This post is an insight into the lengths that many bikers will go to in order to help fellow riders, sometimes friends but more often than not, total strangers. I first picked up this story from a concerned American friend on the 9th of September.
Donald Masters disappeared on the 31st of August while riding his Honda Goldwing in the Rocky Mountains between the borders of Montana and Idaho, somewhere to the north-east of Yellowstone National Park. Donald was a veteran two-wheeled traveller and a regular contributor to Honda Goldwing and Honda ST (Honda Pan European) Internet forums. The alarm was raised when Donald failed to arrive at his destination in Denver Colorado on or around the 9th of September. At first, it seems that local Government Services paid little attention to requests for help, passing responsibility to other Services or to other Localities. It probably seemed to Donald's family that nobody was interested in his disappearance.
Joe Norris, aka 'Mellow' from the US Honda ST Internet forum, a fellow rider but a man who had never met Donald, then posted a message on the forums bulletin board. Word quickly spread, information was gathered and riders were mobilised. Cell phone data was retrieved, surveillance video from traffic cameras was viewed and credit card usage was analysed. Within days, riders were out riding every possible route that Donald could have taken, searching for anything that might possibly help. The town of Dillon Montana became the centre of unofficial operations, riders from across the North East States joined in the search and bikers from further afield paid for their accommodation, food and even helicopters to assist them in the search. The search area was vast, approximately the size of Wales, cell phone coverage was limited and communications difficult. Roads were ridden North and South, East and West, then retraced by other riders. Every motel, gas station, convenience store and camping ground within a seventy-five mile radius of Dillon was checked, ''Missing'' posters handed out and clues to Donald's movements sought. On the weekend of 19th and 20th September 2009, more than a hundred riders were directly involved in the physical search for Donald Masters while many more worked telephones and fax machines from their homes. The majority of these fine people had never met Donald, but each gave their time in support of a missing biker and his family.
Sadly, on 19th September on ''I-93'' just South of North Fork Idaho, Donald Masters was found. His Honda Goldwing had left the road on a bend and come to rest in a ditch shielded by dense undergrowth. Donald Masters had been travelling from Montana to see his newly born grandchild in Denver Colorado. Exactly what happened to Donald Masters may never be known, but as a biker, it's comforting to know that while to the outtside world many of us can appear to be strange, we're never really strangers. My thoughts are with Donald's family, my respect with those who helped his family in their search.