How to Avoid Our Motorcycle Mistake – The Little Red Can

We all make mistakes – even “bone-headed” ones as Rich says, but it’s what we take away from that mistake that really defines us.  Do we become better or bitter when faced with a motorcycle riding experience that laughs in our face and boldly announces to all our foolhardiness? 

May I introduce Biker George – the answer to one of our many motorcycling mistakes.  He’s a magic man in a little red can who became our constant traveling companion after our dream motorcycle riding adventure came to a sudden halt with the surprise on empty….

It All Started on Highway 12 – The Hogsback

Bright and early one morning, we topped off our tanks and pulled out of Bryce Canyon for the 155-mile scenic stretch to Hanksville, Utah. Highway 12 was our route for the day, which showcases the famous byway known as “The Hogback.” 

There is no other stretch of road that is even remotely like Highway 12.  The section called the Hogsback is a rocky spine of a road that bucks and turns along a thin razorback ridge that it rests precariously upon.  With over a thousand feet drop on both sides of this gyrating byway the vistas of the sandstone cliffs and canyons will take your breath away.  It’s just miles of the craziest road we have ever seen.

We rolled through Bryce Valley and into the town of Tropic, not so aptly named by the settlers of 1892 for its mild climate. With very few miles ridden, we didn’t find it necessary to stop for gas and so we rode onward.  The next town was Cannonville, one of two gateways to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Once again, we sailed on through.

On and on it went.  The topic of gas came up only once and then rather fleetingly.  “How are we doing on gas?”  “Should we stop and fill up?”  We shrugged off both questions, naively thinking that we still had many miles in the tank and endless opportunities down the road. 

Perhaps we got lost in the beauty but for some reason we went further north than we had intended to go, costing us many extra miles.

The Beginning of the End

And guess what?  Somewhere along the way we left behind all of our options of getting gas. With draining tanks, we ignorantly wandered onward, eventually jumping on a road that was entirely void of gas stations. In order to get back on track, we dropped down and headed toward Hanksville on Highway 24.  And that’s where disaster struck - about 25 miles outside of Hanksville   Rich’s Harley gasped for a hearty goodbye with its last breath. Towing the trailer had drained his bike to empty.

There we sat, desolately so, on the side of an uneventful road, in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and no gasoline.

All the adrenaline that had been rushing through us now pulsed into panic mode and it took us a bit to land on our best option.  Rich would ride my bike to Hanksville, purchase a small gas can and then return - a round trip of 50 miles.

He headed off and I settled down to wait. My panoramic views of the recent riding had been reduced to a lonely vision of Rich’s bike standing as a silent sentinel for all to see.  It shouted to the heavens that “Yes” we were those poor unprepared people.   For miles and miles, there was simply nothing else. Highway 24 was flat and without flavor. It was a place where you could sit and watch your dog run away for a whole week and probably still see him.

Rich, on the other hand, was driving like a bat out of hell – that is, until he realized that my bike was almost out of gas as well.  Immediately, he slowed and started to baby the bike until he reached his destination – a welcoming gas station in Hanksville.

The clerk stated that we were luckier than most folks who travel through the area; like many Europeans who come through on bicycles. They don’t understand the long distances between the spread-out towns, and run out of water and supplies in 100+ heat – requiring rescue.

Once gas was acquired the race was on for Rich to rescue his beloveds – both his wife, and his bike. 

I, in the meantime, was watching the grass grow.

Biker George Has Settled in for the Long Haul

Soon we were on our way – hoping to leave our embarrassment behind us.  But alas there’s now Biker George – our forever traveling mascot who will prevent us from repeating the same mistake twice, but is there to silently laugh at us when the next misadventure rears its head.

Rescue can George

The road is ours for the taking, but it has rules to follow – and we need to be vigilant if and when we test those boundaries again.

Till next time.  Ride safe!

1 comment

That has been a fear of mine for a while. Luckily neither of us has run out. I do like the idea of having a couple gallons as a back up. Think I will go find my Biker George to keep me out of trouble.

Darrell Gilbreath (Broman) March 26, 2021

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