START ME UP:
BACK FOR THE BEARTOOTH
Thereís not much going on in Sturgis right now. In fact, considering the place will be packed to the gills with more than 600,000 bikers in a couple of months, itís almost a ghost town. But there are a few people riding through for one reason or another. One of them is Steve Myers, the fellow who witnessed the end of my 36-hour ride from New York. Steve, from Phoenix, Arizona, rides a 1990 BMW R100 GS/PD (the PD stands for Paris-Dakar, like the rally) and itís giving him some trouble today. While riding around the Black Hills, the bike broke down near Hill City. Oil spewed out of the motorcycle all over the road, but fortunately Steve noticed it right away. After shutting the bike down, he tried to ascertain the source of the leak, but there was such a mess from the oil that he couldnít tell. He suspects a cracked oil line, leading to the oil cooler. Lucky for Steve, he was just an hour away from Sturgis, and the only BMW dealer between Missoula, Denver, and Minneapolis.
Steveís waiting till the morning, when the dealer will have a look at it, and he just happens to be checking in to the Best Western the same time I pull up. Who better to witness the end of my ride than a fellow BMW rider? Last year, when I stayed in Sturgis on my 100 Day 48 State ride, I meet Chris and Parish Todd, two young guys riding BMW R1200C Cruisers across the country. They accompanied me on my ride the following day, then returned to Sturgis for service on their bikes.
By the time I reach Sturgis this time, Iíve been riding for more than 12 hours, and I could probably fall asleep in minutes. But Steve invites me to join him for dinner, and my appetite is stronger than my interest in sleeping, so I accept the invitation. Iím very glad I did because Steve Myers has a fascinating story to tell.
Four years ago, Steve and his brother-in-law were enjoying the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. They rode all over Colorado and Wyoming, through Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Stopping one night near Cooke City, at the northeast entrance to Yellowstone, they looked forward to crossing the one of the worldís greatest roads the next day: The Bear Tooth Highway.
When Steve awoke the next morning he had a tremendous headache. At first, he thought it would just wear off, but when it didnít, and things got worse, Steveís brother-in-law insisted he get some medical assistance. Emergency services from Mammoth Hot Springs responded to the call. Although Steveís vitals were normal, his agonizing headache became more torturous. He rode the Beartooth that day, but not on his motorcycle. Steve took the ride in an ambulance as he was rushed to a hospital in Billings.
The prognosis turned out to be a bleeding vessel in Steveís brain. Though not as severe as a brain aneurysm, the situation was quite serious and if he hadnít sought medical attention Steve might have died. He was later airlifted back home to Phoenix. Riding the Beartooth would have to wait for another day.
So now, Steve Myers is back to finish the ride he started four years ago. Using a family reunion in Minneapolis as an excuse to take a long motorcycle trip, heís working his way west now. After a stop in Billings to visit with the doctor who attended him, Steve intends to finally ride the Beartooth. Perhaps, he thinks, the motorcycle breakdown might be someone trying to tell him something. But he's not about to give up so easily.
Before I take off for Montana the next morning, I stop by Sturgis BMW to see how Steve is making out. Just as he suspected, the problem is simply a busted oil line and heíll be back on the road shortly. I wish him well and a successful ride over the Beartooth. Heís going to love it.
A few days later I received the following e-mail:
Daniel, I have been watching your progress. It looks fantastic. I
think that I told you at dinner in Sturgis that a friend of mine is
talking Alaska for next summer. If he is serious, we will use your info
as a quide. The rest of my trip was terrific. The Beartooth was grand,
as was everywhere else I rode. Even the food poisoning from KFC on the
way to Grand Junction, Colo. didn't stop me from riding. I foolishly
rode at night leaving Flaming Gorge. There were lots of animals out and
about and the mountains at night can be a bit weird. But there were lots
of stars and I made it. Good luck on the rest of the adventure.
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