Shift Linkage Doohicky Be Broke

So in my last few miles on Tuesday, I found myself stuck in 3rd gear, because my Shift Linkage broke.

I found myself having to take stop and take off in 3rd gear, which I’m not sure is good for the bike. Even worse, once I got to the hotel parking lot, I had to turn off the bike while in 3rd gear, knowing I wouldn’t be able to start the bike again, since it only starts while in Neutral. Once I got to my room I started to look for the nearest Harley-Davidson shop, turned out to be Rock City Harley-Davidson in Little Rock, AK.

I got up early and called them once they opened to ask for a tow. At the very least I didn’t want to hang around the hotel after checking out. They picked up me and the bike by 0930. Spent the next couple hours trying to source the required replacement Shift Linkage, but amazingly nobody within a 100 mile radius had the part we needed. Wow, and this is a 2017 Street Bob!

Spent all morning looking, and by afternoon I started to wonder if it could be that the bike I planned to buy next Summer might in fact be bought today? I’ve been planning on getting a 2019 Road Glide, base model plus ABS and Navigation options. I promised myself I would wait two years to see if I really enjoyed motorcycling. I figured if I rode 6,000 miles per year, I’m serious. Well after 2 years later I have more than 33,000 miles, even though I only tracked 32,020 miles using Fuelly.

A salesman walked over and asked what if I had a specific model in mind. I told him I wasn’t ready to buy, was only there for a mechanical issue. Plus, it didn’t look like they had what I wanted in stock. Would you believe he took me to the storage area and there it was. 2019 Road Glide, in Vivid Black, with ABS and Navigation, with 4 miles on the odometer.

Wow. Really? Did I wobble into the Twilight Zone? Arc Murphy? Perfect Storm?

I took some time to reflect on things. I’m already past the 2 year mark. I’ve already proven to LOVE motorcycling. It was at that moment I knew I was going to buy it, and we started what turned into a 3 hour negotiation. I’m quite an effective negotiator, and after the first round, they figured that out. So they knew they had to make some miracles happen.

They knocked $1K off the base price, and extended the warranty to cover 4 years. That was a good start. I was able parlay and get an OEM sissy bar and docking kit, and nut protectors (is that what they’re called?). The financing contract gave me $2K of wiggle room for any upgrades. I was able to get the Stage 1 upgrade, grips, windshield pouch, and LED signal/brake lights. They squeezed that all into the negotiated price plus $2K.

When the time came to sign the paperwork, I did what I normally do, got GAP coverage ($5K), Theft coverage ($1,500), paint/chrome/finishing repairs ($5K), not to mention the 2yr additional warranty that was already thrown in during initial negotiation. I’m glad I spent several hours negotiating, what I didn’t tell them was I had the local FL shop on the phone trying to match things…they tossed in the towel early. 🙂

So tomorrow I pick up the 2019 Road King, and spend the next few days riding home. I’m cancelling the Tail Of The Dragon leg of this trip. I need to spend a few months getting acclimated to the new bike before taking on that monster. Then in the Fall I’ll plan a week long trip just to go there. By then I’ll be used to the bike’s handling. #safetyFirst

A few buddies asked “Why Road Glide?” Because Harley-Davidson invested a significant amount of time and effort doing wind tunnel testing to give that model the best wind protection. Frame mounted fairing to handle cross winds and lighten steering effort, and provide a significantly bigger vacuum envelope for the rider.

So the decision was made purely based on comfort and control, which combined makes riding safer and more fun. It took months of research and testing the different models on the highway, very happy to have taken the leap, and to have picked this model.

Once I get home, I’ll have an idea which of my planned tweaks to hit first from the list, sizes of stuff pending:

To the lucky person who buys Sucio, many happy miles…the sun sets on her…

No route today.

Oklahoma City to Little Rock

Rode from the spot where that asshole killed 168 people in 1995, to the place where the most famous sexual predator got his start in politics.

Today’s ride was supposed to be 300 miles but took a couple side trips to replace my bandana, after it decided to sit on my extremely hot pipes.

Found the new bandana at Rock City Harley-Davidson. They have the famous custom Alka Hauler on display. Amazing piece of work.

Found a cheap hotel room at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Bryant (Little Rock), AR – Bryant…they had me at English Breakfast!


