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And into Mexico

Photos and text by Bill May

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The Electra Glide before the run
The Electra Glide before the run

It was May 1983. I struggled through my second divorce the year before. I landed a great job taking care of a fleet of food delivery trucks. They let me live on the property in a travel trailer.

I was on call 24/7 but had a lot of free time on my hands. The boss became a good friend. We are still friends today. The winter of 82-83 was long and cold. I hadn’t gone for a good ride in a long time. I was on the job about a year by then, and they let me have a little vacation.

My girlfriend got me a Mickey Roark jacket for Christmas.
My girlfriend got me a Mickey Roark jacket for Christmas.

I decided there should be some warm weather in south Texas. I never rolled down there before. I wanted to see Del Rio and the Big Bend. I rolled out of Oklahoma City on a Sunday morning in the middle of May.

It was cold and raining a little. I wanted to take back roads all the way. I owned a ‘76 Electra Glide. It was a great old bike. I bought it first as a used dresser in 1979. I sold it to my friend Ross Collins in 1980. I bought it back in ‘83. We put a lot of miles on that old bike.

I traveled just about sixty miles out of town when I came over a hill and was faced with a cross road and a stop sign. I was going a little fast and the road was wet. I hit the brakes and started to slide. I applied a little front brake and the front wheel started to slide and turn.

I went down hard on the right side. Fortunately, I had lots of clothes on. No one else was around. The bike slid all the way through the stop sign and into the middle or the intersection. I got up and picked up the Glide. I was bruised a little. I had a knife on my right hip and landed on it. It put a 6-inch round bruise on my side.

The bike had a tweaked handlebar and busted right mirror. The front fender was dinged and the side was almost ripped off the right saddlebag. The old bike was painted Chevy orange with black scallops. I patched it up and rode on south all the way to San Angelo that first day. I bought some Tylenol and Epsom salts got a room and soaked in a hot tub.

I continued onto Del Rio the next day. I found my warm weather. It was in the 80s and the sun shined down there like a baby moon hubcap on fire. I found a local bike shop and bought a mirror. I bought a can of Chevy orange and a can of black spray paint, some bondo, sand paper, masking tape and fixed the paint on that old fiberglass bag in a hot open city park.

I then rode to Langtry and saw the Judge Roy Bean building. It was closed when I got there. I was able to look over the fence. Not much to look at. The Pecos runs into the Rio Grande there. It is like a small Grand Canyon. Huge Cliffs on both sides of the river. There is a dam down by Del Rio, so it forms a bit of a lake there.

I headed west to the Big Bend National Park. There was no traffic at all. No police, no border patrol, no cell phone. I would have been in trouble if I had a major breakdown. Fortunately, that old bike just kept running fine. I slept the third night in a sleeping bag under a bridge in the park.

I had a 36 caliber, cap and ball colt for protection. The next morning, I rode on down to an area where hikers climbed the Ghost mountains. I parked the bike and took a hiking path all the way to the top.

You could see the river and wild country in Mexico. There were only a few tourists around. I was the only biker. Cresting 100 degrees, I found a little store and gas station down there. I rolled west to Terelinga. I started seeing ‘59 Cadillacs in pieces on trailers. It was soon apparent they were shooting a movie. I later found out it was Fandango with Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson. I went by a spot in the road between Terelinga and Presidio where they were filming. They all waved as I rode by. Maybe I’m in it. I don’t know. I’ve never watched it, just saw the trailer.

This is me and Dave Ruth senior. The father of the mayor. It was in 2010. Sadly he passed away in 2012.
This is me and Dave Ruth senior. The father of the mayor. It was in 2010. Sadly he passed away in 2012.

I rode on to Marfa then turned back East and got a room in Alpine. The next day I headed home on back roads to Wichita Falls then took the turnpike back to Oklahoma City. It was a fun ride with no problems except for my crash. One of the many reasons my back is so messed up today.

I just read a fiction book by a retired border patrol agent, about that area today. It is rampant with drug mules and illegals of all types. The fear of terrorists and trigger-happy ranchers is coupled with all manner of BS. It was very peaceful down there, when the Chevy orange Electra Glide delivered me and it is always warm. I hope there are a few more rides like that in me.

--Bill May

Quick, join up. Just click and go.
Quick, join up. Just click and go.

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Reader Comments

Thanks for sharing your story Bill.

Monday, January 11, 2021
Liked the article big time! Reminds me of some of my road trips on my 1989 FLHS-"Electra-Glide Sport.The adventure of the road.

john Hoffman
Pahrump, NV
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Editor Response You made Bill's day.

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