Norm Improves, New Plans

Norm News
I called last night and talked to Norm’s son, Dennis, who told me Norm is doing as well as can be expected. Norm spent 8 hours in surgery on his hip Thursday. Dennis told me the hip socket is “broken”. Prognosis is a full recovery but he will probably have trouble with the hip the rest of his life and a hip replacement may be in his future.

It’s been lonesome riding the past week without him. The first leg of our traditional Tuesday Night Rides usually start from work with me in the lead and end at the Dugout. I kept looking for him in my rear view mirror last Tuesday.

As I travel around town I kept seeing bikers riding a BMW or wearing his textile style jacket and having that first reaction of, “Is that Norm?”, only to quickly remember it definitely was not.

I worry he will not be able to ride again. Considering the injuries it’s a possibility. That would be miseable; for both of us. Knowing Norm though, It’s not likely. He’s mentally one of the toughest guys I’ve ever known and that’s a big plus in the recovery department.

I’ve considered continuing with the original “Going to Maine…” ride but I’m ambivelant about it. I would like to wait for Norm to recover and then continue with our plans but he may not be able to take a ride as difficult ast that next summer. So, I’ve been considering a ride to Alaska instead. A shorter trip would also mean I would be around more to help Norm and his family out this summer. I’m leaning toward the shorter trip.

Your comments would be appreciated.

Latest on Norm

Got the following email today from Norm’s daughter.

“Just a quick update on my dad: Dad is doing pretty well. He has two broken legs (the surgeon described the bone in his right leg as “cornflakes”) and a broken hip socket. This weekend they moved him from the ICU into a “real” room. He will be in surgery today (hip), tomorrow and Friday (legs). My brother was able to fly in from Illinois to be with him the rest of this week. Dad will probably be at Harborview for several more weeks; it really depends on how these next surgeries go before they can give us a long term vision for his care. The surgeons I’ve spoken with all think he’ll be able to make a full recovery. He keeps joking that he and my daughter will learn to walk together! He’s in pretty good spirits at this point.I want to thank everyone so much for the outpouring of generous support we’ve received. It means so much to me to be able to be with my dad. But that’s the last time I let him go elk hunting!”

Norm and I have been riding on Tuesday nights for several years now which usually end up at one of the local watering holes. Norm Usually meets me at work and we then ride. This past Tuesday it was a lonely ride until I got to the usual watering hole and hooked up with a couple of other Bad Teachers who have been joining us this year; Cosmo (Tom) and Nacho (Randy).

For fun we gave Norm a call. When he answered the phone I told him we were waiting for him. He laughed and had a very good attitude through each of the three conversations he had with us. It was good to hear him.

It is evident that Norm will not be riding this summer. He has 6-8 weeks of recovery from 5 surgeries he has had and will be having. They will then determine whether or not he needs a bone graft in the right leg then another 6-8 weeks of recuperation before walking.

I’m now considering my options. I’ve been talking with Cosmo regarding a short trip with him combined with a longer trip on my own (he can only get away for a week. A couple of ideas:

  • Riding to the Artic Circle
  • Riding to Ketchekan
  • Riding to Yellowstone

Riding to Maine – Detour

The Trans-Canada trip this summer has probably taken a detour. I walked into work Friday to discover that Viet Nam Norm (my riding partner for this and previous trips) had been in a bike wreck on his way home from the west side of of the state. He was traveling east, up White Pass, at 8pm when he hit an elk on Highway 12. Not a lot was known at the time other than he had been flown into Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

I work with his daughter Jamie but she had already left for Seattle. I contacted the crew Norm and I ride with via email. Cosmo (Tom) responded that he would travel with me to Seattle that day after work.

During the day and on the way over to Seattle, the cell phone was buzzing with more but sketchy info. Tom and I got into Issaquah, which is just east of Seattle, about 9pm. We figured it would be better to spend the night there then see Norm in the morning. I called Harborview and they put me through to the observation quarters where he was recovering from his first surgery. Once Norm knew who was calling, he answered in a groggy voice, “Bike totaled… (silence) …elk dead… (silence) …ashtray full.”

Those of you who know Norm also know he changes bikes about as frequently as he would empty the ash tray (if it had one). He was letting me know he was ready for a new bike. It was good to hear his humor bone was still functioning.

We drove to the hospital the next morning, where we got the rest of the story. He had indeed hit and killed an elk. The impact catapulted him over the side of the highway and down a 50′ embankment. On his way over the side, his legs clipped the metal railing, breaking both lower legs. On landing, he broke his pelvis. Fortunately, someone saw the accident and called for help. They found him about a ½-hour later. It took them an hour to get him up to the aid car and off to Morton where they stabilized him. He was eventually driven to Olympia then air lifted to Seattle.

When we got in to see Norm the next day, he actually looked good, considering. His armored jacket, gloves, and helmet had protected the upper half of his body but, below the waist was a different story. His lower legs were pinned in braces and right thigh was in traction. He was lucid and talking but didn’t look like he wanted to maintain a conversation of any length.

