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Page 195
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 12
cycle ride in the mountains of southwest Col-
orado. We were there for the sole purpose of
riding Black Bear Road, a notoriously narrow
jeep trail known for its high-elevation beauty
and its treacherous terrain. Black Bear Road
was a shortcut of sorts, connecting State
Highway 550 to the historic former mining vil-
lage of Telluride, some twelve miles due west.
The road is only open for a few months in late
summer and for years I'd wanted to gather a
few friends and experience the alpine trail for
After an hour of hard riding we reached the
summit of Black Bear Pass at 12,800 feet. We
stopped for a rest and Mike put his bike on
its kickstand, turned to take in the view, and
a hunk of shale or sandstone shifted and his
bike tipped over on its side. When he right-
ed the bike we noticed a puddle of oil on the
ground, the result of a small hole, more of a
crack, punched into the oil filter cover from
the fall. He started the bike to assess the dam-
age only to find hot oil squirting out of the
crack in a steady stream. He couldn't ride the
bike more than a mile without permanently
damaging the engine. We were high on a
mountain, nine or so miles from Telluride, in
the middle of nowhere, with little chance of
other riders or jeep enthusiasts just happen-
ing by with a spare oil filter cover.
After a brief conclave, we decided to help
Mike get his Suzuki DR350 up over a small
rise and follow him as he coasted, engine off,
ever downward, descending through a set of
infamous switchbacks into Telluride.
And that's exactly what we did.
When we coasted into town, we pushed his
motorcycle to the only hardware store in town
and bought a couple of tubes of fast-drying ep-
oxy and a package of rubber gasket material.
This took place in the late 1990s when Telluride
was nothing like the pop culture hot-spot it is
today. Right there in front of the store, we lay
Mike's Suzuki on its side, unbolted the oil filter
cover and cleaned the inside of any gunked up
oil. Terry loved to tinker so he took over and
applied a heavy dose of epoxy to the inside of
the cover and gently placed a slice of precisely
cut gasket material, like an odd-shaped Band-
Aid, over the crack. We killed an hour while
the epoxy hardened, bolted the cover back in
place and, for good measure, applied several
layers of duct tape to the outside of it. With all
of our ducks-in-a-row, Mike started his engine
and we watched as only a dribble of oil seeped
through the tape.
We began our day in Ouray, Colorado, some
50 miles from Telluride by highway, and with
our patch in place and several quarts of extra
oil, we put the bikes in gear and took off for
the hotel. Shortly before nightfall we cruised
into Ouray; one more riding adventure be-
hind us and this one with a good story to tell.
The point of this tale is that collectively
we solved a problem, we met the challenge,
and returned home with a feeling of accom-
plishment far stronger than had the trip gone
according to plan. I'm not suggesting that I
seek out trouble (though in hindsight any rid-
er or jeeper who sets out for Black Bear Sum-
mit should anticipate trouble aplenty). I am
suggesting that by relishing each breakdown
and mishap and provocation as an opportuni-
ty to creatively solve problems, that any chal-