The day bloomed sunny. A train roared by our motel, so close it literally shook the walls. We packed up and visited a little breakfast nook in downtown. Pryor Creek is a wide street Western feeling Oklahoma town. During hashbrowns and eggs we both worked the maps on our phones to plan our day. It could no longer be ignored, my front tire had to be replaced. We had just spent an evening and half of the next day doing oil and air filter changes and didn’t really want to spend another day wrenching but the rain yesterday really forced the issue.
I had spent hours researching tires the day before and after carefully studying all the options and reading forums I new exactly what I wanted. Samantha suggested that I call around to see what they had. So the next morning I called the shops she had found and ended up, as Samantha had understood all along, with whatever they had which was a nice set of Dunlop 606’s. I really believe in flowing with events and not fighting them. I sometimes forget this but I find that believing that everything is exactly as it should be makes life much more pleasant and leads down some unexpected paths. So when the second shop I called had the tires in stock and would put them on for me today I went with it.
We rode some nice winding and rolling secondary roads into Tulsa and parked under a little tree on the side of Cycle Gear. There was another large shop across the street and we considered shopping around but Josh had been so great on the phone and he had my tires set aside with my name on them.
We had one catch, they were not a service shop. They can put on wheels but they can’t touch the bike. No problem, Josh loaned me a stand and even helped us get it under the bike. So under the shady tree we pulled out the tools and took off both wheels. As promised they put a beautiful set of very agressive knobbys on in no time. Samantha bought a new chain for the TW and we worked side by side in the parking lot. Helping eachother out as needed. When we were done it was late, we were exhaused and hungry and the guys had all gone home for the evening. The tires looked great on the bike but it raised the bike. I could still touch but only with my toes. The new tires were fatter, a little taller and along with the knobbies really put the bike up higher. The front end also felt heavier, sluggish to turn. Maybe because the tire was larger or grippier.
We sat in the shade of a dumpster figuring out our next move. It would be dark in about an hour and we were in strip mall hell. There was an abandoned field behind the motorcycle shop and I suggested we just camp right there – which was vetoed immediately. We decided to ride to a Chipotle – Samantha’s favorite fast food – and figure it out over burrito bowls. We ended up riding right downtown. It was a Saturday night in Tulsa and we laughed at ourselves for being more concerned with where we were going out than where to stay.
We rode into the high rises of Tulsa at sunset. The city was abandoned, there were no people, no traffic and the setting sun was lighting the historic buildings. It reminded me of Denver or Dallas, with little housing downtown the city was all but deserted on the weekends. We discovered Second Street with rows of bars and restaurants and spotted Arnie’s which we had read about. Folks were out and about and the night was slowly beginning to come alive.
We spun around, ducked into an unpaved alleyway where I could try out the traction on the new knobbies. Then we circled back around to the Atlas Hotel. It was fun to ride the empty city streets at dusk, the motors echoing off the canyon walls. We really wanted off street parking with the bikes and all the gear but they didn’t have it. The hotel was also pretty pricey. As we sat on the sidewalk, muddy from the day before and now greasy from wrenching all day a couple on a street bike coasted up. They had just broken their clutch cable. I loaned them tools while we chatted. They were staying at the Atlas. We asked them how much they were paying and Tiffany whipped out her wallet, “how much do you need?” It was funny. We looked like moto hobos with nowhere to stay.
I chatted with the valet and he said they have 24 hour valet parking (but not for motorcycles) and we could leave the bikes parked right there in front. So we borrowed a cart and loaded up all our dirty gear and tromped through the hotel in our motorcycle boots with helmets and gas cans falling on the marble floors as we went.
We finally collapsed on the bed looking out the huge windows at the neighboring skyscrapers. We had been camping and staying in cheap motels but this was something else entirely. The corner room had windows across both walls and we could even peer down 7 stories to the motorcycles. The historic Atlas Hotel had been built in the 1920’s on oil money, classic on the outside but modern on the inside. We tried a couple moves from “Dirty Dancing” but after failing to balance Samantha in the air over my head we collapsed on the bed laughing. It had been a long tough day and we were happy to be tucked into this little bit of luxury. Damn the price, we can camp later.
We showered and met our new motorcycle friends, Bill and Tiffany in the lobby. We walked to Second Street on the warm and empty city streets, Saturday night in the middle of America. We crossed a huge, black parking lot, ducked under a cable and into Arnies. The night was a blast, Bill and Tiffany enjoy eachother’s company as much as Samantha and I. We drank unfiltered wheat beers, swapped motorcycle stories, bar hopped and danced. I remember a giant, neon mural of Elton John and in another bar a band sitting on stools with accoustic guitars singing Bon Jovi covers. All in all a great night. I marveled at how this morning we woke up in Pryor Creek with no idea that that night we would be singing along to Bon Jovi at 2 in the moring in downtown Tulsa Oklahoma. But we weren’t the ony adventurers. Bill and Tiffany had ended up there on a whim as well, with nothing but a small back pack, riding two up on their sport bike. They had crashed a Harley Party, played in a Poker Run, seen a car show and now here we all were, tender and frail humans tumbling through a vast and unpredictable world.