Tag Archives: motorcycle

Down But Not Out

29 Jul

I hear honking and see the car behind me quickly move next to me into the oncoming lane, driving all over the road trying to get my attention.  I look in my rear view mirrors to see if Skyhorse was safe.  A week ago, one of the exterior storage compartment doors opened while we were driving and an unopened two gallon jug of motor oil ($30) flew out, spilling all over the dirt road.  From that experience, I felt that something was wrong.  Looking back, I could see no problems but I knew something was wrong and the fact that I couldn’t see a problem made we even more worried.  The worry was a fear that sat low in my stomach.  When I was in grade school, my teachers would walk around the classroom handing back tests face down on our desks.  I would look up at their faces.  The times I saw distant eyes or movement in their mouths is when I would have the same fear I was now feeling.

I stop.

Sarah tells me to turn on the rear view camera.  I turn it on.  The screen flashes on and immediately we realize we can’t see the motorcycle that we carry on the rear.  We run to the back (my door is still open) and the bike is upside down still attached to the truck with the handlebars on the pavement.  The smell of gas spilling hits me.  The cover hides the bike and I don’t know the extent of the damage.  Part of me wants to keep the cover on and not know how screwed we are.  On the other hand, I want to get it off right away and know.  Isn’t always the case that we have interior movements that are opposed to one another at difficult times?

In my earlier days, I would always move forward without much regard to the future.  I have slowed down that forward motion and many a time chosen not to get involved with certain people.  The realization that some people will drain you, no matter what they are offering, is a life lesson.  It is important to heavily participate in the selection process.  In this situation, I didn’t have a choice.  The cover needed to come off in order to right the back and place it on the truck again.  The well-dressed gentlemen who alerted to the accident, stayed with us and helped us right the bike.  He stayed until I told him we were stable.  In fact, he was ready to help lift the 300-pound bike back on the truck by hand not realizing we had a winch to lift it.  It felt good to be surrounded by a person who truly cares and willingly to place himself in your situation.  I think when you see a disaster unfold before your eyes you are helplessly compelled to be part of it.  When he parted he wished us well and said with an accent “hopefully I will see you in better times.”

The cover came off.  The gauges, front master cylinder, and mirrors were ground down.  I put the key in the bike.  I needed to know how bad off we were.  It cranked up, shifted, lights and rear brake worked.  I was relieved.  The street we were on had minimal traffic and drivers had been stopping all along it to view wildlife.  We were lucky that we did not have to be rushed.  I didn’t want to rush and Sarah can’t work fast.  Sarah was there in full force helping.  She is very caring and I could tell she was really concerned about the situation even though she is not a big fan of the bike.  Sarah’s caring is a trait I cherish.  When I get worried about the future or we are arguing, I know in the end, she will always care about me, probably more than I do about myself.  She really knows how to love.  Of course when you’re in the middle of an unpleasant situation the fact that the love of your life is next to you helping is obscured.  I guess that’s why having perspective is valuable to access events.  I wanted to take the bike on a ride to test it.  Sarah objected and I didn’t want to push my luck.  We loaded it back on the truck.

The previous night, we camped next to Pyramid Lake on the outskirts of Jasper.


I thought we would have been asked to leave because it’s near a park.  I figured we would test the Canadians.  Night one was successful and we even had some French neighbors in a campervan.  I wasn’t going to try my luck again, but the neighbors were going to.  We had a late start to the day and the motorcycle debacle didn’t get me in the mood to drive.  An accident takes your sense of security away.  You don’t trust your skills and knowledge.  So we returned to stay another night at Pyramid Lake.

