Motorcycle Trip to North Dakota 1995
I had been planning this trip for over a year, even before I had any serious thought of really buying a motorcycle. My plan was to drive a motorcycle from California to Devils Lake, North Dakota. I chose Devils Lake because Leo and Petra Ness, Sharon’s grandparents, lived in Devils Lake. Both Leo and Petra touched my family in many ways, and I wanted to visit their gravesite.
On June 5, 1995, I purchased a Honda, Shadow, American Classic edition, 1100cc motorcycle from Honda of Hollywood, and the dream started to become a reality. I have never before owned a motorcycle and have had very little driving experience. In fact, on of the last times I was on a bike, I crashed. I think it was a dirt bike owned by Gary (Sharon’s brother), and I crashed riding down a mountain path.
My Firm asked me to relocate to Hong Kong in the Fall of 1995, and after some soul searching and discussions with Sharon, I agreed to the relocation. The agreement was that I would move to Hong Kong during the first two weeks of October, and Sharon would follow when we found a permanent place to live. About two weeks before the move, I realized that I had a free week with very little to do, so I sprang into action with my plan. I went to the local office of the Automobile Club and got some maps and a trip ticket. I then broke the news to my family. I don’t think they took me seriously at first.
I packed the following for the trip: one pair of jeans; one blue jacket; three pairs of underwear; three pairs of socks; my Daffy Duck t-shirt; Chicago Cubs triple-A long sleet t-shirt; tennis shoes; two helmets; Stanford sweatshirt; portable telephone; dictating machine; two pairs of sunglasses; Automobile Club maps; project finance reading material for the evenings (which I never read); a long sleeve red shirt; Stanford cap; sweats; long-sleeve undershirt; and three shirts. Little did I know how inadequate this would be.
I brought two helmets. My white helmet is a 3/4 helmet with an open face. I like this helmet the best because the view is unobstructed, particularly the lateral view, and you get the full sensory impact of the scenery. My black helmet is full faced with a retractable visor. This helmet is good for night riding, which I planned to do very little of, and to detract the force of the wind which is powerful while riding a motorcycle. In many respects, it is much more comfortable than the white helmet.
Only two rules were established: no hotel over $50, and only local restaurants-the raunchier the better. I kept a daily log of events with my tape recorder. Here’s a daily log of the trip:
DAY 1 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1995
I left in the morning, approximately 8-9 a.m., bidding farewell to Sharon and Amy. The day was sunny, but cool.
I was somewhat cold for a good portion of the morning, at least until I got into the desert. I think I was chilled by the cool morning air and this sensation lingered for a good portion of the day.
I stopped in Barstow for breakfast, which was a real bomb. The restaurant seemed smoky, and the food (bacon and eggs) was not good. The smoke surprised me, since California has an ordinance prohibiting smoking in restaurants. After I left the restaurant, I noticed a sign on the door at the entrance to the restaurant that stated “Private Club”. As it turns out, the restaurant was converted into a fake private club in order to get around the state ordinance. I didn’t notice the sign when I entered the restaurant. The restaurant was in no sense private or a club. So much for the first truck stop.
My understanding was that the motorcycle holds 5 gallons of gas and gets 44 miles per gallon. I decided to refuel approximately every 200 miles. I ran out of gas at 140 miles between Barstow and Baker. Fortunately, I was able to activate the reserve tank (which holds 1 gallon) and double back approximately 10 miles to a gas station. I decided at that point to refuel every 100 miles.
I refueled at Whiskey Pete’s, which is just south of Las Vegas. Upon reentering Highway 15 after refueling, I drove past a terrible accident in which a van had overturned. Several people were covered with blankets and appeared to be very seriously injured or killed. This really shook me up. Several miles up the road, I saw the police cars and an ambulance heading south on Highway 15 towards the accident. Apparently they were coming from Las Vegas.
I rode down the main strip in Vegas which was fun.
I stopped to refuel and have lunch at approximately 3:30 p.m. at a gas station and truck stop in Glendale, Nevada. The hamburger and french fries were excellent.
I arrived in St. George at approximately 6 p.m. and stayed at a Regency Inn Hotel – $39.50/night.
America is an incredibly beautiful country. The desert and mountains that I passed through were awesome. The mountains provided a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors. I had no idea how much fun this would be. The view and perspective from a motorcycle is hard to describe in words.
“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by just five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so close you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, at page 12.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the first day and looked forward to the second day.
