August Third. Mental toughness.

August 4, 2012



Friday August 3, 1 AM

I filled up across the street from the restaurant. The plan was to go down the 87 south in search of a motel or anything where I could rest. What else could I do?

The moon peeks through the clouds, It’s like a photoshoppped sky in a vampire movie, layers of clouds from black to white, with the moon peering through here and there, low level whispers of clouds race in front of it.  Big puffy black clouds lined with silver…  So amazing.  

The situation seems dire but I have to say that I felt really, really good. The beauty of everything around me just goes straight to my heart. The bike… that engine running. Flying through the night. It feels mythical. I feel a sort of purpose, correctedness of pathway. Even if it seems completely bonkers to most.

At some point I stopped and put on the rain pants, it was getting colder, much colder.  I had already donned the gore tex jacket earlier but now the pants were required.  There is nothing around. The only bright lights announce casinos and at this hour they are all closed. I realized at some point that I had crossed a time zone. Clocks indicated 2 AM, mine indicated 3 AM.

I saw the numbers go from 3:33 to 4:44 on the clock.  I am not speeding… it gets too cold and the risks are too high. Wildlife, debris, whatever could appear on my path… There is over a hundred miles to Grand Falls… it’s a long way in the cold dark night.

Then the rain started.

I was annoyed. The bike was going to get filthy. I didn’t know how bad it was going to get.

“Watch for deer.” the waitress had warned me.

First I saw an antelope on the left. I saw it so clearly, the markings on its face, it seemed to be in deep thought. It didn’t move. The drizzle increased. I was getting colder.  Air was getting in via my collar via every crevice, weakness in the armor.  If I moved my head I was severely punished with a stab of cold.  I am leaning on the tank, which is getting frigidly cold. The engine is running at 86 degrees which is very low for an engine that has been running for an hour.

 Then I saw it, on the right, a doe. Very pretty, her head slightly tilted with a look of worry. “Don’t move” I think.  She doesn’t.  I keep moving fingers and legs and my body heat keeps escaping.  I do have a heated vest in the bag on the seat… but to access it I’d have to stop, park, take everything off the bike and out of the bags. I now need 3 tools to remove the seat as the last mechanic switched bolts around, the tools are under the back seat…  the vest is at the very back of the red bag, I would have to dismantle the whole luggage to get to it, then the power cord is now under the seat, I had tucked it there… the whole operation could take an hour, in the rain, in the dark, on the side of a black as coal road.   I’ve been up and rolling since 8 AM, it’s 2 AM  and I cannot handle the thought of doing all this, so I continue, hunched on the tank.

“Slow down!”  

The thought came to me loud and crystal clear, instantly I let go of the throttle, and instantly an antlered deer ran across the road, silver in the headlights, like an apparition. His body up in mid stride, mesmerizing. It seemed to all happen so very slowly. I knew my luck then. Angels. Or knowingness. Sometimes it’s the same.

“Wow.  Thank you.” To  whatever gave me this prescient command.

Grand Falls 36 miles.

So close, yet it seems an eternity. So, so far away.  I have to stay slow… 77 km\h faster and I get too cold.  At every breath a sound comes out of my mouth, uncontrolled “Hmmph, hmmph…”  the cold is doing this to me, my body protesting. I feel like an animal. There is no option. Go. Continue. In cycling we called it mental toughness, through the pain, the seeming despair that your mind goes to in order to make you stop.

My feet get wet and they start to hurt they are so cold. I stuff my left hand inside under the frame near the engine, I can’t even feel the heat but it’s not getting colder. I move the fingers of my right hand on the throttle and pain shoots through the wrist.  

In the far distance the lights of the city appear here and there, like a mirage.  They seem to widen and shrink like greasy matter in the night. The minutes seem like  hours.  I’m starting to lose it but I can’t lose it so I hang in.  My face shield is fogging up so I have to open it and the cold air blasts in.  Argh….  my skull gets frigid.   I hunker as low as I can.

Sleep. Sleep would be good. I think of getting a room and sleeping through the day until tomorrow. I don’t care how much money now. I’ll pay. Hot bath… my shoulders scream, my everything screams at me.

Red towers, shimmering, Mordor I think…  lights shift left and right.  They look like sentinels, will they stop me?   The are angry red. High. Menacing.

