On the road again – or not

Finally, after a great deal of time and expense, I finally got my bike back last Wednesday. It’s running beautifully, which makes the sting to the savings account hurt a bit less. Naturally, as soon as I got it back, it rained for two days, including July 4. But I had other plans anyway, and it cleared up for the weekend, so I set Saturday aside for my first full day trip of the year. I think Elana was as psyched to get on the bike for a day trip as I was.

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We started with a highway cruise out Route 2 to Westminster, both to get to fun roads more quickly and because Elana wanted to see what high speed highway riding was like. Then I took us up Mt. Wachusett, which she had wanted to see since seeing my pictures from last month. (I’ll be posting some video of the ride up and down later.)

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We spent some time up there, sightseeing, taking pictures, and so on. Visibility was amazing – even better than my last time up there. The Boston skyline, over 50 miles away, was clearly visible. So was Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. If I knew where to look, I probably could’ve seen Mt. Greylock, too – a view spanning the full width of Massachusetts. We planned to end up out that way later.

I took us down the mountain, out to Route 62, and to the end of the road in Barre. Then we hopped on 122 – past the point where I lost power the last time I was here – to 202, around the north end of the Quabbin Reservoir. Then we had some fun back road twisties to get over to 116. I intended to follow 116 out to Adams, then hop the Mohawk Trail and Route 2 all the way home.

We stopped for gas, and ended up chatting with a guy on a Honda ST1300 – a bike I lust after. We talked a while. After Elana got on the bike behind me, he pointed out that my back tire was soft. I checked, and indeed it was – very soft. It didn’t take much investigation to discover that the valve stem had started to come out of the wheel, causing a slow leak.

I was livid. I had a leak, from the valve stem, after getting my back tire replaced late last year. I had them check and fix it when I got my new front tire. They charged me for the repair, even though they hadn’t installed it correctly in the first place, but I didn’t raise a fuss at the time since it had been several months, though not many miles. This was exactly the same problem, and still not properly repaired.

Time for what NASA called RTLS – Return To Launch Site abort. I finagled the valve to leak as little as possible, pumped the tire as full as I could, and set a course for home as quickly as we could get there. We picked up 91 (having established that Elana is fine with highway travel) and headed for Route 2, which would take us straight home. It was only one exit. But before we got there, the back of the bike started shimmying back and forth. It got worse quickly. As soon as I sensed it, I pulled over, probably avoiding a really nasty crash by reacting so quickly. The cause was obvious – the back tire was as flat as a pancake.

The next hour was spent fighting to arrange a tow. I’ve never had a problem with AMA’s roadside assistance before, but the guy I got on the phone this time had no clue. And then we realized my membership had just expired at the end of June, and he transferred me to another number to renew – a number that’s closed on weekends. Meanwhile Elana discovered that her AAA in our area won’t tow bikes, ever. Thanks to my smartphone, I managed to renew my AMA membership online. I called back and got a very clueful woman, who, upon taking some info about my renewal, put the tow through at member rates.

The tow truck guy was awesome. I’ve had bikes towed many times and never had issues, but this was the most secure I’ve ever seen it. We dropped it at Elana’s place. The first guy on the phone wasted so much of my time that it was then impossible to get it to the shop before they closed. Her place is 20 miles closer than home (I was already over my 35 mile coverage) and 2 miles from Central Mass Powersports. I’m not even dealing with the other shop anymore – just asking CMP nicely to fix it right. Right now I’m waiting for a call back from them to schedule a pickup at Elana’s place – a service I didn’t even know they offered.

All’s well that ends well, but I just can’t seem to catch a break. I briefly considered selling the bike and giving up on them completely, but I was super angry at the time and have since come to my senses. So although we were technically out with the bike all day, I don’t count the two hours on the side of 91, nor the flatbed ride as part of it. Maybe one day I’ll have just a relaxing day on the bike like I’m supposed to.

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Categories: day trip, mechanical, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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