Yesterday, I was out on the Silverwing; ran into town (about 15 miles away) dropped off a Fed Ex and gassed up. Decided to take the long way home because it was a really nice day; sun shining and free time to enjoy it… .
The “long way” is a semi-circular route (instead of a straight shot 15 miles back home) roughly double the distance. About halfway through, the bike started to spit a little when I rolled off the throttle. I made a mental note to check this out once I got home….
Well, I almost didn’t get home!
Maybe a mile or so after the spitting began, the bike began to lose power. Then it died altogether.
As luck would have it, I had just rolled up to the T intersection where I usually make a right to head the rest of the way home. To the left of the T is a Post Office. I walked the bike into the parking lot and pondered… .
That’s when I realized I had no tools at all – not even a screwdriver. All my other bikes have their factory tool kits. This bike – which I bought over the winter – doesn’t. And I – stupidly – hadn’t gotten around to making one up. So I could not even check the fuse box, the cover of which is held in place with two Phillips screws.
And of course, I have no sail fawn.
I did have plenty of change, but the Post Office has no public phones because everyone bee’s on dey sail fawns nowadays… gnomesayin’?
So, the wife (and my truck and my tools) are about 18 miles up the road and I am already considering whether I should just hoof it. At a medium jog I figure I could be home in three hours or so… and the good part is I wouldn’t need to get up early the next day to go to the gym.
As I was considering this a deputy sheriff rolls into the Post Office parking lot. It’s a chick cop and she sees I am SOL. She asks if I want to use her sail fawn and I say yes but can she dial it for me as I have no clue how to use one of these twittering, chirping, blinking boxes.
Well, the nice lady cop does the deed, the phone rings… and I hear my answering machine, but not my wife.
I thank the cop and tell her I’ll figure it out. As she is leaving, just for the hell of it, I hit the starter again … and it starts!
I jump on and tear out of there, on the assumption that my good luck might not last long enough to get me home. I was right. About 3 miles later, same spitting… followed shortly by me coasting to a stop by the side of the road about 12 miles from nowhere or anything except those cows on the ridge.
Now I’m really unhappy because there’s no place to leave the bike or even park it. I’m on a country road with no real shoulders and cattle fields on either side… .
One last time I pull off the side covers – the only things I can pull off without tools – and look around in there… and that’s when I see it.
The little vacuum hose that slides onto the tiny nipple on the backside of the fuel petcock. The one that applies negative pressure to keep the fuel flowing… it had slipped off the fitting somehow. Hence, no gas. Hence, no go.
This was not my first guess. When the bike died and I got no action at all trying to crank it – not even trying to start – the thought that came into my head was – electrical problem. My least favorite thing – and the thing that often as not involves lots of money and forget about making it home without a truck. But this time, the Motor Gods smiled upon me. The fix was simple, if a little bit painful.
Once I got my hand back there – which involved something not unlike that scene in Kung Fu when Grasshopper grabs the hot cast iron pot to burn the Shao Lin dragons onto his wrists – because the engine was hot and my hands didn’t quite clear the space – I was able to reinstall the hateful little &*%$#!! hose. Life returned, the bike fired right up and I was on my way back home.
Memo to self: Make sure the %^#@!! hoses are secure. Make sure you have tools with the bike. I lucked out this time. But if I’d needed a wrench or even a screwdriver to get going again, well, I wouldn’t have gotten going. Never, ever ride a bike without the essential toolkit – the items you need to do basic but potentially critical roadside repairs. It can be the difference between a humiliating call to the wife, your buddy with a truck or AAA – and the empowering fixed-it-myself! rush you get when you… fix it yourself!
And: Remember to first check the obvious things – like are the fuel hoses all connected? Is the petcock handle not on “res” or “off”? You didn’t accidentally thumb the engine kill switch, right? Stuff like that. It happens. It just happened to me.
But no, I’m still not buying a sail fawn!