Operation Moto Dog - New KLR650 Piston

OMD Travelogue | Day 53

Rode for


I read once that optimists are prone to lateness, over-enthusiastically forecasting what can be done in a given time. I find this annoying, but true. I overestimate how quickly I can tear down camp, underestimate how far we are from the city; pull into Tom’s tardy, but ready to work.

I don’t know where I fall on the 10,000 hour debate, but it’s obvious that practice makes things easier. I quickly go about stripping down the bike. Bags, seat, gas tank, front sidecar bracket off, I look at the shiny new part that should heal Rufio.

Tom tears into the engine, delegating tasks efficiently and effectively. I pepper him with questions about cylinders, rpms, horsepower. Try to imagine the intricacies that happen every time I fire up the bike. Fuzzy engine concepts come into focus, sharpen ever so slightly.

I realize how lucky I am to be working with not only a KLR master, but airplane mechanic and instructor. No question is too dumb. When confusion overtakes my face, he just explains again until I get it. Learning that would’ve laboriously taken days of reading and researching, becomes quick and fun in real time.

There were people when I started this adventure who shuddered at the very thought of a newbie hitting the road. Shook their head at my optimistic naivete. Warned that I didn’t have what it takes to get to Alaska.

In reality, they were right; I couldn’t have made it alone. But what they didn’t account for was the can-do community that exists on the road. The people willing to lend a hand, support the adventure, spend the day teaching and wrenching.

I try to imagine the movie flashback of that fork in the road – if I had listened to the naysayers. Mental screen going squiggly, I can see myself back in Bend. Logging miles in my hometown as people recommended, studiously gathering information about a big trip, eventually dealing with all of the same problems. It feels insular, lonely, much harder to do it alone. Without a mission to propel and excite, I eventually lose momentum. Give up on the moto dog dreams.

Bike reassembled, I snap back to the present reality. Grin as Rufio roars to life. Sexy thumper purr replacing the sickly clattering ruckus. Daylight fading, we enjoy dinner with friends talking about routes and must-see places throughout the lower 48. Following the initial piston break-in drive, Baylor and I settle into the loaned vintage camper for the night.

Lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, I can’t help but smile. Today was unlike any I’d imagined when planning this adventure. Months ago when I set the goal of getting to Alaska, I had no concept of a piston, could not have imagined that I’d swap one out, dig into an engine and fix a motorcycle. Stubborn determination and optimism led to outcomes better than I ever could’ve hoped. Plodding along despite fear connected me with a community that runs deep and strong.

Eyes heavy, rhythmic canine breathing lulling me towards sleep, I catalogue lessons from the day. File away useful snippets for later. Hope that the next time there’s a fork in the road I dig deep and take it. Ignore the haters and remember the wise words of Nelson Mandela:

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.

53 days down. Many to come.

OMD Travelogue | Day 54
OMD Travelogue | Day 52