Free Agent Family

What is the best way to describe friendship? How about “free agent family?” Whereas your actual family members are contractually obligated to care about your life, friends are constrained by no such binding agreement. They can opt out at any time. (Wait…. Maybe they didn’t know that. I hope none of them are reading this.)


I’m not really sure how to make friends, but I somehow have a small handful of them. After a rough couple of days riding across the plains, they were the perfect people to lift my spirits. I would also be getting a new chain and sprockets for Annie and checking a place off of my list. Could a weekend get any better?

Friday, July 21 (cont.)

I greeted my gang enthusiastically. I hope my hugs weren’t too intense.

Suddenly my life changed. Instead of gripping Annie’s handlebars, various wrenches and hastily rolled tortillas; my hands now found Jet-Ski handlebars, tube handles and a pontoon boat’s steering wheel. I applied sunscreen not just to the gap between my jacket and gloves, but my whole torso! Instead of crashing off a motorcycle into the mud I was faceplanting off of a tube. Who is this guy?

We talked about my trip a little bit, but it did not seem like the main event. It was nice to not really think about it for awhile.

Our time on the water was cut short by an incoming storm. I didn’t get my video of Sonic on a jet ski. 😦 We grabbed a bite to eat, which I was not alowed to pay for (thanks Matt and Megan!), before heading over to my friend’s sister’s house to pick up my new chain and sprocket. They did me a huge favor by allowing me to use their place as a shipping address. I don’t know how else I would have gotten resupplied.

Time to cross a place off of my list: Minnesota. As my ideas for this trip were in their embryonic form, I had this photo in mind to represent the Land of 10,000 lakes. Thinking of getting a picture here may have inspired the idea to get a unique photo at each stop. So let’s just cut to the action. I give you Minnesota (Verse 1 Line 1):

I really like Bemidji. I visited there as a kid and one of my current roommates, Kyle, grew up there (he was the one responsible for renting the cabin this weekend). The statue of Paul and Babe just makes me smile. I’m not sure why. Having all of my friends in this picture makes it even more special. Whatever this trip holds in the future, I will always look back on this as a bright spot.

Saturday, July 22

The next day was time for some “sprocketology”. Chain and sprockets should always be replaced at the same time on a motorcycle. If I ever write a motorcyclist’s translation of The Gospel, the parable of new wine and old wine skins will be replaced by one about a new chain on old sprockets. It’s the exact same concept.

I had some willing helpers which made the task much more enjoyable. I estimated the project to take about an hour, but that’s assuming I am in my own garage with my own tools.

Getting the bolt off of the front sprocket was the biggest roadblock. At home I would just use my breaker bar, but in this case creativity would need to take that tool’s place.

I don’t think I’m going to write exactly how we got it loose. I’ll just post a couple of pictures and let you use your imagination. πŸ™‚


Sometimes you gotta bend a nickel to remove a sprocket.


The project took 3-4 hours, but it was well worth it. I will probably use this chain and sprockets for the rest of my time in North America.

I’m not going to give a full report about what we did together. As I’ve said before on this journey: The being was more important than the doing. It was just great to be around them, reminisce about severe lapses in judgment, laugh at the same things you’ve laughed at 100 times before, find creative ways to eat deer sticks, bid too aggressively in pitch… You know, the usual stuff you do with friends. πŸ™‚

We did have a signing ceremony which I recorded. Now you can see how places get checked off of my list:

The ceremonies are usually have a bit more pomp and circumstance, but I think I forgot my fog machine back in Alaska.

What a great break. Just what I needed. I don’t think I paid for anything all weekend. I was, once again, so well taken care of. So a big thanks to Matt, Audrey, Matt, Megan, Aaron, Monica and Kyle. When the time comes to negotiate a long-term extension to our friendship agreements, I will take this weekend into careful consideration. πŸ™‚


Author: BA


10 thoughts on “Free Agent Family”

  1. That Paul and Babe pic is epic… Thanks for finally included me in your blog haha. Here’s to hoping my youtube ceremony video makes me famous. Glad it worked out to see you on your trip, you are a boss! Prayers to you dude!


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