New tire, then Amarillo to Oklahoma City

Got up early enough to enjoy breakfast at one of my favorite cheap hotels, Baymont by Wyndham Amarillo East, while I called some more motorcycle shops to see about getting my back tire replaced. Three states, and not a single shop had the Michelin Commander 2 in 160/70-17B.

Well, this morning I got lucky. Tripp’s Harley-Davidson in Amarillo had the exact tire in that size. Boy did I get lucky. I swear I got there 15 minutes before they opened and they already had a dozen bikes lined up for service. Yes, the Freewheeler next to mine has a laundry hamper bungee corded down. No, I didn’t ask. LOL.

Here is a side by side picture, before and after. Thanks to an old Army buddy for the good advice, in preparing for Tail Of The Dragon.

I took off on today’s 300 mile trip from Amarillo, TX to Oklahoma City, OK. Standing temperature reached 102, which felt like 108, not even factoring the wind at 80 mph.

I stopped every hour, to hit the bathroom and to rehydrate. I was pleasantly surprised the water in the flask was still cool, even after an hour in over 100 degree weather. One of the rest stops had signs up warning folks to stay away from the grass and rocks. Because. Rattle Snakes.

At one gas station some dude pulled up with a fine example of Duct Tape use #5403.

Today’s route amounted to just under 300 miles, as always I forgot to start Relive when I left the hotel.


Slab’n it to Tail Of The Dragon (part deux)

Before I left on Interstate 40, I took a moment to do some math. If I head out today, from Santa Fe, NM to Amarillo, TX, that would leave me at a spot with 1,800 miles to go…1,200 miles to get to Tail Of The Dragon, and then another 600 miles to get home.

This means that starting tomorrow (Monday), I can do 300 miles per day, and have time to enjoy (endure?) Tail Of The Dragon. Monday through Sunday is seven days, so six days at 300 miles per day seems like the perfect way to wind things down.

That’s assuming I don’t get wiped out by one of those Darwin Award candidates ripping through the turns on racing bikes, or a trust fund kiddie in dad’s Ford GT.

I had 260 miles or so to do today, so I hit the slab, keeping to <redacted> MPH. On one of the gas stops I had to wait 20 minutes for a windmill fan blade to negotiate a parking spot on the side of the road. Pretty friggin’ amazing riding past one of these blades.

The driver happened to be a mechanical engineer, and even he said the amount of engineering that went into designing the blade is staggering. He wouldn’t tell me what the blades cost. I told him my guess is “too fucking much since they are paying mechanical engineers to drive the trucks”.

He didn’t think it was funny. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

On a gas stop I took a really close look at my back tire. Geez, yea, it looks like it might just make it home, but hoping to replace it before I get to Tail Of The Dragon. Even though I plan to take it easy, I want to make sure I have maximum traction.

On a side note, that’s the same tire I rode back in October when I relocated from Simi Valley, CA to Ocoee, FL. I hit 32,504 miles at today’s last gas stop. So that means I have about 20,000 miles on that tire!

I’m a believer in what they say about the durability of the Michelin Commander 2. Roughly twice as many miles as the OEM tire, which I replaced at 12,000 miles.

Today’s route:

Slab’n it to Tail Of The Dragon

Ok I spent a week getting to the Mid West, and a week meandering all over the place. After yesterday’s off-road technically challenging (read: WFT was I thinking?!) ride, I promised myself, if my arms don’t fall off in the morning, I’m going to do the Tail Of The Dragon.

I slept in today, and stopped at Chili Hills in Moriarity for the requisite yummy breakfast (brunch?).

Hitting the road for the next few days to get to Deals Gap in North Carolina to do the notorious Tail Of The Dragon.

This video should scare the crap out of mere mortals:

Tail of the Dragon – The most intense, epic, nauseating video you will see in the next 12 minutes!

I’m not a tourist, and so not into souvenirs. However I might make an exception if the shop has these posters for sale. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll survive. If not I made arrangements so those who have been good to me over the years (unfortunately that does NOT include members of my dysfunctional family) will get all my shit including life insurance. LOL

I’ll be taking Interstate 40 to get there. With luck and no mechanicals (other than getting my rear tire replaced along the way), I’ll be posting pictures and any weird stuff I may encounter.

I heard there were a number of Big Foot sightings over at Tail Of The Dragon, not sure I’ll be able to post any pics.

And off I go!

