Article By: Scooter Tramp Scotty
Originally Published In The March 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Sometime in the 1990s… Although the promoters had been trying to get Arizona Bike Week off the ground with only moderate success for some years, this season’s rally had actually been pretty good. Even Panhead Billy was in attendance. This guy had been living full time from his 1960 rigid for longer than I’d been on the old Electra Glide, and it was good to see him again. When the rally ended, and with nowhere in particular either of us had to be, Billy and I decided to migrate east together for a while. As the miles rolled slowly past, the endless desert scenery of cactus, rock and tumbleweed that spread in all directions to infinity had a way of soothing my spirit with an almost overwhelming sense of freedom that belongs only to the desert. By the end of the second day’s travel, the highway had brought us to the small city of Tucson Arizona. We found a well-hidden camp spot located under some huge trees in a back lot behind what looked like a rather hippietype espresso shop.
It turned out to be a nice little late-night caffeine den with a front porch that offered a few tables and chairs where, for the lack of internet yet to be invented, a small crowd of vibrating espresso freaks milled around gabbing with one another. With Billy off doing something or other, I decided to sit for a while. Before long, a cute little brunet plopped into the chair across from mine. She seemed half-crazy and was quick to point out she was single. I told her a buddy and I were camped out back, then invited her to my place. Kim said her ride was leaving and she had to go. My last shot was to hand her my pager number and say, “Call if you change your mind, I’ll come pick you up.” So… she left me, I thought. Sometime later, back at camp, that trusty pager went to buzzing. It was her. This was an El Nino year. For the past few months rain had been a frequent companion, and it was for this reason that I had a large tarp strung over the tent. After pulling on my boots and climbing from the tent, I uncovered the bike… and rode out to pick up my new friend. Upon our return, Kim seemed delighted with the primitive camp and immediately shed her clothes, then slid between my double sleeping bags.
Sometimes Kim, Billy and I took long rides through Saguaro National Park and other worthwhile local landscapes. Then there were the nights Kim, and I would go dancing to live bands at the local honky-tonk. We always returned to the same camp, sometimes arriving long after midnight. A fulltime drifter like myself, Billy had long ago developed a personal routine he employed when visiting any new town. This meant that Billy was mostly off doing his own thing and I seldom saw him during the day. Meanwhile, I’d had located a gym that agreed to give Kim and I free trial memberships. After hot showers one day, we emerged from the gym to sit against the building and soak up some of the late February Tucson sunshine.
The winter had been long for a man who travels by motorcycle and lives outside, and I could almost smell the coming of spring. The Daytona Motorcycle Rally was scheduled to start in two weeks, and Kim knew I’d soon be leaving. As I recall our conversation went something like this…She turned to me and said, “I want to go with you” “You what?!” “I want to go to Daytona with you” she repeated. Kim was somewhat of a bad girl, I guess, and had recently gotten herself into some trouble with the law. “What about your court date next month? I’m not coming back west till probably sometime in the fall you know.” “Maybe I can take a bus back Scotty” “Maybe,” I replied, “But don’t you think you’d better make sure before you sit your ass on my back seat for the duration?” “Let me make a few phone calls. Will you wait?” “Well, since I got no press-conferences to attend this afternoon anyway…I guess so.” As she turned to go, a thought struck me: A woman to cross the country with you Scotty, you gotta be out of your f#@king mind man.” Then, as my eyes lifted to watch her walk toward that pay phone, I caught sight of her ass. And a good ass it was. What the hell, I thought, It will be an experience. Twenty minutes later Kim returned with the news. “Greyhound from Daytona back to Tucson costs a hundred and fifty bucks.” “How much you got now Kim?” “A hundred.” “How you gonna get the rest?” “I don’t know Scotty, but I just gotta go anyway.” Having never been a sucker for a broke chick, I was not about to pay her way. “Tell you what girlfriend, I know a leather vendor at the rally who’ll give you a job if you’ll work. You’ll probably only have to put in a couple of days or so to earn that bus ticket.” “Done deal,” she beamed. “How about clothes? It is February you know. It’ll probably get pretty cold on this ride, and I’m not going to freeze while you’re wearing all my nasty weather gear.” “If you will take me to Target, I think I can work that out.” To Target we went; me to wait in the parking lot, while Kim returned some junk she’d purchased the week before. Once she’d emerged from the store, I asked, “How’d you make out?” “Well, after switching a few price tags around…” “Shut up! I don’t want to know. Just tell me what you’re worth.” “Sixty dollars in store credit. If I need warmer clothes down the road, Targets the place to get them.” “Okay,” I said, “Now, about this rear tire…”
I had spent just shy of a month at a friend’s crazy bachelor pad in Agora Hills California just two weeks before meeting Kim. It was at the Agora house that Thad had turned me on to a nice Dunlop rear tire he no longer needed. Knowing I’d not make it across the country on the thin tread back there now, I had thanked him kindly before throwing the tire atop the bike and bungee-cording it down tight. Since arriving in Tucson, it had been an easy move to simply leave the new/ used rubber at camp. But with the addition of Kim’s fine ass to the gear already aboard my bike, there was no longer room to carry Thad’s tire. I had to find a place to mount it right away. Having wintered in Tucson three years prior, I decided to look up an old friend. He was a young, money-minded guy whose business was a Jap-bike junkyard. With the new tire in her lap, Kim and I arrived at the Junk King’s dominion to find the place bustling with people. Mechanics spun wrenches while customers bargained for parts. Neal and I had been pretty tight three years earlier and when he met us at the gate, I was reminded of how much I liked this guy. After 45-minutes, Neal had pushed his reacquaintance time to its limit. “Help yourself to anything you need Scotty,” he said before a couple of customers dragged him away to the office.
In Neal’s dirt yard amid the sea of dead Jap bikes, I lifted the Electra Glide’s ass end into the air using one two-by-four and a floor jack. Once the rear wheel was removed, I headed to the yard’s far corner where an ancient, rusty and very manual tire changing machine waited to torture me. After some cussing and a few broken knuckles, Thad’s new/ used tire sat nicely on the rim. Now, I had to balance the wheel and grease the bearings, but Neal had no balancing machine or new bearing seals. In time I’d learn that wheel balancing is generally overrated and would no longer bother with this when inconvenient—and I’d also learn to simply file the wheel bearing seal’s edges, so they could be easily removed then reused, however, that knowledge was still some years off and at this time I still needed balancing and seals.
So, with the wheel stuffed neatly into a shopping cart, Kim and I pushed five blocks to a Harley shop that had all that stuff. I’m sure our little shopping cart/motorcycle wheel parade entertained at least a few passersby as well as some of the bike shop’s customers, but I just figured pushing that stupid cart was a small price to pay in light of our determination to experience the adventures this cross-country ride would undoubtedly bring. In other words, we were going no matter what it took. With Thad’s tire firmly mounted, I also gave the bike a quick oil change, and we were ready. Billy had decided to skip Daytona this year, saying something about wanting to see the springtime desert in bloom; and bloom it would after the long, El-Nino winter. Kim gathered her $100 and what warm clothes she had. The bike was reloaded for two, and we climbed aboard
Crossing the country with me might be considered torture by some women’s standards. More stable men probably wait until they’re financially secure before attempting such things. I just couldn’t wait. Life’s too short. Therefore, it would be a simple trade of some creature comforts for greater adventure. And adventure is exactly what we were about to ride into….