Experience #1    Towing

I have a friend that is a prototypical long time Harley owner. He and his wife both have full dress Hogs and almost all of their clothing has at least one H-D logo on it.

We have traveled with them from Wyoming to Maine and many points in between. Besides the incessant noise, the most aggravating aspect is the constant repair work that is necessary. I have rebuilt starters, electrics, carbs etc, etc.. on those things on various trips. During one instance involving a carb job, my buddy proclaimed that I should get a Harley, since I seem to know so much about fixing the things. My reply was, "no Bob, you need to get a rice grinder so we don't have to stop and do this crap every two days!"

The ultimate experience came on a ride involving just the two of us solo. Him on his Hog, me on the Yamaha. During a "high speed" pass around a truck, the Harley managed to shear the drive key on the camshaft and allow a piston and valve to come in contact which, needless to say, brought the whole parade to a halt. The amount of crud that came out of the straight pipes was truly impressive!

So, here we are by the side of the road, miles from any town, with a severely dead Hog.

"Now what", I ask.

"No problem ..." says Bob, "we just go on to the drags on your bike."

Did I mention that we were on our way to an all Harley drag race event? Showing up at the strip, two up, on a Japanese touring bike is a whole story in itself. Suffice to say, it was ... entertaining.

Returning later that day to the dead Harley (that we had left chained to a light pole in an accommodating farm yard) I ask Bob again, "now what?"

Again, Bob says, "no problem."

Bob then proceeds to haul out a bright yellow rope and says "you gonna tow me back to the motel so the wife can come down with the trailer and get us".

"What!?" I gasp!

"Sure, do it all the time" says Bob.

He then proceeds to hand me one end of the rope and says "hook 'er up!"

"Where?" I ask, "this is a touring bike, not a tow truck!"

After much tying and re-tying we managed to fashion a "towing" harness as close to the rear axle as we could manage (close, is not good enough by the way).

He then ran the rope between the forks of the Hog and with a few turns around the handlebar hollered "let 'er rip!"

In my 45 years on bikes, I have never ridden anything as difficult as steering that Yamaha with 800 pounds of dead Harley, with a 240 pound rider aboard, at the end of a 50' rope!  We rode 24 miles up hill and down dale, across the Indiana country side back to Logansport and the motel. At one intersection a state cop, going the other way, gave us a long look and just drove away. I know he just didn't want to get involved!

I was amazed at how much drag that thing generated back there. I was never able to use fifth gear, had to stay in fourth at about 45 to 50 the whole way. This act alone probably took 10,000 miles out of the clutch life of the Yam.

Anyway, at the conclusion of all of this, Bob exclaimed "Well Jay, you and the rice-grinder done good.  I guess we'll have to stop picking on you and your choice of ride."

So... I now have the unique position of owning nothing but "rice-grinders" but still being accepted by the local Harley crowd. Bob says that the V4 Yam engine is "related" to the Harley. Yeah, like they're both found on the same planet!

Ain't Motorcycling wunnerful?


Experience #2        Caving…

How to get a hernia while "caving" in Ohio. (Some of the names have been changed to protect my innocent rear end!)

Caving? In Northern Ohio? Yep, been there, done that!

Back when Sandra and I were traveling in the company of Harleys, we happened to take a trip from Detroit (pronounced Dee-troit by the Harley devotees) to Lexington, OH to attend the V-Days Rally at the Mid-Ohio race track.

Now, riding a Yamaha Venture Royale in the company of Harleys has it's own interesting aspects. One, it's hard to tell if the Yam is still running when setting next to Harleys at a light. Two, the radio/intercom automatic quieting circuit never works properly due to the din of the Harley pipes. Three, unless you wear earplugs, headaches are certain, again due to the din of the Harley pipes.

Then there are the spark plug changes every 100-200 miles, the noise, the gas leaks due to worn needle valves, the noise, and an occasional stop for semi major repairs and did I mention yet THE NOISE!

The V-Days event was pretty entertaining, especially the portable dyno horsepower shoot out. I found watching a 600cc rice-burner make 400+ horse power very entertaining. It was also fun watching a bored, stroked, nitrous oxide burning Harley pound out a staggering 265 horse power! Must be them Orientals use smaller horses... yea, that's it!  Smaller horses so they can fit more in that tiny engine.

