Saturday, June 16, 2007

Peter! You're on fire!!!

First let me start by saying, New Hampshire is a beautiful place!

The roads are nestled among beautiful forests, lakes and mountains.

And did I mention that New Hampshire doesn't have a helmet law? Don't worry, I only went without my helmet for a few miles, mainly so I could see what it feels like. Pretty cool actually.

On our way to Mount Washington we came across a wood carving place.

You wouldn't believe the scale of some of these carvings. This Indian chief is about ten feet tall, and carved with a chainsaw! Kind of like an ice sculpture, without the danger of it melting afterwards.

I was rather fond of this one. For obvious reasons.

And this one reminds me. At breakfast I had french toast with real New Hampshire maple syrup. With apologies to Edwin or anyone I know from Vermont, I have to say these people in New Hampshire make a pretty kick-ass pancake topping!

Oh well, time to hit the road once again. Did I mention that New Hampshire is a beautiful place?

Didn't Bob Newhart live here?

Today's goal was to ride up to the top of Mount Washington. Jill had felt a bit ambitious this morning and had decided to drive there early and hike up. After seeing how vertical the paths were, she had the good sense to stop after the first couple of miles and wait for us to pick her up.

Just look at those clouds. Talk about ominous! It did a bit of drama to our trip, but as you'll see, I will have my own drama to add later.

Jill got on at the base of the mountain and we started the steep climb to the top.

You are not allowed to exceed twenty miles per hour on the road. With a bike as big as mine, this is a bit problematic since I have to drive at least twenty miles to hour to keep her upright!

When I did have a chance to look up, the views were pretty amazing.

And there are those ominous clouds again...

As we got towards the top, Paul had this feeling of verboding, thinking it was because of the weather. We were only about a mile from the top, but we decided to head down.

He didn't get much of an argument from me. I would be happy to driving downhill, which makes it much easier to keep my motorcycle upright.

Paul gave me some advice on how to get down the mountain in one piece. Stay off the rear brake, use a low gear, and use the front brake as much as possible.

It seemed like good advice. Now we were heading down.

I have to say, its much more beautiful on the way down. Probably because I get a chance to see the scenery. And the scenery was spectacular!

On the way up I was worried about my clutch. Never getting out of first gear is hard on the transmission, and I could smell it burning by the time we got to the top. Heading down I thought would be hard on the brakes, but between downshifting and my linked brakes, I thought I would be okay.

About two-thirds of the way down, every light on my dash was blinking like a pachinko machine. I stopped and discover that my rear brake line has burst! Paul and I look it over, then decide to continue slowly down the mountain.

A mile later, my rear brakes are gone! I pull over, brace my feet so that the motorcycle won't move, then Paul looks back.

Peter! You're on fire!

What?!?!? I stop my engine, look up the hill behind me, and sure enough, clouds of billowing, oil rich smoke are filling the air. Apparently the brake fluid had squirted out onto the muffler and had started to smoke. We gave it some time to clear, then decided to try to get to the bottom of the hill entirely by downshifting.

That was a scary ride.

We get to the bottom and we all start scrambling to find a BMW dealership somewhere nearby. We find three within a couple hundred miles of Mount Washington. Now comes the hard part. It's Saturday afternoon, and for some reason, every motorcycle service department I've ever seen is closed on both Sunday and Monday. If we don't get this fixed by this afternoon, we're marooned for the next two days!

Each dealership has a different issue. None of them has the part, and most are about to close. There is one about ninety miles away in Maine, but they are closing in two hours.

There wasn't much we could do. Our only hope was to drive there, brakeless, and hope to get there before they closed. Then, convince them to stay late, steal the part off of a new bike, and fix the problem.

What can I say, I'm hopelessly optimistic.

So with Paul leading the way to Falmouth, Maine, and Jill following in the car to keep people from running me over, we start on our way.

The people of New Hampshire and Maine think I'm on drugs. Either that or they think I have seizures.
You see, I have no rear brake, and my front brake will probably only work a few more times before it gives out. (My front brake is electronically linked to my rear brake. Use one, you automatically use the other)

The way I broke was entirely by down shifting. And the only way to stop in any reasonable amount of time, I would need to downshift, release the clutch quickly, which would make the bike seize up, but also slow down. I'd be fine as long as I didn't have to make too many full stops.

Ever see Fred Flintstone? Now I know what it's like to stop a moving vehicle with my feet!

After two and a half hours of eventful driving, we successfully make it to Street Cycles of Falmouth, ME. The store is closed, but the service manager, Duane, has stayed late to let me check in my motorcycle. Unfortunately, new BMWs use a different brake line than mine, so there was no part to steal. And since I've been torturing my bike for the last couple of hours, they would need to reset the computer after they fix it.

What do we do now? The store is closed for the next couple of days, so the soonest I can get it fixed is Tuesday morning.

It looks like Jill and I will be driving in the car for the next couple of days. At least my new pal Duane recommended a great place for dinner.

Up here in New England, where lobster is cheap and plentiful, they have a sandwich called a Lobster Roll. Basically big chunks of lobster with mayo and lettuce, in either a hot dog bun or a thick slice of white bread with a big V cut out of it. Mmmmmm... tasty...

And the scenery wasn't bad either.

Tonight we stay in Bangor, and tomorrow we head into Canada. Hey, at least I get to hang out with Jill in the car for the next couple of days. It should be fun!


Morgan said...

Holy crap, man! I am at the Newark airport reading this right now, and I've got to are one lucky bastard! Lucky nothing worse happened...but geez! Did the tech have any ideas on why the brake line would give out on a brand new bike? :o

Peter Kevin Reeves said...

The brake line burst at the connection point with the brake, as if it hit something, or someone yanked it. I suspect that when the homeless/drunk guy in DC kicked it, he probably bent the connection. Then when I drove down the mountain, using the brakes the entire way, the pressure made it pop.

I am VERY lucky!

Currently I'm in Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, Canada, riding in Jill's car until they can fix my motorcycle on Tuesday. I'm just glad we made it to the dealer okay.

Tom said...

Boy, I'm glad you're safe, too, Peter! At the end of your blog entry, I found myself gripping the desk and gritting my teeth. Phew! Well, enjoy the lobster rolls. ;-)

Edwin Hoogerbeets said...

Peter was always bragging to the ladies that he had a fire down below. Now he can prove it.

jeremy said...

Peter, how many times do we have to tell you to lay off the Tabasco Pomade? It is highly flammable and should only be used by professional hair-dressers in controlled salon environments.

Lhaffinatu said...

Geez Peter! Was there no snow for you to slip in? Mud to crash in? You needed to set your bike on fire???