For the adventure crowd, Moab is their personal Mecca, a place they have to reach at least once in their life. So it’s no surprise that in my effort to find a welder the previous day, I would see a bike with a familiar oval ADV sticker on the fender. After talking for a few moments with the bike’s owner, I was recommended to a certain bike shop in the area.
With the morning sun climbing higher into the sky, I forewent breakfast and loaded up the bike. I started the engine and released my grip on the clutch lever, watching as the back wheel spun, raised from the ground by the bike’s center stand. Locking the vise grip to what remained of my shifter shaft, I squeezed in the clutch and pulled up on my tool, ratcheting it until I thought it was in its top gear, then ratcheted it one down into 4th. I removed the vise grip, geared up, and set off for Arrowhead Motorsports.
I had expected a major store, similar to what I was familiar with in the bigger cities. It wasn’t. I pulled up to the house, where a rider with a small dirt bike was talking about tires with the owner. I told them described my situation, and the owner told me he couldn’t help me. He then half-heartedly suggested the small engine shop I had driven past the day before. Instead, I went for gas and would ride to Durango to test my luck there.
Still beside the pumps, I forced the bike into 5th, knowing it had power enough to get moving in its highest gear. Even still, I had to work the clutch just to get the bike to crawl its way up to speed. Once there though, it felt as normal as ever.
I cruised down the highway sans shifter, and slowly the landscape around me began to change. What had been red canyons had now become rolling green fields. As I crossed the border into Colorado, I felt less like I was going to the Rocky Mountains, and more like I was back in Oklahoma.
The feeling didn’t last long however, and soon the terrain became more mountainous as I approached Durango. I checked into the hotel early and immediately started looking for a welder. I found a shop in an industrial section on the other side of town, a place that specialized in making decorative mine carts. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to help me, but did suggest a sheet metal shop two buildings down.
After a fair bit of time pleading my case (“It was welded once before, so I know it can be done”) I managed to talk one of their guys into tackling the job. Immediately, I could tell he was different from the welder from California.
“Is there oil on the other side of that seal?” he asked me.
“Yes, and I’d kinda like to keep it that way” I replied, fearful that the second weld job would damage it even more.
“Good, that’ll help keep the seal cool.”
He then suggested I disconnect the battery, concerned that the amount of current he’d push through the bike during the procedure might fry the ECU. While I removed the seat, I overheard him explain to his apprentice “I want to use this core because I don’t know what metals I’m welding. This has a higher resin content, and that’ll give it a better bond.” Fully confident that this guy knew what he was doing, I watched him work, hoping to learn something that would fill the giant gap I had when it came to welding.
A short time and $37.50 later, I left the shop on a bike that I felt could take me the rest of the way home. But that was still a long ways off yet. For now, I simply headed back to the hotel to relax for a little while before dinner. That evening, I parked my bike at a motorcycle specific parking meter, next to a Kawasaki touring bike. It reminded me slightly of the Triumph trophy I had seen a week or so back, and I took a picture of it, texting it to Alyssa. “Something like that would be much more comfortable for you and I to ride together,” I told her. She agreed.
After a couple blocks of walking, I walked through the open doors of the pizzeria. “Fired Up” it was called, in reference to their wood fired pizza oven. I placed my helmet on the bar, and stripped out of my jacket, hanging it over the back of my bar chair. Immediately I was handed a menu by the barhop, an attractive brunette wearing an Abercrombie hat, and a hip, styled T-shirt. She asked for my drink order, and since it was still happy hour, I ordered. Drink of choice: a local hefeweissen.
We talked some, as I looked over the menu, and eventually ordered my pizza. (The “Vesuvius” – pepperoni, garlic, red peppers, homemade thin crust.) Seeing my gear, she asked me if I was simply passing through, and I told her my story. Having traveled through so many small towns, and curious about what brings people to them, I asked her for her story. Turns out that a year and a half earlier, she had moved to town from Denver for her boyfriend. They split up shortly afterwards, and when he moved back, she chose to stay.
After a good dinner, I took a short tour of the town. Walking down Durango’s main street, I noticed a guy walking towards me. He wore a black leather jacket, with a white stripe running down the sleeve. A very classic motorcycle racer’s jacket. He saw me, wearing my Kilimanjaro and holding my helmet and, asked me the question: “what do you ride?” “A Triumph” I replied, smiling. “F___ you” he said, as he flipped me the bird. I was shocked. Not at all the reaction I expected. He then explained he was between bikes at the moment. Never did really know what he meant by that. The whole exchange took less than 15 seconds. We never quit walking our separate directions.