Why we ride, part #1
This is one of my favorite motorcycle experiences. Craig, Zach and I were heading back up to base camp along the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado when this Navajo girl jumped out in front of our motorcycles. It turns out that she and three of her friends were on their way home from a Rob Zombie concert when their car gave up the ghost atop Red Mountain Pass.
This is NOT a place that you want to break down. Middle of nowhere, no cell coverage, 10k’ of altitude where all manner of storms can boil up in the blink of an eye. And here we are, three of us on relatively small bikes, loaded down with enough camping gear to survive a week in the Rockies, and four of them needing to get down out of the high country before the temperatures really begin to plummet.
As I was traveling without Charlie on this trip, I could create a just a smidgen of room between my butt and my gear by sliding up on the tank in a move that that had been immortalized many years before in a ballet known as The Nutcracker.
I have never been a fan of ballet, but now understand why there always seems to be a bunch of jumping around going on.
Anyway, I digress. I agree to take one of the kids back down the mountain to the town of Ouray, where she could at least get cell coverage to call a wrecker or whatever. So picture if you will: a middle aged midget motorcyclist on an overloaded yellow enduro with a healthy Navajo girl wearing shorts, espadrilles and no helmet improbably wedged amongst the luggage as we go teetering down one of the most dangerous mountain passes in Colorado.
As we were passing though one of the tunnels along the route, I was jolted back into reality by a hair-raising screaming originating from somewhere on or behind the bike. Overtaxed brakes on the verge of failing? Or the siren of a Colorado State Trooper pulling me over for ferrying an un-helmeted passenger? Actually, it was nothing so dramatic, just my stowaway war-whooping away to hear the sound of her voice echoing back at us from the inside of the tunnel. Don’t DO that! Dad’s imagination is active enough like it is!
After stopping to allow her to take some pictures of a particularly precarious precipice, we arrived without further incident back in Ouray. She wanted me to head back up the mountain to provide ferry service for her three remaining friends, but I decided that I was folding up my fledgling Mountain Uber business; enough is enough. Besides, dusk in the mountains is when the elk, mule deer, and even the occasional moose come out to play, and on the road at least, I play best alone. As I was heading back up the pass, I saw the broken‐ down Buick creeping down the mountain; someone else must have stopped and helped them get their jalopy at least partially running. I will never know, as by this time my only concern was to set up camp before darkness was complete, and Zach and Craig had inhaled all the groceries.
Was an overloaded Suzuki DR650 the optimum vehicle to provide a rescue operation, as simple as it was? Of course not. But sometimes the greatest ability is availability, and you just have to go with what you got and figure it out as you roll along.
See you on the road…