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Lake Havasu Run 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old, Cold and the side of the Road
 
So, what do you do if your 90% ready to ride and a friend says "Let's get out of this cold"? You jump on your ride and head out! Ready or not for the summer rides, here we come. Minus a few finishing touches on the master mechanics of my 1978 Shovel, it was time. Time to test this project and get her out on the open road and stretch her legs. With more cold weather gear than an Alaskan Expedition, looking like two penguns off we go over Soilder Summitt a mountain pass in our area that is at 7477 feet. Now, in Utah the month of March is still winter but she shows us a tast of summer on a few days toward the end of March.
This day was a good one, sunny and around 45 in the valley. Up the mountain we head and the colder it got but, who cares, we are riding and the cold was a consequence of our dirty little bad habit we call fun! Just when we thought it could not get any better that this, on the road, cold but giant smiles under our covered faces, my shovel decides to take a break. Dead, nothing but the sounds of diesel using a "Jake" brake, I roll off the side of the road to safety. This was like one of thoses moments when the space shuttle was rocketing to space, everything going fine then SHIT what the hell happend? I kick, then cus, and kick again. Nothing, nota, zero, ziltch. Let's see, I am on a hill the light comes on, rolling start, brilliant! Fly, my good friend and fellow trouble maker and I wait for the last car and I turn the shovel into traffic, going the wrong way to see if I can get some life into her. I pop it into about second gear and dump the clutch, bang one giant thunder sounds from the once dead motor is not full of fire and furry, we are in business, so I think. Now, she is alive but not well, not well at all. The rest of the cold trip she poped, backfired, sputtered and coughed her way up the mountain. Under load, going up hill it was a battle but, down hill with a good tail wind she was a perfect angel. 
 
A heavy amount of brain power was being tossed around in my head as I suputtered along, seeking a solution to this delima. After all I know this machine, on a very intimate level. My brain finally sucome to the cold as we hit the peak of the summit, pulled off to warm up and get some fuel, I needed to warm up. With "Stubs" my MMI graduate with a PHD in Harley Mechanic's following us in his truck, we discussed all the possibilities. We decided it was just too cold at 7 thousand feet to do anything at this time, we roared to life hell bent to reach the other side of this mountain where it was warm and we are spending the night anyway, we could wrench there. Heading down the mountain she ran like I stole it, just like a good shovelhead should.
 
As I traveled, still freezing my ass off, my mind went through the process of elimation, with this problem. Timing, no, ignition, no, then it hit me, Fuel! I had replaced the fuel line and filter, but, to a smaller diameter and smaller size filter. Having rebuild the petcock during the winter it did seem not to flow all that well. When I got back to civiliation I could go get what I need from the parts store and try it. My mind wondered again on how to get to Arizona on this trip, if all else failed I could rent a machine from a friend I work with, then a though of pure intelligence (I must be getting warmer) hit me, I could borrow my brothers bike if the shovel decided it was not going to go. Outstanding! We hit our destiation for the night and were supprised how nice the weather was, warm and sunny just a great day to ride. Instead of working on my problem we decided to keep riding after all the winter months never gave us enough riding time. I picked up my girl and we headed over to pickup Rage who is joining us for a putt around town. 
 
