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Selfless generosity and the MOA Helping Hand Award

Wednesday, September 23, 2020   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Amberly Morgan, 212992

Last summer, after touring on and off-road with a small group of friends through Colorado and Utah, two of us had the opportunity to continue for another month. Since neither of us enjoys planning, we had only a general route in mind with a plan to turn home after reaching Jasper, Alberta.

To set the backdrop, I am about 120 lbs. and ride an R 1200 GS; my friend, Maria, is a mere 4’11” and has to slide off the seat of her F 750 GS to put a foot down. Since our plan included riding some sections of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, we knew righting dropped bikes would likely be our biggest challenge, but we felt reasonably confident it would work itself out. Whether our husbands shared this confidence is unclear, but they gritted their teeth and wished us well as we set off.

After a night in Fernie, British Columbia, we headed north out of town on a logging road. We were a little concerned about the clouds threatening to make the road into a muddy mess, but we continued along regardless. The sights were as amazing as those in Glacier National Park, but without the crowds. About a dozen miles from our paved outlet, the road widened out, and we began to see some other vehicles. After a soak at a hot spring, we returned to our bikes and Maria realized the dry bag holding her tent and sleeping pad had fallen off along the way. It was mid-afternoon and beginning to drizzle, but we decided to turn back to search for the tent. As we rode, the clouds continued to gather and the drizzle turned to a light rain.

After about an hour and a half of backtracking, Maria said, “Let’s forget it.” But I pressed her to continue just a little bit further as we were nearly to the end of the section where we thought the tent had fallen.

Literally yards after this exchange I heard Maria’s voice again, warning me about a patch of slick mud just ahead. Unfortunately, it was too late, as I was sliding into the roadside ditch. I wasn’t hurt, but my bike was nearly upside down. By then, it was 4:30 p.m., the wind had kicked up, the light rain was now heavy rain, the clouds looked very ominous, and there was bear poop everywhere.

We spent the next hour and a half trying, and failing, to right the bike, even attempting to tow it out and to lever it up with branches. Despite our determination to get out of this on our own, we finally had to admit we could not lift the bike. We hadn’t seen another person since the hot spring and had no cell service, so we knew it was either break out the InReach satellite tracker or make camp for the night. Since we were somewhat close to a Provincial park, I used the tracker to text my husband. I asked him to see if a local police officer or park ranger was in the vicinity and could help us.

Unfortunately, the Fernie police department couldn’t help, and the three local tow services were unwilling to come until the next day. At about 8 p.m., my husband turned to the BMW Owners Anonymous book and started dialing. Finally, on the last listed number, Jim Whitfield (#206899) of Cranbrook, British Columbia, answered his phone. After my husband explained the situation, Jim said, “No way are they spending the night up there with the bears!”

Jim and his wife Linda, also a rider, gathered tow straps and headed out to find us with an ETA of about another hour or so.

By this time, it was raining hard, becoming windy and getting dark. We were covered head to toe in mud from trying to right my bike. We set up my tent, secured all of our food in drybags away from our location and settled in for the wait. What we didn’t know at the time, was that Jim and Linda actually were closer to two hours away, even in good conditions. Their willingness to make such a long trip would have been unbelievably generous on its own. Never mind that they were willing to do it at night in bad weather. With only our GPS location to go on, they navigated toward an impassible road and had to backtrack about an hour to find a passable route to us. The whole time, they stayed in touch with my husband, who in turn, passed on updates on the ETA.

Finally, at about 11:30 p.m. we saw headlights. What a sight! As we emerged from the tent, Linda jumped out of the truck and gave me a giant hug.

With two extra people, it was no problem to set the bike back on its wheels, but it was still in the ditch. Jim hooked a tow strap to his truck and helped me ride out of the muddy ditch. After determining the bike was rideable, we discussed what to do next. Cold, wet and exhausted, neither Maria or I relished the idea of a midnight ride on two hours of muddy logging road, but wouldn’t have dared ask for a ride out so we thanked Jim and Linda and said we would pack up for the ride.

Not already heroic enough, Jim volunteered, “If it was me, I’d leave the bikes here and come get them tomorrow.”

Grateful for this reprieve, we loaded up our gear in the back of Jim and Linda’s truck, parked the bikes off to the side and headed down the mountain. The lengthy ride to their home made us realize just how generous this rescue (and offer of a return trip the following day) really was!

Thanks to Jim and Linda’s generosity and unhesitating willingness to help, Maria and I had hot tea, hot showers and rested in cozy beds that night, and two worried husbands were able to rest easy. Otherwise, we would have endured a serious thunderstorm in the mountains. I awoke the next morning to find Jim and Maria already in the driveway hosing the mud off our gear. Linda made us oatmeal. We chatted a bit, got to know our hosts and had an overall wonderful visit.

After all that, Linda supplied us with homemade snack bars, and Jim helped us load up and make the return trip all the way back up the mountain to retrieve our bikes. Jim also would not accept fuel money from us, nor money for a car detail as we had thoroughly muddied the back seat of the truck.

As we prepared to part ways, we realized my bike would not rev and was stuck at about 3,000 rpm. This would mean accepting even more assistance! We changed course and decided to ride back the way we had come, towards Jim and Linda’s house with him following until we reached cell service range, in case of a total breakdown. Poor Jim endured what ended up being a slow ride, as the rain and hail returned. In the end, we made it down to cell service, and Jim waited while I called the Calgary BMW shop.

>Fortunately, the shop informed me that the electronic throttle cable had likely come loose. I just needed to unplug it, remove the mud, and put it back, and I was good as new.

Maria and I will never forget Jim and Linda and will forever treasure our “adventure riding” story. We also hope for the opportunity to pay it forward some day. I hope you will consider Jim and Linda for the BMW MOA Helping Hand Award as they are beyond deserving.


Do you have a story that ends with the kindness of another rider? You can recognize their selfless acts by nominating that person for a Helping Hand award. Visit the Helping Hand page to submit their information and your story.  


John Lang says...
Posted 15 hours ago
Jim & Linda Whitfield... I'm proud to be in an organization with members like you guys!
Tony Yeley says...
Posted Monday, October 19, 2020
What a great story and what a generous couple! The world needs more adventurous riders and more people will to lend a hand. Kudos to all four of you!

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