I awoke the following morning at my standard time of 6AM, and was getting pretty good at leaving myself completely packed before I went to sleep, save for the phone and ipod chargers, one for my alarm, the other to keep the tunes going for the minimum requisite of 12 hours a day in the saddle.

It had been raining all night, and the air had quite a chill to it, so I made sure to dress warm, loaded up the bike, filled the tank and slowly headed out of town.

The air was in the low 30′s range, my chin already quite cold as I headed up US 287 towards Yosemite. I checked the elevation, it was over 9,000 feet, and the road kept climbing uphill.

My surroundings began to have a white dusting to them, which got thicker as I went.

Now, this wasn’t by any means a heavy winter snowing, and I was glad at least the road was clear.

I began to see the signs warning of the road construction I’d heard about, and sure enough, the pavement soon ended, with a sign informing the next 10 miles had road work on them.

The tarmac became a glistening layer of wet mud, and I was none too happy. I had been following a Forrester in front of me, keeping my wheels in its tracks, but the car soon pulled away, as I kept my speed between 20 and 25, feeling the front wheel wobble around.

Feeling even more wobble out of the front wheel, I very gently eased the throttle back to about 15mph in second gear to keep the RPM’s down to lessen any chance of wheelspin.

Though I tried to be careful, even fully upright, as I drifted my line a bit to avoid a huge mound of mud, my bars went full lock in one direction, then the other, and I was already aware of what was in store for me.
The bike slid sideways for about 5 feet before fully washing out under me, and I cursed myself for letting the bike get away from me, as I slid for 10 feet in the mud, hoping the slide wouldn’t eat away at the mesh jacket.

The bike, having far more weight and momentum, continued sliding for another 30 feet, doing a full 360 spin on its side, before coming to a stop, rear wheel still spinning.

Fucking fuck. FUCK!!!  Of all places to dump the bike, 1000 miles from home. Perfect. I got up and felt no rash on the side of my jacket, and went over to turn the bike off. I looked down, hoping the clipon had held, but unfortunately, no luck.
I saw the bar dangling from the cable attached to the hand controls. Goddamn brittle aluminum. What the fuck was I going to do now? I tried to pick up the bike but my hands were just slipping off of everything since it was completely caked in mud, and I wasn’t about to go for the stock exhausts since those things hold tons of heat for hours. Luckily, an older gentleman came along in a sedan coming the opposite way, as well as part of the road construction crew in his 4WD duelly, who helped me get the bike up.
I thanked them both and I asked the road crew guy if there was someone in Dubois who could possibly Tig weld, since the bar and clutch lever were busted off, the peg off my rearsets had come off, and the exhaust bracket was bent. He told me my lack of options, saying no one in Jackson that he knew of, MAYBE back in Dubois, and he knew for sure there was a tow truck back in Dubois that could come and get me. He offered to give me a lift to a stop up ahead where there was somewhere I could call for the tow. I unloaded the bike, put my bags, still caked in mud in the bed of his truck, and took off my rain coat to lay over his seat so I wouldn’t ruin it since I was also covered in mud.

“Man, we weren’t expecting this weather, we didn’t have time to lay down anything on the road, and we’re not running a pilot car today.” he told me, as he drove ahead, his truck sporadically losing traction on the road.

He dropped me off at a lodge that wasn’t a MILE ahead, where the asphalt had begun. I was even MORE pissed off that I’d just about made it back to tarmac before dumping the bike. What shit. What an idiot. Goddamn luck.

He dropped me off, and I called a tow, waited 45 minutes for him to arrive, already loaded with an Explorer in the flatbed. He told me he was heading to Jackson, and he recommended a guy in Dubois who did custom cycles and had a trailer. He called him up, gave him my whereabouts, mentioned the road was “a fucking disaster,” and headed off.

