Mission of Mercy

As I was leaving the air museum yesterday afternoon, my friend Ed called. He needed my help. Gosh knows Ed’s helped me out many a time, so I said sure, what do you need? Turns out he and a mutual friend, Paul, were stranded in Willcox, 80 miles east of Tucson. They were homeward bound from a long motorcycle ride and Paul had gotten a flat tire. We all carry tubeless tire plug kits and cans of compressed air in our saddlebags, so no problem … except the cut in Paul’s rear tire was too big and the plug didn’t hold. They were at a gas station in Willcox, a town bereft of Honda dealerships, and the closest replacement tire was at Ed’s house in Tucson.

How to get at the rear wheel when you have a roadside emergency

Would I be willing to drive to Ed’s house, grab a spare from Ed’s garage, and bring it to them in Willcox? Talk about good luck and timing: I was one of two people Ed could have called who 1) knows where he lives, 2) knows where he keeps the spare tires, and 3) am retired and able to help in the middle of a workday. Also lucky: my volunteer shift at the museum was over and I was in my truck. Normally I’m on the motorcycle on museum days, but since I had the truck I was able to head straight from the museum to Ed’s house, grab a tire … Ed always has one or two on hand, already mounted on extra rims … and hit the road to Willcox. Traffic was light on I-10, so I set the cruise control to 80 and settled in. I’ve been wanting to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, and this long trip finally gave me the opportunity to hear the whole thing from beginning to end. Not only that, there were interesting things to see along the way, including this truck:

Thanks for spelling it out, but believe me, I already knew what you were hauling

Less than two hours after Ed called, I pulled into the gas station in Willcox with the new tire, and Paul got to work mounting it.

Paul mounting the replacement wheel & tire

Before I got there they had managed to get the bad tire off the original rear wheel and Ed had the wheel strapped to his back seat. It looked big and bulky back there, so I offered to take it back to Tucson in the truck and drop it off at Ed’s on my way home (we live within two miles of each other).

Ed & Paul, ready to ride again

The drive home was as easy and uneventful as the drive out. I dropped the wheel off at Ed’s and was home by seven. A good day’s work.

A lot of this biker credo/brotherhood of the road stuff is self-serving bullshit, but this much is true: when a biker’s stranded by the side of the road, fellow bikers will stop and offer help. Ed and Paul told me about all the bikers who stopped to offer help yesterday. Some of them, seeing Paul’s Goldwing lying on its side, thought he’d crashed. As I mentioned, Ed’s bailed me out before, and I was happy I was in a position to help. It’ll all come around.

Before you ask: laying a Goldwing on its side to remove the rear wheel doesn’t hurt the bike. The crash bars keep the bike off the ground so it doesn’t get all scratched up. It’s better if you don’t have a full fuel tank, though.

One thing I took to heart yesterday: although I carry a tool kit in addition to tire plugs and compressed air, I don’t carry a breaker bar or a socket that’ll fit the rear wheel lug nuts. Ed does, and his foresight paid off yesterday. Looks like I need to make a run to Harbor Freight!

5 thoughts on “Mission of Mercy

  • I can’t listen to the last quarter of Hamilton while driving, because it’s hard to see the road through the tears.

  • Yes. The Unimaginable just gets the crying started. But the time we get to “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” and Eliza’s commentary about the orphanages I’m totally sobbing. And feeling so great! Because then I get to start it again!

    And don’t you love the jazz vocalese of “What Did I Miss?”

  • Of course, now you’ll have to take on Eliza’s job of spreading the story. In my case, this involves accosting perfect strangers (yes, literally) and telling them how important and wonderful and fun the show is. And addictive. Boy, is it addictive.

  • And the biography is just brilliant. What an incredible job of sleuthing and excellent writing.

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