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West portal of GN Ry's Cascade Tunnel.

The Fine Art of Motorcycle Touring


A Motorcycle Story

by C. C. Crow
photos by author

Subject: What Size Was That?
Date: 8/13/00 12:51:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Killerkrow
To: rooti@square.nut

110/90B 18 is the size of my rear tire.

thumbing outside Penco

With almost 100,000 miles on my motorcycle I'm on my twelfth or so rear tire. More likely the 13th! Yeah, they burn off quick. You have your choice, the longer lasting tires are made of harder rubber but they grip less. The softer tires are more desirable though the curves and on wet roads but they don't last as long. At a hundred bucks or more a pop you want to find the best compromise. The tire manufactures know this and do their best to come up with duel compound tires ,that is, ones with harder rubber in the middle for mileage and softer rubber on the sides for cornering. The Dunlop 491 Elite II is a good choice. I got over l0,000 miles on my last one (the one before this) and they seem to corner well so that's what's on it now. Much to my disgust the nail has found its way into a pretty new tire, with maybe two or three thousand miles on it. I'm not too happy about that but I'm not going to dwell on it. I'm just happy that this is my first flat and it happened while at rest. Having a blowout at 60 mph going around a sharp corner- wouldn't be any fun at all.

I had called ahead. While they showed that size in a Dunlop on the computer they couldn't come up with it. They looked and looked. Someone must have sold it and not entered it in the computer. But there is this IRC, a brand I had never heard of, not that I was looking, that's the right size. We found a Dunlop that was one size larger however BMW didn't recommend it with a spacer that we didn't have. So it will have to be the IRC. They had set it aside for me.

However, a search ensues. Now it was missing too. We looked twice. No 110/90B 18 of any type can be found. This can't be happening.

Vaughn, the wrench manager, began calling all the other bike shops in the area. Both of them. Hey, maybe I'd get that Dunlop alter all. But no, no luck, they didn't even have any tire that would fit. That's some sort of odd size, for BMWs or sumtin- Just when things were looking really grim I noticed the shape of a tire back behind the counter partially hidden behind some boxes. Sure enough, there it was, even had my name on it, "Crom". Close enough. It wasn't a Dunlop but by now I'd take anything and be happy. It could say Schwinn for all I cared.

Penco is a very busy place. The new kid was helping as best he could. Vaughn had his hands full. I was in no hurry. I even volunteered to do it myself but their insurance wouldn't allow it. Slowly they sorted it out and eventually my new tire got mounted. I made sure they gave me my souvenir nail. It cost me a little over one hundred dollars and a long adventure. I wasn't going to loose it.

My mission was complete at about 10:30, an hour and a half before the noon deadline. I was sort of getting hungry having skipped breakfast. Unfortunately, there were no restaurants, fast foods or even connivance stores nearby. I'd have to wait for my brother to arrive. I passed the time waiting on a large flat rock by the highway counting cars go by. Around 11:30 I began looking for my brother. He'd be in my father's green Chevy Lumina.

Car after car zoomed by. No Phil.

Still no Phil.

Finally, a Lumina. Yeah, it's them. Hey, look here you dummy. Hey, hey! I'm waving my arms, yelling. Jumping up and down. He zooms by, looking straight ahead not noticing me. Great. How long is this going to take? After ten minutes I'm sort of frustrated. I'm trying to give out mental images, signals of "2480 Hwy. 93 South." "2- 4- 8- 0". Turn around, you've gone past it. The telepathy doesn't seem to work. I can't run after him. All I can do is wait. I decided to set up a photograph. My tire by the rock, Penco in the background and my brother rolling up with a dumb look on his face. It helps me pass the time. Finally he pulls up with this dumb look on his face. I can't help it but laugh. Yes, I'm glad to see you too.

Waiting for my brother Phil to arrive.