DAY 2 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1995
I woke up at approximately 6:30 a.m. and was on the road by 8 a.m. I picked up several Indian items for Amy’s class. She was doing a presentation on Native American Art. I also picked up some interesting tidbits of information concerning the local Indian tribes from the locals.
I detoured off 15 East and toured through Zion National Park. The beauty of this park is breathtaking, and the view from a motorcycle is unbelievable. A British tourist took a picture of me with my bike.
I finished the tour of Zion at approximately 1:20 p.m. and had lunch at the Thunderbird Restaurant at the intersection of Highway 8 and 89.
I began the day cold and bought a pair of gloves in a supermarket at the entrance to Zion. Within one hour, the gloves were lost. I was wearing the white helmet and found myself plastered with bugs, but I refused to put on the full-face black helmet while in national parks.
The 17-mile road through Bryce Canyon offered some breathtaking views, and I took a lot of pictures.
The fresh, clean smell made of the mountain air on the roads through Zion and Bryce was wonderful. The trees (pines, junipers, and fir) and even the shrub cast off an aroma you can truly experience only on a bike.
It would be impossible to travel through Zion and Bryce and remain an agnostic or atheist. Only God can carve with this precision and paint in these colors.
Following the 34-mile roundtrip through Bryce, I was beginning to get cold. I purchased thermal undergear at a store at the base of Bryce. However, I could not find gloves. I tried using socks as gloves but this didn’t work. Finally, I found a pair of work gloves at a gas convenience store.
Because of the lengthy trip through Zion and Bryce, I was behind schedule and found myself driving at night. It began to get extremely cold. It was becoming obvious that I had not brought appropriate clothing for the weather. I figured that I may need to buy a new jacket and pants, depending on how the weather evolves.
I received some discouraging news at a gas station near Fillmore. A man gassing his car told me that he had heard a storm was coming through, and that northern and central Utah may receive snow. I hoped he was wrong.
At approximately 9 p.m. I checked into a Best Western-Paradise Inn Motel in Fillmore. I had not reached my destination of Salt Lake City, but it was too cold to keep driving.
The charge at the Paradise Inn was $41.00.
DAY 3 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1995
I awoke at 6:30 a.m. Because of the need to make phone calls, I did not get on the road until 9 a.m. I froze all the way from Fillmore to Provo, Utah. In Provo, I purchased a heavy jacket, warm gloves and an extra set of thermal underwear. The rest of the ride that day was comfortable.
I stopped in Brigham City and had lunch at Bert’s Family Cafe. This was the best meal I had eaten so far – a bacon cheeseburger and fries.
I stopped at Afton, Wyoming and stayed at another Best Western Motel. I had dinner at The Homestead Inn, which was very good.
This was a very long, sometimes cold, day of driving without much sightseeing.
I was becoming very concerned that the weather would get colder as I drove further north. I planned my next purchase-a wool scarf to keep my neck warm.
I received my first fax at the Best Western in Afton.
At the Homestead Inn, I was informed that the jury had reached a verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial, less than four hours after beginning deliberations. The announcement was to be on Day 4 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. The speculation was a guilty verdict.
I was disappointed that I had not made it to Jackson Hole since I was trying to make up for lost time.
DAY 4 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1995
This was the most incredible day of the trip.
I awoke at 7:05 a.m. and was on the road at 8:15 a.m.
It began to rain about 5 miles south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
In Jackson Hole, I had breakfast and listened to the not guilty jury verdict in the Simpson case at 11:00. (10 am PST).
I tried to gear up for the weather by purchasing more clothing and rain gear at the Jack Dennis store in Jackson Hole. As I left Jackson Hole, it was raining and I realized that I had not taken care of my tennis shoes. Instead of turning back to buy proper shoe gear, I forged ahead. Too bad.
As I entered the Grand Teton Park, it continued to rain steadily. My feet were the only part of me that was cold.
When I entered the Yellowstone Park, the ranger told me that the road to Cody (Highway 14) was closed because of construction work and blasting. He advised me to go over the mountain and exit at the northeast entrance instead of the east entrance – bad advice as it turns out. I questioned him about the snow and travel conditions across the mountain. He said that, since I had come this far, I should proceed ahead rather than turn around and go back.
Not more than five miles up the road, it began to snow, and it snowed harder as I proceeded further north.
