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Free Range: Leaving an impression

By Felicia Morgan

A few weeks ago, I decided to take on the responsibility of towing a newbie along behind me as I rode to cover an event in another state. It must be shared here that said NG (new girl) had just returned from a 2,500-mile, 16-day vision quest after having been unceremoniously discharged from her almost decade-long employment with a very unappreciative company. She was bummed. I was sympathetic. And we became road partners.

We started our sojourn by agreeing to meet at an obscure location under the shade of the four-leaf clover section of a major highway where, of course, I arrived late. Since I was not there upon her arrival, she went in search of me, thinking perhaps she’d misunderstood the instructions. Not seeing her as I arrived, I pulled over to call and was quickly swooped upon by the local fuzz. Great way to start an adventure; me with my severe cop allergy struggling to explain why I’m hanging out under a well-known drug trafficking/alien smuggling route as I try to hide my quivering knees, even though I had nothing to hide.

History proves that cops tend to keep me, rarely letting me go my own way without a shake down and contact sometimes ends up with me calling for bail money from some frustrated family member who hoped I’d lost their phone number. It just seems to work out that way. Consequently, I never tell the whole story, choosing instead to just keep the conversation down to the basic yes or no answers and never share any information about my compadres.

Meanwhile… NG laps back around, spies said officer and me, and lets out a shrieking whoop to let me know she’d found me. Copper dude looks sideways and offers me a chance to change my “I’m alone and just got lost” story. Thanks, New Girl.

Fortunately NG kept going, opting to make it to the down-the-road gas stop and I excused the yelp with a shrug, commenting to “the Man” that it must have been a friendly greeting from a passing H.O.G. member and the ever-so-suspicious officer reluctantly sent me on my way with an admonishment to “be careful out there.” I took it as a considerate warning and puttered off beyond the horizon, just out of sight so he couldn’t see me flip a bitch in the middle of the highway and head back to find NG. I made a mental note to warn my little companion of the road rules about cops, being pulled over and missed arrival times.

As we got the basics ironed out and traversed the next couple of days’ worth of flat vistas through the desert, battling 18-wheelers, wind and crappy roads, we managed to get an understanding of each other’s idiosyncrasies and fell into a sort of rhythm. The major differences we faced involved her three-gallon tank as opposed to my six gallons, her need to call it a day after 300 miles, as opposed to my 500–to-600-mile penchant and the fact that she is a vegetarian. Except she’s not. She corrects me to explain she’s actually a “pescatarian,” which means she likes tuna salad. Holy crap. When was the last time you tried to find anything edible that didn’t include flesh at a roadside cafe in the middle of the Arizona desert? It cannot be done. Unless you count pie.

Eventually I left the food stuff to her to work out. The gas issue, however, was a real concern since I’d be the one either pushing her ass down some stretch of lonely road or sucking on a siphon hose to get her mobile. Either way, I wasn’t interested in having to deal with the situation were she to run out. Consequently, I pulled over any time we were near civilization. Even when it wasn’t a good idea.

Exiting Highway 40 at Ludlow, California, we found ourselves in the midst of a construction zone that was not too well mapped out. Workers were standing around smoking something particularly aromatic as we geared down and faced the gravel road next to their newly poured stretch of well-groomed and still wet concrete. I sat straight up in my saddle with concern since I knew NG’s panic over loose gravel. She hates the thought of road rash, just like the rest of us. Add to it that the road was off camber and washboard, and I knew immediately there would be a disaster. I was right.

As I looked over my shoulder to be sure NG was navigating well, I slowed, nodded to the workers, and leaned in to make the right turn towards the gas station, cutting the corner tight. Unfortunately, the pleasant, happy little workers had not set out the bright orange cones all the way to the edge of their soupy stuff and I caught the corner of their new pavement with my back tire. As I realized what I’d done I gave the throttle just a little twist and WHAMO! Before I could even react, I had done a nifty little donut and was splat on my ass in the middle of their concrete. The stuff was finished with a special sealant that was white, thick and extremely sticky and it was everywhere. The shocked workers watched with mouths open as I got to my knees, leaving my ass print permanently embedded in their roadwork. Sheepishly apologizing for screwing up their very well-groomed handiwork, I tried to right my bike. Nobody moved. NG simply smiled as she rode on past as agreed. She had been told the road rules: to meet me at the next stop. NG’s a quick study.

 

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