Putting Rubber to the Road
So on the 14th of May I arrived in London, checked into my hostel and waited. My bike, a glorious bright green Versys had been due to arrive the same day but unfortunately due to shipping delays it wasn't until two weeks later that I'd be able to pick it up. In the meantime I kept myself busy doing backpacker things - museums, drinking, girls. Unfortunately at some point in London you just hit a wall with museums – try as you might you just don’t care anymore. Not so much with drinking or girls...
Anyway, on a sunny Friday two weeks later I managed to find my way over to the depot where the bike had been recieved near Heathrow. After taking a while to reach it (I don’t think many people walk out of Heathrow, so it’s a bit difficult to figure out where you’re going), I found the office and was told that there was damage…
… but just to the crate. Whew. It’d had a fair wallop too, and there were a few scratches on the panniers (including a repairable-looking one on the tank, unfortunately), but everything was there and in one piece. And by in one piece, I mean a bunch of pieces, as I’d had to take it apart to fit it into the crate… and now I had to put it together again. Which somehow managed to take hours
, as everything that could go wrong did so. The heavy crash protection I installed back in Australia even got a workout when I accidentally dropped the bike off the crate – but it performed admirably, just a slight scuff on a pannier and that was all.
Let's never be apart again :")
Having finally gotten everything assembled, I wheeled the bike out of the warehouse and tried to start it up… immediately all the lights went off. Cue 2 hours of trying to push-start a heavy, pannier-laden bike whose engine hadn’t run for 2 months… all attempts were unsuccessful. Eventually one of the forklift drivers (all of whom were total legends) gave me a jump start from his car, and I was underway. Until I had to stop for fuel an hour later and the bike wouldn’t start again.
This time it was actually really easy to push start, but again and again I’d leave it running and it’d die again before I put my helmet on. Eventually (with the help of the guy running the petrol station pushing me) I was off again… only to find that the bike was running really weird – it’d sometimes develop no power, sometimes rev halfway around the tachometer even with no throttle, and the “FI” light that indicates a problem with the fuel injection was stuck on.
Oh no, not this again. When this sort of thing happened to my other bike, I only got it working after a lengthy service and a new ECU which cost $800. I called up the AA, and after half an hour of convincing them that NRMA (the club I get roadside assistance from in Australia) was a real FIA club with a reciprocal service agreement, they agreed to send out a truck within an hour.
Cue 3 hours of waiting... have I made a big mistake here, or the biggest mistake?
To be honest towards the end of the 3 hours my spirits lifted a bit. At the start of the day I was just another backpacker, whose biggest worry was whether some girl he’d met in a bar would return his SMS. Now I was a proper adventure tourer, stuck in a foreign land with no idea where he was and a bike that wouldn’t run. Eventually the AA turned up… turns out I hadn’t screwed the battery’s negative terminal in hard enough. Maybe I wasn’t as gnarly of an adventurer as I’d thought :-(.
… but nonetheless, I was underway, and the Lake District awaited me!