August 8, 2005

Start: Ontario, Oregon
End: Boise, Idaho
Miles traveled: 212
Route Taken: Route 20 to Interstate 84 to Route 21 back to Interstate 84


        No matter how long you ride a motorcycle you know it can happen and on a Sunday afternoon in the Idaho hills my number got called.

        When I left Ontario my plan was to get to Salmon, Idaho and meet with Dugout Dick. He is a guy who has been squatting on federal land for the last four decades. He seemed like an interesting character and one who fit the theme of the book I am writing.

        My departure was mid morning and a cloud cover made riding much more comfortable than it has been in previous days.

        My distaste of the interstate was overruled by my need to get to Salmon at a decent hour, besides I was only going to be on it for 59 miles.

        I reached Boise and stopped for breakfast at a little coffee shop off the freeway.

        Finding the independent restaurants, especially right off the highway, is becoming increasingly difficult. Chain restaurants have overtaken the charming roadside diner, replacing it with food people know and trust.

        Myself, I would rather have the diners. The hostess was often times the owner and she would take an interest in where you were coming from and ask where you were headed.

        The people who work chain restaurants are usually pleasant enough, but that is as far as it goes. The personality is gone. The food gets delivered and if you’re lucky your waitress will smile at you when she gets around to leaving the bill.

        So I will always search a little longer until I find a place that isn’t a chain. In Boise it was a little tougher, but finally found a place.

        Route 21 is about five miles from Boise and I found it rather easily. The road leads to large recreation areas like the one in the picture below.


The recreation area is at the bottom of Lucky Peak Dam and both have been around since 1961. It is 10 miles from the city and is fed by
Lucky Peak Lake Boise River, which is further up the road and runs for 12 miles.

        Speed boats mostly take up the space on the lake, but if you go further north you can see people pulled off to the side of the road swimming in the creek that feeds the lake.

        Idaho City is 30 miles from Boise and then the road begins to climb into the hills. I reached the summit of the mountain, which is about 6,000 feet and began to head towards the tiny town of Lowman.

        I was about 10 miles away when I saw some rocks on the road. I wasn’t going very fast, probably about 30 mph but was entering a turn. I slowed down, but wasn’t going to hold the curve so I bailed out to a turn out area.

        The turn out area, though, was soft sand, and the bike’s front tire sunk into immediately, dropping the front end and sending me underneath it.

        A guy in a truck saw what happened and pulled into the turnout. My left foot was pinned under the bike, so he helped me lift it off and then together we pulled the bike back upright.

        I had a little road rash on my left arm and really nothing else. Libertad, however, was hurting. The gear shift and the metal housing had bent inward, taking the brunt of the crash. The ape hangers were a little twisted as well.

                My  wound from the crash

        By bending the metal back with a crescent wrench and jamming the shifter into third gear I would be able to nurse the bike back to Boise.

        Backtracking, as my best friend Warren said, is a dirty word and he couldn’t be more right. I was 70 miles away from Boise, but that really was my only option. They had a Harley dealer there and I knew would be able to help me out.

        So I drove the road back to Boise, not able to do more than 40 mph and avoiding stops because then I would have to burn the clutch to get the bike going again.

        I found a motel near the dealer, parked my battered Libertad, and went in to clean my wounds.

        The worst thing about road rash is picking the little rocks out of your arm. When I was younger, and much dumber, I rode a scooter in shorts and flip flops and got run over by a station wagon. I had road rash from my ankle up to my rear end and I have never felt so much pain.

        But I have my mother to thank for the high tolerance of pain I have, at least for a guy. No one has a higher tolerance than my mother, who gets her fillings at the dentist done without Novocain.

        She has had a lot of pain in her life and is going through some right now, but I have not once heard her complain.

        It is tough, you want to help her, but she won’t let you. It is another trait I inherited, so I know the stubborn pride that runs through her. It shuts you down and it is tough to let someone who loves you help you.

        You don’t want to ask for help, at least I don’t. I have been doubled over in pain before and had a roommate who was so horrified that she was going to call 911, but I drove myself to the hospital.

        Maybe the trait will leave me someday, maybe it will soften. Maybe I’ll reach out to someone close before it is too late.