Lessons From the Road: “Pay It Forward”

Shade Tree Mechanics-- GS Giants style
Shade Tree Mechanics– GS Giants style

Tammy and I had just come out of a long ride on backcountry dirt trails in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming when I first noticed a fog of oil wetting the dusty surface of the rear drive on my BMW R1200GSA adventure motorcycle. Clearly, my outer seal was failing.

I was so intent on running a mental inventory of tools and parts needed for the repair that I had not noticed the man standing beside me. Apparently, he had come out of the RV, with a BMW motorcycle in tow, parked at the pump in front of me. Almost on cue, just as I had come to the realization that I didn’t have the parts to make the repair the man said, shaking his head, “That’s not good—You won’t get very far with that. Do you have the part?”

The closest BMW dealership was hundreds of miles from where we stood. Pondering the logistics that would be involved in getting the part or getting my moto to a distant dealership, I replied with a simple “no.”

I knew that if I tried riding very far, I would burn out my rear drive—a $2,500 repair at best. Sensing my frustration, he asked me to hold and not go anywhere. Funny I thought. A few minutes later he came out of the RV with the very part I needed, a rear drive seal and clip. We then entered into a discussion on the steps to make the repair and the tools need. He had made the repair and schooled me on what I would need as I had never made it.

I limped 150 miles to Billings, Montana where the BMW MOA (Motorcycle Owners of American) Rally was being held and I was meeting up with several my fellow GS Giants (an organization of adventure riders). Tammy and I took the interstate most of the way from Dayton Wyoming to Billings. She led the way as I stopped often to check the leak. Obviously, not the highpoint of our adventure.

When I reached the fairgrounds in Billings the word was already out and several Giants offered to help. Randy Owens (a BMW MOA Ambassador and fellow Giant) and I had the job done in a little over an hour under the shade of a tree. Randy had made that very repair but never in the field. He and his wife, Ginni, rode with me to a tractor outlet to get some additional tools needed to refill the rear drive.

The brotherhood (and sisterhood) of adventuring on two wheels is a special bond that can only be experienced on the road. As we often say, “If nothing goes wrong, it’s not an adventure.” But when something does go wrong there seems to always be a fellow rider willing to help.

I want to publicly thank Randy Owens for helping a fellow rider on the road and my sincere gratitude to Roger Miles, BMW MOA ambassador, who gave me the part to make the repair. You have to wonder about the odds of Roger pulling up in that remote gas station at the same time as Tammy and me.

Neither of them would accept anything for the help they give us. They just said, “Pay it forward.” That could be why they’re both BMW MOA Ambassadors, one of the highest honors we can pay anyone to in our community.

Author: Baja Moto Quest!

I am an educator who came out of retirement to consult with school districts, but I also live to ride my R1200GSA motorcycle as much as I can especially in Baja! In fact, without those adventures into the outback of Baja, I wouldn't be able to give my all at work or write. I've written a novel, Almost Human which was published recently and am working on the sequel, More Than Human.

7 thoughts on “Lessons From the Road: “Pay It Forward””

  1. The karma gods were looking out for you
    You must if been already paying in some small way to get what you got
    Great story
    Happy motoring
    As always Sheldon

  2. Pay it forward is a concept we hear about, but don’t see enough of. It should be written on a calendar to remind us if we forget to participate in such an event. Everyone benefits from this. Usually win-win situations motivate repetitive behavior. I’m not sure why more people do not make this a priority in their lives?

    1. Well said. Travel has taught me that there are more kind people than uncaring and apathetic. Experiencing kind people on the road who have unselfishly helped me has made me more alert to opportunities to “pay it forward.” Thanks for the insightful comment.

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