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An Aborted Run For The Wall - Rolling Thunder

I had already made the decision not to make the ride up to D.C. and attend the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder Ride. Not only was my Mom in the Hospital right after a Quintuple bypass (doing well, thank you), but Kim's Mom was in the Hospital, too (doing well again - I think she likes it there, though - goes in for a monthly visit with her nurses I think). Weather forecasts were for lots of rain and there's always that same ol' problem with traffic and hundreds of thousands of Motorcycles all in one spot….

I had decided to do my Memorial Day respects here at home at the local Vietnam Memorial, but late Saturday night, I get the urge. A quick call to Muthuh's Bruthuh's in Florida revealed Mom is doing well, another call shows Kim's Mom is doing even better, and I can almost hear Huckleberry out in the garage whining and kicking and trying to make a break out of the garage and onto the open road.

A quick check of the math - 4 hours up, a couple hours there and 4 hours back…..hmmm. might can make Sunrise over the Reflecting Pool before the crowds… snap a few pics and pay my respects…swing by the Pentagon for a look at the madness, and head back south. I could easily make it back by dinner, and a check with the boss shows no significant honey-do's on the list for the Memorial Day weekend…so I toss a couple things in a bag, throw it in the TourPak and grab a quick couple hours sleep. Eventually, I fire up Huck at 2 am for the night blast up to Washington DC - all of it on Interstate, but the circumstances don't call for a scenic road trip this time.

Now, let me ask ya a question... who out there doesn't enjoy a good stereo with some kick-ass rock on it? And I damned well know most of ya enjoy the feel of riding a scooter....so why is it there's such a negative attitude over enjoying both at the same time? I often see sarcastic references to the dresser with it's stereo blasting - I don't see the problem. In fact I've gotten to the point where it ain't the same anymore without Pink Floyd blaring away out the dual stereo speakers on the Ultra. I once thought it was the bar-to- bar jockeys who didn't have cassette stereos coming down on it, but recently I saw a buddy's "top-10 bummers about Sturgis" list and right up in the top three was "Stereos Blasting on Dressers"...and he rides one! Something about intruding on the purity and feel of riding a motorcycle, or some such bullshit. Hey! Some of you trailer your bikes to your State HOG rally, too - who says there's one PURE way of riding a bike?

Close your eyes for just one minute.....55 MPH, nice rumble from the pipes, winding through the Forest Road, not a car in sight - green branches blurring my side vision, the smells of the wet morning woods, wind in your face...OK, so your into it with me here - you been there - you look forward to it on every trip, right? So what the hell's wrong with doing the Air Guitar with my head (can't let go of the grips, ya know) wailing out "Money" right along with Pink Floyd on the sound system? I don't even care if the oncoming occasional car sees me in mid-note as he whizzes by (let him think I'm catching bugs as I go like that Harley-Davidson commercial that ran a year back...great commercial! I just don't get it, but the bottom line is - I just don't give a rat's ass if listening to Alabama on my dresser is cool or not. Remeber, I don't ride up and down Main Street during rally, either, so your opinion isn't relevant.

So, here I am - pitch-black out, clear skies, no bugs, and little traffic - this is gonna be a fun trip. Or so I thought, until pulling off just about 10 miles up the road at a 24 hour gas stop. I'm doing about 60 mph and begin to slow for the gas stations' driveway. With a little pressure on the rear brake, along with a steady grab on the front, about 5 seconds into the braking I felt a distinct mushiness all of a sudden on the rear pedal…followed by the metal on metal feel of the brake pedal on the backstops. Let up, mash the brakes again… ('mash' is Southern for 'step on'…for you Yanks out there.) This time, nothing… passed the station's driveway and headed straight for the intersection….stop sign coming up fast and front brake taking on more and more of the chore, I'm able to bring her to a sweat-popping stop just 2 feet into the road in front of me. A couple more mashes on the rear brake confirm there's nothing there to work with.

I dejectedly turn off the Moody Blues, drop my chin onto my chest, and shake my head. I assume you've all been there at some point or another - my last feeling like this was only a few weeks ago with the stator failure I told ya about a while back. Here I am again! I go ahead and fill 'er up with premium, and pull under a light to take a look…..the rear reservoir indicator showing nothing in it, but worse yet, there's brake fluid all over the right frame tube and dripping with each brake push.

I'm only 10 miles from home, so I ride slow using the front brake when needed and swing it back into the garage. The sound of the garage door opening at 3:30am brought Kim down to see why I'm back home. We both talk about the luck involved in not finding this problem hundreds of miles from home and I confirm, by closer inspection, that the rear brake line has a hole in it, worn down by rubbing against the clutch cable over the past 38,000 miles.

With nothing to do about it this morning, I head on back to sleep, wake up to determine this one is one for the Extended Service Warranty come Tuesday morning - another holiday without the bike I'm afraid. The picture shows the relative position of where this hole was, directly under the right floorboard... with the pencil propping the clutch cable away from the brakeline, you can see the stream of brake fluid coming out while I pressed on the pedal….

So…. Time for all of ya to check where the brake lines rub against the clutch cable and wedge some rubber grommet or something in there to prevent the line from wearing through on ya….. I suppose I'll just fire up the grill, watch the parade and speeches on C-SPAN and do some hot dogs for Memorial Day instead.

- - - - -

With the bike trailered to the shop (That was a scary 10 miles in the middle of the morning with just the front brake working) I sign up for the next service slot (more than a week away!) and put Huck in the corner of the service bay. Bellied up to the Service desk, I give them an earful about how bad a design that was and I coulda been killed and - well, anything to keep 'em from rejecting the Extended Warranty claim (it did say the hoses and lines weren't covered ya know!) ... and while your at it - do a 10K service, rear tire, rear pads, that front Motor Mount looks blown (that one IS covered), put on a new rear trunk lid latch, and after about 30 visits over the past 10 yrs, this time I will actually wait for the bike to be washed and polished....never had the time to wait for that before ...and I'll be back in a week.

- - - - -

So, with the new brake line, new motor mount, and new trunk latch covered under warranty (even covered the rear brake pads - don't understand why, but if the dealer wishes to make its customers happy by covering that, too, I'm all for it!), the 10K service covered under my Red Carpet Service plan (got that one negotiated into the final price of the bike), and a new Dunlop, rim strip and tube, along with a $200 gift certificate in my back pocket, I ended up paying $ 9.62 out of a $ 1,196 service ticket..... I love it when a plan comes together like that!

So... tearing home on the Interstate keeping out in front of a thunderhead on the horizon, Jimi Hendrix come back to life on the speakers, and a whole summer ahead of me on Huckleberry - I ride off into the setting sun....life is good!

Damned thing better stay in one piece the rest of the summer, too.......

- Muthuh