before leaving: “Alex, you should put some more gusseting on that hanger, make it stronger”
. Every time, I found some excuse or reason not to, and its led me right to this point. Some zip-ties and bailing wire seemed to hold it relatively well, so I gently motored off to find Wayne and Zina.
Wayne inspected the temporary repair and said “Well, lets see how far we can go”
, and sent me off in front. It was hard to figure out what speed would work best. Too slow, and the bike was pitching and bucking all over the place. Too fast, the few sparse hits were made all that much worse.
It didn’t matter anyway. I got 7-10 minutes down the road before the bodge-job failed. Wayne pulled out some hose clamps, and we started working on another rig job.
Some hose-clamps, zip-ties, bailing wire and duct tape for good measure. It wasn’t rock solid, but it seemed to hold well. Lima, MT wasn’t more than 40-50 miles away, so help was a distant ship, fading into the horizon.
When it broke again 20 minutes down the road, I started to get angry with myself. “Should have given those hippies a ride”
I told myself. The universe had just slapped me upside the head with a lesson in humility. Don’t look down on those you deem unprepared; Or the universe will show you just how unprepared you are.
I’m holding up the whole crew, just because I need to go back to welding school. I pulled the muffler off and mounted it securely in one of the spare tires. Lola and I would just have to make a big entrance into Lima.
Sweet baby jesus this is loud. Even at 1/4 throttle, my ears hurt. I don’t know how the open-pipe harley guys do it. If it wasn’t for all the midnight fly-bys they treat us to at home, I’d consider giving them a badge of honor for dealing with that level of noise for so long. Its exhausting!
I asked the cashier at the Exxon station if she knew any welders in town. Did she ever. Not only did she know all their names, but she had their numbers memorized. She called two, but both were out for lunch. She called Klint third, and told me to head on over, that he was with a client and outside.
I pulled up to Klint’s Auto Shop
, and three big dogs ran up to meet us. This was a good sign. After Klint finished chatting with his other customer, I introduced myself and gave him the gist of the problem. He immediately rolled out the job he was working on, and told me to bring it in. He wasted no time grinding out and fixing my inadequate reinforcements.
Klint did a bang-up job on it, welding every joint with a steady bead, and re-enforcing it with some scrap he had lying around. He told me there was no charge, but I made him take some money anyways. Its a gut-wrenching experience when your motorcycle is broken. Its even more embarrassing when its a part YOU fabricated for the bike.
I insisted (ok, I didn’t have to twist his arm too hard) Klint take the Ural for a quick spin. Lola decided she wanted to ride along with him too, for the full experience. He came back with an ear-to-ear grin. “Boy, that really is something different!”
. Klint, thank you so much for helping us out!
Great roads out of Lima, with only a few rocky, washed out portions. The line of sight on the roads out here is so far, that you can most anything from a long way off. Lola is always distressed by the sight of cattle near the sidecar, and barks rapidly to clear them off. Despite the weight and intelligence difference, they usually get the message and go trotting along.
As bad as the overcast skies made the photos, you wouldn’t find any of us complaining. The temperature was perfect, and the occasional showers dampened the dirt and kept most of the dust down.
We’d be dodging pockets of rain ever since we left Lima, so Zina and Wayne put rain jackets on. They worked flawlessly. Every time I saw them on the side of the road jerking rain gear on, it was guaranteed
not to rain on us.
Just as we are gearing up to head off again, Zina honked. “Hey dude, I think your rear is flat”
. Well, some days you are the newspaper, and some days you are the fly. No big deal though, and it only took me a handful of minutes to swap wheels out (another really luxurious feature on the Ural).
I definitely could have picked worse places to have a flat. Really gorgeous, open scenery with low colorful skies.
Onward we rode towards Idaho. The roads got a little rougher for the Ural, with large clusters of potholes that we couldn’t avoid. Finally, we reached the border and the CD marker. Montana is a big state; I once saw “High wide and handsome” on a t-shirt, and the description stuck with me.
Still, excitement builds as the mountains grow sharper and larger through the horizon. Idaho is a beautiful, undervalued state (in my opinion), with lots to explore.
We rode into Henry’s Fork, ID off 20, looking for a place to camp for the night. After getting turned around, or met with staggering prices of up to 30$ per tent, it finally started raining. That sealed the deal, and our efforts shifted to finding lodging for the night.
After looking at a few other options that all turned out to be either closed, or full, we ended up here, at the Mack’s Inn Resort
. Wayne went in and got us a cabin for the night while we stood outside oblivious to the rain, already savoring our first hot shower of the trip.
It was a very nice, clean and cozy cabin. We got busy unpacking and setting up shop. Simon passed out on the bed, and Lola crashed on the floor. As if on cue, the minute we finished unloading the bikes, the rain stopped and for the first time that day… the sun came out.
I still had work to do though, and needed to fix the flat I picked up earlier. Wayne came out to help speed the painful process.
Whoop there it is.
Pretty small, I’m guessing a horse-tack dug up from a grader.
But the fun didn’t end there. My spare wheel was still running a half-worn Duro 308 (street) tire. I thought it’d be good to use on the return trip. Now, I decided that a knobby spare would be much more valuable. So I changed that tire as well.
All those bicep curls with tire irons had made me hungry. Just down the road a quarter of a mile was a lit neon sign broadcasting “Pizza-Cafe”. Seeing as the Ural is the only motorcycle with the cargo wide enough for a pizza box, it was my job to scope it out. We got the large Supreme pizza, and three salads.
We demolished the pizza, which was everything I had dreamed it would be. Zina and Wayne took the bed, while Lola and I grabbed the floor. Unfortunately for Zina, both Wayne and I snore. She popped her earplugs in, and I think I saw her tie some pillows over her head for good measure.
Days Mileage: 150 miles
Total Mileage: 1,838 miles