Tom and I spent most of the morning calling the WSP, tow company, and talking to hospital personal locating his stuff. We visited with Norm in between.

We left Seattle about 2 pm feeling that Norm was in good hands. His daughter is still there. He’s scheduled for another surgery on his left leg today then another on Monday for the pelvis. No details on any of that yet.

Riding to Maine – Day T-94 (there ’bouts)


Norm applied for and has received his passport. I guess that makes the trip official.

For the trip he’s replaced a saddle bag on his Beamer and added a throttle lock. They both look good and the lock seems to work well.

I’ve ordered some DSX pants and rain gators from Tour Master. They just arrived at Shumate so will check them out tomorrow. I wore out the same gators on my past three trips. They are excellent for keeping the boots dry.

About the only other thing I need to do is tidy up my packing and do the maintenance. I’ll need to do several 10,000 mile maintenance items including replace lubricants in fork, tranny, primary, and oil holes. By June I’ll have over 10k on my rear tire and 20,000+ on my front so may need to change them out before the trip.

Norm and I were discussing the trip during one of our Tuesday rides recently and he mentioned we would miss Space #13 at the Mt. Home, ID KOA. We’ve traditionally stopped there on the first day of our last three cross-country trips and stayed in the Space 13. He suggested it might be an “omen”.

I went on line a few night later and found a KOA near where I had planned our first stay this year in BC. It’s located in Gallagher Lake near Penticton. According to their map they also had a Space #13 so I emailed and asked if it was a tent spot. It is. We’re now negotiating reservations.

It has been bitterly cold on the ride to work in the mornings this week. It snowed today but didn’t stick. While the cold wind whips around me, I have a picture in my head of St. Johns, Newfoundland, at sunset, a single malt, and rum soaked Cohiba.


18 days before departure (7/16) and I’m not ready.

Stuff ordered:
Rear brake master cylinder stud: Noticed the floorboard was loose last year when I added the Kuryakin Mach II road pegs to them. It was getting worse and discovered my right floor board was held on by only one bolt, the master cylinder stud was broken. Ordered the part two weeks ago and it just got in.
Light bar from Thunder Choppers: Got it a few days ago but am having a hard time getting it to fit over my detachable windshield. I’ll give it another try but may have to return it and go without a light bar. Harley doesn’t make one for the ’96 Fatboy period. With a big enough hammer and a welding torch you can get about anything on a Harley. But, do I want to?
Tank Bag: Ordered one last week but discovered it’s back ordered until after the departure date. Cancelled the order and tried another place. They were out. Tried another and they had just sold their last one. I asked what the deal was and the guy told me there was a nation wide back order on that tank bag. I immediately searched again and found a place in New England which had one left. I ordered it.

Stuff to order:
Rubber boot and glove covers.

Stuff to do: LOTS

Still cruising the web when able. Was looking for a good packing list to compare with my own when I ran across a site called Muthah’s Rides (see link at right). Good site with lots of info plus archives of rides Muthah has made.

I noticed a place in the archives called Rider’s Roost in North Carolina where they hold Summer Rage. It occurs just after I was due in Deal’s Gap, NC. I emailed Muthah about it and he suggested I attend. We’ve been emailing back and forth since then. He’s given some good advice and recommended spending more time in the Smokey Mountains. I’ve redone my itinerary to fit the 2 day Summer Rage plus take a ride over the Great Smokey Mountain National Park down to Lake Lure.

Getting Started

Somewhere around last October I began considering a cross country trip on my bike. It’s something that I had always thought would be an ultimate trip but never had the funds, was in the Navy, starving undergraduate, or family man.

At 54 the kids are all grown, I’ve got a bike, and my wife is…ok with it.

Plotting a Course and How Long Will It Take?
As I began plotting my itinerary it dawned on me there could some smaller objectives along the way. It’s a long way to the East Coast from Richland, Washington. The question was, “What did I want to see or do?”

At first I looked at tourista type places of interest but didn’t find much of interest there. For one thing I wouldn’t have time to spend in any one place so they had to be quick stops or the trip would take me months or years. I was thinking in the 3 week range. I think the old body will be pretty dilapidated after that long on the road, especially if I’m camping out most nights to cut costs.

First thoughts were the following.

  • Vic – Salt Lake City, UT – Navy
  • My roots – West Plain, MO – Where my parents were born and raised
  • Nate -Easton, MD – Family friend
  • Mig – New York, NY – Navy
  • JC – Naperville, IL – Navy
  • Sturgis – Sturgis, SD – Might meet some friends there

It might seem that six stops is a good number. that’s three on the way and three back. Past experience tells me 300 miles is a good average for long duration rides. I’m hoping to keep it to three weeks so making anything like 400-600 a day would be difficult. Overall the mileage is going to be between 6,500 – 7,500 miles. That’s over 1,000 miles/3+ days between the current interest points. I’ll need more than that.