Exploring The North Cascades

The Fall And The Desperation

Around 8:00 am, I decided to stop for a break at a lay-by near the town of Hamilton, WA to stretch and get some movement back in the body. The cold does take a toll on the body regardless of all the layers and the drizzle was making it worse. At least I could spot the sun in between which was reassuring. Since I was taking a break anyways, like any self respecting motorcycle enthusiast, I whipped the camera out and started taking some pictures of the motorcycle. 

The place I stopped at for a break

An old lady was out for a walk I believe she got curious seeing me on a motorcycle on a cold day like that. She greeted me asking if I’m doing alright in the cold and we had a short but helpful conversation. She was curious about my camera and was amused when I mentioned I was into photography and suggested that I drive a little further down as she felt there is a place there which I would like to take pictures of. After a few other pleasantries, she went on her way and I got back on the nineT.

I heeded to her suggestion and I drove further into the town and she was right, there was a beautiful sight to see. On one side, fall colors and the falling leaves were perfectly reflecting on the still water and on the other side the mountain and clouds reflected on the waters perfectly. I thanked the old lady in my mind and started clicking away. The day was still young and there was no need to hold back. 

I would have spent around 10 – 15 minutes here and by the time I got back on the bike, it was brighter and the sun was up. It was still cloudy, but the overcast conditions gave the perfect contrast to the fall leaves on the road side. This was going to be perfect, but I was running low on fuel. I knew from my previous visits that there is a gas station at Concrete, WA and this is where I usually fuel up when I take this route. This time as well it was to be the same. 

SR20, The route to Concrete, WA

It is tough to miss this landmark. The gas station I stop at is right opposite to this structure

I arrived at Concrete with fuel to spare, topped up the gas and rolled it to the parking lot. Then I went inside the store to find a quick snack and use the restroom. When I came back, I saw the most heart wrenching scene any motorcycle rider would experience. The nineT was on the ground. I quickly got to it and got it back on its stand and then came the next big heart break. The clutch Lever was broken. Now the entire ride was on Jeopardy and I had to decide whether to continue on or tow it back home. 

Broken clutch lever. What is it going to next?

At the moment, going forward didn’t seem like an option. I looked around the motorcycle to see if there was any other damage and there was no obvious damage to it. I turned it on and let it idle for a bit and it ran perfectly smooth. There was no issue with the electrical or the engine – in fact strangely I found it idling smoother than before. There were some scratches on the engine, but that was mostly cosmetic and something that can be easily fixed. By this time I was already close to 120 miles (~195km) into the trip. 

After I got back home, I was discussing the fall with my family and we discussed all possible causes - from Supernatural to mischief. But never got to a conclusion on how it happened. My guess is that the stand may not have engaged properly. When I was getting the motorcycle fixed, the people at the shop mentioned that they were seeing a lot of these cases where someone was pushing over parked motorcycles, but that was in the Seattle Area, not so far from the city. 

I really did not want to turn back, so I decided to see if it is possible to ride with the broken clutch lever. With some hope, I saddled up and drove the bike with the broken lever for a bit. Turned out, it was not very difficult. It was certainly not very comfortable and it was putting more strain on my hands to pull the clutch, but felt the trouble was worth going forward. If I did not do this now, then there may not be a next time till next year. After riding for a bit, I stopped again to make some adjustments to the clutch lever or what was left of it – so that is easier to reach, took some photos and moved forward. Next stop, Diablo Lake…

The day was young and riding was still possible. The place where I decided to move ahead..

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