The group enters the prairies of the Great Plains from the Central Plains. The narrator recognizes inclement weather on the horizon and remembers a rain-soaked trip to Canada he took with Chris several years before. That trip ended early because the cycle broke down and the narrator couldn’t repair it. Two weeks after returning home, the narrator realized he had simply run out of gas.
The narrator’s failure to check the gas tank when he thought that the motorcycle had broken down showcases how individuals can be undermined by rigid patterns of thought.
John points out that the group has missed a turn but they decide to continue anyway. The narrator remembers a time when he decided to take his motorcycle to a shop instead of repairing it himself. The mechanics carelessly botched the repair, and damaged the machine. The narrator attributes this shoddy work to the mechanics’ impersonal detachment from their craft.
The behavior of the mechanics and their shoddy work is one of the first depictions of how one’s approach to motorcycle maintenance can reflect the strengths and weaknesses of one’s overall life philosophy.