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Jane and Walt Ride West on Motorcycles - Part 2

By Walter F. Kern

Part 2: Off to Beartooth Pass

While at the Rider Rally we missed the guided tour of Bear Tooth Pass. Jane said she just couldn't ride 6000 miles and not see Bear Tooth Pass since we were only a few miles away. So we started out on our own. The roads were good for awhile but then I saw traffic stopped ahead and I started slowing down ...

Suddenly, my revere was ended as I leaned forward to look in my mirror to see what happened to Jane. She was sprawled in the mud about 50 yards behind me. She and the bike had parted company. I then became aware of my own situation. I was still moving but I needed to stop. Hopefully, I wanted to stop upright. All I could think of was the training I had received in my courses and the tips I had received from other riders. I gradually began applying the brakes gently so as not to lock up any wheel. I had to steer so as not to allow the bike to fishtail. Somehow, I got the bike stopped and my feet down in the mud, upright. I slowly turned the bike to the left and across the gravel median to the other, paved, side of the road and headed back up the hill toward Jane. My tires were coated with mud and they were slipping. I didn't know if I would make it back without falling down myself but, somehow, I did. I parked on the side of the road and moved Jane's bike across the median to my side. Jane was OK but covered with mud. We always wear leather jackets and gloves, and wear helmets so Jane had no perceptible injury except bruising. We just had to get all the mud off her and the two bikes. We decided not to continue to Bear Tooth Pass and headed back to Cody where we spent the rest of the day washing down everything and relaxing.

Jane and Walt at the Grand Tetons
© 1999-2015 Walter Kern

We were able to ride down to see the Grand Tetons before we had to head back East. Somewhere along the way, our party of five had split up. We were going to have to ride the 2500 miles back to New Jersey on our own. When we got back and related our stories, our kids couldn't believe our adventures. Our daughter Sue said, "Most parents worry about what their kids are doing. In this family, the kids worry about what the parents are doing."

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We haven't taken another long ride since 1993. We do attend the Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George, NY every year in June. It's the biggest touring rally in America. We haven't had any accidents in the 19 years we've been riding. Maybe it's the training we've received or the fact that we pick the times we ride to be safe. I don't know. I do know that the thousands of good times we've had in motorcycling would not have been possible without taking that first step into the unknown and deciding to learn to ride.

Since 1999, we've each switched to a Honda Gold Wing Motor Trike. She rides a white one and I ride a red one.

On August 31, 2008, Jane was killed in an automobile acccident while on vacation with her friends. Jane and I would have been married 47 years just two days after the accident. She was greatly loved by her family and friends. She was a unique individual, always ready to test her boundaries and have fun. Now, I'm moving on in the wake of her legacy, trying to continue to live my life as I know she would want me to. Of course, that will continue to involve motorcycling.

=> Back to Part 1: Why we took up motorcycling

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