Charley Barnes Recounts His 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 6 [PICTURES]
Today’s story covers Friday, June 12. A very somber day in the fact that Mike Neuerburg and I had realized a very dark fact the previous day. It wouldn’t stop us though.
Leg 6 – 601.3 Miles
Leg 5 of this journey the previous day was not only one the longest rides of the trip, but also one of the saddest. (read that story here) Mike and I had realized that we had given it literally everything we had trying to catch up on the time/mileage equation, but it just wasn’t enough. However, we were still committed to getting 10,000 miles in vs. just giving up and going home with our tail tucked between our legs.
Mike and I started off the day like we do every Friday of our lives. We put on a fresh, clean Red shirt in honor of R.E.D.(Remember Everyone Deployed) and met outside for coffee and a quick morning call-in to the Good Morning Guys. It was kind of funny because when Brian asked me where I was, I actually wasn’t sure. I quickly glanced around my surroundings and saw a sign for “Rapid City Door and Glass” so assumed I was in Rapid City, SD.
After a nice laugh, which we all needed, I told Brian and Todd that we simply were not going to be able to do the 10,000 miles in 240 hours at this point but we were going to continue on and do our best to make our promise good and that our eyes were set on Southern California as our next goal and to meet up with some dear friends of mine there in the SoCal PGR.
The order of the day though was to get South of Salt Lake City, Utah by way of Butte, Montana which seemed odd since we were JUST in Butte two days earlier, but we needed the miles so back to Butte it was and then South into Utah, or so we thought.
Mike and I scooted quickly out of South Dakota, cut the corner of Wyoming blasting through Gillette, Sheridan and back to Montana gassing up in Billings, Bozeman and again on the West edge of Butte, Montana since we weren’t sure what gas was South of there on I-15. It was then I noticed something very odd about the way my tour pack was sitting on the bike. I couldn’t figure out why it looked like it was leaning back and after another look why it was sitting on the top of my gas cans when it never had before. My first thought was that the gas cans, for some reason, were sitting high or had something underneath them.
Keep in mind that at this point our minds were not fully functional and it was hard to even remember what state we were in, or even what the last town was…it was all turning into a blur.
Mike took a peek underneath the tour pack and said, “Oh duuuuude.”
When you hear this, you know immediately it’s not good. I took a peek at what he was looking at and the bracket that holds the tour pack to the motorcycle had snapped in half on both sides. Had the gas cans not been there for the tour pack to rest on when that bracket snapped, it would have fallen on the interstate ripping all the wiring off the bike with it. So, as bad as it was at this point, it could have been much, much worse!
It was clear we would be spending the night in Butte, Montana and wouldn’t be going anywhere until we found a new bracket, or had one shipped in. Erik Jon Barrett found us a hotel room so we strapped some bungee chords on the tour pack and made our way back into Butte where we would get my toolbox out and strip the bike down in the parking lot.
This is a tedious job to do in a garage (pictures in the gallery), let alone a hotel parking lot, but you do what you have to do when on the road. The hotel staff was kind enough to let me store my tour pack, saddlebags and all my other stuff in their laundry room so I wouldn’t have to haul it all upstairs to my room.
Mike and I were starving and the closest place was an Arby’s down the road so we hoofed it down there but the only thing open was the drive-thru. Hey, there is no law that says you can’t “walk through” so we walked up to the window. No one was there so Mike knocked, and then stuck his head in the window, just as the gal walked around the corner. She let out a big gasp and ran back to tell the manager he needed to come quickly. After explaining ourselves, he chuckled and made some of the best sandwiches we had ever had.
We went back to the hotel room to eat and contemplate what to do about my current breakdown. A welder was an option but it was highly unlikely he’d be able to fix this problem since the bracket has to be an exact fit and the break was right on a stress-point where it bolts to the bike.
The issue though was if the local Harley-Davidson dealer would even have one. I guess we’d just have to sleep on it and see what Saturday, June 13 would bring!