Posted 1/21/2012 10:32 AM (#62555) Subject: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 5 Location: Midland, MI
Hello All. Not a member yet, but a LOONNGG...story about an adventure last summer, while attempting a Lake Michigan SS1000, with the '74 R75/6 with sidecar...
The Engadine 444
Engadine, pronounced “N” - “Ga” - “Die” – “N”. Engadine (46.10123898781414, -85.6115385890007) is a place in the Upper Pennisula (U.P.) of Michigan, a very small place to be sure, actually never made it there but was very close. Engadine is a place that was not part of any plan for this sultry mid-summer motorcycle adventure. In fact the plan on this 11th day of August was to do an Iron Butt ride around Lake Michigan, starting and ending in Midland, Michigan. It would be 1000 miles in 24 hours. But, shortly before the planned ride, the weapon of choice the ’97 Buell needed a part and was out of commission. What to do?
Yes I DID change that front tire BEFORE this trip
Enter then old and somewhat reliable antique Beemer with the hack. One for two on Iron Butt attempts, the hack knows its way around at least one Great Lake having completed the Lake Huron SS1000 the year before. The hack’s number was called and it was prepared to do battle. Weighing in at just under 800 pounds the hack was loaded for bear. With no monkey riding in the hack this year there was plenty of “just in case” articles, to fill the vacant monkey space. The old and trusty “74” R75/6 was filled to capacity with options , like a vintage Swiss Army knife, ready to open and deliver results in the face of any potential challenge. Tools galore, wrenches(metric and SAE), wire, duct tape, two-part epoxy, a diode board, a multi-meter, lubricants, two gallons of gas, a spare tire, two spare inner tubes, 12V air pump, water, snacks, and even a GPS.
The start of the trip was uneventful. The alarm sounded at 2:00 A.M. EST and as I stared at the full-moon I thought to myself, “I need to stop looking in the mirror, get out of the bathroom and get going.” And so I did. The first gas fill and start came at 02:30, and in short order 30 miles to the West, I stopped for gas because this was the turn to the North and needed the obligatory Iron Butt receipt to verify the turn.
At the beginning...
A few short hours later I reached the Mackinaw Bridge. The Mighty Mack with lights glowing in the dark was beautiful. Over the bridge and to the toll booth, where the collector said, “Where are you going?” When he heard my response, he said, “Really? All the way? Through Chicago?” My chest puffed out almost as far as my gut and I replied in a grin, “Yup, that’s where I’m going.”
The mighty Mack shortly after the crossing
Again, I refueled and made the turn Westward now seriously freezing my butt off while traveling in the ever brightening sky on the UP’s Route 2. And then it happened. Just past the turn-off for Engadine, I felt that soft sensation between my legs. Quickly sizing up the situation I knew it had to be the rear tire because it was so damn cold that I couldn’t feel anything else down there. Then the tire popped, the hack slowed and I pulled over. A flat tire.
I could see in the distance a restaurant, but how could that be of help? So I pushed the hack into a crushed stone gravel portion by the road. I unpacked the hack thinking no big deal I can get this done and get back on the road. But the first thing I didn’t find was the jack. Oh dogsh*t! I had enough crap in that hack to make Duck Au Jus with peach flambé, but NO FRICKEN JACK!
Roadside Tire change
Luckily I had recently been stricken with insomnia one night and had watched an old MacGyver show to put me to sleep. If MacGyver can make enough methane gas to operate a fork truck by eating all the eggs at a Chinese Buffett, then there is no reason why I couldn’t get this tire off the hack. So I found a stray piece of chrome on the road, it was a u-shaped piece like the ones used for a step on a pick-up truck. I put the piece next to the bike, backed up to it, lifted the bike and kicked the chrome step under the bike. Voila! Now to dig a hole under the tire. Okay channel locks will do, and so I started digging, resulting in a very large hole in somebody’s right-of-way. No matter, who in the UP is going to notice a pot hole? The tire came off and soon I was sweating bullets bending the rubber off the rim with the standard issue BMW tire irons. Somehow the tube had sheared away from the valve, but I was prepared for that, I had another tube. So, in with the tube, back wrestling rubber onto the rim. (Actually at some point during the roadside struggle filled process of tubes, tires, and rims, the image of monkeys and footballs came to mind but I digress.)