Approximately 2 miles north of the Continental Divide, it began to snow so hard that I could not see. This problem was compounded by the fact that the visor on my mask fogged up on the inside. Thus, the visor was covered with snow on the outside and was fogged up on the inside, making it almost impossible to see. At the same time, the road was wet, icy and slick. The road sign indicated that Old Faithful was approximately 17 miles north.
After travelling several more miles, I stopped and decided to turn around and go back to the base of the mountain and figure out a better way to get to South Dakota. At this point, gas was becoming a concern, since I had travelled approximately 60 miles from the last gas stop and my plan was to fill the tank every 100 miles. I knew that I was consuming more gas going uphill.
After travelling south several miles, I changed my mind and decided to forge ahead north, rather than give up and head south. I began to climb up the hill in heavy snow, steering the bike with one hand and wiping my mask on the inside and outside with the other hand. The road was both wet and icy and I had to drive very slowly. I was warm except for my feet and the tips of my fingers, both of which were freezing.
I finally reached a juncture that said, “Old Faithful” indicating a right hand turn. I thought this was a reference to the geyser and not the town; and I therefore assumed that I had missed the cut-off for the town. I turned around and decided to head back down the hill and hope that I made it to the next gas station.
Fortunately, approximately two miles down the road, I ran into a park ranger, who advised me that both lodging and gas were available at the Old Faithful turn-off. I turned around again and went back up the hill to the Old Faithful turn-off.
I pulled into the Old Faithful Inn and talked my way into a room, even though they said that the hotel was full. The warm shower sure felt good.
I parked my bike under the overhang for the hotel entrance to keep it sheltered from the weather. I called the dealership to make sure that the bike was equipped with anti-freeze and no further precautions were necessary. They told me not to worry.
After dinner, I checked at the registration desk and was told that the roads north and south of the hotel had been closed because of snow, meaning that we were snow bound. I had hoped that the roads would be open in the morning since I did not come all this way to play in the snow with strangers. My plan was to take Highway 14 and exit at the east entrance, even if it meant dodging the blasting from the road construction. I had no intention to proceed further north.
I boxed up some of the gear that I did not need and set it home by Federal Express.
None of this dampened my enthusiasm. This was an exciting day, filled with risk and adventure. I was falling further behind schedule, but I assumed I could make up for lost time the next day.
I was a little concerned about whether my bike would start in the morning. As the weather become colder, the bike seemed to have a slightly more difficult time turning over in the morning. In the evening, I tried test starting it, but the guard had a fit because of the noise.
Just like Old Faithful, the bike started right up in the morning.
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1995
I awoke at 7 a.m. It was pure white out in the window. Nine inches of snow had fallen in Yellowstone.
The roads were not open until 12:45 p.m. When they opened, I was the first one down the hill. Highway 14 across to Cody (the east entrance) was not open. I was forced to backtrack to the south entrance, all the way back to Jackson Hole which is where I began this saga the day before. In Jackson Hole, I purchased new boots, new gloves, and a new thermal undershirt at the Jack Dennis store. my shoes and socks were soaked, and the weather was freezing all the way down the hill. I was glad to see dry land and no snow.
After gearing up for the weather, I proceeded back up to the foot of the mountain and took Highway 26, which proceeds along at the base of the mountain. I took Highway 26 east to Riverton, Wyoming. Along the way, I ran into more snow and more snowfall, a most unwelcomed sight. At one point, the road because icy and, with the snow falling, I stopped to reassess the situation. After brief reflection, I decided to continue, and I reached Riverton at approximately 8:00 p.m.
I stayed at the Driftwood Motel in Riverton, a real dump. The $27 room rate, however, made up for the higher than average room rate I had to pay at the Old Faithful Inn.
Right next to the motel was a laundromat. I washed my clothes, and, for the first time, my bike which was filthy.
The owners of the motel were from India. In the room next door, there were seven occupants in a small room.
DAY 6 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1995
I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and was on the road at 9:00 a.m.
I had a nice talk with an older gentleman at McDonald’s when I was having my morning coffee. He owns two Honda motorcycles, including a Gold Wing. He helped me plan my trip for the day by advising me not to proceed as I had originally planned, which was to go north to Worland and then across the mountain on Highway 16. This was good advice since the mountain is steep, and I would have to run into more snow and ice. Instead, I proceeded north on Highway 26 to Shoshoni and then east on Highway 26 to Casper. At Casper, I purchased a walkman and three cassette tapes — The Beatles 20 Best Hits, Les Miserables, and Mozart. It is quite an experience listing to the Beatles at 80 mph on a motorcycle. I proceeded north out of Casper on Highway 25 and then east through Edgerton to Wright. At Wright, I proceeded north on Highway 59 to Gillette.
