|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 08:34 am: ||
The Engadine 444
Engadine, pronounced “N” - “Ga” - “Die” – “N”. Engadine (46.10123898781414, -85.6115385890007) is a place in the Upper Pennisula (U.P.) of Michigan, a very small place to be sure, actually never made it there but was very close. Engadine is a place that was not part of any plan for this sultry mid-summer motorcycle adventure. In fact the plan on this 11th day of August was to do an Iron Butt ride around Lake Michigan, starting and ending in Midland, Michigan. It would be 1000 miles in 24 hours, but shortly before the planned ride, the weapon of choice, the ’97 Buell needed a part, out of commission. What to do?
Enter then old and somewhat reliable antique Beemer with the hack. One for two on Iron Butt attempts, the hack knows its way around at least one Great Lake having completed the Lake Huron SS1000 the year before. The hack’s number was called and it was prepared to do battle. Weighing in at just under 800 pounds the hack was loaded for bear. With no monkey riding in the hack this year there was plenty of “just in case” articles, to fill the vacant monkey space. The old and trusty “74” R75/6 was filled to capacity with options , like a vintage Swiss Army knife, ready to open and deliver results in the face of any potential challenge. Tools galore, wrenches(metric and SAE), wire, duct tape, two-part epoxy, a diode board, a multi-meter, lubricants, two gallons of gas, a spare tire, two spare inner tubes, 12V air pump, water, snacks, and even a GPS.
The start of the trip was uneventful. The alarm sounded at 2:00 A.M. EST and as I stared at the full-moon I thought to myself, “I need to stop looking in the mirror, get out of the bathroom and get going.” And so I did. The first gas fill and start came at 02:30, and in short order 30 miles to the West I stopped for gas because this was the turn to the North and needed the obligatory Iron Butt receipt to verify the turn.
A few short hours later I reached the Mackinaw Bridge. The Mighty Mack with lights glowing in the dark was beautiful. Over the bridge and to the toll booth, where the collector said, “Where are you going?” When he heard my response, he said, “Really? All the way? Through Chicago?” My chest puffed out almost as far as my gut and I replied in a grin, “Yup, that’s where I’m going.”
Again, I refueled and made the turn Westward now seriously freezing my butt off while traveling in the ever brightening sky on the UP’s Route 2. And then it happened. Just past the turn-off for Engadine, I felt that soft sensation between my legs. Quickly sizing up the situation I knew it had to be the rear tire because it was so damn cold that I couldn’t feel anything else down there. Then the tire popped, the hack slowed and I pulled over. A flat tire.
I could see in the distance a restaurant, but how could that be of help? So pushed the hack into a crushed stone gravel portion by the road. I unpacked the hack thinking no big deal I can get this done and get back on the road. But the first thing I didn’t find was the jack. Oh Dogshit! I had enough crap in that hack to make Duck Au Jus with peach flambé, but NO FRICKEN JACK!
Luckily I had recently been stricken with insomnia one night and had watched an old MacGyver show to put me to sleep. If MacGyver can make enough methane gas to operate a fork truck by eating all the eggs at a Chinese Buffett, then there is no reason why I couldn’t get this tire off the hack. So I found a stray piece of chrome on the road, it was a u-shaped piece like the ones used for a step on a pick-up truck. I put the piece next to the bike, backed up to it, lifted the bike and kicked the chrome step under the bike. Voila! Now to dig a hole under the tire. Okay channel locks will do, and so I started digging eventually digging a very large hole in somebody’s right of way. No matter, who in the UP is going to notice a pot hole? The tire came off and soon I was sweating bullets, bending the rubber of the rim with the standard issue BMW tire irons. Somehow the tube had sheared away from the valve, but luckily I had another tube. In with the tube, back wrestling rubber back on the rim….actually at some point during the installation the image of monkeys and footballs came to mind but I digress. Tire back on the bike, tire pump at the ready, tire begins to inflate but the bottom remains flat. So I think to myself, “ the little air pump must not be able to finish inflating the tire.” As a side note, I would say double Dog Shit, but then I would have to keep track of all the dog shits for the rest of the story. I pull the bike forward out of the crevasse, fill in the hole, I dug and began to scratch my sweat laden head.
