Yogi Bear Run, Part II

Bridget and the 'Wing

Bridget and the 'Wing

August 2004

Princess Vespa in Yellowstone

Princess Vespa in Yellowstone

A few months before “Operation Clam Chowder”, Tracy decided that he wanted to do a Goldwing ride for himself. We made our reservations in February, and went on our eastbound trip.

Come that August, it was time. We had honed our distance skills and were ready for most any challenge. Instead of taking the train, we decided the more simple method of transportation and drove to Denver.

We got to the motorcycle rental shop. The owner had bad news. One of the Goldwings that was slotted for our rental, had been crashed only the night before. He offered us a Harley Davidson Electra Glide for half price. It was an interesting proposition, so we agreed. It was a decision we would later regret.

Tracy and the Electraglide

Since we were riding with two, Bridget and I took the more powerful Goldwing and Tracy took the Harley. The Goldwing we picked up was solid white, it reminded me of the Mercedes spaceship in “Spaceballs”, I named the bike “Princess Vespa”

The first day was pretty easy, We rode from Denver CO to Casper, WY. Day two we traveled straight through the middle of Wyoming and made to Jackson. The next few days were spend riding around Jackson Hole and up to Yellowstone. It was August, so we avoided all chances of snow this time. Yellowstone was hot and crowded, but that said, it is still one of the more beautiful places I’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever considered nature beautiful, you owe it to yourself to see Yellowstone before you die.

Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake

 

Jackson Lake

After jaunting through most of the park, we decided we would head to the top…Hey, there was a state line up there! So we ventured into Montana, which happened to be a small disappointing state line sign. (Tracy cheered me up by reminding me that at least is better than West Virginia!) The day was very taxing we ended up being in park well after dark. We rode carefully through the woods. At one point, I remember coming around a corner and there was a huge bull elk standing in the middle of the roadway. Our seemly slow 30 mph was too fast for these parts, so we checked up a bit. At about 50 miles from home, I pulled off onto one of the scenic turnouts, pulled over and turned of the bike. Tracy pulled up next to me, worried there was something wrong. I motioned to him to kill his engine. With the electra glide stopped, there was nothing but dead silence. “What's up?” Tracy yelled, still deaf from the wind. I pulled off my helmet, Bridget and Trace followed suit. We were fifty miles from the nearest man-made light source. There was no moon, and the sky had more stars in it than I had ever seen. You could see millions of light years away and every tiny meteorite that bounced off our atmosphere. This was one of those experiences that made me truly thankful that I ride a motorcycle. We hung out there for a few minutes, ensuring that we got a full panoramic view. Wonderment quickly turned to discomfort as we realized the temperature had dropped some thirty degrees from the daylight. We were all dressed in our summer built high ventilation jackets, Thank goodness for the ‘wings air vents.

The Tetons

The Tetons

The next few days we spent riding out Jackson, seeing the sites, being typical tourists, even though we had been there a few times.

One of those days, I told Tracy that I knew of a mountain pass, 9,600 foot peak beast of twisty road. In twelve miles, we would be the at the Idaho state line..It couldn’t be passed up. Bridget was feeling ill, and wanted to stay at the cabin. Trace and I mounted up. He commented that he hadn’t spent much time on the goldwing, and we traded rides. I actually kind of liked the Milwaukee paint shaker. It was antiquated and slow, but it had a certain charm to it. The steep grade twisty road was fun, even on the ill-handling harley. The pull off for the sign came up quicker than I expected. I saw that the side of the road was gravelly and rutted, I even saw that were was a three inch drop from the shoulder. My experience had conditioned me to believe that it was not a big deal, a modern motorcycle suspension would breeze right over it. The Electraglide was not a modern motorcycle.

                       Black Bart

                       Black Bart

I pulled off at 35mph without even considering it. The first bump, the forks twisted and the bike bottomed out. I fought off the first wave of gyrations, but the ancient bicycle tires that bike wore weren’t going to backup my input. The next few seconds were blur, I remember the bike sliding away from me, I tried valiantly to fight the enviable,. But, as in all good crashes, there is a time to bail. My time came and I tried to escape the bike, but the ridiculously shaped handlebars impeded my freedom. I was going down under the motorcycle, this was going to be bad. I remember hearing the sliding of the motorcycle and the crunching of my helmet. In seconds it was over. I had survived, my hip hurt, my shoe was missing and my bell had been rung. Tracy came up and asked me if I was ok. I was fine “Where’s my shoe?” We picked up the bike..hardly any damage. As much as I’ve dogged the harley in this paragraph, I have to say, They sure are tough..American made tough, tonka truck tough. As for myself, I was spooked a good bit, I’m not quite as tough. Fortunately, my riding gear is tough, I wouldn’t be writing this had I been without it.

Me with my Favorite helmet...

Me with my Favorite helmet...

 

 

This could have been my melon!!!

This could have been my melon!!!

I dusted off, cussed Harley Davidson for about ten minutes and we took Tracy’s state line picture..

 

 

I must take a moment of writing to reflect my true opinion of HD before I give the wrong impression. I’m well versed in the long storied history of Harley Davidson. From the early battles with Indian to Willie G salvaging the family company from a defunct bowling ball maker, I know probably more than most harley riders. I have been to the factory in Kansas City, Missouri. I’ve ridden sportsters, softtails, hardtails and the Vrod. I’m in the military, I drive a Jeep, I’m as patriotic as they come. The bike simply isn’t for me. I have great respect for those folks to ride their hogs on the long stretch. I find people who trailer their rides to the local rally and then ride only the strip, well…pretty sad. I feel they are missing the point. I don’t worry about offending them, for they wouldn’t have an interest in reading this.

A day later, we made the long trek back to Denver. Both Tracy and I caught the illness that Bridget had. Some of the ride was rainy and cold. I was still shaken up from the wreck, it was a quite slow ride home. We gave the bike back, I paid the deductible for the damages and we drove home. I had never been more happy to be in a car.

Lessons learned:
1) Always take time to stop and enjoy the moment
2) Harleys are not dirt bikes,
3) Proper gear does more than look cool

--Billy