 Grand Falls 17.  Oh it is so far…  so dark.  It’s pitch black now.  The city a viscous vision of bright lights and reverberation of lights.  A hill, I’m going down and finally the city is right there I am in it.  

I am frantically looking around, should I turn right or stay here… I stay on the 87. I am sure it will be the right call. I don’t know but I am sure. I need to sleep, get off this bike… Motel… Where are they? I thought they’d be all around, flashing their lights and offers at me like the girls on the bad side of town. But no, it’s dark, wet, a cop car goes the other way and I would have given anything to ask them where to go…

Convenience store, lights. I pull in the parking lot, I try to park but somehow the bike does not respond, it’s just hundreds of pounds of unresponsive matter.   I’ll see why soon. I just stop there. My head on the handlebars, shivering. A guy comes over he pushes the kick stand.

I’m so cold!”

He looks at me as if he’s seen everything. He’s overweight, too young to look that old and really grubby looking. I go inside the store with him. He seems to know everyone.

Motels, if you go down on second avenue you will find …”

Second avenue… that is too much for me to figure out.

Can I use your washrooms?” I ask the store owner.

here’s the key, pull hard on the door, it sticks.”

I went in and peed for what seemed an eternity. I wasn’t aware of that need.   But I’m actually feeling pretty good on some level. Not freaked out. Not out of my mind, just damned cold. And this is new. I think this meditation is doing much more than I am aware.  There is a new way of handling myself.

I finally head out. The gruff guy left me his phone number

if you can’t find anything you can call me.” but I don’t really trust him.  I’ll find something.  I have to.  I left the paper on the counter.

I get on the bike and start it. It dies immediately with a clang.  Ominous sound in the wet black night. 

Oh you’re kidding me… I thought. I try again and I have to coax it with much throttle action. The injection pump goes ZZZZZ  over and over again and I can’t get it going. It does not want to move. It’s just wanting to die on the spot. Something wet? Something to do with gas, cylinders? It finally runs, sputtering, a dry, angry sound, revving up and down, unhappy.  I finally get on the street, it’s running so badly it’s kind of desperate.

I see a motel. The good price motel or something of the sort.  Salvation.  The “Vancancy” sign bright in the night.  I pull in the parking lot.  Get off the bike, walk to the door,  ring the bell.  An indian man comes out. He looks at me from head to toe and gets agitated. No!  he makes with his head.  Then turns around and rummages to find a piece of paper with a piece of scotch tape on it. It was written in blue Bic pen “ No rooms available” he sticks it on the door, steps back on step and looks at me while still shaking his head.

“But your sign said… I started from the cold side of the door . It’s useless. He’s judged me “bad” so there is no point. I get on the bike and it takes about 10 attempts to get it going again. I am hoping he’s watching and feeling guilty.  Then I figure there was some reason for this an let him be.

After a couple of circles around the downtown core I find a Motor Inn. I walk in, the guy is sleeping on the coach. It’s 5 AM. He instantly gets into action.  He has a room but I’ll  have to leave at noon.  My rest plans are not going to happen. That leaves me… 6 hours or so before I have to wake up. $57 bucks.

“You have a bath in there?” I ask



I go get the bike, I have to take it up a ramp to get to the parking and it barely makes it. I’m worried.  I’m tired.

I get a few things, tooth brush, clean underwear and go inside. Start the bath. Hot, hot, hot. It’s good. It’s glorious. I’m not upset or angry or freaked out.  Just tired and worried about the bike.

I make a plan. Message Ozzy to see if he would have an idea.  Go to bed.
9:40 AM

I wake up worried. Lets see… turn on the laptop, Ozzy had answered. He was on the messaging thing.

You should be sleeping” he writes

I know I woke up worried”
I got out and try to start the bike. It’s now alone on the parking lot except for one shiny cruiser bike with it’s owner.


I put the key in. It starts. It runs. No problem. I’m elated. It was wet.. It dried. Something will need to be looked at but it’s ok. I chatted with the guy a bit too much, the excitement make me babble.  He’s from Alberta, going to Sturgis. I gather my stuff, the lady with the cart cleaning the rooms almost collides with me.

Oh sorry!”

Nothing happened so we’re all good!’

I went for breakfast and get ready to leave. I start the bike, get down the ramp, go 4 blocks and it starts again. My feelings sink… crap.

