The Kindness of the Road

By Michael Koehnlein

It was the summer of 1984, and I was headed west on my Suzuki, camping gear strapped to the seat.  In Denver, I met two guys riding a Honda.  They were nearly broke, and going to Florida to start new jobs.  We hung out for a while in their hotel room.  Before leaving, I bought them dinner and a six pack.  At about 9:00 p.m., I started east on I-70, headed towards home in the dark.

Two and a half hours later, in the middle of nowhere, the master link fell off the chain.  I coasted to the shoulder knowing I didn’t have a spare.  A few minutes later, a Harley rider pulled up and offered to help, but without another master link, there was nothing we could do.  He was headed east to boot camp at Fort Dix, but he offered me a ride back to Denver, to drop me off with the Honda guys.

The Kindness of the Road Between stopping for me and going back to Denver, he was going about six hours out of his way. We decided to leave my bike on the shoulder.  Then a Colorado State Trooper pulled up behind us. He suggested pushing the bike down into the ditch, so it would be out of sight: all of that camping gear would be very tempting.  The ditch was soft sand and the bike’s side stand was sinking.  The trooper emptied a clipboard and handed it to me to put under the side stand.  “Don’t worry, I’ll get another one back at the barracks.”  And he promised to keep an eye on it while on patrol.

By 2:00 a.m., we were back in Denver.  I tried to insist, but the Harley rider wouldn’t take any money for gas.  The Honda guys threw some blankets on the floor of their hotel room, and let me sleep there.  The next morning, one of them took me to a local bike shop, where I bought TWO master links; then he drove me out to my bike.  A quick repair, and the bike was fixed.  I followed him back to Denver, where his buddy had been waiting all that time.  These two guys were delayed for six hours, in addition to being woken in the middle of the night.  I filled their tank, but that didn’t cover the gas they had used.  I knew it would be their only meal that day, so I bought them a huge lunch.

I wasn’t in dire financial straits, and I wasn’t going to die out there, but three people spent hours and hours of their time and gas helping me, just because they wanted to.  And the second master link I bought?  Just before Kansas City, I pulled onto the shoulder behind a Yamaha motorcycle – with a missing master link!

Originally published as HeroicStories #859

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9 thoughts on “The Kindness of the Road”

  1. Great Story! I have been riding motorcycles since 1973 and have often found motorcyclists willing to help others, whether they are on a motorcycle or in a car. I truly feel that if more people would take the time to try to help others, the world would be a much better place in no time.

  2. What a wonderful story. Bikers have always gotten bad raps and yeah, some deserved them, but I’ve found that most bikers go out of their way to help one another. They are actually more likely to stop and help a fellow rider than a driver is to stop when another car is broken down. God bless all our road angels, no matter what vehicle they are riding on.

  3. Very practical and interesting story. Man’s humanity to man. He received help when he needed it and passed it on to another who needed help too. All strangers!. Those guys that helped him too have sown a good seed that they or their loved ones will reap someday.

  4. I remember many rides and many times the group stopping to help someone in the group or someone else on the roadside. Sharing gas or 2-stroke oil. This all happened prior to cell phones. It could seem some of your best friends were actually strangers.

  5. Back in the good old days, when I had a bike, I was a member of the American Motorcycle Association and through that a member of a volunteer group. I forget the name, but basically we shared our contact information and if someone was traveling and broke down they could call in and one of use would come out and help. I don’t think they have this group anymore, but I always thought it was a great idea.

    • Brendan – I’m a life member of the AMA. The volunteer group I believe was called Helping Hands. I owned a pickup but was never called.


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