The Worst Day

Everything has gone wrong since I left Payson. I quickly lost the sun to the horizon. Some of the nicest riding, including parts that were the most planned out for the entire trip, were wasted in scared nighttime riding instead of enjoying them in the daylight. I made my way to Sedona, having seen campsites around it online. Turns out Sedona is the opposite of Houston. It’s a rich man’s getaway. Instead of having to worry about crackheads, I have to worry about something I fear much more. Cops.

All the campsites were by reservation, fully booked and closed by the time I rolled around. In the town there were only expensive hotels and the like. I sat at a gas station for a long time hoping to find someone inclined to help. If there’s something that I’ve experienced similar to the Craigslist Joe story, it’s that it’s always those with the least that are most willing to help. I suppose money makes you indifferent to others plight. I can imagine it difficult to accumulate vast wealth otherwise. A man came by on foot, and proceeded to talk to me for awhile. Turns out he’s doing something much similar to what I’m doing, except on a smaller scale. He says he has his bike and his campsite set up on a nearby hill. He asks me if my bike has any off road capability. Thinking back to my fiasco at the beach, I tell him “only a little bit.” “Only a little bit is all you’ll need” he said. I followed him on my bike as he trekked towards the site. A backstreet ended onto a dirt opening. It wasn’t really dirt so much as gravel. And gravel wouldn’t be an appropriate term either because the entire area was rocks of at least an inch or two diameter. I managed to navigate my bike up a pretty steep hill with some difficulty. A small straightaway later, he points me to climb an even steeper, rockier hill. It’s in this ascent that I promptly dropped my bike. The 1100cc behemoth slipped on the rocks some, and tilted left. As I went to put my left foot down to pull the bike upright, my foot traveled much further than it should have before hitting earth. Where I went to set my foot down was a slight depression. By the time my toes hit the floor the bike was well on its way over, and there was no way my small 140lb 5’6 self was going to prevent the inevitable.

I hit the red emergency off switch immediately. The bike strangely continued to make a clicking noise. I scrambled for the key to turn it off completely and that did it. A hell of a herculean effort on a frictionless floor, we lifted the bike upright and began to assess the damage. There was a wet patch on the dirt beneath. I prayed I hadn’t somehow done serious damage. I prayed it wasn’t oil or coolant. Fortunately, it was gasoline. The man had neglected to mention that his bike, the one that made it through all this terrain, was essentially a dirt bike. After an absurdly difficult and dangerous backwards descent we managed to wrestle the bike off the whole terrain. Then after some difficulty starting, she roared back to life. A good look in the light showed the only real damage to have been to the left mirror. A relatively cheap lesson, but not one I had hoped to add to my bare bones budget. In all reality, it could have been much worse. Dropping a bike that heavy onto rocks could easily have caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage. I was quite fortunate the previous owner installed some custom passenger pegs that stick out a whole lot. Those took the fall much better than my tank or other parts would have. Back at the gas station, I pondered my next moves. I must’ve sat at that gas station for hours.

I had passed some awesome scenery. I knew it because I saw the silhouette of large rock mesas against the night sky when I was getting close to town. I didn’t want to go far to find a place to stay so that I could enjoy the road between Sedona and Flagstaff. Unfortunately, it was clear there would be no helping hands from rich Sedona. Eventually a scruffy college aged kid rolled up in an old beater. He lived in flagstaff. I had no choice. He let me follow him up to Flagstaff through that awesome road that would have been terrifying if not for having his headlights lead the way. The ride there was punctuated by more dark silhouettes of awesome mountain scenery. An absurdly cold ride for sure; I could barely feel my fingers by the time we got to his place. Once there, I quickly got to setting up the tent in his backyard. He lent me a sleeping pad, which helped tremendously. Between the pad and the fact that it was 1am where my usual sleeping time has been much closer to sundown, I slept like a baby. Writing this at 7am in the tent. I’m debating taking the ride back to Sedona at least to get to recoup some of the lost scenery. It truly looked amazing from what little I could see in the night. Maybe I can hike up to where I dropped the bike and get a picture as well. Still not sure.

2 thoughts on “The Worst Day

  1. Haven’t heard from you in a few days… hope you’re doing well!

    I found this directory of free/incredibly cheap campsites in the U.S. and it made me think of you. Maybe you’ll be able to spend a little less time asking to sleep on couches? Hope it helps.

    Boom: http://freecampsites.net/

    Best,
    Dustin

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