For those of you planning a lengthy motorcycle trip, my advice is to quit planning immediately. Planning means stating your intentions. And that means the gods of fortune are alerted to the fact you have hopes of doing something, at which point they unite against you to ensure that plenty of things go wrong. Two years ago, when I began arranging a multi-state ride, I knew none of this and planned carefully. Catching me totally unaware, the fortune gods ruined me.
Prior to embarking on a long ride far from home, it seems logical that you should turn in your bike for a thorough servicing. Take every precaution to ensure that your bike won’t leave you stranded, irritated, and walking from the Middle of Nowhere to Somewhere. Or worse. In my case, Molinara – yes, she has a name – received valve adjustments, fluid servicing, new brakes, and a new rear tire. The bill, of course, was astronomical. But, we can’t place a price on safety, right?
When the repairs were complete – and only a few days prior to my much anticipated departure – I had a friend drive me to the dealer to pick up the bike. I left like a bat out of hell, leaving my friend to drive back at a more reasonable, responsible speed.
26.5 miles later, roaring along swimmingly at 70mph on the highway, I heard a loud ping, a crash, and suddenly the bike sounded like it was on the verge of death. To my credit, I didn’t panic and do something novice. Instead, I simply pulled over, discovered my PIPES missing from the mid-joint back, and an enormous gouge torn out of my new rear tire. My pipes, by the way, were a quarter behind me in the ditch, severely dented, scratched, and at that moment searing a char mark into the grass. Despite being livid, I was thankful that my friend would be along shortly to spot me on the shoulder and help me out.
Completely ignoring me, he drove right by. Use a cell phone? No way. He never turns his on. He might have to actually TALK to somebody, you see. So, I called the dealer (who was now closed), informed them that I was standing on the side of the road with a broken bike, and that it was entirely their fault. That done, I limped the bike to a nearby exit, found a Waffle House, and sulked.
To my surprise, the manager called me back fairly promptly and announced that a vehicle had been dispatched to deliver me a loaner bike from their floor, and take mine back for repairs. They even paid for my Waffle House lunch.
But the loaner, of course, was tiny. And I’m 6ft 3in tall. I’ve listed the pro’s and con’s below:
Disadvantages of the loaner bike:
1. No windshield – and my friend called me a weenie for objecting
2. I ate bugs on the way home – I want to see HIM eat bugs
4. Not loud and attention-getting
5. No saddlebags
6. It’s not my bike
Advantages of the loaner bike:
1. Um, it’s not my bike (ride hard)
2. I got home safely
3. It’s black
4. It’s better than walking, which isn’t cool at all
To shorten a very long story, the dealer discovered that they had failed to properly reattach my pipes after their work. The tire was replaced, the bike fixed, and returned to me – still broken and lathered in grease marks. So I took it back, and they fixed it again (meanwhile, I’m leaving in a couple days). Then my brand new sissy bar bag broke some buckles. Then it rained. Then I finally left – and was immediately rained on. And then, a state later, Molinara broke again, leaving me stranded, and sleeping overnight on a concrete stoop outside another dealer’s repair shop. And the next morning I was almost mugged in a gas station bathroom. Then, I tried something different.
Quite simply, I stopped planning. I would go where the road took me, stop when locals insisted there was something to see, and not stick to any schedule whatsoever. And you know, it worked perfectly. The next 13,000 miles were completely disaster free.
Don’t plan, folks. Sneak up on your trip and surprise it. The gods of fortune will never know what hit them.