A MEMORABLE RIDE

It looked like the perfect weather for a ride, so last Friday afternoon I headed off for a motorcycle ride to Eureka Springs, Arkansas in hopes of finding great riding roads with lots of hills, twisties, and foliage, preferably with some fall color.  The first leg was an uneventful ride to our country home in Henderson, Texas.  While there, I reacquainted myself with the Great Pyrenees dog that began following me while walking in preparation for walking the Camino de Santiago in 2013.  He more or less adopted me, but since I am not a full time resident in Henderson, I could not keep him, and gave him to my good friend in Henderson, Johnny Hudson.  As you can see, he is no longer a puppy, and he cries like a baby and jumps all over me every time we are reunited.  I love that dog.

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The next morning was crisp and clear and due to a detour off my main road, I ended up riding through New Boston, Texas where I went to the first and second grade when my dad was a minister there.  I think this is the first time I had been there was 1949.

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The church is no longer a Methodist church and the parsonage where we lived is no longer there, but I did find exactly where we lived and went to church.

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From New Boston, I had a wonderful ride into Eureka Springs, riding through Oklahoma and Arkansas once crossing the Red River just north of New Boston into Oklahoma.  I arrived in Eureka Springs just before dark and checked into the Swiss Chalet motor hotel.

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I have had that jacket since I first started riding in 1993 and had the flag and eagle painted on it on my first trip to the huge Harley rally in Sturgis, South Dakota in 1994.  Love that jacket.

Got up the next morning and decided to take off just before sun rise.  It was an unpredicted 35 degrees, but no worries, I had leather jacket, leather chaps, and great leather gloves.  I have two pair of leather gauntlet gloves and they are always clipped together, so when I was packing a threw one pair in.  Unfortunately, the “pair” I threw in consisted of two right hand gloves.  So, resourceful guy that I am, I made a glove out of a pair of socks, which, with my heated handlebar grips, worked quite well.  Somehow, I have lost the picture of the sock glove.

Decided to head back to Henderson Sunday night so it would be an easy ride back to Houston on Monday and wandered in and out of Oklahoma and Arkansas again much as I had the day before, but on different roads.

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Saw some pretty vistas and scenery riding through Oklahoma Sunday afternoon.

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About 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, I crossed the Red River into Texas and thought I would again stop and make a picture of entering the state, so I pulled just off the road to take these pictures.

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So, after these pictures, off I went for the final 100 miles to Henderson.  Well, after about a mile or two, the bike began to feel kind of mushy.  At first I thought it was the road, but then the rear tire started smoking and I knew I had a serious flat.  Actually, any flat on a motorcycle is serious.  I got safely stopped on the side of the road and pulled out my cell phone to call Harley Davidson roadside assistance and realized I had only about 7% battery left on my phone.  I called roadside assistance and told them exactly how far I was from Oklahoma and the Red River on US Highway 259, but I guess to this day, they have no idea where I was.  It was inexcusable.  No Harley dealer is open on Sunday or Monday, and the closest one was about 60 miles away anyway.  I was 12 miles from a tiny town, and 40 miles from the nearest motel (New Boston again) and 60 miles from a rental car.  Bottom line, I was screwed, it was getting late, and I had no cell service.

I began to attempt to flag down one of the many cars that were whizzing by, but to no avail until I noticed a crew cab truck coming along with a trailer and a four wheeler on it.  I kept waving and low and behold, he pulled off the road ahead and came back.  Now, what are the odds of having a guy with a truck, trailer, ramp, and tie downs come along.  I am convinced he was a messenger from God.  Well, he agreed to get me off the road, so we started loading that 900 pound motorcycle onto his trailer, and would you believe it got caught on high center with the front wheel on the trailer and the rear wheel on the ramp, and would not move either way.  Now, not only am I stranded, but my new best friend is also.  Eventually, we were able to flag down two more guys who helped lift the rear of the motorcycle to get it on the trailer, where we tied it down securely.  No pictures of all of this because no cell phone.

My new friend, John Williams of Avery, Texas then agreed to drive about 30 miles out of his way to take me to a Holiday Inn Express in New Boston, and he agreed to leave the motorcycle on his trailer and take it home with him.

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I then called my best friend in Henderson, Johnny Hudson, who also has a Harley, a truck, trailer, ramp and tie downs, and he generously agreed to drive the 100 miles to come get me Monday morning.  We then went to John Williams house and were able to back Johnny’s trailer up to John’s trailer with a near perfect match, and with the help of John Williams’ dad and neighbor moved the bike with the flat tire from one trailer to the other without incident.

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IMG_4683My new friend’s John’s dad and neighbor.  Two more angels.

We made it to Henderson without further incident and rather than waiting till Tuesday and taking the bike back to Longview, Texas to the nearest Harley dealer, we took it to a little generic bike shop in Henderson where the guys jumped right on it and ordered a tire for Tuesday morning.  We were able to offload the bike without any difficulty, and I sighed a sigh of relief.  Moving a 900 pound bike on to or off of a trailer is a very dangerous and precarious maneuver without exactly the right type of ramp, and we did not have the right type of ramp for any of this.  But we made it.

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The tire was replaced without any more problems and the bike ran great back to Houston.

IMG_4688All ready to ride again.  Whew!!

Having a flat on a motorcycle is a harrowing experience.  It happened to me in 1997 on a freeway in Los Angeles, but amazingly, I was able to fix that one on the side of the road.  Not so, this time.  I bought a cigarette charger for my cell phone today to leave permanently on the motorcycle.  Having no cell phone made it a really scary experience.  I can’t say enough about the guys that helped us along the way.  What are the odds that a perfectly equipped vehicle would stop and come to our rescue.  Eventually other good Samaritans would have stopped, but what could they do.  I am convinced that John Williams was an angel from God, and everyone else that helped were his helpers.  I am just amazed to have been so lucky.  And as you would guess, not anyone would take a dime for their help and time.  I am just so grateful to all of my new friends, and of course to my friend Johnny Hudson from Henderson who not only was generously willing to come pick me up, but who also had the equipment to do so.

Thank you God for good Samaritans, wherever they might be and please allow me to pay it forward the next time I come across someone in such dire need.  I was seriously afraid I would be spending the night on that lonely stretch of road a long way from nowhere.

12 thoughts on “A MEMORABLE RIDE

  1. Steve, Thought I redcognized the jacket, having seen it going down the road for many a mile when we had the chance to ride together. Glad you back home safe in Houston. Headed to Eureka Springs this week myself.

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