Rage was happy to see us, had his Harley polished and ready to ride. He started drilling Stubs about some type of problems with his machine and I started installing a "bitch pad" so my girl did not have to ride on the fender. After Stubs and I discussed making some "on the fly" adjustments to my S & S Super "E" carb, not real clear on the problems with the shovel. We fired the up the pigs and took off with no real place to go and look for some parts. Now out on the road with my girl on the back the problems seem to be just a little worse. Everytime we stopped at a light or stop sign I made the necessary adjustments to the S & S carb. I think at one time these adjustments made the shovel a whole hell of alot worse. After getting things back to a stable normal all the sudden I found the ultimate sweet spot, all things come together, I poped the throttle in first gear and the shovel was more powerful than superman. There never was a time when it ran better, quick out of the hole, rpm's ramp speed was great. Radical! I let off the throttle and brought her back to normal as I pulled behind the others. About 100 yards later the shovel was dead! It was like the power was shut off, a couple of back fires and nothing. As I coasted to the side of the road the others seen me and were turning around to help. I noticed the fuel filter was dry, empty. The adjustment I just made, the open throttle drained the filter and line as I watched it trying to fill it was then I knew the problem was found. Add my girl, the full throttle at proper adjustment, problem found. Not enough fuel was getting to my Super "E". After bullshiting a few minutes then I give her a kick (not my girl !) the shovel came to life ready to go. Several times until we made it back to Rage's the line was sucked dry but we made it back for the night. We collected some parts from the local autoparts store and headed off to another friends for some serious party time, karaoke night at the Pallet Bar. A bar in our friends back yard build out of discarded pallets, were everyone knows your name, good music, good food and plenty of drinks for everyone. What a great time. It was decided that I would take Rage's 1999 Softtail on this trip to Lake Havasu right after we check out an electrical problem it was having...
 
Needless to say it was a slow start day, after a few cups of coffee to get the blood pumping we made our way slowly out to work on the Soft Tail. To my suprise we found a couple of issues, then cleared them up. Something was still just a little "ify" when the oil light that was once working went out. The low beam on the headlight was lower than normal as well. After some meter checks and spot checks there seem to be a system functioning near normal. Rage and I kicked around senerios, worst case and such. Rage says it was like that for a period of time and we decided that things were just fine and could work it over when I get back. I loaded my stuff on the Soft Tail and then Fly and I took off for our latest (of many) adventures... Now there is nothing like a full tank of hi-test, wallet full of money and the kick stand up. Start of the journey is the best therapy, the open road, leaving life in a wake of thunder as your pull upon to the freeway and roll that power on. That always puts the biggest smile on my face, as I race off into the unknown. The weather was a little better today, but still on the colds side, no matter our direction of travel was the right one, we are heading south, to eventually warmer weather. As we blasted past some of the little towns on I-15 my mind wonders off into it's normal anilitial places trying to find the truth or solve the ploblems of life. Maybe that's why I love the open road. Time to get my shit in one pile and store it away in between all the sights and sounds of this great country.  You don't need therapy, save some money, buy a Harley and use it! Fly and I were on the road after a long 4 months of snow and cold were on the road! As I thundered down the freeway my mind forced me to make some checks as I traveled, checking electrical functions, gas leaks and power status. This Soft Tail was a monster, great power, running like a perfect machine. After being on the Shovel and compairing I have a long way to go before the Shovel could even compair to the performance of this ride. The only complaint I had was my old ass and this seat decided to fight making this a discomfort (showing my age) more than anywhere near a problem. As we traveled the seat fight continued in between my wondering mind as we burned up miles between the start and the end of our journey. Stoping for fuel we decided to make it to Nevada for now and head to the Casino to slam some free booze and pay our Nevada State sales tax to the one arm bandits, who knows we could win some too! We rolled into the Oasis Casino just across the border of Arziona and Nevada for a room, secured the Harley's and headed for the bar.
 
