I had a wonderful ride with the Autobahners and the Sioux City crowd to Bob’s Bar in Martinsburg, Neb. More than one expressed joy that I had purchased a new bike and wouldn’t have any more problems with the old 1995 R100RT (Ole Red). Sorry, guys, I still have the old bike and plan on continuing to ride it. After all if I had traded it in where would all my stories come from? So the following is an update:
(Note: Reread September Rolling Wheels and refresh your memory on Doug and his granddaughter’s “almost” trip to the Top O’ the Rockies Rally. Doug took his bike to Judson when he returned home to have the problem diagnosed and this story begins there. - editor)
I barrowed a loaner bike from Ron to ride home after delivering my RT. It began getting dark and I realized I didn’t have any lights. I limped into the Hawes’, left the loaner, and they shuttled me to the Salem exit on I-90 where the “Mad Norwegian” picked me up. In the meantime Ron at Judson Cycle discovered that my charging difficulties were from a weak spring in one of the brushes. No bad rotor after all. All that trouble for a 50 cent spring. Joe, my grandson, volunteered to ride the loaner back to Judson for me, pick up the R100RT and bring it back as far as the Hawes’. For one reason or another I had not been able to get Ole Red the rest of the way home. When I finally made an attempt we discovered that the back tire was covered with oil. Mary and I thought it was the rear seal but Larry set us straight that the shock had just let go and drained all the oil unto the tire and wheel. I left the RT there and dwelled on a plan 2.
The day after the Martinsburg excursion, I fired “Gertie” up and headed for the Hawes’ for a second attempt at getting the RT. Now “Gertie” is kind of small. She is an ‘81 VW Rabbit diesel pickup. Her diesel engine is about 6 HP less than Ole Red, but she recently had a head rebuild. The box is 6 foot long but only about 3 foot wide. The cab is diminutive. I’m not. To get in I have to plop my butt down, duck my head in, lean over to the right, and pull one leg in at a time. Reverse that to get out.
With Larry and Mary’s help we got the bike loaded and secured with a multitude of straps and ratchets and wire. Larry suggested that we load the pickup on the back of Ole Red and go home that way?!? Mary admonished me not to speed - it rarely gets over 55 MPH but does get about 45 MPG at that speed. Ole Red was HUGE in the back of the pickup. I “tiptoed” to the blacktop, drove to Manley, MN, and checked the straps. I put one extra click in one. I didn’t want to stop often so I turned north and headed to the Interstate. “Gertie” settled in at about 52 MPH indicated and I headed west. The wind was very strong from the south and every time we were passed by anything larger than an SUV the top heavy, narrow pickup would sway MENACINGLY. When a semi passed it was PANICSVILLE. I had visions of a semi creating enough suction to tip my whole rig over.
When I finally made it to a lowered 65 MPH speed area I was passed with less force. The 25 MPH cloverleaf at I-90/I-29 was taken at less than the recommended speed. That was probably “a first” in the 50 years that the interchange has been in existence. When I finally turned off the interstate, the excruciating pain in my chest started to subside. No, I don’t believe it was cardiac in nature rather it was the extreme muscle fatigue that my less than massive pectorals were suffering from my death grip on the wheel. Now on two-lane roads the cars behind me no longer had a passing lane and were impolitely impatient. Only one gave me the great American salute. Was I really going that slow? I’m thinking that if I get “Gertie” and Ole Red home in one piece, this might make a good story. When I stopped at a stoplight a moth that I had hit on the Interstate in Minnesota that was stuck between the windshield and the wiper just shook itself off and flew away. (You cannot make something like that up).
When I made it home almost 2 hours and about 80 miles later all was well. Even a Styrofoam cup, half full of coffee, balanced on the transmission tunnel hadn’t fallen off. A neighbor came over and helped Marge and me unload it. Life is good and the saga will continue.
PS. Next up for “Gertie” are new springs, shocks and struts. After all they are 29 years old.