Throughout the day, I experienced very high winds (approximately 55 mph according to the weatherman) and extremely cold weather. However, I was geared up properly, thanks to Jack Dennis, and was not cold. Most of the day it was cloudy with an occasional light snow fall.
I had quite a time passing eighteen wheelers going in the opposite direction — the wind impact was powerful.
It was a great feeling crossing the Wyoming state line into South Dakota. I spent many days in Wyoming, which is a beautiful state, but I was glad to see the state line.
I stayed at the Kelly Inn in Spearfish, South Dakota. It rained heavily at times and the road was wet most of the way into the city.
DAY 7 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1995
I awoke at quarter to six since, unknown to me, the alarm had been set by the person who occupied the room before me. I was welcomed by a bright sun and blue sky, the first I had seen in several days.
I washed my bike at an automatic car wash.
At the gas station in Spearfish, I tipped my bike over thinking I had the kickstand down when I was parking to gas up — the worse accident so far. This was not a complete loss since the gas station attendant enjoyed the spectacle.
This was the first day in many days that I was able to wear my white helmet. I proceeded up Spearfish Canyon into the Black hills, approximately 16 miles and then returned to begin my journey north on Highway 85 to North Dakota.
I stopped just south of Buffalo, South Dakota, to gas up at a very small gas stop. The owner, Edgar, and I talked about politics. I would guess that Edgar is in his 70s since he has a son who is in his 50s. He began his business is 1929. He lost all of his money ($90,000) in a bank failure before the country had federal deposit insurance. He owns a gas station, a very small general store and a wrecking yard across the street. He also serves as the U.S. Postmaster. He was interesting to talk to and very wise and astute politically. I liked him a lot.
I stopped along the way at many of the cities and talked with the locals. After I entered South Dakota, I stopped using the walkman.
Just south of Amidon, I was cited for speeding (78 in 55). I was shocked that the speed limit on these open country roads was 55. The bail for the ticket was $34. I took a picture of the police car when the officer was not looking.
I stopped in Amidon, North Dakota, and visited with a storekeeper who referred me to a trapper that lived in a log cabin down the street. I went to the trapper’s log cabin and he showed me his collection of homemade arrows and other artifacts. I purchased one of the arrows for $10.00. I planned to give it to Amy as part of her Native American Art project.
Acting on the advice of the locals, I changed my plans again and took 21 east, north of Amidon to 22 proceeding through Dickinson. I stopped for the night at Kildeer. I stayed at the Mountain View Motel in Kildeer. The room rent was $25.44. The sign at the entrance said “No Dogs Allowed and No Cleaning Birds in Rooms.”
I attended a local girls’ high school basketball game. The high school was located near the motel. The local Kildeer team lost. That night, I played blackjack at the local restaurant/bar and won about $40.
The trip through the Dakotas was everything that I expected it to be in terms of weather and scenery when I began planning this trip over one year ago.
I stopped in Buffalo for lunch at the Oasis Cafe.
I knew that this would be part of the trip that I would enjoy the most. The weather was pleasant with broken clouds and no rain. I would guess that the temperature was in the low 60’s.
DAY 8 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1995
I woke up at 8:00 a.m. and was on the road at 9:00 a.m. Actually, I forgot to change my watch so I really awoke at 9:00 a.m. and was on the road at 10:00 a.m. This was a great day of riding since the weather was mild and the scenery was great. I took Highway 200 east which then turned north to cross the Garrison Dam. Before crossing the Garrison Dam, I stopped at the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. At this site, I purchased a book on the Dakota Indians for Amy and took a picture of a mudhouse in which Indians had lived.
After leaving the Indian Villages, I had my first and only scare of the trip. I was proceeding approximately 65-70 mph down a road that I thought was a major highway. Before I knew it, I was at a stop sign which was located at a major highway. There was no time to brake, and, if I had tried to brake, both the bike and I would have been on the ground. Instinctively, I looked left and right across the highway. Fortunately, there was no traffic. On the other side of the highway was a dirt road leading to a farmhouse. Without once touching the brakes, I barreled across the highway and up the direct road, coming safely to a stop, stunned over what had happened. If there had been cars on the highway or no dirt road, they would have been picking me up in pieces. All of this happened in a split second. Thank God for watching over me again.
