20

Betsy’s Bashup Pt II

Posted on 06. Mar, 2016 by in Gypsy Bikers

by Scooter Tramp Scotty Kerekes

1 The seemingly endless prairie that is Kansas lay ahead like some flat and forgotten playing board beneath a huge and endless sky that seemed to make up the vast majority of this lonely land. The road was almost devoid of towns, vehicles, and people alike as its two-lane pavement cut an arrow straight swath across the slight hills and dips that parted vast wheat fields. With only sounds of the old V-Twin engine as company, I struggled with my thoughts.

Just two days past Charlie had rear-ended my motorcycle with his Goldwing and splattered 2 us both across the streets of Pueblo Colorado. But just now I rode alone with one saddlebag destroyed, masses of metal bent or broken, busted fiberglass, a generous helping of duct tape and rope holding it all together, and a little road-rash.

For a drifter the motorcycle is his sole and most valued possession. It is his house, car, TV, microwave, washing machine, and every other thing in the life of a normal man, all rolled 3 into one. It’s the center of his world and when it stops his world stops with it. And so was I faced with a very real problem. With no home at which to return, no roadside assistance, no full coverage insurance, and no real money, how would I get this mess reassembled into one piece? Could it be done while on the road?

After the wreck I’d called Randy White; an old friend who owns the Sturgis Swap Meet where he sells used HD parts during the rally. Upon hearing of the accident Randy had generously offered the use of his Kansas farmhouse and what parts he had. He’d said I was welcome to 5 say as long as needed. Just now the farmhouse lay only a hundred miles ahead and I intended to arrive by late afternoon. Although I’d known Randy and his wife Shirley for many years, I’d no idea of what their home life might be like. That was about to change.

The farm lay on a large plot of flat land that seemed indiscernible from the surrounding grasslands which fanned to the horizon in all directions. The old house was a weathered single story with large metal building out back. Around both sat every manor of old, and 6 often collectible, car, van, tractor, trailer, motor-home, and even one train car.

A couple dogs escorted me into driveway. They seemed friendly enough. After parking the battered motorcycle I checked the front door. No one home. But Randy had said to make myself comfortable and curiosity soon encouraged an exploration of the property while also searching out a suitable spot to make my camp.

An old truck carrying only Randy soon pulled in and our re-acquaintances were made. After 7 looking over my destroyed saddlebag, the twisted metal surrounding it, bent crash-bar, broken blinker bar, and thoroughly busted up tour-pack, Randy said he had a similar saddlebag, but no tour-pack. To bad about the pack, but the saddlebag was a great score because, Betsy being a 1988 model, that old style bag was obsolete, all but impossible to get, and anything modern simply would not fit. Randy then led me to a box of used metal mounting brackets and blinker bar stuff. Some parts would work, others might if I modified them, and still others were simply not there. I’d just have to start the repair project and see what happened.

8 Although I’d picked a broken down van to make camp in, Randy instead led me to a very nice Airstream trailer. Although used partly for storage (as was most all the property of this chronic rat-packer; which is exactly what I needed at the time), we had it cleaned up pretty quick and I moved in.

The sun was setting when Shirley finally pulled in, and we all had dinner inside. 9

When morning came I was still unable to begin repairs to the old motorcycle because…

Back at the crash site Charlie’s guilt had prompted a promise to pay for any repairs my motorcycle needed. I did not blame him for the accident, and also knew that Charlie had no real money. On my offer, it was soon decided I’d hit his insurance company to see if they’d put up enough bucks to fix both our motorcycles—though mine was in much worse shape than his. Although the insurance company had not require a police report, it was necessary that they inspect my bike before repairs could begin. I called them again now. An adjuster would be sent out tomorrow.

10 A knock came to the trailer door and Randy soon presented me with the new/used replacement saddlebag. What a score! Although in great shape, the funky thing had big hole in the back for some strange taillight, and a lid-latch of a type I’d not seen before. Although Betsy’s saddlebag lid, which had survived the crash, would fit, it could not be latched and a bungee would still be needed to hold the thing closed.