Okay, that’s it, I give up, I’ll call AMA Roadside Assistance, that’s what I paid for isn’t it? The phone rings, the obligatory steps taken, press 1, press 2, press 1, press 3…..and then I hear the voice I had been waiting for to get me out of this mess….Hello, this is Peggy with AMA Roadside assistance. See what I mean by not counting the dog shits?
The conversation really did go something like this….
[Me] “Peggy, I just need a tow truck to bring me air to fill my tire.” [Peggy] “Okay, let me check policy. Sorry, policy no have air, just 35 mile tow.” [ME} “Ahhh… Peggy…every tow truck has an air compressor.” [Peggy] “Sorry, policy no have air, just 35 mile tow.” [ME] “Okay then tow me to the nearest gas station.” [Peggy] “Okay, where you are?” [Me] “I’m near Engadine, Michigan.” [Peggy] Me no can find Engadine, another city please?” I stare at the GPS and slowly go through a list of 25 towns progressively further from where I am. Finally in frustration I say, “Peggy I’m in-between St. Ignace and Escanaba on Route 2.” Peggy replies, “I have tow truck in St. Iganatz, it 50 miles, you have to pay extra.” [Me] “Okay Peggy, I just really need air and nothing else so I want you to send a tow truck and tow me EXACTLY TWO FEET from my current location.” [Peggy] “And current location is?” [Me] “I’ve given you all the towns, but I’ll do even better, here are my coordinates Peggy just look me up.” [Peggy] “Please hold.” Ten minutes later still on hold, I hang up and call AMA in Columbus, Ohio. I talk to the executive director who promises help. As I hung up I knew there would be no help from AMA or from Peggy. (AMA called back several hours later, their roadside assistance group called back over SIX hours later!)
No help, Except from the people I was about to meet from the U.P.
I looked at the GPS and saw that there was a Mobil Station in Engadine, 2.2 miles away. I call and ask if they are full service and have air. Yes! Does there happen to be a wrecker service around? YES! But it’s out on Route 2. Well I’m on Route 2 right near the Beary Patch Restaurant, (Teddy Bear theme) is it near there? Yes, in fact it’s the yellow building right on the other side! I call the wrecking service and the secretary tells me the 83 year-old man who runs the service is in the hospital (A car fell on him) and that his friends Aaron and Bubba, who work at a car parts store are filling in. She took my number. Minutes late Aaron called to say that I should push the sidecar over to the Wrecker building and someone would meet me there. Okay, well that’s only about .2 tenths of a mile, with a loaded hack and flat tire, but I start pushing. My lungs are on fire. I’ve been working on this motorcycle for over two hours and NOT ONE SINGLE person has stopped. Especially aggravating is the H-D Clowns waving as they go by. But pushing for all I got, I pass by the restaurant at the .1 tenth of a mile mark and then just short of a heart-attack I make it to the Wrecker building.
Then a guy named Gary comes out of the Beary Patch behind me with an air compressor and says “Got a flat tire eh? Bubba said for you to bring it back over here and I’ll getter filled up for you eh?” And with that he added the old tired and true, humorless, tire joke… nice bike…we don’t see many BMW motorcycles eh? Looks like she’s just flat on the bottom eh?” So, with a grin that one can only emit through gritting teeth and a desire for help in the middle of the wilderness, I turn the hack around and push it back over to the restaurant. Gary fires up the compressor and we start to fill the tire and hear a hissing sound getting louder and louder. Somewhere, in that push between the blown tire location to the wrecker building and back to the restaurant I had pinched the tube. My only spare replacement tube now had leaks.
But now the sun was well out, things were turning up. No digging this time as Gary gets me a jack and an extra set of long tire irons and so in short order the tire is off. Monkey/Football operation engaged in until the tube is out of the tire. With the hole in inner tube located, Gary calls Bubba, and Bubba tells him the “secret” location of the key to the wrecker building. Gary takes my tube, and puts a patch on it and whiz bang, I’m ready to go. Tube back in tire, Monkey/Football tube in tire, tire on rim, wheel on Motorcycle, fill tire….hisssssssssssss. Tire off bike, Monkey/Football rubber off rim, holes in tube too numerous to count. How did that happen? Oh, Dogshit(n+1)
Now I need a 4.00 x 18 inner tube in the middle of the U.P. That’s like trying to find a spark plug in a polar bear’s a$$. But Gary calls Bubba, and Bubba turns Aaron loose on finding the tube. Bubba says, “You know if it can be found eh, Aaron will find it.” Meanwhile I go into the restaurant and have some pancakes and chat with the Owner’s, waiters, waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, all to bide my time. Aaron calls back about ½ hour later and has two options. Well it seems that Bubba lives on the other side of the wrecker building and two doors down from there is a guy who repairs motorcycles.
