An adventure had formed.
With my BMW R1200GSA sold, I was free to find the next motorcycle to put in the stable, the new iron horse that could further my travels in adventure biking.
My next machine? A KTM Adventure 990 Baja edition.
It’s location? Minneapolis.
The adventure? A one way ticket to get the bike, followed by a 12 hour multi day ride through stormy weather to get it home.
Shut my mouth and paint me KTM orange….now THIS was going to be an adventure!!!
I packed gear for 2 days, refining my single bag (dry bag of course with the rain (or snow?)) of my best gear. It was looking like the trip would start out in near freezing conditions with light snow (or freezing precipitation) that would change over to light rain the first few hours then change over to overcast with intermittent light rain (all the way home) as temperatures would slowly rise to the 60s over the first 6-7 hours of an 11+ hour trip.
How many thermal layers would I need? How many layers did I have if I got soaked through? How many gloves would be needed? I had packed just enough but also included a lot of little tiny treasures that could become essential like hot hands, phone charger, and iPod. I even went out and bought a new helmet.
The day of departure I actually went to the airport a couple hours early because I could no longer wait at home anymore…the excitement was overwhelming .
The flight was uneventful, I caught a cat nap, but upon landing in Minneapolis, the excitement ratcheted up and the guy picked me up at the airport. We chatted, (actually I chatted) most of the way to his house. We arrived in a nice suburban area in Minneapolis. His garage door opened, and sitting in the center of his garage was this beautiful Baja version of the bike with it’s white panels with orange crash bars. I walked around two times, amazed at its condition… I was amazed that the plastic panels were in new condition and the bike itself looked like it had barely been ridden.
I was smiling.
The owner explained every little thing to me on the bike and demonstrated how some of the parts worked and then started it up. The engine growled and jumped with the goose of the throttle.
I was in love…or as much as a man can be with a machine….I would take this beautiful bike out for a minor test drive I would come back and figure out how to start my journey. I went inside to put on all my gear.
Did I mention that I was smiling?
I came out, he pointed me in a couple directions, and with the bike warmed up, I adjusted mirrors and put it into gear. I rolled out of his garage and started down the road and went around the corner to where there was a highway. I shot down the on ramp and darted quickly into the traffic to get the bike up to speed and the engine reached operating temperature. There was a smile on my face as I was thinking of the next 12 hours of getting this baby home…
And then I noticed it.
My hands were trembling (not with the cold) from movement in the handlebars and the GPS that hung from the windshield was dancing with the vibration. I had been so preoccupied with the bike in listening to the sound of the engine for any misfire in the roar, running up and down the gears feeling the clutch and shift and the RPMs, that I initially miss it. Once the bike passed my initial checklist, I started paying attention to other things and picked up on it. The smile began to fade a little bit is I investigated…it wasn’t in the wheels or tires…so it was very probably in the engine or transmission. I pulled in the clutch and the vibrational went away. I let the clutch back out and the vibration came back.
My smile faded.
Long story shortened, I got back to the guys house is a rolled into the garage and he came out with a big smile on his face and I calmly stated something was wrong. He stopped smiling and went back inside. I spent the next 45 minutes calling buddies, KTM dealers, and the consensus was that something was amiss.
In the end…I did not buy the bike…I walked away.
That evening and the next morning, I spent time at my uncle Bob and Aunt Judy’s who were awesome in their hospitality. I got to enjoy getting to know them a little bit better…laughing and talking about family and some little known history around my grandfather and great grandmother. We shared our thoughts of faith and how maybe I should spend more time looking for a wife than a motorcycle. LOL! It was fun. It was family.
Next morning, faced with the reality that I was not riding a motorcycle home, I weighed out the cost of a plane ticket versus renting a car. If I took a flight, it would be quick, but expensive. If I took a car, it would allow me to visit a cousin of mine, Lisa.
Lisa was 2nd of three born to Larry and Marianne, my uncle and aunt. When we were younger, our families would spend time together, take vacations together, spend time at their cabin. In my younger years, they were a big part of the fun things we used to do that I remember. Lisa and I were buddies in those years and I remembered our friendship as an awesome part of growing up.
In 3rd grade, my family moved to Ohio, and shortly after that, a family rift over my grandfather ended vacations with them. So, many years ago, a friendship took pause over family politics, family conflict, and taking sides. As kids, you don’t understand things like that…it was something bad that happened that you had no control over.
There’s a lot of story between then and now that is important, but hard to explain and few understand. Lisa and Pat had family problems with her parents, Larry and Marianne, to the point that boundaries were set..and those boundaries became walls…and 15 years slipped by.
And then Larry passed away without resolution to a conflict that most in the immediate family did not understand.
5 years ago, when Larry passed, I ran into Lisa and her family at the funeral. She didn’t recognize me…but she hadn’t changed. It was not the time nor place, but we caught up a little that day.
Now here it was years later and I’m passing through on my way home….on a botched motorcycle adventure…and I felt it really important to stop and spend an hour with Lisa.
That hour turned into 5 hours of talking, processing, laughing, and sometimes crying about family, loss, grief, conflict, and God. It was probably the most important 5 hours of this year.
It was a chance for Lisa to tell her story
It was a chance to bring peace and light to an unresolved conflict.
It was a chance to laugh and cry again with a dear old family member.
It was a chance to have incredible insight into my family
It was a chance to look into the emotional mirror of two lives so similar…and understand that there are always two sides to a story.
In listening to her and catching up, I saw that both of us could understand, both of us could empathize, both of us could offer healing to each other.
In this situation, in this story, God used someone who basically lied to me about a motorcycle to get me to go to Minnesota, so that He (God) could bring me to my cousin’s house so that the two of us could connect and share some of the lost parts of our lives with each other.
In my head, I am the center of this story and I had my plans and thoughts, I thought I was at the center of the world. But I forget that it is not my world, it is Gods…and I have bowed and submitted and asked Him to change my world, use my life, and this self centered man (yes me) has asked that my life be more full.
I thought a beautiful low mileage mint 2013 KTM 990 Adventure Baja Limited edition with its white panels, orange crash bars, orange anodized Renthal handlebars, Garmen GPS, roughly 115 HP, 6 speed transmission, TKC 80 tires on the black shiny 21 inch front rim, extended footrests, CJ Designs bash plate………and steering damper……….and TKC tires………(did I mention under 6000 miles?)…….
I thought this beautiful new bike would make my life more full. But what do I know…
He saw what my heart needed, and it wasn’t a new toy.
The trip to Minneapolis was a divine appointment…and not just for me.
In my story about a trip to Minnesota, you could choose to see a motorcycle deal gone wrong…or you could choose to see my story of friendship restored.
You could choose to see a lie that brought me to loose time and money…or see truth in the reason that brought me to Minnesota to reconnect with family.
In a story about lost time between friends, you could choose to see the years lost or the 5 hours gained.
In a story about a cousin long removed from a family, you can choose to see the family that raised her, or the family she raised.
You could choose sides in an old conflict and lose one person from your life….or you could see that there are two sides to every story….
…and with grace and mercy
…you can see that there’s room to love both.
Life is full of choices…
Beginnings or endings…
peace or war…
life or death…
…be careful how you choose…if you must choose at all.