My brother Phil finally arrives

me and my brother Phil

After greetings, we toss the wheel into the trunk and proceed to retrace my steps.

snapshot of Whitefish depot

Janet, my brother's wife, stops feeling sorry for me once she sees the nice setting I called home last night. She was thinking that I was slumming it in a dark piss-stained rancid rat hole last night. Whitefish depot is a very pretty spot.

Gary and Joe inspect my new souvenir

We run into Gary and Joe again, my two friends from the convention, who are amused by my new souvenir. After retrieving my undisturbed backpack we head towards Glacier Park.

McDonald Lake.

Lake McDonald

We head up Going To The Sun Highway and stop to enjoy the views at several locations. This is a treat, being in the car with them. Had the original plan been followed we would have been in separate vehicles. I never would have thought of this. We went for a short hike at Logan Pass. Certainly better than nothing but shy of what I had planned. Oh well, maybe next time. Or maybe I'll hop on the train sometime now that I know the ropes. Yeah, spend a few days hiking around the park, that would be a great trip.

our 15 min. hike on Logan Pass

Glacier view

Logan Pass, Glacier National Park.

Logan Pass

just a moment and we'll have it

We make it back down to East Glacier. Pull into the broken down motorcycle display. It's undisturbed. It only takes a few minutes to put the tire back on. Works like a charm. We go across the street to the campground and pack up my tent and gear. No one has disturbed them either. I have a growing respect of the Blackfoot Indians. My previous pass through Browning, years and years ago, left me with an impression of much gloominess. Everyone on this encounter has been friendly and helpful. Yeah, the kids smoke pot. Most kids do. It's not the crime certain adults make it out to be. The guy at the tire shop was an honest business man who wouldn't risk my neck or his reputation on a risky job.

I'm sure I picked up the nail by accident, it wasn't a trap. But let me tell you this one last story. I do not know if this is based on fact or just something Hollywood came up with, but I recall in several old western movies certain Indians held the belief that if you took their picture you were taking their spirits.


Speaking of road hazzards!

Blackfoot warriors.

Photograph these warriors at your own risk

Well, as I rode into the reservation I noticed an interesting sculpture along side the highway of two Blackfoot warriors on horseback. The were well made of junkyard scrap. As I drove by I stopped myself, turned around to take a better look and snap a photograph. As I did this I was thinking about those movies and declared to these steel warriors, "I am Clint Crow, on my iron (and aluminum) horse and I am taking your picture. And I am taking your spirit. Stop me if you can. But I will release your spirit to all my friends who care to see and listen about my journey." I actually said this to those tin warriors. By god, they managed to stop me, that is, a place of steel, that nail, sure slowed me down for a few days.

We tossed my gear into the car and went over to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was crowded tonight, we waited for thirty minutes. My favorite waitress served us again, even at the same table. I'd become a regular.

Sunset near Baab, Montana Many Glacier Lake

Many Glacier Lodge.

Many Glacier Lodge

Waterton Lakes.

Waterton Lakes Peace Park, Canada from viewpoint

High tea.

High Tea, Prince of Wales Lodge, Waterton Lakes National Park

We stayed at Wagner's Duck Lake Lodge that night, up near Babb. The park hotels were all full and expensive. I camped out. We went into Many Glaciers in the morning, then on to Waterton and ended up in Banff the next night.

Baniff Station
The Canadian Rockies.

nailed p6. Mike and Jane's porch.

We drove further up to the Columbia Icefeilds the next day. I left my motorcycle back at the junction and rode up and back with them in the car. We spent that night at my sister's. Then on to Kamloops and finally home.

nailed p7.

Yes, there was a little rain. You're in Canada, in the Rockies!

On the final leg home, we stopped just outside Hope, BC and took the Tunnel walk, through a string of old railroad tunnels.

The Hope Tunnel walk The Hope Tunnel walk
The Hope Tunnel walk The Hope Tunnel walk
The Hope Tunnel walk The Hope Tunnel walk

It was a great trip with some interesting twists. I hope I haven't bored you. All I can say is don't mess with spirits especially when you are alone on a motorcycle.




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