All good things must come to an end however and the time to head for home came much too soon. The ride back was fairly uneventful, although I was asked to slow down so that we could all "enjoy the scenery." Somewhere along the way, a sign advertising the Seneca Caves appeared.  Caves, in Northern Ohio? Let's check this out!

We followed the signs to a parking lot at the back of what looked like a typical old farm house. The back porch led inside to a ticket sales and souvenir shop where we purchased tickets to see the Caves. (Notice I haven't used the term Cavern, this is after all, Northern Ohio!) Our first clue that trouble was afoot was the statement on the part of our guide that "some parts of the Cave are pretty tight and some folks might find it a little difficult to negotiate." This tidbit was delivered while staring straight at our Harley traveling companions. (Mr. Harley goes about 280 and his wife, Mrs. Harley, can pick up a Harley motor without even grunting.)

Since no one knew what "negotiate" meant, we forged ahead.. uh, down that is. Now, I've been in caves in Kentucky, West Virginia, South Dakota, wherever. They all have one thing in common; you can usually stroll around on walkways meant for tourists and folks not usually prepared for spelunking. (That's cave exploring for the uninitiated.)

Well, this particular cave is in more or less the same condition as when it was discovered. There are no walkways and the "path" is more or less straight down! As it descends it becomes alarmingly narrower and narrower. At least they had the foresight to provide lights to see where one was going to bash one's head in the narrow, low, vertical passage ways.

After what seemed like a descent into the bowels of the earth, our guide announced that we now were at the lowest point in the cave that one could negotiate without additional equipment. (Ah, so that's what we were doing, negotiating!) Anyway, at this point we started back up to the surface and proceeded to climb the 12 to 24 inch "steps" that were hacked into the surrounding rock. Shortly after the ascent began, I heard an odd sounding pop accompanied by a grunt of pain behind me. I turned around to see Mrs. Harley's face distorted in pain. (Well, she was in pain, the distortion was purely subjective.)

"My knee, my knee, it popped!", she exclaimed.

"No S---", says I. "I heard it from over here!", says I again.

"Now what?", says I yet again.

Mr. Harley says to Mrs. Harley, "Damn, I told you this would happen!" (He knew her knees were weak? She knew her knees were weak?) This was delivered with much huffing and panting as Mr. Harley was feeling the effects of descending several hundred feet into the Northern Ohio country side.

"So! Now what?", says I again.

"Well" says Mr. Harley. "You are going to have to help her up to the top as I can hardly get my own A-- up these rocks!"

Let me set this scene a little more closely here. We are approximately 1 mile below ground level (or so it seemed). Wedged into impossibly tight, vertical passages. I weigh approximately 150 pounds and stand 5' 9". Mrs. Harley also stands about 5' 9" but weighs in at about 220 give or take a leather garment or two. Somehow, I am going to "help" this woman, whom by the way can pick me up under one arm just for fun, get topside. Sure...

How about I get topside and we lower a rope and just haul her out with a DERRICK! Of course, out of politeness and self preservation, I didn't voice this particular sentiment. Somehow, we managed to maneuver enough to where Mrs. Harley could get her arm around my shoulders and we proceeded to climb to safety. My wife later claimed that the two of us looked like some grotesque eight limbed subterranean  creature from a 1950's sci-fi movie. Believe me, I felt like an alien had me by the neck!

Anyway, after what seemed like hours of climbing (probably only 30 minutes) we emerged into daylight and general applause. Not sure who they were applauding, Mrs. Harley for making it out of there, or me for the rescue job. At that point I didn't much care, I just needed to try and recover the feeling and function in my rubberized legs before I attempted to get on the Venture and ride again. Fortunately, Mrs. Harley had ridden on the same bike with Mr. Harley because her knee was totally incapable of holding her upright, let alone her 800 pound Hog. Their riding position going home was kind of interesting. We sort of lifted her into place on the back of the Hog and she propped the defective right leg up on top of the crash bar at the front of the bike. It looked a little kinky, but who was going to bring it up?

The rest of the trip home was sort of an anticlimax. It was shortly after this "event" that we returned to "solo" trips. We'll leave the group riding to folks with a more "group" mind set thankyouverymuch.



Thank you, Jay!  I enjoyed these stories very much.  Jay has set a new standard for stories on this site, you have your goal now let's hear your encounters with the Faithful sheep! - BE