West Island Weather Station GMC Trail Bike found after 8 months lost in reservation.
It was a bright early summer day as I ventured out on my mountain bike to the back side of West Island. The main entrance to the Fir Street trail was getting too routine and predictable. I needed something more challenging for my newly acquired GMC Mountain Bike. So I ventured further south to the end of Fir St and entered into the Clam Path as it is known. Anyone who's been on this trail knows full well to be prepared for a rough hike in spots.
There are knee deep mud holes that will suck your boots right off if you get stuck in there. There are some unstable narrow wooden planks you can walk on over some of the more menacing mud holes. I carried my heavy bike over these planks, kept a safe balance and made it. Crocodile Dundee would have been proud! The ½ mile plus walk is what I call the Vietnam Jungle of Fairhaven. You have the swamps, and limited visibility, You have to keep moving-or the bugs, especially giant horse flies will eat you alive. It's amazing what clothing they can penetrate to sting you. When the conditions are right-they'll come after you no matter how much bug spray you have on. Then there are the pesky mosquitoes, gnats and other hungry insects on the prowl for the dinner bell-which is the carbon dioxide emissions of a perspiring human being.
Despite the gauntlet, you end up at the end of the path with a spectacular view of East Cove, West Island. A sandy shore with tall eel grass flowing in the breeze greets you. A full panoramic view of Buzzards Bay is accompanied by the sweet refreshing aroma of the ocean.
My mission was simple, and so I thought. I was to head north along shore a couple of hundred yards and find a deer path and head in to intersect with what is known as Coyote Path. This trail would head north through some beautiful and more stable ground ,running parallel to Fir St and behind the Sewer Treatment Plant. The trail would eventually link up to the more traveled path ending up finally at the northeast corner of the island.
That's the way it was supposed to happen. After about an hour and a half going through the narrow deer trails the brush began to get thicker and pushing the bike along began to get entangled in the brush. I cut through for a while and realized that I should have found the open trail by now. I was headed north-northeast. Visibility was under twenty-five feet in all directions. The sun was bearing down, it was about 80 degrees with moderate humidity. I had a full 2 liter of cold diet Pepsi in my baggage gear standing by. I decided to set the bike up against a small tree sapling leaving it behind to see if I could punch through the thick brush and stumble onto the path. I came across a swamp that had toppled trees from previous storms with huge trunks and roots exposed. I am thankful to have worn my Chippewa steel toe logger boots. This is what they were designed for. It was obvious that my options were running out. There was no way to lug the bike any further into this mess. I was getting thirsty and decided to head back to the bike, looking forward to chug a lug down that cold soda-get hydrated and abort this trek.
When doubling back-things didn't look right or familiar. So I doubled back to reorient myself to no avail. I headed out about 50 yards and circled about-to see my bike with the bright red first aid kit. It should have stood out-right? I repeated these circles and made a wider search. The sun was bearing down and I needed to get hydrated immediately. Fatigue and mild disorientation began to take it?s toll. I had no choice but to exit the reservation-I followed the direction of the sun which I knew would eventually find civilization heading west. My top priority was to keep up enough energy to find water fast. The last thing I wanted to do is call for help. After all I'm a weather spotter and maintain the West island Weather Station and was publicity director for Save West Island that successfully acquired the reservation in 1988. I should know this place like the back of my hand! I of all people shouldn't get lost in my own backyard! Anyone who trails can appreciate how easy this situation can occur even to the most experienced trail blazer.
After being replenished with water and some rest-I was determined to recover the bike. I tried from the beginning were I went in and retraced the tire tracks and foot prints and they eventually became undetectable in the deer trails. After a 2 hour search-I was losing daylight and returned home without my bike. I planned to search the next day. I was confident that no one would find it too easily as it was deeply embedded in the thick brush. The next day turned into several as attempts over a period of 8 months to find the lost bike in a search area of about 150 acres proved to be elusive.
Not a day went by that I didn?t think where that bike might be. I was confident that it was in the same place were I left it. I would go along shore at east cove and stare into the thick forestry and ponder how the bike would look now after all these months in the elements. It was probably best that at this point to let it go or maybe somebody did find it.
In the 3rd week of January, I made one more attempt to search in the woods. The area was blanketed with about 7 inches of snow and the ground was frozen. I thought just maybe the bike itself or handle bars would protrude through the snow cover. No success.
