Talking with The Full Ride, Part Two

What have been the greatest displays of kindness you’ve seen so far on this trip?

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tom head shotTom

The greatest display of kindness I’ve observed came from a gentleman by the name of Greg. He lives in Yuma, Arizona. He found us (me) outside a local NAPA auto parts store. We were waiting for my newly purchased battery to charge after just having added the acid.

Very very long story short, this man forced his help upon us (me). At the end of that day, he bought us lunch, dinner, provided us with shelter in his personal motorcycle shop, and had my bike fixed before sunset. My issue was a bit of an electrical nightmare, but my new friend Greg happened to have a friend named Jon, and this Jon very much knew his way around vintage Japanese motorcycles. He replaced my OE unit with an aftermarket Harley Davidson regulator. That component is still what’s running my bike to this very day, roughly two months and 10,000 miles later.

Avery StarkeyAvery

The generosity I have accepted on this trip has blown my mind. People are truly good and sometimes they will actually force their help on you until you take it. It has come in the form of a bed or a meal, or a cup of iced tea when broken down on the side of the road.

Brad head shotBrad

I have a blog post coming out soon that tells this story in more detail… While we were visiting Avery’s sister, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco, I was on my way into the city for on a dinner date. I had never met her but we have mutual friends on the east coast. They insisted I look her up when I was in town.

Less than halfway there my battery died. My bike couldn’t have broken down at a worse time. I had to postpone the date last minute and call Avery for a jump. Luckily, I was able to limp the bike back to his sister’s. Over the next two days, he and I were pulling out our hair along with old Italian wiring trying to diagnose an increasing number of electrical gremlins that seemed to be coming out of nowhere. The pressure was on to get to Alaska in time and it was beginning to look like the trip was over for me. We were unable to fix it ourselves and every shop in the area basically laughed at me when I told them what I was riding. They told me I was on my own, I felt helpless.

It was an absolute low point for me on the trip. In a last ditch effort I appealed to the small but very helpful Moto Guzzi International Owner’s Club on Facebook and a guy named Bill in San Francisco (who’d been following our adventure online) offered to help. He owns an old V-1000 Convert, which has the same auto transmission as my bike.

So we rented a van and got the bike down to him, and for two more days Bill tore into the thing, unbolting more and more parts off of his own bike and slapping them onto mine. By the end of it he had replaced my entire ignition and charging systems – over $1,000 worth of new parts he had recently installed on his own bike – leaving his now unrideable. He wouldn’t accept a dime. Not even for his time.

He assured me we’d settle up later and that he just wanted to see me keep going. He knew what this trip meant to me and that he was playing a huge role in it. In that time I spent with Bill, he taught me to embrace the adversity and that this was all part of the experience. It was because of him that my bike made it to Alaska, and is still running today.

And it was because of him I finally got to go on that date, an event that ended up changing the direction of my life forever. I won’t spoil the ending there, because it’s still unfolding – but I don’t think it would have gone nearly as well if my bike hadn’t broken down. I had an entirely different perspective pulling out of Bill’s garage. My gratitude for him and the time we spent together is immeasurable.

I mean, how do you even thank someone for that? You write him a postcard from the Arctic Circle and you vow to repay the debt by helping someone else in need someday, that’s how. You continue the cycle, and that makes the world a better place.

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