Jon left for Trinidad at 6am, apparently sleep hadn't been forthcoming. Unsurprisingly I was also up and about. Quite separate from my established clutch issues I had started to develop my own engine problems and suspected I had a broken valve spring. A loud ticking from the engine head area could have been tappet/valve related, but a quick inspection revealed no obvious solution or diagnosis. We needed to get to a larger town and dealership, again! We debated hiring a car to take our bikes on a trailer, but in a town of no more than 6000 people we stood little chance of finding a car hire office. We could either rebuild the bike here and wait for spares, or head on to Trinidad with the risk of further engine damage, and pick up the clutch spares I desperately needed. A highly scientific toss of a coin saw us riding west again.
Although I was worried about my bikes continuing deterioration other issues were constantly rushing around my mind as the featureless landscape flashed by. I couldn't help but marvel at the lifestyle led by the plains populous. There were few fruit or vegetables evident in their diet and beef, sugary drinks, and doughnuts seemed to constitute the majority of the average persons calorie intake. This inevitably seemed to lead to obesity and weight problems, hampering mobility but countered by transportation in ever larger and more unlikely looking gas guzzling vehicles.
Despite these factors many people clearly lived hard lives working in the two visible industries of arable farming or cattle ranching. Over the 1000 miles we had travelled in Oklahoma and Kansas there had been few towns and little entertainment other than a single drive in cinema. I found it hard to imagine how I could sustain my life physically or mentally in such an environment. It was an interesting lesson to realise that my simple preconceptions of the USA as a larger version of the UK were wrong. Although the countries physical size was clearly larger (as were most of the people!) the anthropological effects of this had clearly created a unique and very different culture from my own. Although I was 'only' travelling in America I felt as far removed culturally from the people I rode past every day as I had ever felt on previous trips in Africa, India, or Central America.
As the sun slowly rose over the high plains a familiar heat began to penetrate my clothes and an intense smell hit my nostrils. In the distance to the north were pens of cattle as far as my eye could detect, thousands and thousands of cows tightly packed awaiting some unknown fait. The quantity initially amazed me, until ten miles later when we were still passing more packed cattle enclosures. Thinking back to my musings on the predominance of beef in the diet I realised that although it probably wasn't the healthiest of foods, based upon economies of scale, it was going to be cheap and plentiful.
An hour later we passed a sign telling us that we were now riding in Colorado, the time zone changed to Mountain Time, and amazingly I saw a hill. Coming from a mountain climbing background the effect was dramatic. I suddenly became far more settled and began looking eagerly toward the west for my first glimpses of the snow covered peaks we had ridden so far to cross.
Trinidad was a great place. At 6025 ft its cool air was a welcome change from the stifling heat of the plains. Our Motel was in a central location to the town which was blessed with an amazing array of non-derelict shops and entertainment of many kinds including a beautifully maintained 19th century theatre house/cinema. The 'semi' bad news was that my part wouldn't be arriving until Monday due to our remote location. I say 'semi', because this was by far the nicest town we had experienced in some time and a little rest and recuperation was needed to clear our heads of the monotony and minor irritations of the plains. Jon took the opportunity to fix his bike problems, Stef cable tied his spokes together to assist his rear wheel with its mammoth rocky mountain crossing that was to take place over the next few days, I waited for my clutch spares and stripped the top end on my engine. Although far from certain my fault diagnosis of the terrible engine rattle (known by Stef as the, 'two skeletons dancing in a biscuit tin syndrome) centred around the cam chain or decompression system but I couldn't be sure. There were still no dealers in the area and an executive decision was made to push on over the Rockies to Moab and the famed Fred Hink of ArrowHead Motorsports. Rumour had it that he was a man who knew things and he was already expecting us for a tyre change and service.