Almost 8 months to the day, on February 18 around 330 PM, after a routine dog walk, I finally exited the reservation and gave my dogs a treat of French Vanilla ice cream. My wife Carole came in the house out of breath and was very startled. She kept asking where's your bike? Where's your bike? I told her it was locked up because it was too muddy to take out back. (This was an identical bike I replaced the lost one with) She then said-"You're not going to believe this!, but there's a bike just like the one you lost up the street against the mail boxes."
I dropped everything and said let's get the hell up the there!
Up against the mail boxes across the street from the Improvement Hall was my black GMC mountain bike with two flat tires, fully intact with bike bags and all. Being aluminum there was minimal rust except for the gears and chain. It was obvious that the bike was exposed to all the elements through the months. The contents of the first aid kit were soaked and congealed. My sunglasses were still in the pouch along with other gear and a full bottle of soda still partially frozen. By looking over the bike, it apparently stood up against the tree for some time as the rust trails went straight down the front fork. It eventually toppled over on its left side facing south.The sun bleach marks indicated that. Interestingly-the right handlebar grip and pedal that were exposed upright were chewed up somewhat by an animal.
Photo lower left shows bike in remarkable condition after 8 months of outdoor exposure
Where and who found this bike that remained hidden after nearly two dozen searches with many others equipped with GPS gear and 2-way radios is an added mystery. Was he or she a hunter or nature walker? Why did they leave it at the mail box? ( at my mailbox section-a coincidence? ) This recovery was not easy, considering the bike had two flat tires, was deeply entrenched in the woods and eventually the finder had to struggle through the muddy clam path to get it out.RECOVERY VIDEO TAKEN AT SCENE- Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009 1530hrs
(This GMC Mountain Bike lost June 13 in the backwoods of the West Island State Reservation was mysteriously located on Causeway Rd West Island, MA, at the mailboxes-8 months later- intact! The bike belongs to the West island Weather Station. Hats off to GMC bikes and Topeak gear for the ultimate durability test! The bike was exposed to dozens of snow storms, rain, and salt air. All gear and bike are in remarkable condition. All aluminum = NO RUST. I only replaced tubes and restored with WD-40. Rode it same day! All gears and brakes OK.)
The mystery of the lost bike remains partially open. There's a Samaritan out there that did something good for someone. I guess here's the part were the moral of the story should kick in.
Never lose faith, and never give up, There are anonymous unsung heroes out there that will lend a helping hand without you never knowing who they were. In these hard times-with a "every man for himself attitude" there is a lot of good still being done out there. It took me getting a bike lost in a swampy place full of bugs to figure that one out.
With Great Appreciation, Thanks
MLBaron / West Island Weather Station KA1WBH
PS: Just got word that my fellow islander on Martha's Vineyard lost a back hoe in the woods the same way, so I don't feel as bad. Thanks Jeff! N1PRM
FULLY RESTORED AND BACK ON THE ROAD
A truck on 2 Wheels!
Just like the makers of the GMC Yukon used in Presidential motorcades, this GMC bike is big, beautiful, black and mean! Its just screaming for you to beat the daylights out of it! Don't purchase all this bicycle firepower just to go for a ride around the block or on a lame bike path. Take it out where it was made for, the rugged mountain sides and trails where the path isn't so clean cut all the time. See YouTube clip above for some added gear. The rack in front was installed for an improvised brush breaker!
See the unbelievable story above how this rig was lost deep in the woods for 8 months and came out in near pristine condition! If you tire out-the 21 speed can gear down for a more forgiving ride back home after a tough day out in the woods. Don't forget to replace the tubes with the self sealing Slime tube.
7:13:30PM May 5, 2011 Weather Spotter Rainbow event. "TOTO II" GMC Skywarn Mountain bike with full gear on the scene. This is the heaviest of the five bikes of this model for the weather station. I get an occasional snicker from passing Escalades., but also get a lot of "thumbs-up" and beeping horns. If they only knew, you can't beat the rush of adrenalin pumping these rigs and then arrive on a weather event like this!
These bikes run year round in all kinds of weather and can ride though 6 inches of snow. The motor is a vintage 1957 weather spotter with steel-toe loggers...me. My ideal operating temperature is 28F to 60F degrees with low humidity. (I have to stay in reasonable shape to climb the weather tower safely)
GMC Topkick Mountain Bike Specifications