First Day Of Traveling And The Shining Of Little Wing

September 3rd.

The first day of my adventure. It was a good one.

I traveled for two hours on roads that weren’t new to me. I have grown to love the roads here in Northern Minnesota. Twisty windy things with trees hugging on either side. A haven for deer, but also a thrill for motorcycles. The route I rode took me from Grand Rapids, MN to Bemidji by way of Walker. It is one of the most beautiful routes I have found here in Northern Minnesota.

Before that I spent the morning doing the mundane. Starting with the completion of packing. I then moved onto the bike, and Little Wing got a once over, followed up with a sponge bath. Myself, an old rag, Dawn dishsoap, and Little Wing.

Cleaning ones bike is a beautiful ritual and makes for a close intamacy that just riding and parking doesn’t provide. My whole life is packed on the back of Little Wing for the next few months, so being close and personal with the two wheeled Savage will only benifit us. I was able to look over all the nuts and bolts, examine the seals. I spent extra time on the dirtier spots which always begs the question of why they are so much dirtier (oil leak? Fork seal leak?). In the time that one shines up the spot the whole manual can be running through ones head. Problems are easily detected and the bike comes to be aesthetically pleasing.

After tying, strapping, and shining, I moved on to errands.. the really mundane stuff. I did make two pit stops during that time. The first was at the location of a large mural I painted this summer and the second was at a coffee shop where I did a large mosaic. Both inspired me and reminded me that I am accomplished, and not foriegn to large crazy endeavors. It was a good reminder. I made peace with the art and the amazing stable life I have been leading, and then told it I would see it in a year.

After that I finally headed out.
I had a new tire put on Tuesday so that meant 100 miles of easy riding to break the tire in. So, I did that. Careful riding the whole way through the windy roads.

I stopped at a gas station and changed into a more comfortable shirt (what had started out as a cool day moved it’s way up to 80 fairly quickly). I met a very nice 72 year old woman there. She asked me about my bike and where I was coming from. I assumed she saw the bags and realized I was traveling. I was only fifteen miles out of Grand Rapids at the time though so when I told her where I was from I immediately told her where I was going as well – across the U.S. on Little Wing. She found that fascinating, so there by the pumps we had a discussion about traveling, life, and riding without a license (something she had done quite a bit with the trike her and her husband had).

I didn’t get her name, nor she mine, but isn’t that the beauty of it? What a beautiful encounter.

When I got to Bemidji I met up with my bike fixing buddy and we gave Little Wing more than a once over. A lovely evening filled with wrenches and garage smells.

The first day of my adventure was comfortable. The second day I slept in and then wrote up a blog.

Time to go eat some miles. My next stop is only an hour and a half away on twisty windy roads.

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Two Days To Go And A Flat Tire

I volunteer DJ at a local radio station. That means I show up in my free time and in exchange get the pleasure of picking tunes and spinning discs for a large audience here in Northern Minnesota. Tonight was my last night doing the whole disc jockey thing before I set out on my trip. I had a blast. Three hours of great music on the air, plus two hours of music before hand in preparation. I was sad that it was the last time for a while, but happy with the experience. However my over abundance of cheeriness was dampened by the reality of the road; a flat on the bike.

I was done at the studio about 10:15 and that’s when I noticed the flat. I sat down on the bike and the handlebars did not want to move. It took me a moment to diagnose the new found immobility as a flat, but when I did I freaked out just a little bit inside my head.

There is a Holiday gas station right near the radio station so I headed there knowing they had free air and more light. It turns out neither of those commodities were much help to me. I could not spot any obvious hole and the air just seemed to be shooting out all over the place. It was like a large whale expelling water out of its blowhole; a spout of air that went further than the eye could reasonably see. Taking with it many small fishing boats and crying fishermen (and women) high into the atmosphere before coming down and crashing the dreams of a young independent motorcyclist. Dousing out any remaining hope of riding all the way through Montana with the original front tire. Or something like that. Seems like a semi-accurate account of events. 

I guess it had to happen sometime.. and I guess sometime just had to be two days before I take off.

Though to look at the bright side (the side my eyes generally stray towards anyway) it happened within a few blocks of Holiday, which is conveniently located near The Hawg Pen. A bike shop, and the work place of some pretty cool mechanics. As long as I didn’t bend my rim tonight when riding it the few blocks that I did it shouldn’t be to hard to change the tire right there. And as long as some passerby doesn’t feel the need to rifle through my belongings, I should have a fully functioning traveling machine soon.

Another advantage of popping a tire right here in the town I am currently still living is the roommate and her wonderful boyfriend who answered the phone at about 10:30 even though they were headed to sleep. I wasn’t stranded, I had a convenient place to park Little Wing, and I had a great night of listening to music. It would almost seem like a perfect night… except for the fact that I had a flat two days before departure.

No, I want to see the bright side. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. It means the adventure has officially started. All I have is Little Wing for a vehicle right now, and all Little Wing has is me. That right there seems like a reason to be bright about the situation. 

Nah, it ain’t a big deal. Two days to go and a flat tire makes for one less thing to surprise me on the road. Two days to go and a flat tire makes for a better tire on the bike for when I travel the mountains. Two days to go and a flat tire makes for a good story. Two days to go and a flat tire makes for a good job tomorrow…or the next day.. or the next.

I think I have more than two days to go now.