I then proceeded to Highway 83 and went north to Minot. I stopped at a Kawasaki dealer in Minot to have a look at my tailpipe. I discovered that the heavy clothing from the shell that I was wearing over my pants had been burning on to the tailpipe, leaving what appeared to be a carbon residue. I thought that it might be difficult or impossible to remove this from the tailpipe, since it had been burned on pretty good.
I proceeded east out of Minot on Highway 2 and arrived in Devil’s Lake at exactly 6:00 p.m.
I toured the city and found Leo and Petra’s apartment. After dark, I located the cemetery and, after searching for approximately 20 minutes in the dark, I found Leo and Petra’s gravesite.
This was a great evening. I sat at the gravesite for approximately 45 minutes contemplating all that I had done and all that Leo and Petra had meant to my family. The cemetery was peaceful and beautiful. I laid back and looked at the stars and the full moon. An unbelievable experience.
I bid farewell to Leo and Petra and drove to the Artclare motel.
At the motel, I met Beverly Wilhelmi (Sharon’s Aunt), who had driven three hours from Bismarck just to see me (bless her heart). This was an unbelievably kind act on her part. I was really happy to see her. She has been close to my family from the beginning.
We had dinner at the Elks Lodge.
I called about airline reservations tand discovered that the only flight I could take that would get me into California before 6:00 p.m. left Minot at noon. I realizing there was no way that I could drive into Minot and arrange to store my motorcycle and still make a noon flight. I therefore booked a Monday morning flight out of Grand Forks at 9:15 a.m. This gave me an extra day to tour the area and make appropriate plans to store my bike in Grand Forks.
DAY 9 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1995
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and called Beverly Wilhelmi at 6:45, waking her up. We agreed to meet in the lobby at 7:30 a.m. I talked her into riding with me to KB’s Cafe in Starkweather for breakfast and to Egeland after breakfast – a round trip ticket of approximately 70 miles. After some cajoling, she agreed.
We left Devil’s Lake between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and arrived in Starkweather at approximately 9:30. We had breakfast in Starkweather, toured the city, and then left for Egeland. Beverly showed me the sights in Egeland. We stopped and visited with Ab and Dolores Lockhard, who had just sold their home for $10,000 and were packing to move. We also toured the abandoned house that was once the residence of the local barber.
We arrived back in Devil’s Lake and visited the cemetery. We then returned to the Artclare motel and were joined by Bobby Ness and a number of members of his family who were having brunch at the motel after church.
After having coffee with the group at the hotel, I departed for the Devil’s Lake Sioux Indian Reservation. My destination was Fort Totten where I was hoping to pick up some Indian art work at the trading post. Unfortunately, I missed the turnoff and found myself in Sheyenne, desperately low on gas. The gas station in Sheyenne was closed, but I was told that New Rockford, ten miles ahead, had three gas stations, at least one of which would be open. A trucker offered me some of his gas, but I declined since I felt confident that I could make it ten miles with the gas remaining in the tank, especially given the fact that I had a reserve tank that was good for another 40 miles if I ran out of gas. This turned out to be a foolish miscalculation.
Between Sheyenne and New Rockford, I ran out of gas only to discover that the main and reserve tanks were both empty since I had never switched the gas lever back to the main tank when I ran out of gas on the first day in California. I parked the bike and started walking to two nearby farmhouses, one of which doubled as a veterinarian clinic. The second car that passed by stopped, and a husband and wife offered me a ride into New Rockford. I declined, thinking that I was sure to find someone home at the two farmhouses. Then, another car stopped and again I declined. More foolish decisions. No one was at home at either farmhouse, so I resumed my hike up the road to the New Rockford which was ten miles away. After walking approximately 1 1/2 miles, an Indian from Fort Totten stopped and gave me a ride into New Rockford. A friendly local then took me to his house where he picked up a gas can. We filled the gas can and proceeded back to the bike. I was once again back in business.
I filled the tank at the gas station in New Rockford and set the fuel valve on the main fuel tank. I turned around and proceeded back to Fort Totten which, as it turns out, was just outside of Devil’s Lake. The trading post was closed, but I picked up an item at one of the local stores.
I then returned to the main highway at Devil’s Lake and proceeded east to Grand Forks. I went through the city and into Minnesota just to be able to include Minnesota as a state that I visited on this trip.
