I asked my buddy if he wanted to go for a ride Saturday morning out to Great Basin National Park, one of my favorite places in the world, and he said yes, if he wasn’t too busy, and then he wasn’t too busy so we agreed to meet up at the Hotel Nevada bar in the morning. On Friday I asked a girl if she wanted to ride with me and she said yes and I was glad cause she was tiny and light and I’d been wanting to meet her for a couple of days. I knew then Saturday was going to be a good ride.
I got to the hotel at 9 a.m. and texted my buddy and he said he was on his way. In the meantime, a bunch of other people showed up, guys and girls, and by the time we left after 10, there was five bikes, three with women riding on the back. There was another guy and his girl that wanted to ride, but he needed a new tire and didn’t figure he had another ride left on the tire he was needing to replace. That got me thinking about my back tire, which I’ve been thinking about for some time now.
I had it checked at a tire place in town a few weeks back, and they said I had a good thousand miles left on the tire. I rode down to Riverside, Calif. and was fast approaching that 1,000 mile mark when I dropped in to see my buddy, Bob, at Biker’s Alley. He looked at the tire and said I had a good 1,000 miles left on it, so then I rode 525 miles back to Ely, made three trips to Eureka and back, and by then I was 2,000 miles over the original diagnosis. On Thursday I ordered a new tire but it wasn’t going to be delivered to Ely until the next week.
So I kept checking it as Saturday approached, and it looked good, and I figured I could make the trip. But when that guy told me he wasn’t going to chance it, I knew I had to stay focused in case it was an omen.
I never trip when riding my bike, except when I have a girl on the back, then I worry some and ride safer— not that I don’t ride safe all the time — I just think of riding safe when I have a woman on the back. I don’t want nothing to happen to her. I want to protect her. That’s the whole point of taking her on a ride. So she knows she’s safe — and there’s nowhere safer in the world than the back seat of my Road King.
But just to be sure, I looked at my tire again when we started to load up and I felt, if I just take it easy, it wasn’t going to be anything dangerous taking the ride. So we loaded up and all met up at the Shell station just on the south end of town, and took off down the scenic highway, a pack of local bikers headed to Great Basin and Wheeler Peak.
It’s a short ride to Major’s, the bar at the bottom of the mountain opposite of Ely, but we stopped there for a beer and some conversation. The girl was nice to ride with; she didn’t move or talk or nothing while sitting behind me. That’s what I like when I got a girl on back.
Some girl once told me I needed to get one of those headsets so we could talk back and forth over the sound of my rhythmical Harley engine. I was shocked and I gave her a cold stare and shook my head in bewilderment. The last thing I want when I’m riding down the highway, seeking peace and enlightenment, is a woman yak, yak, yakking while I’m being one with my machine.
We can talk at the bar during breaks, or at night when we’re alone, the day’s ride over and we’re getting intimate. The one place we are not going to talk is when we’re on the road enjoying the sun, the wind, the green hillsides, grasslands and the blue skies that stretch out endlessly across the great basin.
I say, baby, if you want chit-chat, find some nice frat boy in a button down shirt, driving a cute little red car… or any color car. The whole reason I ride a motorcycle is cause I’m sick of hearing people talk and people’s talk can’t catch me when I’m doing 70 mph down the highway.
Anyway, getting back to the ride, we didn’t stay at Major’s long before we were back on the road to Great Basin. I had left Ely wearing a thick leather jacket, but the sun was getting warmer in the sky, so I took it off and put on my leather vest over my sleeveless shirt and I was comfortable as we set out toward our next stop, which I thought was going to be Great Basin National Park, but through a series of miscommunications, turned out to be The Border Inn, which is always OK.
We visited there for a few, me downing a Ruby Mountain Porter like I always do, topping off the gas tanks, and then we set off for Wheeler Peak.
The weather was perfect as we climbed the hill and I could have pulled over anywhere and enjoyed the rest of the day, but we continued on up the mountain.
We made a stop at the Mather’s Lookout, and while a couple of us had packed a beer for when we reached the campground at the top of the mountain, everyone who brought a beer broke it out there while I continued to save mine for sitting in the forest. We made another stop at another observation point before we finally landed at the campground at the top.
We pulled into a parking spot and some guys stayed put, while others wandered, but the girl and I found a nice spot in the woods where we sat on a log, I drank my beer and she drank some coffee drink, and we enjoyed some private conversation. We weren’t there long though, I had only drank half of my beer, and though I was really enjoying my time with this little honey, we heard bikes sounding off in the distance and realized everyone was getting ready to leave.
We hiked back up the slight hillside, across a creek and back to the bike and sure enough, everyone was on their bike, engines fired up, and ready to go, just waiting for us to get back. Damn I was disappointed. I could have stayed up there forever with this little baby girl, the way things were going, but truth was, I had to get back to Ely by 5 as well.
So we lit out of there, rolled down the mountain and crossed through Baker — actually, we stopped at the bar in Baker but it was closed, so we made the straight shot back to Major’s.
I was a little tired and burned out, and at one point, when everyone roared off down the highway into Spring Valley, I just couldn’t get it going and fell way behind the pack. Way behind. But I caught up to them just as they were pulling into Major’s and we again went in, got some beers, and conversated.
The girl and I went outside where I enjoyed my beer, and it had turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of fall, probably in the mid-80s and sunshiny. My buddy left first cause he had to get his girlfriend to work, and me and this sexy damsel left soon after that, ditching everyone as they were about to enjoy another round.
It was a nice ride through the mountains and across the valley back to Ely by ourselves. The sun was warm, the mountains were placid and, as we landed in the valley, I was relaxed and at ease, tranquil from the ride, enjoying the straightaway and thankful I had made it through another great adventure, safe and sound.
Marty Bachman is editor of the Ely Times and an avid biker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-550-3943.