Taking the Cure

The cure for what ails me, that is: see photo.

Ed and the bikes at the I-10 rest area near Dragoon, Arizona
(we took turns because some bad hombres in a Jesus van were eying our rides)

Apart from weekly trips to and from the air museum where I volunteer as a docent, I haven’t been out on the Goldwing for a proper ride in a month or more, but a window of opportunity opened Sunday and I called my friend Ed to see if he could break away with me. A slight problem: he was grounded. His sweet old dog Ruby had died and he decided to get a new puppy. His wife Sue asked him to wait until after the holiday season when they’d both have more time to deal with training a new dog, but he didn’t and now in addition to all the things she had on her plate there was potty training too. So she ordered him to stay home and attend to the new pup until it’s housebroken.

That meant we couldn’t get away Sunday, but Tuesday—yesterday—we pulled it off. Ed appealed to Sue’s mercy, telling her his poor friend Paul was suffering from depression and really needed to get away for a motorcycle ride. It worked, and she cut him loose for the day.

Ed and I arranged to meet at ten at a nearby gas station and head out for lunch. At a quarter till I saddled up, turned the key, and pressed the starter button. There was a muffled click and everything went black—no electricity whatsoever. I knew it wasn’t the battery because it had happened before, about two weeks ago. That time the juice came back after I wiggled the key, so that’s what I tried this time, with no luck. I called Ed to tell him I had a dead bike and couldn’t come. He was at the gas station, not far away, and said he’d be right over.

We did a little troubleshooting in my garage. I turned the key and fortuitously the lights came on, but when I pressed the start button there was that muffled click again, followed by blackness. I thought it might be a problem with the ignition module, but Ed thought the click came from behind the side panel that covers the fuses and battery. I pulled the panel off and Ed checked both battery terminals to make sure they were secure. I turned the key again. The instrument panel lit up. I pressed start. Click! This time, with the panel off, we could hear it clearly, and the click came from the positive battery terminal. I unscrewed the positive lead, took a wire brush to both lead and terminal, screwed them back together, and all was well. There was no corrosion, but some invisible piece of grit had gotten in there and now it was gone. Problem solved.

Our day salvaged, we decided to ride to Willcox, a little town near the Arizona/New Mexico border, about 90 miles from Tucson. The day was overcast with temperatures in the low 60s. Halfway to Willcox the temperature dropped into the high 50s and I turned on my heated grips, glad I’d worn my full face helmet and leather jacket.

Along the way we passed the occasional billboard advertising wine tasting in Willcox. This is a little cow town with feed and farm implement stores, flat dusty streets and pickup trucks, one traffic light. It’s not anybody’s idea of a wine tasting destination, but when we got to the restaurant, a converted railroad car near the train station, there was the wine tasting parlor right across the street. We took a pass on that and went in the diner for lunch.

When we came out the temperature had dropped into the low 50s, so for the ride home I wore a balaclava under my helmet and ski gloves under my regular gloves. It stayed cold all the way home (or maybe riding at 80 mph just made it seem cold), and for the last couple of miles in Tucson we rode in the rain. We left at ten and were home by two-thirty, a nice little jaunt and just what the doctor had ordered for both of us.

More of this, please, especially now that it’s cooler and my motorcycle’s electrical issues are fixed.

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