Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspiration

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. As you can tell from the infrequency of the posts on this blog, my mind and efforts have not necessarily been on the 555. Well, in truth, my mind is never far from the 555 but sometimes the rest of life interfears with the important stuff. However, yesterday I received both of the following reminders that there lies an incredible journey ahead for the 555. While neither falls squarely into the 555 rigid set of rules, one plays out close to home as it covers part of our planed route for 2010 and the second one is a truly awe inspiring dumnass adventure, I just wish that I had the whole article.

First is my friend's 10 day take on the TAT
http://s262.photobucket.com/albums/ii94/glisade/TAT%202009%20TN-MS-AR/?albumview=slideshow

Second, this segment of a story found in a 1975 issue of Dirt Rider by PDX555 rider, The Shin. If anyone out there has access to the rest of the article, please let me know. I have a feeling that it only gets better.

Enjoy- Erock


Dumb Journey
by
Toledo Hansen

"No one ever told you not to go about crossing America on a dirt bike."

When one beholds certain truths under the influence of peyote, one must pay a price. Ingesting peyote is against the law. Some tribes of American Indians, ignoring the law even before it was on the books, ate peyote all the time. Of course, the Indians were deadbeats, their minds so glutted with the poisons they didn't have the sense to develop the land they loitered upon into something worth-while. They sat on rocks staring at rivers for hours on end. They settled homes anywhere they wished without benefit of deeds. I could go on, but you can see how peyote can ruin lives. Look where the Indians are now.
In 1969 I dropped out of college and began work in a factory, printing beer cartons on a gravure six-color web-fed press. By the time I had worked my way to assistant pressman I was unexplicably miserable. For the first and only time I ate peyote buttons at the advice of a friend. Shortly after the experience, and certainly as a result of, Los Angeles had been revealed to me as the oppressive, paranoidal nightmare it was: I saw millions of people every day, none of who you should trust with anything sharper than a hotdog - millions of people thundering about tons of machinery an [sic] in all different directions. Often I'd see a ton of liquid north-bound try to occupy the same space (at the same time) with two tons of powdered southbound. It got to be an eyesore.
So I retreated to Ventura, 60 miles north of L.A., and tried not to think about it as much. For two years I made food money by selling stories to various publications. I merely sat at my typewriter and made up facts and sold stories [Becky, isn't this your dad?]. It was easy.
I also wanted a horse to roam around the hills on. I used to like riding horses until I got tired of trying to outguess them. I have enough trouble keeping track of my own mind and care not to concern myself with the thoughts of a second dumb animal [No, this is *my* dad].
In 1972 I walked into a motorcycle shop in Goleta, told the man of my needs, and bought a Matador. Nice name, nice looking bike. He taught me how to mix gas and oil, told me to clean the air filter now and then, gave me some extra spark plugs, and I rode home. The next day I rode back to the shop and bought a helmet and goggles. The helmet gave me a headache but removing a couple layers of gauze I acquired by not having the helmet in the first place made things more comfortable.
The next three days I went riding in the hills over to the Santa Clara River. In the sand it felt awful. I fell down a lot. I had a hard time starting it. I wasn't having as much fun as I thought and decided to get my money back and go to Europe. I put an ad in Cycle News:
1972 BULTACO MATADOR
$1,000 brand new I just bought it
and now I need the money to go
back East and besides I don't like
it at all. T. Hansen, General
Delivery."
Two weeks later and only one reply came in the mail, from New Jersey. "Mr. Hansen, your ad stated that you were coming back East. They are out of Matadors back here so why don't I buy yours and you can bring it out? Very truly yours, Darryl Gookins.
I wrote back,"Yes I can deliver the bike if you deliver me $1,000 first - as a token of good faith, of course."
He wrote back,"Are you mad? Do you think I'm a sucker?"
I called him from the train station, collect, in a rage. "Listen, you scum sucking tightwad, I'll be goddamned if I'm going to gallivant my motor-cycle all over Kingdom Come just so you can look at it and say 'Ugh, take it back, the paint's scratched!'" I hollered into the receiver. A train was going by for effect. "You had better goddam well send me $500 by Monday or I'm going to take that bucket of vulture snot Matador you want so bad and shove it into a ravine and let it rust a few years!" I slammed down the receiver.
I got my money along with a note of apology from Darryl Gookins. He said he was looking forward to seeing me in 30 days, that we would have fun going riding where he lived. He sounded like a fruit.
I prepared for my trip east and the delivery of Darryl Gookins' new Matador. It never dawned on me to tell him the Matador is the only form of transportation I own.
I spent the better part of the morning filling a day pack with food and oil, filling my army-surplus jacket with every tool I could find that I might need, and carefully choosing supplies common sense dictated: first aid, a tire patch kit, a good book (Cat's Cradle), and traveler's checks. Since I didn't have a driver's license or business card or anything, at least traveler's checks might make me look good.