B
reakfast was good, especally after a good nights sleep, we filled the tanks and went to Wal-Mart for an Pussy Pad! The seat won, I lost. The night before we decided to headed through the "Valley of Fire" a scenic back road that would take use through a red rock valley letting us out at the Boulder Dam. This road, a winding slow speed (45mph) is the long way, we have time. Besides it the Valley of Fire and after our winter we need a place like this. I relaxed into the ride, my ass was finally comfortable and the weather was so warm and inviting. We stopped and paid the toll to enter the Valley of Fire they let us in for the same price as a car, it was worth it. Red rocks everywhere in weird ass formations made a great view and topic for future comments and dialog. A must see in my book, reminds me of Moab, Utah. As we wind down and around Lake Mead then to the Boulder Dam, I was finally warm and happy to be on this ride. The next stop was for fuel in Henderson, NV where I accidently filled Rage's machine with 100 octane fuel! Man did this bike run great and that tank was the best mileage ever! The only time I paid $18 for a tank of fuel in a motorcyle, ever. After that it was time to fill our belly tanks, making our way to Searchlight we stopped at a casino for lunch and to streach a bit. More than likley we had enough fuel to make it to our destination, Parker, Arizona but we stopped at the Pilot Travel Center off Interstate 40 and I-95 and topped off the tanks. By the way, Interstate 40 has pot holes all over this area, not well taken care of so be careful. We made it to Parker where I met Fly's parents who are great people livin the retired life where the weather is great. I hung out with them for a few days enjoying the warm, drinkin beer and eating great home cooked food! I want to thank them for making me feel at home and for their great hospitality, Thank you! I was only off for 4 days, Fly on the other hand was off as long as he wanted and the last thing he wanted was to head back now. I told him to stay, I was a big boy now and know my way home. That's the nice thing about a trip on Harley's, as long as your not riding on the back you have two of them. It took me a couple of days but it was decided Fly would stay and I would head home. I thanked the folks for having me and Fly walked me down to the bikes and I was off, solo, with an extra day to spare a great decision on my part for what was to follow. I love adventure, solo or otherwise and little did I know, my future would be full of exciting adventure.
 
R
iding solo has a whole new look and feel, it's just you, your machine ( in my case a barrowed machine ) and the open road. Riding with others you can follow, you can lead depending on your mood. Solo your in control all the decisions are yours, good or bad, it's all you. So I made it back to the same station, filled up on fuel and cafine for me and a few lotto tickets. I was off and running, and the plan was to make it as far as possible because the weather report for my area was not that great. Running hard ( not beating just hard) I was having the ride of my life and could beleive the time I had already made up stopping for fuel in Las Vegas, right by the NASCAR track. I fueled the beast and decided to move it to the parking area and get a drink becuase I was thirsty as hell. Turned the ignition on and pressed the go button, oh no, it started but just something just didnt sound right. I though I turned off the key but talked myself into the fact I must not have. I decided to bypass my desperate need for a drink, charging the battery by running down the road, I would stop later, off I go. Traffic was light because it was the middle of the week so that helped me make good time as well. Hoping the battery was getting a good charge I checked by turning things on as I was moving. The signals left and right were working, everything looked good and making such good time, I continued. Somewhere outside of Vegas just about to the Mopa Valley I checked again, oh no, houston we have a problem. No turn signals. Holding my hand in front of the headlight I seen a good beam "What the hell is going on" my mind was racing in full analytical mode. Remember back before we left, Rage, Fly and I had a concern about the front headlight but blew it off as being fine. Now I am having electrical problems the question of leaving the key on while fueling has an answer, it was off. Now we have decision time because if I shut this beast off then it's dead in the water. How far can you go on a dead battery? Is it the battery? Is it the stator? Most of all keep this Harley running at all cost as you get closer to home. I need to decide one of two choices (looking back I had three) there was the Wal-Mart where I purchased my pussy pad, they have motorcycle batteries or travel to the Harley-Davidson in Hurrican, Utah. Harley would have all the parts I need and could get me back on the road home. So I decided Hurrican, Utah would be where I hit the kill button. With no turn signals, a weak headlight I pressed on, passing the Wal-Mart that as a fresh battery on the shelve. As the miles clicked off the power, ever so slowly, was loosing ground. The bike performed great, running like it was the last ride of it's life, pounding away the miles. I just knew I could make it for the last several miles I watched the trip meter, it was on, that means I have power, life is good. Thirty two miles from reaching my self-assigned destination, in Arizona's Virgin River Gorge, the engine gave a loud roar from the super traps in a voice that said "I give it my best shot, I just can't make it, out of electrons" it shot it's last exhaust stroke, coming to a sudden and abrupt stop. Knowing better and just for kicks I press the start button, dead, not even on electron was left. As I through my leg up over the seat and stood up, still amazed how long you can ride on a dead battery, I look around at this deep fucken canyon that I landed in, a question surfaced like a shot to the head. Do I have cell phone service here?
 