Tire back on the bike, tire pump at the ready, tire begins to inflate but the tire won’t inflate completely. So I think to myself, “ the little 12V electric air pump must not be able to finish inflating the tire.” (As a side note, I would say double dog-sh*t, but then I would have to keep track of all the dog- sh*ts for the rest of the story.) I pull the bike forward out of the newly formed hand built crevasse, and proceed to fill in the hole I dug by the road. Now with seemingly dwindling options, I began to scratch my sweat laden head.
Okay, that’s it, I give up, I’ll call AMA Roadside Assistance, that’s what I paid for isn’t it? The phone rings, the obligatory steps taken, press 1, press 2, press 1, press 3…..and then I hear the voice I had been waiting for to get me out of this mess. And first response was….Hello, this is Peggy with AMA Roadside assistance. See what I mean by not counting the dog-sh*ts?
The conversation really did go something like this….
[Me] “Peggy, I just need a tow truck to bring me air to fill my tire.” [Peggy] “Okay, let me check policy. Sorry, policy no have air, just 35 mile tow.” [ME} “Ahhh… Peggy…every tow truck has an air compressor.” [Peggy] “Sorry, policy no have air, just 35 mile tow.” [ME] “Okay then tow me to the nearest gas station.” [Peggy] “Okay, where you are?” [Me] “I’m near Engadine, Michigan.” [Peggy] Me no can find Engadine, another city please?” I stare at the GPS and slowly go through a list of 25 towns progressively further from where I am. Finally in frustration I say, “Peggy I’m in-between St. Ignace and Escanaba on Route 2.” Peggy replies, “I have tow truck in St. Iganatz, it 50 miles, you have to pay extra.” [Me] “Okay Peggy, I just really need air and nothing else so I want you to send a tow truck and tow me EXACTLY TWO FEET from my current location.” [Peggy] “And current location is?” [Me] “I’ve given you all the towns, but I’ll do even better, here are my coordinates Peggy just look me up.” [Peggy] “Please hold.” Ten minutes later still on hold, I hang up and call AMA in Columbus, Ohio. I talk to some director who promises help. As I hung up I knew there would be no help from AMA or from Peggy. (AMA called back much later and their roadside assistance group called back hours later!)
No help, except from the people I was about to meet from the U.P.
I looked at the GPS and saw that there was a Mobil Station in Engadine, 2.2 miles away. A new conversation begins. [Me] “Is the gas station there full service and is air available.” [Gas Station] “Yes.” [Me] “By chance is there a wrecker service around?” [Gas Station] “Yes, But the wrecker services is out on Route 2.” [Me] “Well, I’m on Route 2 right near the Beary Patch Restaurant, (Teddy Bear theme) is it near there?” [Gas Station] “Yes, in fact it’s the yellow building right on the other side!”
The Beary Patch
I call the wrecking service and the secretary tells me the 83 year-old man who runs the service is in the hospital (A car fell on him) and that his friends Aaron and Bubba, who work at a car parts store are filling in. She took my number. Minutes later Aaron called to say that I should push the sidecar over to the Wrecker building and someone would meet me there. Okay, well that’s only about .2 tenths of a mile, with a loaded hack and flat tire, but I start pushing. My lungs are on fire. I’ve been working on this motorcycle for over two hours and NOT ONE SINGLE person has stopped. Especially aggravating are the H-D Clowns waving and making gestures as they go by. But continuing to push for all I got, I pass by the restaurant at the .1 tenth of a mile mark and then just short of a heart-attack I make it over to the wrecker building.
The Wrecker Building
Then I notice behind me a guy who I would soon learn whose name is Gary comes out of the Beary Patch Restaurant with an air compressor and says “Got a flat tire eh? Bubba said for you to bring it back over here and I’ll getter filled up for you eh?” And with that he added the old tried and true, humorless, tire joke… “Nice bike, we don’t see many BMW motorcycles eh? Looks like she’s just flat on the bottom eh?” So, with a grin that one can only emit through gritting teeth and a desire for help in the middle of the wilderness, I turn the hack around and push it back over to the restaurant. Gary fires up the compressor and we start to fill the tire and hear a hissing sound getting louder and louder. Somewhere, in that push between the blown tire location to the wrecker building and back to the restaurant I had pinched the tube. My only spare replacement tube now had leaks.
