2010 Alaska Sunk
Part 10 of 15
The Rain-Suit Incident
The Rain-Suit Incident
I threw away my spare rainsuit in a parking lot dumpster to help lighten my load. It was the older of the two rainsuits I'd brought with me. The one I kept was fairly new and capable of keeping me reasonably dry in “normal” rainy conditions. I was wearing it as I entered Montana - the Big Sky State. Since the day was sunny and starting to warm up I pulled over to take it off. I stuffed the jacket and the pants under my bungee cords because I was too lazy to roll them properly and place them safely away in my saddle-bags. A couple of hours later I paid a heavy price for my carelessness.
I was travelling at about 50mph through a small town where traffic was surprisingly heavy. A farmer was driving his pick-up truck a short distance behind me. Suddenly, my back wheel locked causing me to temporarily lose control of the bike. My tire squealed and my back-end swerved directly into the path of the pick-up truck but the driver was alert enough to give me an extra-wide berth to go around me. When I came to a stop I found out what happened. My rainsuit jacket and pants had slipped down and wrapped themselves around the hub of my back wheel and brake assembly. My wheel was stuck solid .Despite my best efforts I was unable to free it up. The pick-up truck had parked some distance ahead and the driver came over to help me. I suggested that he roll the bike very slowly backward while I try to unravel the rainsuit as the wheel rotated in reverse. I got the jacket free in one piece although it looked like it had been riddled with machine gun bullets. I removed most of the rain-pants but some remnants remained tight within the hub of the wheel. I thanked the farmer for his help and I continued on my journey. Sometime later I had a Harley dealer remove my back wheel and brake assembly to clean-out the remaining bits of rainsuit fabric. Readers of my blogs have heard me talk periodically about my unknown Angel that watches over me. I could feel her presence here, once again, during this rainsuit incident.
Picture this! ...A desolate two-lane highway in the middle of Montana. To your right is nothingness until you see the horizon. You see the same thing behind you and to your left as well, where Canada should be. Ahead of you is a simple intersection with a farmhouse, a barn and a few farm vehicles scattered around. A farmer is approaching the intersection riding a slow moving tractor. I slowed down to follow behind him since I didn't want to go over the solid double yellow line to pass him. The farmer looked around at me; he pulled partly over on the shoulder and waved me on by. I acknowledged his kindness and slowly past him being careful not to cross over the double yellow line and I proceeded safely through the intersection.
A Montana State Trooper appeared from God knows where and signalled me to pull over. He asked me did I know why he had stopped me and I said that it couldn't be for speeding because I was travelling well below the posted speed limit. “No Sir!” he said. “Here in Montana our laws say that you can not cause one vehicle to pass another within the same lane. I said, “Officer, didn't you see the farmer riding the tractor waving me by while he moved over partly on the shoulder?” He said that I should not have past him and by doing so I had broken the law. He then asked to see my driver's license and registration papers.
I couldn't find my ownership/registration for my Harley Davidson motorcycle– bloody hell! I did not wish to spend time in a US jail especially one that still straps prisoners in the electric chair , or so I thought, so I took a calculated risk. I gave him my driver's license and the registration for my Yamaha Virago motorcycle hoping that he wouldn't notice the difference. ….It worked!
The officer returned my papers to me and said that he would not “write me up” this time but he did give me a warning. He instructed me to be more cautious next time and obey their laws.
Throughout this ordeal the trooper was courteous and treated me with respect. His warning hit home, however, and I wasn't going to repeat what I had considered to be a “nothing” incident. I still had an awful long way to go in this country before I would reach Ontario, and home.
While still in Montana on an empty highway I noticed a bunch of cyclists pulled over at the side of the road. It looked like they were repairing a puncture since one of the bikes was upside-down and a few tools were lying around. All were elderly females ranging between fifty and sixty years old. I pulled over to see if they needed a hand. The leader of the group thanked me for my offer but said that they had repaired the puncture and were just about ready to get moving again. She noticed my Ontario plates and asked where I came from. I said, “Ottawa - Canada's Capital City”. She responded by saying in unmistakable southern drawl, “Nice to meet you – we're all from Mississippi.”