I stayed that evening at the Road King Inn in Grand Forks. This is the only hotel that I did not take a picture of since I had no film.
DAY 10 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1995
I awoke at 6:30, had coffee and pancakes at a local restaurant, and was at the Honda motorcycle dealership at 8:00 a.m.
I reluctantly left my bike with Kevin at the local Honda dealership with instructions to do minor repairs, clean the bike thoroughly, give it a check-up and treat it with tender, loving care. He said “don’t worry.” I told Kevin that a shipper would pick up the bike for shipment to Hong Kong.
I took a cab to the airport with plans to take a 9:15 a.m. flight which would have gotten me into Orange County at 1:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the early morning flight was cancelled because of fog, and I had to change my flight plans so that I arrived in Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m.
This was a most memorable and exciting experience. The trip was everything I expected and more. I travelled, without serious incident, through nine states-California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota I saw beautiful scenery, met some really interesting people and had some good food all along the way.
I could not be more pleased with the performance of the motorcycle. I never had any trouble in rain, snow, sleet, ice and other adverse weather conditions. The motorcycle started up even in freezing weather conditions without missing a beat. I feel a great alliance and partnership with the bike.
Throughout the trip, I never woke up sore or uncomfortable.
The sights, sounds and smells will stay in my memory forever.
I would not change a thing about the trip in terms of the route that I took. The only change that I might make is to leave earlier in the summer so that the weather would have been warmer. Even at that, once I geared up properly, I was comfortable and warm.
I look forward to many more trips like this in the future.
Hopefully, one of my children, or grandchildren, or great-great grandchildren will take the same trip and enjoy some of the experiences that I enjoyed.
I thank God for bringing me through this safely and for giving me the opportunity to enjoy this experience. I also thank God for my understanding family whom I cherish.
POSTSCRIPT – MONDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1995
On Thursday, October 26 (Wednesday, October 25 in the States), while I was in Hong Kong, I received this telephone message from Kevin (literal translation):
“Bill, this is Kevin calling from The Chrysler Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. On Monday, which today is Wednesday. On Monday, the 23rd, the moving company came over to pick-up for motorcycle. At that time, they had sent two people I would venture to guess the average age of maybe late teens, were going to load your bike onto a moving van which the van floor was approximately 5 feet in the air. They had a ramp approximately 12-15 feet longs that they were going to push the bike up the ramp into the back of the moving van. At that point I asked if either one of them had experience where they could ride it up into there because pretty much I knew that either one of them, or together or all three of us would not be able to push it up the ramp into the back of the moving van. At that point they told me that neither one of them knew how to ride a motorcycle. I offered my assistance to them in telling them I would ride the motorcycle up the van if they thought that was what they wanted to do. They agreed that would probably be the best thing to do. As I was riding the bike up into the moving van, I got to the top when the engine started to misfire or sputter (I don’t know how to explain that to you how without showing you on the bike) but at that point the bike fell off the ramp as well as me. I didn’t get hurt or anything however the motorcycle is damaged. The parts on the motorcycle that are damaged are: left rear shock, two foot pegs on the left site, the left front running light, the speedometer, the clutchlever the handlebars did not get bent however the end cap on the left side is scuffed and the white helmet is scuffed (most of the impact come on the white helmet and the speedometer I believe however I have written an estimate on it, I have gotten in touch with my insurance company, that type of thing. My insurance company at this point is telling me that it is the responsibility of the moving company however they are going to review it with their superiors and get back with me sometime before tomorrow or Friday and at that point we can decide either we’ll have to go over to the moving company or go through their insurance company or we’ll have to work out something different. I have an estimate on completion of the repair work, and I’ll order the parts today. Obviously, we are going to get it taken care of for you in the same shape that it was when you dropped it off here. The tank didn’t get damaged, the side covers didn’t get damaged, the exhaust is fine, anything that has anything to do with expensive money, that type of thing is in fact OK. The front fender got scuffed a little bit on the tip on the left hand side but we are going to replace that too. If you have any questions, my number in the United States is 701/746-9444. Thank you.”
This mishap can be traced to the fact that the Honda American Classic is a cold blooded motorcycle that needs lots of warming up before it runs smoothly. Kevin either didn’t know this or was in too big of a hurry when he tried to drive the bike up the ramp.
On January 14, 1996, I took delivery of the motorcycle in Hong Kong, and it looked and ran just fine.
Click here to view photos from this trip.