By now the sun was well out and things seemed to be turning up. No digging this time as Gary gets me a jack and an extra set of long tire irons. In short order the tire is off and the monkey/football operation is engaged in until the tube is out of the tire. Now with the hole in inner tube located, Gary calls Bubba, and Bubba tells him the “secret” location of the key to the wrecker building. Gary takes my tube, and puts a patch on it and whiz bang, I’m ready to go. Quickly then the process is repeated, tube back in tire, monkey/football tire on rim, wheel on Motorcycle, fill tire….hisssssssssssss. Okay, what happened? Tire off bike, monkey/football rubber off rim, and somehow holes in tube too numerous to count. How did that happen? Oh, dog-sh*t(n+1)
Now again, time to reassess the situation. I need a 4.00 x 18 inner tube in the middle of the U.P. That’s like trying to find a spark plug in a polar bear’s a$$. But Gary calls Bubba, and Bubba turns Aaron loose on finding the tube. Bubba says, “You know if it can be found eh, Aaron will find it.” Meanwhile I go into the restaurant and have some pancakes and chat with the Owner’s, waiters, waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, and anyone who will talk to me, all to pass a little time. Aaron calls back about ½ hour later and has two options. Well it seems that Bubba lives on the other side of the wrecker building and two doors down from there is a guy who repairs motorcycles.
Gary and I start to walk to the motorcycle guy’s house and we see him pull into his driveway and go into the house. This previously unknown person whom I had never met had come home for lunch just to look for that tube. But as seems he had only 15, 16, 17, and 19” tubes, but no 18. Now about that very moment, Bubba calls Gary on the cell phone and I hear Gary say, “Yeah, he looks like an okay guy eh”, then Gary hands me the phone. I hear, “Yeah, this is Bubba, my truck is in the driveway there, flip down the visor and drive up to Newberry, it’s about 25 miles away, Aaron found a tube up there.” HOLY COW, this guy is going to give me his truck for a 50 mile round trip jaunt to get an inner tube and he’s never met me!
But before I could leave Bubba calls back and says, “Sit tight, I have a customer here in the parts store who’s coming your way, He’ll drop it off to you. Just give Gary $24 for the tube and some gas money.” So back to the restaurant, they all know me by name by now. As they see me walk through the door and before I reach a table, they quickly get an ice tea ready and ask me what I want for lunch.
One of the waitresses asks if I had children and I said yes, two girls 22 & 21 and a boy 18. Well she says, “I have a 23 year-old girl who’s going to college down your way that would make a good girlfriend for that 18 year-old Alex.” Are you keeping track? Ice tea, breakfast, lunch, patch inner tube, air compressor, tire irons, free truck rental, and a girl-friend for my son, what could possibly be next? Like the wayward escapees in the movie, “Oh Brother where art thou?” I was in a geographic anomaly, everything was two weeks away but the difference was that in this place everyone was more than willing to help me get it.
About that time a man walks through the door with an odd look on his face and a small box in his hand, he sees me and says, “ Mister this tube is probably for you eh?” Well I didn’t ask how he knew, but 4 hours in Engadine probably doesn’t yet make me a full blown Yooper. He wouldn’t take any money, wished me well and he disappeared as quickly as he had shown up. So I finish lunch, finish the ice tea, head out to the trusty sidecar waiting outside. Monkey/football tube in tire, rubber on rim, tire on bike, inflate and ready to go. No hissing, no leaking, the tire was finally fixed. No matter how hard I tried to pay him Gary would not take a single dime for all that he did for me. In fact he said, “You know I thought we were going to have to make a run for that inner tube and you might have to stay in the extra camper I have sitting here.”
A round of hand shaking, taking pictures, and it was time to head for home. As it turns out, Engadine is only 222 miles from home, but was a great place to visit. Now I was in no hurry, the pressure was off, so I took it it slow, enjoying the scenery, even stopping for a Yooper Pastie (not what you think, kind of like a chicken pot pie), and yes, I will have that piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie. Back over the Mighty Mack and winding my way home, I stopped and checked my phone and was surprised at to hear this message, “This is Bubba, just checking to see if yous was okay eh and were on the road home again.” I pulled into the driveway about seven thirty, 17 hours on the clock for a total of 444 miles.
