Monday, July 23, 2007

How a Coat Hanger, a Beer, and Bikers Saved My Life

This weekend Bernie and I took a little road trip to Hillsville, Virginia. The Virginia Bikers Association (VABA) sponsored Thunder On the Mountain and this was certainly an event worth making an effort to attend. I must say, VABA put on one of the most organized and enjoyable biker events we've had the privilege of attending - and we've attended a few. It occurred at the Lakeview RV Resort, which is a completely awesome place to spend a weekend.

Hillsville is about 250 miles from our homestead, and with the weatherman forecasting a beautiful weekend, we decided to ride down. So I hooked up the trailer to the trike and we loaded it with a weekend full of necessities - which involved a couple changes of clothes, toothbrushes, and a cooler full of libations. Bernie hopped on his bike, I fired up the Grape Ape (that's what my trike likes to be called) and we headed off to Hillsville.

As I mentioned, it was a great time. We saw lots of old friends and made a few new ones (Bo and Beth - you rock!). VABA put on an awesomely organized Poker Run - well, actually TWO Poker Runs. One was a long run and one was a short run. I chose the long run because it went through a tunnel and I thought that sounded like it would sound cool to roar through a tunnel with 50 other bikers. It did not disappoint me. Neither did the Grape Ape. She ran like a scalded dog. I was pretty proud of her.

When we got back to the campsite I parked her in the bike show. She's rather shameless and enjoys the attention. When it came to our turn to ride down the "runway" for all to see, Bo came running over to tell me something was wrong with the exhaust. I turned around in time to see him smack the tailpipe with his hand and say "Oh no". I asked "Can I ride her?" and he replied "She ought to be OK to go up and down the runway once". I had no clue what was wrong, but I knew my number was up to show off the trike, so I turned my attention to ground in front of me and took off. When we returned to our spot I hopped off and ran to the back of the trike, just in time to see the header come loose and droop to the ground. It was barely hanging on. All I could think of was "Lovely. I'm 250 miles from home and there ain't no way the Grape Ape is getting me there in this condition."

Did I mention we were at a biker event? Bikers are some of the most resourceful people you will ever meet. Within moments Bo assessed the situation and announced we needed some kind of wire or something to hold the header up off the ground and a clamp to try and close the huge crack in the tailpipe. Another biker ran off to get a coat hanger. My buddy Boil thought he could find a clamp. By the time Bernie ran down to check everything out, we had a plan. Bo took charge and wired the header up with the coat hanger. Boil and another biker donated a couple of clamps. But we still had a fairly large crack in the tailpipe and it was clear we needed something to cover it or I would be sucking air all the way home. Beth ran over to the trash can and came back with a beer can, which Bo cut the ends off of and then sliced down the middle to make a nice piece of medal that covered the crack just beautifully. Between the beer can, clamps, and some wire, we managed to get the crack covered pretty well. Well enough to get me all the way home anyway, even if we did sputter and pop when downshifting.

Homesteading is all about self reliance and self sufficiency. Not all bikers are homesteaders, but certainly as a group bikers are self reliant and self sufficient - or at the very least extremely clever.

I've always known that beer is a wonderful thing. And I've always been a little fond of the great service coat hangers have provided me. But tonight I am especially grateful for the both of them and for my biker family. While I really enjoyed Hillsville, I wasn't looking forward to spending the rest of my life there. I am eternally indebted to a coat hanger, a beer, and a bunch of bikers. And Bo and Beth - I owe y'all one.

Bee Free,

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