At 1am we had a visitor, the law.  Sarah asks if we she should answer the door, I say no.  After four separate knocks, Sarah caved.  She tried to talk him into letting us stay for the night.  He was not having it.  He said we needed to go to campground.  The nearest one was about seven miles and $30.  I thought, screw it I’m up lets make our way down the road to our next stop.  Sarah said what about animals.  We make our way to the city center where two massive elks were grazing in a public square.  I agreed with Sarah.  Jasper is a small town and we are notable.  It would be hard to find a spot at night where the law wouldn’t find us.  We could have gone to the campsite.  I didn’t want Johnny law to win and it was a challenge for me so we drove around for almost an hour.  I parked in an apartment complex parking lot.  An hour into it, we saw some kid leave a note on the windshield.  It said we needed to leave or we would be towed.  In the space that asked for Province, he put “florid.”  The vehicle description was “Magic Bus Mobile Home.”  The note alone made the experience worthwhile.  He let us sleep and didn’t knock.  Thanks for the note kid.


At 8am, a middle-aged man with a clipboard knocked on the door.  I opened the window and told him I needed a few minutes and we would be out.  He was satisfied and walked away.  Sarah was still in the plane.  I drove with her still in it.  In my heart, I want to believe that Sarah felt like the plane was flying.

I headed to the only station that sold diesel.  I look to my left while I fuel and I see the man who helped us yesterday.  He still expressed regret for our misfortune.  He is from Israel.  I tell him my wife is Jewish.  Sarah didn’t believe me that I told him that.  As an ethnic person, I can appreciate people feeling at ease at meeting a person from their same background.

American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God

17 Mar

That’s right, we will have a motorcycle with us.  It’s a Yamaha XT 225.  It’s a light enduro bike that will allow us to travel without having to break camp.  But I have already written as to the many uses and versatility the bike will give us.  This post is about how we will carry the bike.  The carrier is on the rear of Skyhorse and is made entirely of aluminum.  The aluminum makes it lightweight and it does not rust.  Weight is an issue since we have 70 gallons (584 pounds) of water already in the back of the truck.  The bike is 300 pounds.  The truck can handle the weight but I don’t want to necessarily place that amount of weight all in one place.

There were two design aspects to make the carrier functional.  The truck is high off the ground so we need to lift the bike up onto the carrier.  It is not feasible to drive it up.  Also, we did not want to lose the ability to open the rear doors.

We solved the height issue by installing a winch above the carrier.  I purchased a Superwinch Terra 25.  This was recommend since it has a brake and would not free spool.  It easily handles the bike and came with a remote control.  As the winch lifts, I have to pull the bike out a bit until it is above the carrier so it doesn’t scrape against the carrier.  It took more time to install the electric and of course added costs to have the winch but it makes deploying the bike so effortless.  If I had gone with a hand winch, I probably would get less use of the bike because of the effort required just to take it off the lift.

In order to easily access the rear doors, we made the carrier with two hinges, one on each end.  The two hinges allow us to swing the carrier open from either side.  Now we can open the rear doors by swinging the carrier out the way.  It is not necessary to lower the bike to open the doors.

We accomplished both design goals and the carrier works like a charm.  This project required lots of designing and quite frankly it was a project I left till the end since it was an unnecessary luxury.  I am proud to have completed this final job and how cool it turned out.  Looking forward to having the wind in my hair.  Yes, I know I have no hair and I was born in Egypt.


11 Mar

I figured we should bring a couple of toys to keep us entertained when we are in the middle of nature.  I just placed a two seater kayak on the roof of the truck.  It stays up there with three ratchet straps.  To load it on the roof I will put it up against the back of the truck and pull it on the roof.  I am hoping to get lots of use out of it.  I am still considering bringing a porta bote which is a 12′ folding boat that can handle a 5 horse motor.  Part of me says why not bring it I have the room and I already own it.  The other part says why haul another boat and a motor I have to maintain.  Leave some feedback if you have some insight.

We will also be carrying a motorcycle on the back.  This way we can explore and get around with ease.  We can also travel without breaking camp.  It’s also an alternative form of transport if there is an emergency.  The rack swings out so we can still access the rear doors.  There will be a winch that lifts and lowers the bike onto the rack.