Waiting outside, a guy came out to load his Goldwing, noticed I was in leathers and caked in mud, and asked me if I’d gone down. I said yes, and he informed me he’d gone down the night before in the same stuff, and had to stop at the lodge for the night. His ‘wing had crash bars and all, so he’d only broken off his brake lever, and was using his linked ABS with the rear pedal to stop himself. His wife came out, obviously sore from the crash, and we both helped her up into the passenger seat of the ‘wing. I let him know I had zip ties and electrical tape if he wanted to see if we could fix his lever, and in about 10 minutes he had a huge bukly bundle of zip ties and tape holding his lever back on. He was grateful, and said this would surely get him to Jackson, or somewhere he could get the lever replaced properly. I wished them well and they motored on.

An hour and a half later, the guy with the trailer showed up. Tall, medium build, bushy mustache, and a dog in his truck. Said his name was Don, but everyone called him Ding. I thought he must have just come off the set of No Country for Old Men.

He drove me back to the bike, where we loaded it into his trailer, and headed back to Dubois. As we trundled back towards town, I couldn’t help but notice that the road was pretty much dry, with some damp spots. Ding said “yea, if you’d gone maybe an hour later, the road wouldn’t have been as bad as before.” Fuck me.

Turns out he’s also local EMT/SAR for the town, and there was a call about a woman rider with a possible broken ankle at the next gas station about 5 miles up the road over his CB radio. He heard first responder was there already, and he mentioned that was his uncle. We got to the station, where the woman was lying on a picnic bench with lots of people around her, sounding in good spirits, joking about the whole situation. I noticed three people caked in the same mud I was covered in, and 2 bikes also covered in mud.
Turns out they’d gone down too in the same shit road, only their cruisers had front and rear crash bars, so they were only sporting broken turn signals. At least misfortune had company.

The woman was treated, and got on the tricycle one of her friends had, and headed off towards the nearest hospital – 70 miles away, to get her ankle looked at.

While waiting for the girl to be treated, I’d been talking to Crud and Fuzz on the phone, who were already trying to figure out how to get me mobile again. Crud was looking up aprilia dealers “nearby” for me, and they both let me know they’d do whatever it took to get me moving again. Awesome pair, those two. :)   Fuzz commented that I was in awfully good spirits for someone who just dumped their bike, but the truth was I’d already dumped it HOURS ago and had time to be pissed off and frustrated, and really had nothing else to do but suck it up and deal with it.

We eventually got back to Ding’s shop, where “we” (I say we because really I did like 80 percent of the work taking my bike apart since I was much more familiar on how to do so) took the upper triple off, got the bar off, and I took to getting my rearset peg back on, which had just been popped off and not broken, but the aluminum was stressed a little bit.

Ding admittedly told me he wasn’t very skilled with Tig welding, and I told him as long as it all holds, that’s the important part. He took a few tries, and finally managed to get the bar to hold together, and that was put on, along with the upper triple. He then took a spare clutch lever off a harley, and using a band saw, drill press, and a dremel, tried to work it out to the same cuts and dimensions as what was left of my brembo lever. It must have taken him a good 45 minutes to an hour to work it basically into the same shape, as best he could.

He fit the worked lever onto my master, said it looked pretty good, and with the first pull, snapped the whole thing in half. He looked as let down as I was.

Ding got out a sportbike catalog to see if he could find a suitable lever, but I knew those Parts Unlimited catalogues wouldn’t have anything to fit the billet radial master I had on my bar. Fed up with the whole ordeal, I told Ding we’d deal with it Monday, and I’d call Yoyodyne to see how quick they could get a lever out, and went back to the same motel I’d just checked out of that morning.

After getting back into a room, I took my cloth that I’d been using to clean my faceshield and cleaned the mud off my riding pants as best I could, as well as my boots. I’d deal with the jackets and bags which were still covered in dry mud tomorrow.

I finally decided to call home, as I knew my mom would probably overreact, even though the first thing I said was I wasn’t hurt, she asked if I was hurt. Moms. :)

I gave her some info as to where, if maybe I hadn’t sold it, she might be able to find my OEM clutch master and lever. She called back an hour later saying she’d found it. Bingo. I asked her to please overnight it so I could get the hell out of dodge.