Fire and Yes, Rain

Paul Richardson
Guest Columnist

I knew that my grandson had come into his own right, when one day everyone, well everyone that was present at the time, was sitting around the shop bench racing, and when a pause came for someone to start the next story, he said, “Let me tell you about the time that Grandpa tried to do us in by catching the bike on fire!” Well, there is a lot more to that story, but we will get to that on another occasion.

From the time that my grandson was five years old, he began riding with me. He logged more miles on the back of my bike than most people average in a lifetime in either saddle. He has ridden in, of course Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He has ridden in the heat, the cold, under clear skies and cloudy skies, in the rain, hail, snow, and conditions that most people would start crying “uncle” and want to tap out. In the early years, I would pack a couple of sleeping bags on either side of him and he would ride alert for about eighty miles and then take a little nap for the next twenty miles. That was his attention cycle. Often, he would attempt to communicate with me from the back pillow, shouting out his questions or comments. Many years ago, I recall a ride in the rain when he had his face shield pulled down to deflect those falling needles, those drops of liquid pain, when I heard him say something. I don’t know what he said because it was too muffled. I responded with, “I can’t hear you.” He attempted twice more with the same results, but the last thing he said I understood, “Well, never mind then!”

We were in western Kansas, headed for La Junta, Colorado, when my grandson leaned forward and said, “Could you slow down a bit?” “Sure,” I said, “Is there a problem?” “Not really,” he replied, “I just opened my eyes and seemed dizzy.” “You were asleep?” I queried. “No, just resting my eyes,” he replied. He was asleep. He was thirteen and we weren’t packing any luggage, as that was coming in a pickup later in the day. Due to no luggage, he was sitting free on that back pillow.

It was shortly after that when the sky in the west began to darken and then we hit the rain. At that time, this was the most severe rain storm that I had ever ridden in. The air around us turned green and the visibility was extremely low. While it only lasted about five minutes, it was five minutes of pure agony. Little did I know but on the return trip I would encounter this again, but my grandson would be riding in the pickup with the goodwife and others.

The rain storm on the return trip was worse. Due to a recent knee surgery, Mike Cloud had elected to drive and haul his bike the bulk of the trip but have it on hand in New Mexico. The goodwife had chosen to ride with Mike and Pat, reserving her riding time for our stay at the campsite in Chama. Due to the fuel problems with my bike, we decided to haul my bike home and I would ride Mike’s Goldwing back to Missouri. So, when the I encountered the rain storm in eastern Colorado, I was a little unnerved because I was on someone else’s bike. Fortunately, once more it didn’t last exceedingly long, but the visibility was worse than the previous storm and the rain much heavier. I couldn’t stop for fear of someone running over me and I couldn’t speed up because I was riding blind. But what was worse than all of that was the fact that if something did happen, I was mounted on a Goldwing. That, my friend would have been my legacy; Paul died on a Goldwing! So, I’ve seen fire, some fire, and a lot of rain, but fortunately I’ve always been able to see something again!