There was, for example, the operator of the small Kiefer Oil gas station on Hwy 34 in the tiny (pop. 162) South Dakota community of Fedora, who didn’t hesitate to let them use his service bay and whatever additional tools they might need to change their oil, and who, as numbers of men they talked to during the trip, envied them, wished that he could take off and do what they were doing, wouldn’t accept payment from them for the use of the bay, simply wished them good luck and happy traveling. The motorcycle technician at Newport Power Sports in Newport, WA, who stayed on after closing time to improvise a replacement for the Yamaha’s damaged electric start button and headlight so that the bike would be road-ready in the morning. The university student on summer break, serving customers at her family’s small, homey Bootleggers Bar and Grill on Highway 53 in Wascott, WI that they’d happened upon after a long stretch somewhat lost in the woods, who treated them to Cokes and talked excitedly and admiringly to them about their trip, and then about the Harley she’d just bought and was planning to ride, solo, to the August roundup in Sturgis. The owner of the Wyoming motel who concluded that the only reason they had such old bikes was that they didn’t have the money to buy newer ones, and the young man at the same motel who had a K model BMW and who, like them, was en-route from Seattle to New York, but unlike them was intending to make the trip in seven Interstate days, head down and bent over the bars the whole way. The mother-of-seven waitress in a Libby, Montana restaurant, in her mid-40s and still beautiful, who though she smiled skeptically about their questionable request for a pizza made with sliced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, convinced the chef to make it, and then she and the other disbelievers at the bar deigned to taste it and voila, a new special taste sensation--the “Seattle Pizza”--was added to the menu.
And there were, of course, the bikers. Dozens and dozens of them, mostly older Harley riders traveling in pairs or in groups. Though aware of the reputation and beauty of the old BMW R-series (1955-1969), many had never been in the presence of the actual machine. At gas stations and rest stops they gathered around David’s antique and unrestored R50, examining it, discussing among themselves and with David the classical beauty of its lines, the quality of its construction, it’s structural simplicity, its kick start, magneto system, shaft drive, earl’s forks, etc. They didn’t quite know what to make of the two old guys, dauntless enough (and foolhardy enough, some said) to attempt such a long and strenuous journey on such old (and to them, underpowered) and windscreen-less machines. They admired them for trying, and wished them well. And made of them a continuing topic of conversation, as David and George found out at a rest stop gas station (the gas station) in Interior, South Dakota, where while refueling they were approached by a pair of old grizzled and tattooed bikers, riding grizzled old Harleys, who said they must be the old guys they’d been hearing about at the campgrounds where they’d been camping. Said they were celebrities, that their reputation had preceded them. Another biker who was fueling up, hearing this, asked David and George if he could take their picture. He should also have taken the picture of the grizzled and tattooed old guys, who’d been on the road for two months, camping out every night, round-tripping to and from Detroit through the South and the West.