Pastie and some strawberry-rubarb pie
My faith in the American Spirit is alive and well. I couldn’t stop smiling, and I still can’t when I think of that trip. I want to grab all those snot nose politicians in Washington D.C. and drag them to the UP to show them where real people live. No, it wasn’t the IBA Lake Michigan SS1000 I had set out to do, but it was a probably a greater adventure than I could ever had imagined. And I know a great place to stop for breakfast and lunch, the Beary Patch, the menu includes everything you need and more.
The author (IBA 42635) has successfully completed (with his son Alex IBA#42634) one IBA ride, the Lake Huron SS1000 in his 1974 BMW w/sidecar. He worked for over 23 years as a Construction Manager and has since changed careers and is now the pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Midland, Michigan. Larry and his wife Pam, married for 25 years, have three children, Elizabeth, Alicia, and Alex.
Posted 1/21/2012 2:15 PM (#62564 - in reply to #62558) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 238 Location: Tacoma, WA, USA
That's a pretty good story. Out west here, I find that the farther you get from a city the friendlier the people you meet.
Though your ride report makes me once again congratulate myself on owning three bikes that use tubeless tires. I carry a compressor and a gummy worm patch kit and haven't got stuck yet.
Not being from your neck of the woods, is Yooper a cherished local nickname or a term used only by outsiders? Or is it like OK to use if you ARE a Yooper, but it's an insult if used by somebody from the south?
And would I be right in guessing that Yooper comes from "U.P.'er"? I might borrow that moniker for local folks around here. My hometown is "University Place" which is kinda a mouthful so we just say we're from "U.P." but yooper could become a popular alternative.
Posted 1/21/2012 9:21 PM (#62578 - in reply to #62575) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 1164 Location: Reardan, WA
That was a great story. Americana. I read it this morning when Joyce posted it on Facebook then shared it over onto my Facebook so all my friends who wouldn't see it on the USCA wall would see it on mine. Thanks for sharing that. One question- was your daughter receptive to the idea of the introduction? lol...
Posted 1/22/2012 6:32 AM (#62583 - in reply to #62578) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 5 Location: Midland, MI
Thanks for the nice comments. Actually it was the waitress who had a daughter who was close to my son's age, at the time he had a girlfriend...
AND, this adventure is actually part three of the other two IBA attempts. Both of those attempts were quite the adventures too. As you all know, you may get a comment or two if you're riding a motorcycle, but if you're riding a hack many more people stop and talk. How many times have each of you smiled inside your helmet as a car goes by and you can read their lips?... "Oh look a side car"
Posted 1/22/2012 4:04 PM (#62589 - in reply to #62583) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 1164 Location: Reardan, WA
Oops. Sorry for the mix up. That's what happens when I read something in the morning and post about it in the afternoon. Something like CRS? You're right about peoples reactions to sidecars! And all the more so if you've got a pup for a riding companion. Hope to meet you at the Rally by the Lake this coming July.
Posted 1/22/2012 7:11 PM (#62592 - in reply to #62589) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 161 Location: Columbiaville, MI.
Great story Larry, my dad was born in the U.P. and I still have relatives that live there, I love to ride up there every chance I get, mainly to eat some pasty, like my Grandma used to make. I never got a bad meal, or meet a Upper I didn't like. ( by the way Uppers call the people in lower Michigan "troles" because they live below the bridge) I have eaten in Engadine several times, great food. Now that I am in Texas, your story brought back lots of memories, of when I lived in Michigan, Thanks.
Posted 9/13/2012 2:05 PM (#66927 - in reply to #62583) Subject: RE: The Engadine 444 - '74 - R75/6 with sidecar
Posts: 40 Location: Germantown, TN
Larry, being an H-D rider, I need to call you down with your reference to the "Clowns," but since I got such a laugh out of the lower Michigan trolls I'll have to let it go. We have traveled the U-P many, many times and have never failed to enjoy the pasty while we were there. My wife of 40 years would be considered an expert on such matters. What made me feel really bad about not being there was your reference to the strawberry-rhubard pie. We're a little short on rhubard in Memphis.
Great article, we both enjoyed it, and hope to see you in Mountain View.