One day I was flying back from LA, and while waiting for the plane to take me to Boise, Idaho, I found a bike magazine to keep me occupied till I boarded. In it, I found the picture of a yellow 1999 K1200RS. That familiar feeling came over me. I had to have it. The ad mentioned a dealer in Reno, and it listed his number. I pulled out my phone and called them.
“Do you still have the yellow K12?” I asked.
“I’m boarding a flight in a few minutes and I’m coming to see it.”
“I’ll be open till 6 pm.”
I started walking to the counter to see about changing my flight to Reno. Fortunately they had a flight every hour and I could catch the next one that would get me to Reno by 4 pm. When I got to the dealer he had the bike right up front, gleaming in the sunlight. After showing him my license I took it for a short drive. I had owned a K100RS before and this was the same, except better. I drove back to the dealer.
“If I buy this bike, can you ship my suitcase to Idaho for me?”
I started looking around the shop and found a summer riding jacket and a helmet to wear back. I had just realised I was wearing a grey suit and a tie and wearing loafers. Oh well, I’ll be home in no time. I put the bike on my Master Card and started the trip back wearing a smile that wouldn’t quit.
As I drove out of the dealership I realized that I didn’t have a map. I thought it was going to be a full day of driving but I didn’t give it more thought till I stopped on I-80 to get fuel. I asked the attendant for a map and discovered that I needed to drive over 500 miles to get home. By now, my hands were frozen, even though the K12 had hand warmers. My entire body was cold. I had not thought this through enough. Fortunately I found a pair of leather workers gloves, and though they didn’t match my colorful tie or ensemble, they kept me going a while longer.
About 3 hours into the trip my entire body was shaking with cold. It had started snowing. I decided to stop at Winnemucca, NV to get some sleep and soak in a hot bath. Since they shipped my suitcase, I had nothing to change into, but I managed to find a toothbrush in the gift store. I also bought 2 pairs of socks and 3 tee shirts, which I figured would help a little. I peeled my clothes off and arranged them around the heater, hoping they would dry by morning. The hot bath was welcome and I fell asleep in seconds once I hit the bed.
The morning came early and I slipped into my 3 tee shirts, 2 pair of socks and wrinkled suit. I was ready to leave. The snow had been plowed and the road was clear. I made good speed and gradually got warmer as the sun rose. A few hours later I passed Elko, NV and stopped to have lunch. It was starting to snow again. I was going to fucking freeze. I now had to get off I-80 and take State Rd 93 north through the snowy mountains towards Idaho.
It was hard to appreciate the natural beauty of the snowy mountains with my teeth chattering and completely numb feet. My shoes were soaked and covered with road grime. The good part is that the water had frozen around my loafers and that protected my feet from frostbite. I was miserable. I kept thinking about the stories I had heard about Marines fighting in the Chosin Reservoir, in Korea. They made it in much worse conditions, I was also a Marine and was not going to get beaten by a little snow and mud in Nevada.
Once we came off the mountains and entered Idaho in Jackpot, NV, the weather cleared. It was glorious. By mid afternoon I arrived home in Ketchum. Another hot bath was in order. When I looked at the clothes I was wearing I realized that no amount of TLC was going to fix anything, much less my shoes. Everything went into the trash.
I really enjoyed the K12 in the summers. The road north from Ketchum is State Rd 75 and it goes about 30 miles with hardly a curve and even less traffic. I would occasionally take off and drive like hell to see how fast the K bike would run. I never saw another car or vehicle in that 30 mile stretch. Then we would hit the mountain passes again and the K would lean from side to side with aplomb as we climbed the passes. It was a very relaxing experience. Completely brought me into the present. The best antidote to stress.
One day I was having coffee on a sidewalk cafe when a man came up to me and asked me if it was my bike. I said yeas and he grilled me about details. He took my office phone number and told he he would call me one of these days. A week later he showed up at my office with virtually the same bike. He told me he loved my bike so much he had to also get one for himself. We then started going for road trips together through the mountains of Idaho. Glorious trips.