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Further Adventures of the Borderland Biker -Chapter 18

Nice Color, but can it go four miles in less than two and a half minutes?

By Derrel Whitemeyer
2/16/2015


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'Less is more, with lots of things put into tight places; so nothing interrupts you from appreciating the true form.'  --Paul Yaffe
'Less is more, with lots of things put into tight places; so nothing interrupts you from appreciating the true form.' --Paul Yaffe

 
Editor's note: The following story is from the book, "The Further Adventures of The Borderland Biker, In Memory of Indian Larry and Doo Wop Music," by Derrel Whitemeyer. 
 

Larry looked at me then towards Kate, “Pretend for a moment we do agree to take you. Out of curiosity, how were you planning on the three of us traveling four miles in less than two and a half minutes? That’s assuming there’s another motorcycle we can use and that we can get the Raider past the metal door at the same time we’re dealing with our large unfriendly friend? That’s a lot of assuming.”
 
“…and that’s,” I added, “assuming there are no obstacles on the four mile stretch of road.” 
 
Kate laughed, “Since we’re all assuming, I’m also assuming you’re as anxious to see Ma n’ Pa as I am to visit an alternate reality. In answer to the second part of your question, a few days ago two motorcycle riders arrived right after sunset. I didn’t know they’d arrived until they knocked at the front door of the café.” 
 
“Maybe,” I said jokingly, “they were trying to conserve fuel and coasted the last mile?” 
 
“Kate gave me her ‘you’re not very funny’ look. “Good guess but no cigar. The next morning I found the tire tracks of a bike starting from behind the metal door and ending in front of my barn. They’d left their other bike behind the door. Somehow they were able to ride to this portal and arrive here right after sunset. They said they’d seen the creature hiding in the buildings and that they’d help me put better locks on the hinges, which we did immediately.”
 
“So what,” I wanted to be Kate’s best student, “happened after they arrived; what did they look like?” 
 
“I’d say one looked like an older version of the actor Sam Jones who’d played Flash Gordon in the movie FLASH GORDON. The other one called Hilts looked like a taller version of the actor Steve McQueen. They were met a few minutes later by a man driving a ’40 Ford sedan; he came by way of the road you two came on. The two riders then asked me if they could leave one of their motorcycles here; they said its tires had been damaged on the ride. They said they couldn’t stay long; they’d come to get something special. 
 
They were met by a man driving a ’40 Ford sedan
They were met by a man driving a ’40 Ford sedan

“When we returned to the café we all had a bowl of my stew. They were polite but in a hurry and stayed only long enough after they’d eaten to buy a bag of my special blend of coffee. One of them, the one called Hilts, said it was just for my coffee they’d traveled here. I don’t know if it’s all that special; all I know is that my customers like it and that I’ve been making it for myself long before I bought this café. My stew’s good, if I do say so, but they acted as if they’d discovered the Holy Grail when they found I had one more bag of my coffee. The ingredients to make more of it are stored in the kitchen; I just need to mix them together.”
 
“Did the driver,” it was Larry’s turn to be a good student, “of the ’40 Ford go with the three of you to the barn; did he ever get out of his car?”
 
“No; he just sat in the driver’s seat with this big smile on his face waiting for the two to finish their stew. Speaking of big, this guy was huge. His head had to have touched the roof of the car…and…and I know this sounds impossible, but when he smiled at me with his ‘it’s all going to be ok smile’ I could’ve sworn bubbles floated out of his mouth. 
 
“Like the bubbles,” it was my turn to ask a question, “coming out of someone who’s underwater?”
 
“Exactly…it was like…,” and I could tell Kate didn’t want to believe what she was about to tell us, “…the front seat area of the Ford had been sealed to hold in water like an aquarium. When they left, Hilts and the one that looked like the actor Sam Jones made a point of opening only the back doors getting into the car; I never saw anyone open the front doors.”
 
“Did the two riders,” I wasn’t taking turns any longer, “say anything else?”
 
“Not that much, just that they liked the stew and wished they didn’t have to rush off. Oh, and the one called Hilts commented on the dreamcatcher hanging behind the counter and asked if I’d made it. When I told him it was a design my grandmother had taught me and that she’d also taught me the recipe for the coffee blend, he just smiled. 
 
“It was as if the answer to his question answered another question he’d been wondering about for a long time. The one that looked like Sam Jones seemed to be in more of a hurry and said the driver was on a tight schedule and that if they were to get over Sonora Pass they needed to leave now.”
 
“Did they say,” I was going to ask my question before Larry could ask another, “where they had to be and why they were in such a hurry?”
 
“They said they had to be in Mariposa before dawn at a chocolate factory, which didn’t make sense. The only chocolate factory in that area is the old 1800s Ghirardelli chocolate factory. It’s in the nearby gold rush town of Hornitos and it’s nothing but a collapsed building similar to the one here; it’s been in ruins for over a hundred years. As to why they were in a hurry; they just said the driver was on the clock and that I’d soon be visited by two friends. Hilts described you two. He said you’d both look like bums and to never trust or turn my back on you…hey, just kidding.”
 
