Packing and Analyzing
Now that the actual running was done, the task of analyzing the recent runs and packing all the stuff back up in the trailer and van began. Discussing the results of the three back to back runs, we looked at the slips, the logbook sheets and tried to figure out what would be the next course of tuning for NEXT YEAR. The record is within reach!
After that, it was up to our intrepid crew, mostly Bob and Louie again, to take all the ballast plates off the long bike, put all the bodywork back on and then see about the loading up of parts, bikes and supplies. We all set to it, each taking care of areas of familiarity.
Before loading up the bikes, we had to do the requisite photo op on the salt. After a week like this, everyone deserved a smiling face in the photos. The dramatic backdrop of the mountains and the glistening salt make us all look good. After a few different combinations of crews, bikes, riders and none, it was time to get going. We still had a 24 hour drive ahead of us to get home, and the adrenaline usually only lasts until Wyoming, when it also gets dark and cold.
I had a chance to discuss some of the European views with a fellow from Honda of Great Britain. His wife encouraged him to come up from a visit to Southern California and he was certainly glad to have made the trip. I heard the usual chatter in the background of the load-up, with a steady procession of boxes, tarps, and equipment going into the trailer to be stowed carefully away. As we were discussing his racing lawnmower (yes, they have them in jolly old England) my parentally tuned ears discerned a change. I turned to him and asked if heard anything. He said no, and I then asked if he had kids. He said yes and then the significance set in. It was dead quiet in the trailer and pit area. Having kids, you immediately head for the silence.
I excused myself and went over to poke my head in the side door. The long red bike was in place with Bob in the saddle. It looked like they were getting ready to tie it down, but it was still quiet in there. At that point I asked what happened and I got the same looks I got from my daughters when they were younger. Then someone piped up that the windscreen on the bike broke. The full story then came out. On loading the bike, a piece of wood that I had set on the tailgate, so as to be out of the way was evidently not. Bob balanced on the gate, hit the piece of wood, slipped and the bike fell into the funnel holder damaging both the windscreen and Bob’s head. Luckily Bob’s head wasn’t serious, and my daughter helpfully added that I didn’t like that windscreen anyways, which was true.
Loading proceeded and Bob recovered. Still a lot of stuff to get in the trailer.
We finally finished loading an hour and a half later, and saying goodbyes to our California and Arizona contingents we got ready to leave. It was at this point we discovered the battery in my wife’s van must have decided to die. Not being a very old battery it was a bit of a surprise, but pulling the truck and trailer around, a jumpstart, verify the charging system was working, and we were on our way.
Making that last trip across the salt that afternoon is different than all the other that week. Even though it is the same route and scenery, the finality is a bit somber. You look around to try and take in as much of the scene as possible, burning it into your mind.
Another group shot by the famous sign and then some family photos. The gate crew is there and sending everyone off with admonitions to be safe and “We will see you next year!” Yes, you will.
Down the access road, by the old truck stop, and onto Interstate 80 headed east.
You can just make out the vehicles in the pits making their way off the salt as you pick up speed heading towards Salt Lake City.
Heading up into the mountains out of Salt Lake, a commercial for Rocky Mountain Dragway came on the radio advertising a “Big Grudge Shootout”. Bikes and cars were welcome. I looked at Nick and I could see a momentary spark, then reality set in. We had to be back at work Monday morning. We still had another motor and enough nitro and all the right gearing was in the box on the shelf.
The Rocky Mountain Dragway rang another bell as it had been a featured venue in the movie “Funnycar Summer” and to have that come on while we were travelling through was cool.
Once into Wyoming, we stopped to get something to eat, all the while wondering if the van would start… Driving into the mountains at dusk is a visual experience that needs to be done to appreciate. The shadows lengthening and the canyons darkening rapidly adds to the view. Not being in the biggest hills at night is another incentive to keep legging it out of there.
Drive and gas, switch drivers and do it all over again.
We were able to find a Packer game on the radio near Dubuque Iowa and as the miles melted away, so did their lead. Luckily we got home before the final plays so driver despondency would not imperil our arrival.
Well the van was to have the last word as it wouldn’t start while up at the house, so another jumpstart, bring it down to the shop to unload the motors and parts and then off to the auto parts store for a new battery.
Finally walking in the front door, knowing everyone had gotten back safely, only then does relief and fatigue set in. Walking out on the back porch, you get to appreciate how lucky a person can be with the opportunities and people around. And…. then the woodpecker starts hammering on the end of the house and you see two new holes in the side of the house.
I did want to formally thank and acknowledge the people who made all this possible:
Nick Moore : rider of the fueler, tires, brakes, suspension, mechanicals, truck driver
Fred Weege : motor building extraordinare, mechanicals, electronic tuning, truck driver
Jacki Whisenant : body component construction (composites), paint and lettering
Bill Shields: logistics, and keeping the shop open so we can travel and race
Bob Crook: rider, loading, lumping, truck driving, general man Friday
Chris (Louie) L’amore : loading, lumping, catalyst to Bob (I probably misspelled it again)
Jim Haraughty: motel reservations, good friendship
Noel Hackbarth: driving, loading, man Friday
Patty Whisenant: spare motor transport, encouragement, 32 years with a sense of humor
And all the others who helped – you are always appreciated. Thanks so much!