At about 11 that morning I left Ventura, rode up the Santa Clara River and headed for New Jersey. I had a compass: East.
I stopped a [sic] Castiac Junction for gasoline, the first time I'd ever had to mix gas in the Matador. The gas station man asked me where I was off to. I told him New Jersey. He called me a smart-aleck. I pumped in 2.4 gallons. Lessee, I thought, 32 ounces to the quart, 64, that's 128 ounces to the gallon. Twenty-to-one, hmmm, one-tenth of a gallon is 12.8, so one-twentieth is 6.4 - that's it, six point four ounces of oil per gallon times two point four gallons is... carry the two... fifteen point three six ounces of oil. I opened a can of oil and started dumping it into the tank. "Tell me when it looks like fifteen point three six ounces, willya?" I asked the attendant. He called me a bastard.
By nightfall I hadn't made it to Palmdale. I was sore and kept falling down, more than usual. Something felt funny on the Matador. I was going to have to average two hundred miles a day to make sure I got to New Jersey in thirty days and was already behind schedule. I slept soundly and proceeded the next morning without breakfast, then wasted a lot of time in Palmdale finding a motorcycle dealer who could help me out. He said my throttle was sticking because the cable was ruined and called another dealer to see if he had one. I told both dealers where I had been but didn't want to tell them I was riding to New Jersey; they acted as if what I had done thus far was a strange thing to do.
Heading out of Palmdale across the Mojave Desert, I watched some other motorcyclists play in the distance. They stood up when they rode. It took me a while but I soon could stand up, too. I wondered how much I didn't know about motorcycle riding.
By nightfall I had made Adelanto for gasoline and continued across the desert by the light of a full moon after my lights stopped working. Probably a fuse. I felt like an Indian as the perfect desert air flared my nostrils. I crashed in a ditch sprained my wrist [sic]. I laughed. The sand in the ditch was cool, soft, and I slept.
The next morning I looked at the map while chewing on beef jerky and felt my nostrils flare some more. I still had dirt in my mouth from last night's fall. It wasn't very smart of me to leave the Matador lying on its side, either - it must have taken me an hour to start the thing. I had to wrap my wrist, using all the gauze in my first aid kit.
I had decided to cross the San Bernadino National Forest and stay close to - but a safe distance from - Interstate 10. Having to rely on gasoline supplies was taking fun out of the trip. I discovered an interesting series of trails running up into Big Bear Lake. I was practicing standing up when riding when the Matador belched once, then stopped running.
It had stopped. Stopped running.
It had never done that before. I couldn't believe it.
I sat down and waited for it to start running again.
I said,"Tell me what you want and I'll fix it."
It was dead.
I rememberd the spark plugs. I put a new one in good and - urk - tight. The Matador ran again. Now that everything was back to normal, I rode off towards Big Bear Lake. I decided to buy lots more spark plugs. Lots.
In less than a mile it stopped again. I put in my last spark plug and made it (urk!) good and (urk!) tight. I hit the starter, it fired, made a vulgar sound my mother would have spanked me for, and died. I didn't know what to do. I sat on the trail and waited for someone with more spark plugs to come along. I pushed uphill for two hundred feet and collapsed. I heard bells. No, wait, shhh, did you hear them? Real bells. I saw a mare and a stallion, the mare with a bell tied around its neck. I could ride one of them to find more spark plugs. I snuck up on the one with the bell and leaped to its back. She just stood there. "Giddyap," I commanded and dug my heels in. She started bucking, and on the third buck she flung me off towards my Matador. I knew right when I landed I was going to die, which is what you always think when you get the wind knocked out of you. Both horses ran behind some trees and laughed at me.
By twilight I had hiked into Fawn-skin and started asking anyone, "Do you know anything about motorcycles?" Finally one guy said,"What motorcycle?"
I said, "Bultaco Matador." He said, "A two-stroke? What's the problem?
"It stopped running on me. I put in a new spark plug and it ran for a little bit, then stopped. I put in another one and it made a vulgar noise my mother would have spanked me for making, then died."
"Sounds to me like fouled plugs," he said. His knowledge gave me comfort.
"Like these?" I said and handed him two. He looked at me with raised eyebrows for two, four, sixteen seconds.
"Like those," he finally said. "How long have you been riding?"
"Three days. I started in Ventura, rode across the desert and came up the backside here."
He was silent for a long time, then sat down to explain to me how my air-filter was clogged, and how I should learn to clean it more often. "Clean it often, once every day if you can. Be good to that bike and, hell, it'll take you all the way to Georgia and back if you want."
Those were his last words to me. He understood.

And next month [Dirt Rider, May 1975]: MAKING THE BORDER

1 comment:

  1. I too would like to read more of that article...

    ReplyDelete