As it turns out it seemed I was to have to have more than my fair share of wishes come true this trip. As I said my farewells and rode down Stacy's drive I managed 200 yards from his house and tried to change gear. My clutch lever pulled straight in and my bike ground to a halt. A quick clutch cover removal showed that the head of the release shaft had snapped off!! I'd never heard of this happening before, and was a little upset. But what a great place for it to happen!
It was Sunday, the dealerships didn't open until 9am on Monday. I had home made pancakes for breakfast with real maple syrup, bacon and eggs, and it was gorgeous. I typed emails and chatted endlessly catching up on five years of gossip and news. It was 80 degrees in the shade of the trees and that's exactly where I'd be eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, until I got a new part!
An entirely uneventful breakfast came and went early on Sunday morning followed by an arse numbing run on the road to rejoin the trail in Lincoln Arkansas, some 95 miles further on than we had left it on Friday. The plan was to ride to a suitable fuel stop where we would meet Dave for lunch at around noon. The trail was fairly fast again, being mostly wide dirt roads through sections of lightly forested land. It was however the kind of surface that doesn't indulge one's cornering heroics too well. It was that sort of small round-ish gravel that makes for a feeling of riding on marbles, which was quite fortuitous as it meant I was travelling fairly slowly when I had my first 'off' of the trip to date. There I was minding my own business when my front wheel suddenly decides to make a maniacal lunge for the undergrowth on the outside of the bend, taking in a couple of large rocks on the way (I flatly refuse to believe that I could possibly have been in any way at fault...oh no, clearly a psychotic motorcycle). Anyway, I went down, my trousers threw up their metaphorical hands in surrender and immediately split at the knee and the bike got a few scratches to the fairing cum headlamp surround mounted to the forks at huge expense only weeks earlier. Other than that, I was fine and the bike started up eventually after what was to become an all too familiar ritual of frantic kicking and sweating/swearing to clear the flooded carburettor. I dusted myself off and on we rode, eventually sidling into a town called Salina where we hoped Dave would already be waiting for us.
After the first forty five minutes of standing around, we decided to go ahead and have lunch in the diner across the road from the petrol station and after nearly three hours (the agreed time window) we set off satisfied, but a little worried, that we weren't going to see Dave today. The remainder of the route into Bartlesville was flat, mainly straight and uneventful. We collapsed into a room at the Best Western in the early evening only to find that Dave had left a message on Jon's mobile phone at eleven in the morning telling us that he was stuck in Eureka Springs and that we should go and meet him there...not likely mate, it's the wrong way! We went for dinner instead, seemed the sensible thing to do.