Kate wasn’t kidding about one thing. Larry and I were anxious to get to the other portal.
 
The urgency to join the last pieces of Ma n’ Pa’s Borderland together was definitely a top priority. Speaking of curiosity, I was curious to see what kind of motorcycle had been left parked near the barn. Hopefully it would be one that could reach speeds that would cover four miles in less than two and a half minutes. I was pretty sure the Raider with a few of Larry’s magical mechanical tweaks could reach those required speeds.  
 
Kate continued to lead our walk along the path which led us to a large barn. Weathered and right out of a Kansas prairie painting, it was surrounded by dozens of farm trucks dating back to the 1920s. On a dirt road running next to the barn, under an awning was the motorcycle, a black and yellow Suzuki M109 with a solo seat. From what I’d read about its 109 cubic inch engine I had no doubt it would be fast enough. This one however had a flat rear tire and the front tire looked to be on its way to becoming the same. 
 

On a dirt road, parked under an awning attached to the barn was a black and yellow Suzuki M109 with a solo seat
On a dirt road, parked under an awning attached to the barn was a black and yellow Suzuki M109 with a solo seat

The bike had been parked on the road next to some old trucks that in turn had been parked next to the barn. Suzuki’s M109 like both the Yamaha Road Warrior and Raider was never designed to be a copy of something else. 
 
“Larry, this M109 is another one of the bikes I was telling you about. Like the Warrior and Raider it was criticized in a couple of cycle magazines for being an ‘almost’ cruiser. One magazine even called its tall overhead cam engine ugly.” 
 
“Hey, so what it’s not a chopper, so what it’s not my style; I can live with ugly if it’ll get us to the other portal before it closes. Amend that to…get us to the portal four miles away in less than two and a half minutes. Right now we need a fast bike, not one that’ll win a beauty contest.”
 
Neither the Raider nor the M109 were ever, if you read the reviews, designed to be Harley wannabes. In fact Tatsuya Watanabe, the man who designed the Road Warrior, would’ve probably patted the M109’s designer on his head. With its overhead cam, nearly 60 degree V-twin engine, it was not, and may they rest in peace, my Wide Glide or Larry’s radial engine chopper. The question was with Kate aboard the Raider would Larry be able to get to the other portal before it closed? 
 
In prison Larry was known as the man not to have problems with; ironically he was also known as the man to see if you had an engineering problem that needed an answer. 
 
“I’ve no doubt,” said Larry as he looked down on the M109, “that once we patch its tires it’ll be fast enough. However, I’d put the Raider even with all its fencepost pulling torque at only an honest 125 mph top speed with or without Kate as my passenger…what the Raider needs is an edge.” 
 
“What kind of an edge?” I asked. “We can’t add a gear?”
 
Larry continued, “I’ll need to defeat, in essence disconnect, the Raider’s rev limiter. The Raider’s got the power but the EPA’s put it on a leash; bypassing its rev limiter will remove that leash. Unleashed my guess is it’ll top out near 140 mph. We’ll need to reach close to that speed to make it to the next portal before it closes.”    
 
“I’ve no doubt,” said Larry as he looked down on the M109, “that once we patch its tires it’ll be fast enough.”
“I’ve no doubt,” said Larry as he looked down on the M109, “that once we patch its tires it’ll be fast enough.”

 
Cool wasn’t going to cut it and as much as I missed my ‘just ah puttin’ along singin’ a song’ Harley Wide Glide and Larry missed his radial engine chopper we now needed something with speed up the kazoo. Larry was sure the Suzuki M109 with its radical 109ci overhead cam engine would be enough for me. He also felt that by bypassing the rev limiter on the Yamaha Raider he and Kate would be able to get up to the speeds required to reach the other portal. Two and a half minutes would be all the time the passageway between here and Ma n’ Pa’s Borderland would stay open.
 
“So how much time,” I asked, “do we have to patch the front and back tires on the M109 and override the Raider’s rev limiter?”
 
“Based on the time between discharges and by the look of the growing cloud formations west of here,” answered Kate, “I’d say we’ve less than two hours.”
 
During our conversation about fixing the two bikes we’d retraced our steps back down to the steel door.
 
“I couldn’t help but eavesdrop…,” interrupted a familiar voice from behind the steel door. The voice sounded a lot like my grandmother’s.
 
“…but you’re going to need my help,” my grandmother’s voice continued. “If you’re going to make it to the next portal before it closes you’ll need to hear my proposal.”
 
“Let’s hear your proposal,” answered Larry.
 
“Name’s Shaun and my proposal is that if you take me with you I won’t stop you from making the journey.”
 
“Impossible,” I interrupted. “I got a glimpse of you; you’re much too large…plus you look like a velociraptor.”
 
“You’re right,” said the voice that now sounded more like my own than my grandmother’s. “However once I’m exposed to the sunlight on your side of the door I’ll become my normal chameleon size…small enough to fit in your backpack.”
 
Memories of the giant spider Bartlett shrinking down from the size of a piano to the size of my hand after he’d been exposed to another Borderland’s sunlight came back. 
 
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