I get to Starbucks for the wifi. I can look up motorcycle places… Ozzy… he’s thanfully on Skype messaging

He then said : “How much gas is left in the tank, silly question but…”

less than half”

Could be a coincidence but Melanie ran into a batch of bad gas in Montana on her trip. ”

No shit I thought. Fits the bill.

Get some STP carb-injector cleaners and get new gas.”


I find a gas station one block down and a parts place across the street. The station had the STP stuff so I poured half of the bottle in the tank as instructed. New gas : fill’er up. Start the bike : it runs like crap. I pull it over away from the tanks. Try to run it. The idle is low. I bring it up. Run baby run. At first it’s awful then it steadies. This might work.

I got on and left the station, it’s running. I figure I’ll stay on the 15 South. If something goes wrong I would not be in the boonies looking for help.

AS I get out of town, the view, which I could not see in the dark is stunning. Here was the payoff.  I am so blown away.  I laugh.  I can’t believe my luck.  My stars. 

Montana. It’s glorious. I laugh heartily, the engine runs. We are OK. More than OK. I’m so fucking alive. I think I maybe really coming back to life after all this heartache and pain.  It’s as if over the last two days the grip of the broken-heartedness finally loossened.  I am alive, on my own terms, flying through the universe, no one who will frown at me, disapprove of me, hate me.  Just me, as I was, as I am.  

Montana sky, take me.


Oh so alive


no more grayness


I did not get much further that day.  I stopped at a Starbucks in Helena.  When I walked in the barrista told me : This is your luck, our computers are down and whatever you get will be free!”


“Yes, whatever you want!”

“Really, wow… What a day!”  If he only knew, I thought my ride was sick that I might be stuck, found I wasn’t hit the road to glorious views, laughed deeply, come for coffee and get a free one…”  Wow.

I sat there for a while, I asked one girl working there and she said there was camping in Bernice.  I searched online and decided to go there.  I went across the street to Safeway to get some food.  Got back on the bike, hit the 15 South, saw the camping sign, got off the highway.  

I rode a dirt road for about 10 KM wondering where that was going to take me.  At one point a huge cow was on the side of the road staring at me.  I finally landed in an area where others were camping.  No toilets, no utilities, just a patch of wilderness.  

I set up camp, ate sardines again and started to write the blog until night came.  I got cold.  Looked up.  There it was, the brilliant shining moon overhead.  

I am in Montana, under a very big moon lighting the terrain and trees around me making it fairy tale material.  I’m alive.  I stare for a while, walk around, find a stream.  How did I not hear this earlier?  I finally went to sleep in my little tent.  

Frrrr!  Frrrr!  Frrrr!


Frrrr!!  Frrr!!

“What the hell…”

I open the tent’s door, there on the ground I had left a bag with garbage.  I thought it might attract who ever it would attract and keep them away from the saddle bags.  I don’t know what it was but it just kept rummaging in the bag, then left.  I look up.  It’s 4:30 AM the sky is so blue, the moon so white and the stars are glowing to big, Oh my God…  Another gift.

I went back to sleep.  





11 Responses to “August Third. Mental toughness.”

  1. Alan Says:

    Danielle, 70% of the text is whited out / unreadable

    • Yes, I’ve had issues with WordPress, it changes the color of the text and I’ve been unable to fix it. You have to go read it online, sorry about that it’s out of my hands

  2. Christopher Percy Says:

    FYI, Butte really SUCKS!!! Keep going. PS, I know your being carefully but be careful.

    • Hey you! yeah, I’ll be careful! I am careful! ha! ha! Butte… see the thing is that I don’t really stop in cities much. I go to the wilderness! I had tons of wind today on the 20 West on my way to Mountain Home. But you know I’m getting good at this riding stuff 😉

  3. Christopher Percy Says:

    Oh yeah and another thing the road that heads south from Butte it’s really really windy do be carefull.

  4. Christopher Percy Says:

    It’s the15 very windy. Massoula is nice it has Starbucks.

  5. Danielle…again, just missed you…on the 3rd, was driving I-90 South , stopping overnight in Sheridan, Wyoming…and I KNEW you were close by ! I am persistent and am keeping an eye out for you…

    • My God! I can’t believe it!!! wow, I’m on my way westward and south. I arrived in Mountain Home, Idaho tonight and paid myself the luxury of a hotel room! We will meet again!
      All my love and be safe out there!

  6. Charlotte Says:

    Glad you are doing ok!!!

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