With our new destination set programmed into the magic direction box, I noted that we wouldn't get there on our current tank of gas...or at least Mike wouldn't. Being the caring and considerate person I am, I figured we'd stop and let him fill up one more time instead of leaving him to die on the plains. The mountains were in sight now and our spirits were running high. The temps still seemed to be on the rise.
I spied a gas station on the horizon, about 50 miles outside of Denver, and decided to stop. As I approached the exit, I pulled in the clutch and downshifted to 5th...CLUNK!!!
WHat the hell was that? It sounded as if I had forgotten to pull in the clutch before downshifting. My mind raced. Maybe I'm a little more dehydrated than I thought...maybe my left foot and my left hand are out of sync...that doesn't usually happen. I went for 4th and this time I was paying close attention to the bike...the clutch lever went in but the RPMs didn't drop...uh oh! I revved the engine a bit, matched up the RPMs and downshifted again...clunk...not so bad this time.
So the clutch isn't disengaging...bummer...good thing this is a long downhill exit ramp. I pumped the clutch lever vigorously and felt only the slightest engagement right at the bar...not enough to fully disengage the tranny from the motor, but enough to unload it a little bit. I got it down the 2nd gear and rolled through the stop sign at the bottom of the ramp. I proceeded to the gas station and rolled up to the pump with the engine off in 2nd gear. I topped off while playing with the clutch lever and looking for sign of a leak at the slave cylinder. No indications of trouble.
I found a bit of shade behind the gas station and pushed the bike over there to investigate further. This was the last thing I was looking to do late in the afternoon...100 degrees...middle of nowhere. I poked, I prodded, I investigated, but I couldn't find anything amiss. I decided to just let it sit while I found something cool to drink.
Ten minutes later, the lever had just a little bit of resistance and I was hopeful. Ten minutes more and I think it was actually engaging. I couldn't stand around in the heat any longer so it was time to hit the road. I put it in neutral, started the engine, and started rolling down a slight hill torward the road. I gently nudged it into 2nd gear and didn't bother stopping when I hit the road. Accellerating up the on-ramp, I rode it like my old CBR900RR...rev, power shift, rev, power shift...all the way back to 6th gear and 70mph. The clutch wasn't doing much more than lessening the harshness between shifts.
Oh well...I had 50 miles to figure out what to do.