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Old 08-15-2010, 07:52 AM   #1
Mikelly OP
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Joined: Jan 2003
Location: Virginia
Oddometer: 234
Friday the 13th, not a great day to start a trip...

The trip that never was to be… Or, don’t plan a trip for Friday the 13th

I have two good friends (one is my business partner) who I have planned and gone on motorcycle trips with over the last few years. Every time we leave in the summer time and head out for 3-4 days riding motorcycles on incredibly twisty roads thru Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. We’ve had the occasional flat, and a corded tire, but we’ve never been “broke down” and unable to continue… That changed this weekend.

It started two weeks ago. Eric was torquing down his steer bearings when the forks turned, putting tension on a cable that hit the top cap on a fork tube and snapped it off. His Kawasaki Concours was rendered a lame duck… I laughed and made fun of him… Bad mistake… Two days later, while changing my oil, the oil drain bolt kinda “stuck” on threading it in, then I felt a “click” and all seemed well. Until I filled the pan with oil… Then the problem showed itself in the form of a cracked oil pan.

So the spouses were starting to get nervous and our friends were saying “you realize it’s Friday the 13th on the day you leave, right?” We knew that, but seriously, how bad could it be? So Thursday I picked up the bike and rode it home from the independent shop I used to weld up the pan. No concerns and the bike rode well… no oil leaks and no issues. I packed the bike up that night and was ready to roll on Friday.

Friday we got off a bit late, as rain was slowing everyone from meeting at my place. We were able to shove off by 1130 and everything was going well as we travelled back roads from my home in Wilderness, Va down thru Orange Va, and over to Crozet Va. where we jumped onto Rt.250 and headed for the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway(BRP). We stopped at the top of the parkway to swap out of rain gear and into mesh gear. No signs of issues again. Bikes were running well, and the weather was “looking up”.

We get on the BRP and start south. Traffic is light and my goal of “between 4K-5K rpms and steady speeds thru the corners is met with wonderful grip and very predictable riding with the ZRX1100 that I’ve had great success with over the last 3 years riding. Then, out of nowhere, Eric pulls up to me and gets my attention to pull over… Problem with MY bike… Sure enough a coolant leak.

So we pull over at a scenic over-look and find the radiator is leaking. No cell signal and the 3 GPS devices we’re looking at are all spoty with service as well. 5 minutes into trying to sort out the game plan, another motorcyclist pulls up. The guy gets off the bike, a red 2003 Kawasaki Concours, and introduces himself. His name is Greg, from Brittish Columbia, and he thinks he can help. We take off the gas tank, crack the radiator cap one click, and put everything back on. Bike runs and seems not to leak any fluid from the bottom of the radiator. All seems well. So I hop on and we ride further south for an hour… Bike is missing slightly, but there are no signs of any real concerns. I’m thinking maybe we distrurbed something in the fuel tank when we pulled it. Who knows? I’m starving and Otter Creek is up ahead, so we stop in to grab a bite.

While in there, Greg decides he’ll check on a campsite, as he’s been riding longer today than we have. We go inside and grab a bite. I head off to the head after eating, then go out to the bike to get my GPS to see how far we are from Meadows of Dan, where our cabin is. When I arrive at the bike, I see a puddle of gas. We start to troubleshoot it… Then we find the bike won’t start. It’s hydrolocked. Then we pull the tank and remove the spark plugs. I hit the starter with the ignition switch off and shoot gasoline 10 feet into the air. Somehow a float got stuck and filled a cylinder with gas.

Once we get the bike back together, it starts but is in no shape to idle and run for any length of time with any confidence. While putting the bike back together, and starting to feel the stress of the last two months come back on me yet again, Greg relays the info that his wife was supposed to join him on this trip. However, her health was failing again and the MS had sidelined her from joining him. It made all my problems seem small in comparison.

So I packed my gear on Eric’s bike, and I got on Barry’s bike and we road back to Lexington, Va. where I found a pint of Jack Daniels, a Holiday Inn Express, and made some calls to the wife. My companions got on their steeds and headed south, as planned.

This morning my wife showed up at the hotel at 0730 and we loaded my gear into my truck. We then went to the U-haul a mile down the street and rented a trailer, headed back to Otter Creeck and had the bike loaded up and were heading home by 10AM. By 1215 it was at the dealer I normally use for maintaining my bikes. I’m 44 years old and I’ve had my “M” class for 28 years. Until this weekend, I’d never been stranded by a motorcycle on any trips. This was a first and I must say I didn’t enjoy being stranded in the middle of nowhere.

I think it’s time to upgrade form a carburetor based motorcycle… Currently shopping for something a little more modern…

Mike
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Gone but not forgotten: 2008 FJR1300, 1999 ZRX1100, 2002 WR250, 1998 XR200,1998 ZX9R, 1995 GSXR750, 1986 CBR600, 1983 Seca550, 1979 Kawasaki 750, 1974 Honda Elsinore 250 enduro
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Old 08-15-2010, 03:48 PM   #2
gtjusty
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Wow, I don't know what to say. It's nice you point out that some people have bigger problems. Having said that sounds like a trip from hell. At least Jack stopped by to ease the pain. Better luck next trip!
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