Short Day But Technically Challenging

With checkout at Noon, I had a chance to wash the week’s worth of clothing. During the wash and dry cycles, I made a few calls to see if any local shops carry the Michelin Commander 2 rear tire (160/70 17B), even though it should make it back to Florida. No luck, so I’ll have to check the next town I’m passing through.

I knew this would be a short day so I looked for a shorter but challenging ride. Found Sandia Mountains, specifically Sandia Crest, which is a paved road that snakes its way up to 10,679′. Lots of challenging turns, but it didn’t really feel like I got a good technical day in. That’s when I took a closer look at the map and found there is an attached road that is much more technical, but its a gravel road. I’m fine with gravel. So I went ahead and rode through it.

Well, let me tell you, 165 looked like your run of the mill gravel road. But after a few miles, it looked like a WWII bombed road. It got really challenging, and stayed that way for miles. At times I felt like getting off and carrying the bike…wait…its a Harley. I thought for sure the bike was going to go down, at SEVERAL spots along that gravel road. But I was able to negotiate all the rough parts, got back to the main road with sore arms. I wonder how the bottom of the bike looks, since I bottomed out a couple dozen times.

Red is all paved. Blue started as paved, until I went on to 165.

The view from the top of Sandia Crest was pretty amazing. Even if the valley itself is already 4,000′ above sea level.

The view was even nicer along 165, although you couldn’t really stop, for fear of having a hard time getting started again.

Tomorrow my destination is likely a place that has the Michelin Commander 2 tire. 🙂


Thu & Fri: Maintenance, Laundry, and Rest

I’m combining Thursday and Friday, since I needed to catch up on some stuff.

Early Thursday I went to Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson. The picture at the top of this blog post shows they’ve got a very clever sculpture outside, made of a piece of rusting steel (the tree trunk), and what is quite likely stock pipes that never made it to the dumpster. Very impressive!

First, the new highway peg mounts and pegs I installed needed to be aligned properly. After 15 minutes the techs at the dealer had the highway pets in the perfect location for those long stretches of slab. Position is everything.

Next is my fucking clutch. I’ve been tolerating the issue (can’t shift into Neutral when stopped) since I had the apes installed. This time I asked them to adjust it *and* show me how to do it if I’m on the road and have issues later. Turned out to me easier than I thought, simply turn the collar at the clutch cable where it enters the clutch handle body.

Next was a trip to REI for supplies.

First, I needed to replace my new Goal Zero Venture 70 Recharger, as it turned out the one I bought was from a bad batch and wouldn’t hold a charge after a couple days. REI told me when I bought it, and said I can go to any REI if it fails, to get it swapped it no questions asked. Their word is gold, I was in and out in 10 minutes.

I actually would have been out in 5 minutes, but while I was there I bought a 40 oz Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Water Bottle. This will replace the cheap plastic water bottles that keep getting crushed when I attach them to sissy bar bag (basically I slide them through the nets and bungee cords).

I kicked off Friday with a great breakfast at a local diner, mmmmm….

Walking back to the bike, saw a ride I’ll never ever try. Its a “Zip Line” (not “Zip Tie” as I mentioned in the video).

Thanks to a biker buddy, while I passed through Winslow, AZ, I went ahead and stood on the corner. I saw a flat bed Ford, but didn’t see the girl.

On Friday I planned to go to Santa Fe. If I’m luck I might run into Holly Holm and get a selfie! Um, I’ll pass on the head kick though. Update: the team are on the road, didn’t get to meet any of them.

On Friday I also had a chance to stop at Petrified Forrest National Park. Been there before, so didn’t bother spending too much time there. If you’ve never been there, its quite a fascinating experience.

The entrance has an awesome piece of petrified wood. Not sure I’d ever notice it if I found it out in the woods. Pretty amazing.

Window Rock has some awesome scenery, unfortunately I was late so didn’t get to do much more than take a picture.

I really lucked out using the Hotels app on my iPhone. Since it was 8 PM, I looked for cheap hotels in Albuquerque, NM and found a $299 room for $60. As it turned out, the folks who booked weren’t able to make it. The hotel comped them half their cost, and charged me $60.

Lemme see…warm breakfast with a three hour window…laundry facilities…checkout is at Noon…what’s not to like?

No route to post unfortunately…I accidentally deleted it. I remember it was 355 miles. I reached out to the Relive folks, to strongly request a way to “undelete” an event, they’re still recovering from their Strava falling out.