Gary and I start to walk to the motorcycle guy’s house and we see him pull into the driveway and go in the house. He had come home for lunch just to look for that tube, but only had a 15, 16, 17, and 19”, no 18. So about that time Bubba calls up Gary and I hear Gary say, “Yeah, he looks like an okay guy eh.” Then Gary hands me the phone. I hear on the phone, “Yeah, this is Bubba, my truck is in the driveway there, flip down the visor and drive up to Newberry, its about 25 miles away, Aaron found a tube up there.” HOLY COW, this guy is going to give me his truck for a 50 mile round trip jaunt to get an inner-tube and he’s never met me!
But before I could leave Bubba calls back and says, “Sit tight, I have a customer here in the Parts Store who’s coming your way, He’ll drop it off to you. Just give Gary $24 for the tube and some gas money.” So back to the restaurant, they all know me by name by now. They see me walk through the door and before I reach a table they get an Ice Tea ready and ask what I want for lunch.
One of the waitresses ask if I had children and I said yes, two girls 22& 21 and a boy 18. Well she says, “I have a 23 year-old girl who’s going to college down your way that would make a good girlfriend for that 18 year-old Alex.” Are you keeping track? Ice Tea, Breakfast, Lunch, Inner-tube, air compressor, tire irons, free truck rental, and a girl-friend for my son, what’s next? I was in a geographic anomaly, everything was two weeks away but everyone was willing to help me get it.
About that time a man walks through the door with an odd look on his face and a small box in his hand, he sees me and says, “ Mister this tube is probably for you eh?” Well I didn’t ask how he knew but 4 hours in Engadine probably doesn’t yet make me a full blown Yooper. He wouldn’t take any money, wished me well and he disappeared as quickly as he had shown up. So I finish lunch, finish the Ice tea, out to the sidecar, Monkey/Football rubber on rim, tire on bike, inflate and ready to go. No matter how hard I tried to pay him Gary would not take a single dime for all that he did for me. In fact he said, “You know I thought we were going to have to make a run for that inner-tube and you might have to stay in the extra camper I have sitting here.”
Shook hands, took pictures, and headed for home. Engadine is only 222 miles from home, but was a great place to visit. I took my time getting home, stopping for a Yooper Pasty( not what you think, kind of like a chicken pot pie), and then a piece of Strawberry-Rhubarb pie. Back over the Mighty Mack and headed for home. Along the way I checked my phone and listened to a message from Bubba just checking to see if, “yous was okay eh? And were on the road home again.” I pulled into the driveway about seven thirty, 17 hours on the clock for a total of 444 miles.
My faith in the American Spirit is alive and well. I couldn’t stop smiling, and still can’t when I think of the trip. I want to grab all those snot nose politicians in Washington D.C. and drag them to the UP to show them where real people live. No, it wasn’t the IBA Lake Michigan SS1000 I had set out to do, but it was a probably a greater adventure than I could ever had imagined. And I know a great place to stop for breakfast and lunch, the Beary Patch, the menu includes everything you need and more.
|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 10:22 am: ||
Revs, I can't stop smiling too!
I am in the midst of a gobazillion things and just sat down to quickly cruise through BadWeB. I came across this and decided not to read it cause I didn't have time, Revs is as long winded as I am and I got things to do!. But then I messed up and just read a little bit...........and the rest.
Very good sir! I will now go start my list and keep smiling!
|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 10:44 am: ||
Thanks, I needed that!
|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 11:31 am: ||
Revz, great story! Thanks
|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 01:06 pm: ||
The Mackinaw (Mighty Mack) Bridge, as seen from the UP eh...
Changing the tire
Pictures of the Beary Patch
The Wrecker Building
Sidecar reloaded and headed for home
|Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2011 - 01:55 pm: ||
That was PERFECT, makes me want to do a UP trip just to stop at the Berry Patch.
What a wonderful story.