Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Iron Butt Rally Part 4

...the bike began to sputter and twisting the throttle made it worse. It was in Vega TX. Luckily I was able to pull off the highway and found an abandoned gas station with some cover from the sun. Vega is a forgotten town. Not much going on there. I sat on the bike for about five minutes in disbelief that I had gone this far only to break down and DNF. I started the bike and the fuel pump was screaming at me. I thought "ok, I can still ride with a bad fuel pump, but why was it bogging down?" I called Darrell from 2nd Wind BMW in NH and he immediately knew it was probably a clogged sock in the tank which was causing the pump to work extra hard to push the gas through. He had some recommendations to keep me moving ahead, but he and I both knew I couldn't finish the rally like this. I stood there and realized it was the end of my rally fun. I walked around the bike and then I noticed the second half of this disaster. There was gear oil dripping from the final drive. I probably had about 10 miles left on that final drive before it completely failed on me. Now I knew it was over. Ugh. I called the Rallymaster and told her what was going on. She was pissed (not at me, but at the bike). She suggested reaching out to the community to see if anyone could help me. The LD community is unbelievably generous and I thought there was a chance I could borrow a bike to finish the rally. I had about a 1,100 miles to finish if I didn't do bonuses and just touched each state along the way to the finish in Ontario CA. I had my netbook with me so I sent an email to the LD rider list and posted on a couple forums. My cell phone rang within 15 minutes of sending that email to the LD rider list. I had an offer from someone in Lubbock TX to loan a bike to me.

Bill Norris offered his darkside 1997 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD. He knew exactly where I had broken down and left his place right away to meet me. I started to receive calls and emails from a bunch of other people offering assistance. It felt great to know this support system was in place. LD riders know what it means to be an IBR finisher and they all wanted me to be able to finish. Bill rolled-up on that Kawi cruiser and I was like "no way is this thing going to make it to the finish." Bill said "it may not look like much, but it will give you 80 mph all day." I rode it around the block to get the feel for it and decided to roll with it and see what happens. Bill has this bike set-up for LD riding. It had a fuel cell, cruise, highway pegs, and some extra lighting. Once I got used to the rear car tire, it was a smooth ride. Very different from the RT. I am 5'10" and can't put my feet flat on the ground when I'm on the RT. When I got on the Kawi it was like I was riding a hammock. My knees could drag on the ground with that thing. The RT was towed to Sandia BMW in Albuquerque NM (more on that later). Bill's wife came in their car to pick him up, we said a prayer, and I was on my way. I had about 1,100 miles to go on the Kawi.

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