Longrider Pauses In Yuma

October 24, 2008

All Posts, News

Look, no matter how crazy you think you are there is always going to be some dude out there who is crazier than you. Ride a Harley long enough and you will inevitably come face to face with that.

Currently, the numero uno, stone cold loco longrider in all the land is a former Wisconsin politician named Dave Zien. Zien served in the state Assembly from 1989-93 and in the state Senate from 1993-2006. After he lost his last election Dave quit shaving. And, now he has come to resemble the trapper who, even the other trappers think, has maybe been up in them mountains by himself a little too long.

Zien is 58. He was a Sergeant in Vietnam. And, he says he has been riding since 1962, when he would have been 12, so he probably has you beat right there. By his own count, Zien had two million miles riding one motorcycle or another about a year ago. That’s an average of 45,000 miles a year every year for 45 years. Do his ears ever ring do you think?

Zien has had similar adventures to what we all have had except because he rides so much he has had his adventures in bunches.

The Deer, The Bible And The Other Deer

For example, he survived a collision with a deer. How many guys do you know who can say that? So, after the deer he started carrying a bible on his bike. For luck. As a kind of a prayer. Zien thinks it was that bible that saved him the second time he hit a deer.

And, who can argue with him? Maybe the first time Dave lived because Dave was lucky and Dave was good but that second time it had to be the Lord.

In 2003 Zien put 31,000 miles on his motorcycle in 31 days. Appreciate that for a few seconds. Thirty-one thousand miles in 31 days.

For many riders 31,000 miles involves at least a dozen motor oil changes, a half dozen primary and transmission fluid changes, new brake fluid three or four times, at least two new tires and at least 20 hours of tightening up everything that is about to fall off, lubing the cables, changing the plugs and staring at the beast and wondering how it is going to try to kill you this time.

Then there is the actual riding, which has to average at least 14 hours a day. It depends where you ride. Some places are harder than others. If you are trying to put a thousand miles a day on a bike in Los Angeles you can’t do it in this Los Angeles. You have to go for it in the Los Angeles that is on the planet that has 48-hour days.

1991 FXRT

Probably you couldn’t ride a thousand miles a day every day for a month but Zien did -on a 1991 FXRT Sport Glide. So it was perfectly natural, at the beginning of August, for Dave Zien to look down at his odometer and see that it read 969,000 and then to wonder what we all wonder. “I wonder, how high does this thing have to go before it gets back to zero?”

Zien managed to add another 19,000 miles to his score before he blew out his engine on October 16, on Interstate 8 in Arizona, among the Saguaros and the abandoned jojoba plantations between Sentinel and Tacna.

“I remember it really well. Mile marker 48,” Zien told the Yuma Sun. “I started getting heatstroke out there and black smoke was coming out both my pipes, oil dripping, it was horrendous, just a cloud of smoke.”

The Breakdown

It is okay, Dave. We’ve all been there. Some of us have even been there right there.

Soon enough, a kindly couple in an RV stopped to keep Dave company. He called Harley’s Road America towing service and by a miracle, maybe because of that Bible he carries on his bike, he managed to get the operator who speaks English. So eventually, he got a tow into Bobby’s Territorial Harley in Yuma.

The Waiting

Zien is still waiting on his new engine. He was supposed to be on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show last night. Leno is a motorcycling enthusiast who had heard about Zien.

And, Zien had hoped to have the million miles on his bike by now so he could have talked about that on TV. But, he missed his chance. The Love Ride is also in Los Angeles this weekend and Zien could have gone to that.

The riding is probably better in Los Angeles this weekend than it will be in Wisconsin. Here, it is about 90. There is a light Santa Ana blowing. The sky is almost blue. Zien is missing this weather, too. It seems like a shame.

Probably by now Zien’s his butt is starting to feel real strange. Probably, by now he is starting to pace around a lot, snap at people and get edgy.

After 46-years it may have been the one thing Dave Zien had yet to learn about riding a motorcycle. Sometimes even the craziest longrider of us all cannot ride everyday.

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