Intro: Day 4 began out of Challis, Idaho. On the outside, the Motel appeared rustic. On this inside, it was; but in a super good way. The hostess was welcoming and the accommodations were clean. You know you are among friendlies when the hostess calls you “Hun.” For any traveler looking for a comfortable place to bed down for the night, the Northgate Inn is the place to lay your head.
Chapter One: The day started out pretty much the way you hope: cool temperatures, clear blue sky, minimal traffic, good blacktop road, lush farmland on one side, majestic mountain tops in front of you, and a stream to accompany you by your side. This is why we ride.
Chapter Two: I love bridges. I always have. Unlike my friend Tim Celek, the higher and narrower the bridge, the better. Consequently, whenever I see a bridge that offers some remote element of uniqueness, I HAVE TO stop and check it out.
No Words Necessary . . .
Chapter Three: Road construction is a necessary evil. While I am grateful for those who drive the huge eighteen-wheeled trucks that move massive amounts of hot oil mixed with ground stone; I generally prefer they do the work when I am not around.
That being said, without their summer efforts, traveling through God’s beautiful creation would be both uncomfortable and likely dangerous.
Have you ever wondered WHY they call this a pilot CAR? This is just one of the deeper mysteries of life that I pondered yesterday.
Chapter Four: Murphy’s Law. STUFF happens. Today, ‘ole Murph showed up.
I spend weeks in advance of any long road trip fine-tuning my bike. But once I hit the road, the hot weather combined with multiple miles and unforeseen BUMPS, generally create some element of surprise. It did today.
I immediately knew something was wrong. The ugly sound of metal klunking . . . combined with the sudden loss of resistance on my front brake handle indicated that I had lost use of my front brakes. No Bueno.
I had begun my day praying a very simple prayer: “Lord, please help me to get a glimpse of Your glory today.” Going over the edge of a mountain side is NOT what I had in mind.
On a normal road, no front brakes wouldn’t be a super big deal. But when descending a mountain, on a single lane, which is lined with semi trailers, heavy lifting machines, newly spread hot oil, and no place to pull off, adds a bit of tension to the situation.
Long story longer, fourteen miles later, I was finally able to gather a quick peak. A quick removal of my brake caliper told me the source of the metal klunking. I was one brake pad short. Apparently 1500 miles of motoring combined with the road construction bumps had jarred it loose. Considering the fact that I had been the one to last change the brake pads (4), the ownice was on me. Oh boy.
Question: What would YOU do when you have no cell phone reception or GPS tracking system to gain information in the lurch? Answer: You ASK someone for help.
Chapter Five: Good Samaritans are a-plenty in the Midwest. Receiving a solid lead from a roadside boat inspector, I set my sights and compass on Hamilton, Montana.
Chapter Six: Mike couldn’t help me wrench on anything. Although he was a mechanic, and a one-time snowmobile champion, the Polaris dealership he worked for didn’t allow him “touch” Victory motorcyles. Liability concerns and Polaris Corp “rules” tied his hands.
That being said, Mike DID go out of his way to make some phone calls and track down an extra set of brake pads for me. The bad news, the only set availabe were 260 miles away. The good news, I was headed that direction.
Pretending to be a mechanic, and considering some input I received from Patrick in Lewiston, Idaho (who you will meet in Day 5 of this blog), I unplugged the ABS wires from under the rear fender of my bike and hoped for the best.
How hard could riding 260 miles through curvy, deer-infested roads be without brakes? I was about to find out.
Conclusion: Six hours later, as the sun was setting, I rolled into town. Whew; what a day. But wouldn’t you know it, through all of the surprising entertainment of the day . . . through both spectacular landscape AND amazing, helpful people, God had answered my morning prayer. I got a glimpse of His glory.