Randy is a sort of entrepreneur who, aside from a bit of farming and other endeavors, makes a good portion of his income from the company he helped built that sells wheat-grass tablets to health food stores around the world. But today Randy had no real work and so decided to grant me a guided tour 11 of the place. When I commented on how the table-flat land fanned in every direction for farther than the eye could see around here, Randy said, “On a clear day, if you look real hard into the distance, you can see the back of your head!”

I’d no idea what a startling experience this tour would become. Starting with the yard, we visited many stationary vehicles and my host told of the year and story behind each one. But it was not until we entered the huge metal barn that I was shocked; for within its walls sat an impressive collection of antique, rare, and some I’d never even heard of before, motorcycles. I was delighted with this spectacle. For all my questions, it was over an hour that the tour continued. A few of the designs, by Randy’s explanation, I was not even sure could run.

13 At tour’s end we took the truck ride into town, which was a tiny place where everyone knows everyone else. In years past I’d ridden through many of these nowhere communities and wondered what folks do in them. Now, after spending time in many, I have some idea. Tight knit, and often full of small town gossip, the rules tend to be lessened in these places and it seems akin to stepping back a few years to a time when the American people enjoyed something more like freedom. Of course there are many other aspects to small town life as well.

Next we rode to a larger town, and basically just spent the day together. Tomorrow Randy and Shirley would tend 14 their business back in Sturgis and I’d be left alone on the farm. Again I’d be told to make myself at home and use any equipment needed while in their absence.

It was around noon of the following day that the insurance adjuster showed up. After making his inspection, the guy said he’d get back to me in a few days with an offer.

15 Once he’d left I tore directly into the motorcycle repair job. Upon disassembly it became apparent that some of the main braces and brackets I needed, Randy simply did not have. I’d just have to bend the old parts back into shape as best possible. For these I made numerous trips to the barn to use the vice, long steel bars for bending, hydraulic press, and whatever else could be found to bend metal. Some of Randy’s usable parts were from later model bikes and needed cut and fitted before mounting to the old steed. Fortunately these Kansas farmers must repair all manner of equipment at home and are generally well equipped for such jobs. As to the bent front crash-bar, I used a long pipe to simply force it back into shape. Once finished, it was hard to tell that the thing had ever been bent.

The job continued for three full days. With the company of no one, my solitude was complete and the time spent 16 alone in this silent and seemingly endless land was an experience that could never be properly expressed using mere words. Imagine feeling as though you are the last person on earth. All that remained was myself, the land, a couple of dogs, and God. Although over long term the experience could easily drive a person mad, the days I spent like this seemed only as a fantastic walk through some other dimension.

17 Eventually the job was as complete as could be accomplished using the resources at hand. The saddlebag mounting hardware had finished even better than could have hoped for. Years ago all the mounts, tour pack rack included, had broken then been re-welded and reinforced with extra steel. But now everything seemed just as strong as before; which is very good news for all the weight the 18 bike is constantly forced to carry. For now the broken fiberglass and latches would just have to wait till…well…whatever happened next. Until then the rope and bungee cords holding these compartments shut would just have to suffice.

19 The cooling fall weather had been chasing Charlie and I steadily south when the accident had happened. Now it was time to resume that journey. First I would visit old friends while attending the Bikes, Blues & BBQs rally in Fayetteville Arkansas. After that would come New Orleans to live for a time in the French Quarter while putting a roof on B.B.’s house (in another life I’d spent 22 years in that business) as I’d promised and, to my surprise, also completing Betsy’s repairs. From there I hoped to spend a few of the winter’s hardest months in the warm climate of deep Mexico. Although all these ideas would eventually play out, general plans for me are always subject to quick 20 change if the winds of life should shift direction.

In time Betsy’s repair would be completed for under $200. Charlie’s insurance company would total my bike, let me keep it, and ultimately pay $3,000 to make me go away. Yet, little did I know that, by circumstances almost beyond my control, this money would eventually parlay itself into a beautiful, low mileage, replacement motorcycle…

Tags: , , ,

No comments.

Leave a Reply