D
own, on the side of the road, twice, on the same trip. One broken down maching in Utah, now, another in Arizona. Have you ever been stuck between a great belly laugh and a good cry? Thats how I felt right then. For some reason I was at peace, not much to worry about once the fire stops, it's kind of a release, your down and there is nothing you can do about it. Standing there streching the legs, removing my riding gear and watching the cars go by, I said a little prayer while poping open the cell phone and it worked! I have cell service! If this was were I live your fucked in any canyon, one less thing to worry about armed with AAA programed in my phone I hit the speed dial to send out the rescue team, looking like this could be just a minor set back. That is until I get AAA on the phone and find out they never have or never will haul in a motorcyle. What the fuck do I have AAA for then! I spend way more time on my Harley than I do in my truck or car to find out, right now, broken down, they don't cover my Harley. Have to give them credit though, even when they don't cover you on AAA they don't just hang up on you either. The lady on the other end put up with a lot of shit from me, she stayed calm, connected me with a company that would come and get me. While waiting for the rescue party to arrive I dialed up the my girl to get some ever needed simpathy. That's when she reminded me of what I have been saying for years "the adventures of the road include breaking down once and a while" and you know, it was fun, even in this predicament. So another phone call was in order to the Harley Shop and they were expecting me, but before 5 or I would have to wait until tommarrow. As I waited for the tow truck and watched a diesel blow a tire about 200 feet from me and thinking that it was time. Time for a new machine as soon as possible. A truck and trailer arrived and hooked me up, about $150 bucks later we arrived on-time to the Harley Shop.
 
A
t Harley-Davidson of Hurrican, I drank about a gallon of water as the tech jumped right on the bike and put it on charge and wondered why the battery had nothing at all. I wonder why? He used the shop battery and the soft tail blasted to life. After a few minutes of scurry around the tech came out with the bad news, "you lost your stator". While the tech and the parts guy were looking up the parts and the damages to my wallet, I made a phone call to Stubs. Here comes decision number two, how much could I save by doing it myself? I have done a stator on my 86 Electraglide, its a bitch but dooable. Stubs called me back with the price of parts and said he would do it, the parts were $300. The Motor company came back with a cost that left a skid mark in my pants of over $700. So I let the fate of geting back on the road, or towing it home up to one easy decision. If the Motor company would stay over and get me on the road, they can do it, saving me over a $100 bucks in hotel expenses. If not Dad was hooking up to the trailer as we discussed the price, ready to pick me up. By the way Dad has been great all this summer, he picked me up a total of 4 times! This was the first of the four. Thanks POP.  The Motor company said "No way" we close at 6 and it was 5:47 at the moment. They let me keep the bike in the shop until tommarrow and I made the walk of shame, with all my gear, to the motel room about a block away. In the room I was making calls and drinking fluid and wondered around looking for food. Later that night Dad arrived with the truck and trailer, rescue 911 had arrived.
 
I
drove home with the Soft Tail in tow and filled the truck up with as much bullshit and me and my Dad (and step mom) could discuss. When we arrived at Cheapass Choppers World Headquarters and unloaded, Stubs had the parts sitting in SLC on the counter ready for pickup, I threw him $300 buck and headed for bed, I had a graveyard shift to put in about 4 hours from now. By the time I awoke from my slumber the Soft Tail was gutted and ready to receive the new parts, I headed for work. The next day after my slumber the Soft Tail was on the road, Thanks Stubs.
 
After all that, I would not change a thing. A great trip with a great friend not body parts are missing, no blood, no harm, no foul. Ride it like you stole it, live free and ride hard. ~DT 
 
 

Lake Havasu Run

 
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