A Plot Twist

It was bound to happen on a trip this long. 

8261 miles and 71 days into this journey.

My bike died.  

Well, it didn’t actually die. In addition to continuing electrical issues, indications of more serious engine problems were getting worse. So, given the circumstances (distance from home, scarcity of repair shops, backlog of available service department, cost of extended stay for lengthy repairs, etc.), the potential severity of mounting issues led me to decide to give up my trusted 2012 Streetglide.

Bottom line: I’m not ready to go home yet!! 

I’m not one to genderize or name my vehicles, but I loved that bike nonetheless, and hated to let it go. I signed the papers for it while I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, so I held a special sentimental attachment to that piece of machinery.  I picked it up within days of returning from deployment, and rode it up the Outer Banks to Virginia Beach to meet some friends for a memorial ride on the first anniversary of Extortion 17. 

That week, and the ten years since, on those two wheels, have guided me to the mental space needed to process the experiences, thoughts, feelings, and everything else that came with life in a uniform.  I typically don’t listen to music or podcasts when I ride.  The wind and engine rumble help drown out the incessant ringing in my ears, while the constant focus on traffic, gauges, and environmental conditions push out all distracting thoughts- together creating a mental state that has facilitated some of the most clear, insightful, and creative thinking of my life. Thoughts that ride like a feather on the wind, and float to the forefront of my consciousness, appear during those times. Sometimes, the thought is light and flutters away quickly, or triggers a memory that brings a smile to my face. Other times, it’s an unwelcome intrusion that I’ve fanned away many times before, but keeps revisiting my awareness. I’ve worked through many of those intrusive thoughts and feelings on two-wheels. The miles have been a conduit for introspection, and dare I say it, maybe even a little evolution, over the years.

My eyes welled up  when I signed the papers, but it seems fitting that I let go of this bike on the ride celebrating my military retirement.  

“You cannot control the winds, but you can adjust your sails.”

I saw this quote somewhere a long time ago, and it has stuck with me. It’s hard not to make a rash decision in a situation like this.  So, I reached out to a few trusted agents for counsel and made the decision to trade in the Streetglide and get a new Heritage Classic.  Yes, it’s a smaller bike, but since my last hip and shoulder surgery, I’ve felt like I needed something smaller and easier to handle.  Though only about a hundred pounds lighter than the Streetglide, the Heritage feels so much lighter and nimble and has been a joy to ride!  

So, what about the camper?  I’ve had a blast with the pop-up, but I’ve decided not to tow with my new bike. For now, the camper is safely being stored in Missoula, Montana, but I need to figure out what to do with it before winter sets in.  More to follow on that, but from here on out, it’s inside lodging for me. 

My new 2022 Heritage Classic from Gizzly Harley-Davidson in Missoula, Montana. The whole crew at Grizzly were awesome through this whole bike and camper saga!
I have been extremely fortunate this whole trip, with kind folks going out of their way to help me. Hearing the lack of voltage to turn over my engine after gassing up at Safeway in Polson, Montana, Nathan walked over from his pump and offered assistance. He spent the next couple of hours taking me to three different auto parts stores to find a new battery. Cindy and team put cones around my bike and camper, disabled at one of their Safeway gas pumps, until I was able to get it up and running.

Well, not the entry I thought I would be making on the blog during this trip, but it’s OK. Every good story requires the heroine to have an obstacle to overcome, so let’s hope this was it!

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