Scottsdale / Montrose
|Sunday June 30th, 2002
Start: Troy, Illinois
End: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
We had hoped to call Penn in St. Louis when we arrived last night, but it was too late. Then I wanted to call this AM, but we really needed to get out early and make time. Sorry about that, Penn - you weren't forgotten.
We wolf down the free continental breakfast, clean up, and pack.
Before we go, I show Sharon the problem with the steering bearings. With luggage on the back, it's easy to hold the front end up while she moves the front wheel gently back and forth from the straight ahead position. Sharon doesn't ride a bike of her own, but she can feel it too. Just a very light detent at this point, but it will only get worse and we've got about 5,000 miles to go.
I have a printout of Bryan Moody's alternate part numbers from the Net with me, that list has saved me more than once when my dealer didn't have something in stock and you never know when you might need something on the road. So, I have bearing part numbers. My plan is that if we can find the bearings in one of the big cities along the way, such as Albuquerque or Oklahoma City, then I'll buy them and have them replaced in Metro Phoenix while we spend a few days there at the convention. From my time there, I know that summer is the slow time in Phoenix motorcycle shops, and that somebody will get us in right away.
The bearings aren't a big problem at this point, and we have a plan to correct it, so we quit worrying and head out. Weather is perfect - blue sky, nice temperature, comfortable.
We motor down I-55, past an auto racing event with tents outside, past the city dump, and into St. Louis. We cross the Missisipi River, we gawk at the St. Louis arch as we motor on by, we take a very strange exit onto another freeway in the middle of town and motor out of St. Louis and into rural Missouri.
Rural Missouri on I-44 is very pretty. Lots of greenery, densely packed rolling hills, dense woods, and some farms with crops planted on the gentler hillsides. And some wineries. Wineries? Yes, wineries in Missouri. Hmmm...
About that time, the right rearview mirror starts to give problems - it won't hold an adjustment. This happens sometimes on the Concours, there's a locknut in the mirror covered by a corrugated boot. It's not meant to be accessed or repaired, standard procedure at the dealer is to order a new mirror. But there are posts on the Councours Owners Group List about the new mirrors sometimes being worse than the old, and the fix is easy, so I plan it for our lunch stop. I've done the operation once on the left mirror, so I'm not too worried. But two mechanical issues in two days? I'm used to trips where you don't lay a wrench on the bike during the entire trip except to maybe check or change oil, and that is always my goal...
When travelling, Sharon prefers local food, food that is part of the local culture. Her logic is that we've somehow sampled the local cuisine, the local culture, rather than just passing through. I suggest that since we're on an Interstate highway, a truckstop is appropriate "local culture".
Sharon agrees to the truckstop, but just in case she asks our waitress if there's any wineries to the west - and what the scenery is like to the west. The waitress replies that the wineries are all to the east, but we would've been too early to dine at a winery anyway. She also tells us that to the west, the hills flatten out - we've now seen the prettiest part of Missouri. If so, it's a pretty place. Great place for a motorcycle rally!
We place our order, and then I head back out to fix the mirror. There are two ways of doing it, neither is factory approved but both work. The first way is for the anal-retentive, but carries a lot of risk of breaking parts that you've dis-assembled: partially dis-assemble the fairing, remove the mirror assembly carefully, and dis-assemble the mirror itself. Could take a while, and the risk of breakage is certainly there.
The second way is the quick and dirty way, and carries little risk of damaging the mirror itself: make a slit in the underside of the pleated boot, reach in with a 10mm socket or box-end wrench, and adjust the tensioning nut. Total time: about 5 minutes once you have the tools ready.
I go for the quick and dirty way. I don't have time to spend dinking with it, and what if I want to do it again sometime? Once you've made the slit the rest is easy... I make the adjustment, re-adjust tension on the LH since I've got the tools out, and all's well. Return to the table, our food's not there yet, and Sharon asks "Done already?" Yup....
Amazing the odd things you can see trundling through a truckstop while you eat. Two that come to mind are a pair of shredded tires on a trailer behnd an RV, and the tail of some sort of jet fighter under tarps on a semi.
I don't get to ask about the jet fighter, but after eating I do get to talk with the RV owner. The tires (there are two carcasses) were almost new, with 2,000 miles on them, and they came apart. Strange, if accurate. The RV owner is pretty irate, and doing a lot of venting to me. Sometimes I guess it's best not to be nosey...
Back on the Interstate, and making time, above the legal limit more than a tad and thankful for the lack of enforcement, and suddenly the bike loses power, as if I've lost a cylinder... Drop down to the legal limit, and nurse it into somewhere with shade.
Very strange, but something similar has happened before. Now and then, water gets down into the spark-plug cavity and boils when the engine gets hot. When it boils, steam pops the plug wire cap off it's tight fit on the perimeter of the plug well, and voila! No more spark on that cylinder.... It's always the #1 plug, because the cam chain on the left side of the engine acts as a dam, and when washing the bike water can puddle over the #1 spark-plug well. That's where I'll start my search, when I pull off somewhere safe and comfy.
The car that I'd passed a short time earlier passes me as we come over a hill, and there's 3 police cruisers parked there on the right side of the road. Uh-oh... The officer next to one cruiser points at the car that just passed me, and motions for him to pull over. The car acts as though he didn't see the officer, and as we go by the officer looks ticked - he's jumping into his car, not happy at all. Suddenly, I'm a lot less upset about my bike running badly. If it's just the spark-plug cap, then the bike just saved me a speeding ticket.
We exit just past the speed trap, at a convenience store / gas station combination.with some shade around the back and cold drinks inside, gasoline if we need it. A phone too, just in case. Good to have lots of backup before you go pulling things apart.... I get out my Maglite, and shine it on the left top-end of the motor. Yup, there it is - #1 plug cap is blown off. No hurry now, the problem is found. Let the bike cool a bit, as I have to pull the tank off to get my hand to the spark plug.
Repair completed, tools put away (for the second time today!), we kill a large sports drink quickly and get back on the bike. Problem solved.
We continue on to Oklahoma City and pick up I-40. We then pass through Oklahoma City, and exit on the west side of town. Grab a room at the Motel 6 just south of I-40, clean up a little bit, and take a walk to find a place to eat supper.
But it's 9:00 PM, and the first two or three places we try are closing or closed..... We finally find a nice Mexican restaurant, "On the Border". No, not Taco Bell - "On the Border" is the name of the restaurant. Very good Margaritas, and very good Tex-Mex food.
We walk back to the motel, feeling slightly giddy from the Margaritas. Back at the room; we laugh a bit and talk about the day, and then fall asleep.