My first motorcycle cross-country trip

(this will be a work-in-progress as there is a LOT more about this trip …)

This is not ALL about that one trip, but a piece of it that was prompted by a message on the IBMWR email list today. The discussion was about rain gear and it had turned to the relative merits of double-flapped zippers.

Reminds me of my first cross-country ride. It was 1978 and a bunch of friends with whom I’d been riding enduros with said they were headed to Pikes Peak on Labor Day weekend, why didn’t I get a street bike and come along. So I went down to the local Honda store and picked up a brand new CB750-4 with full Vetter fairing including lowers, scotch-guarded my orange insulated jump suit and away we went.

As has always been the case, I was the grouch with a schedule and pushed our group to leave Aspen in time to make our next destination. It was about 3 in the afternoon and off to the South we headed. Toward Independence Pass. 3PM. Mountains, gaining elevation, at now close to 4PM. What happens every afternoon in the mountains around that time? It rains.

Well, in this case it not only rained but began to hail as well. Now having grown up in West Texas with REAL hail this little pea-sized stuff was not too impressive. It was loud on the helmet but not otherwise too bad. I scooted toward the tank to tuck as much of my body behind the fairing as possible and avoided most of the direct hits from this nuisance-sized hail and all was well.

At least I thought all was well until I realized that some important equipment was freezing! I had ducted the hail into my lap and the engine heat coming up between the tank and seat was melting the pile of ice that had accumulated right at the crotch area and, of course, was seeping (nay, was flooding!) through the zipper area of my trusty jumpsuit. Not near the protection that we now wear while riding our wonderful Beemers.

Yes, we did make it up Pikes Peak. Tough climb for a normally-aspirated (that would be carburetor versus fuel injection for those of you who’ve never heard of a carburetor) engine. From the Peak I recall we went westerly and that evening came to a restaurant near the river advertising fresh trout. We whipped in there and gleefully ordered, knowing we had hit the mother lode of Colorado cuisine.

In no time at all out came trout for everyone. Whole trout baked with herbs and all the trimmings. As we each began to dissect our delicacies Charlie began to chuckle. Now why would a grown man chuckle at baked trout? And the chuckle grew, and soon grew into mild hysteria. What?

And then, right before his and our eyes lay the mere shell of a trout baked to oblivion, apparently, because the skeleton was wrapped with the now thinnest of skin encasing hardly any meat at all. Either this trout had been on a really serious diet, or had been overcooked to an extreme because there was no meat in or on this carcass.

Then I began to laugh, either at Charlie or at his trout. Then Jerry, the Charlie was set off again, and pretty soon our whole group was reduced to hysterical, tearful, uncontrollable laughter. Now then, the rest of the patrons were a bit taken aback because we had come in with all of our riding gear looking (I’m sure) a bit rough and maybe even tough, and here we were, suddenly laughing like a bunch of school kids.

Along comes the waitress, and ultimately the owner and all the could do was laugh with us and head to the kitchen for a replacement meal for Charlie. Actually, the fish was good and his was a fluke of some sort, still not fully understood. For years after that our lives were peppered with trout jokes — and that’s not easy.

(more to come)

Leave a Reply, don't be a drive-by