Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Final Stretch

The next morning I continued along route 40, crossing the "Y bridge" at Zanesville, and finishing Ohio. West Virginia was by in a flash, as the road crossed the other great American mountain range into Pennsylvania.
Near Hagerstown, MD, with less than 100 miles to go, my check of the chain showed that the last of my chain clips was not gone, but broken, and it didn't look like it would last. I had used the last of my wire, and when I stopped at a garage, the best they could come up with were a handful of paper clips.
I rode to Twigg Cycles in Hagerstown, and told them what was going on. They were determined to help me out, and put the bike up on a lift while I waited.
They returned shortly with a diagnosis: the master link on the chain had been a bit wider than the rest, which wouldn't have been a problem, except my rear wheel hub had enough play in it that the chain was contacting something at highway speed, resulting in the disappearances of the many clips I had gone through in the past 2,000 miles. They replaced the link, cautioned me to take care of the hub before taking any more trips, and then refused to take any money for their services.
The uneven quality of the motorcycle shops I found on my trip made me appreciate a place like Twigg, or Dirt Cheap Offroad, or Ross's Blue Star in Kansas City, or my friends back home at Modern Classics. They were not just places that sold motorcycles, but knew them inside and out, and appreciated that I was far from home and in need of their help. There were a lot of others who didn't, but there are still places and people who are willing to go out of their way to help a stranded traveler, and I am grateful for that. It's something that didn't exist for Shepherd, and without them my trip might have taken as long as his. It's something I will remember on my next trip to Ely, Nevada, where I plan to either open an independent motorcycle shop, or throw a brick through the window of a motorcycle dealership, depending on the state of my finances at the time.
But I digress.
After Hagerstown, the scenery became familiar as I neared Charm City, and the miles seemed to stretch as I missed my planned arrival time. The road became more fraught with potential disaster as I contemplated making it this far only to fail in the last few miles. A truck crowding me through a construction zone became my mortal enemy as he rode too close to my rear wheel, until the single lane turned to two, and I was able to see the fire engine behind him, and we waved mutual apologies.
Finally, I reached my traditional final stop, pulled onto the sidewalk and went inside, where my friends were waiting to buy me dinner and a National Bohemian beer.
After 21 days, across 14 states and 7,300 miles, it tasted like home.


  1. Chris,
    This is a great read. Glad you made it there and back in one piece.
    -Ian B.

  2. Thank you for your efforts. I have two questions: how did you get your wife to let you go and (more importantly) do you know anything about the life of Shepherd? I can't find any reference to him on Google. It would be a shame to have him just ride off into the sunset and disappear into the mists of time.

  3. i looked for him on Google also, and couldn't find anything. Wish I could learn more