Saturday, March 17th, 2012, was the date planned for our annual spring trek to Bob's Bar (home of the big burger) in Martinsburg, NE. I decide to ride the 1985 BMW K100 I purchased last spring (former owners include Dave Palmer, Jerry Zeeb and Danny Erickson). Being ever diligent as far as pre ride checks---I checked the tire pressure (added air), the oil level (good), the fuel level (good or so I thought), and took off for breakfast at Grandma Max's. SHOULD’A topped off the gas after breakfast! I'm thinking I can get gas in Vermillion.
Then the group (I think there were 8 bikes) rode to meet up with Jerry Zeeb at his business, Car Guys, in Tea, SD. From there we headed south towards Nebraska. We stopped at Spirit Mound on Highway 19 and then decided to ride to Ed Hill's place in Yankton before going to Martinsburg.
(Ed. Note: Gary Johnson had ridden his R1100RT to Ed‘s with the intention of leaving it there for help from Ed in determining ―what the noise is in the rear end‘.)
Somewhere around Meckling, SD, Jerry decides to call Ed to see when they (Gary ―Prez‖ Johnson and Ed) were leaving for the bar and it turned out that they were about to leave. No need to go to Yankton now so we turned around and headed east on Highway 50 towards Vermillion. COULD’A gone to Vermillion to get gas, but we turned and went south on Highway 15! We crossed the bridge over the Missouri River into Nebraska and proceeded to Highway 12 to go east. Now this is where things get interesting.
On this particular K bike there are two low fuel lights--a yellow one that is suppose to come on when you are down to 7 liters and a red one that is suppose to come on when you get down to 4 liters--neither of them work. My best indication of low fuel on this bike is when I do a hard
acceleration and it starts to stumble because all of the fuel is pushed to the rear of the tank--which is exactly what happened when we headed east. Now I KNOW I need to stop for gas and thinking I can conserve what little fuel I have I start riding slow---maybe 45-50 mph---and flag the riders behind me around. No big deal--Newcastle, NE, is just down the road and they have a gas station on the highway. Or so I thought. Hmmm--no gas station??? COULD’A got gas in Newcastle if I looked on Main St--but I didn't know there was a station there till later.
About a mile out of Newcastle the bike is really stumbling and I know that there is no way I am going to make it to Ponka, NE, and the next gas station. I see several little farmsteads and houses along the road and think that surely someone would have a little gas I could buy. First stop--no one home. Second stop, no one is home except for a mild mannered German shepherd. Third stop lady is home but reluctant to open door for this suspicious man (do I look that scary? Probably if you are a little old lady.) She finally does and says she doesn't have any gas. About this time I decided to call Gary Prez Johnson to see which route they are taking to get to Bob's, but got no answer. Next stop, farmer on his tractor pulling a honey wagon out to the field----"Hell no--I don't even got gas for my chainsaw," was his reply. Ride back to road--hill ahead of me--thinking I'm not going to make it--but I do. Next stop, another little old lady—suspicious man encounter--, "No, I don't have any gas but you might try the big horse barn behind my house." I walk to the big horse barn behind her house--yell in the door to see if anyone is around. Man answers and informs me that the next station is about 4 miles away in Ponka and he can follow me there--but I tell him there is no way that is going to happen. He then remembers that he "might" have some gas and leads me around to a 5 gallon container. "Bring that outside and pour some on the ground and I'll tell you if it is gas." So I oblige, pour some out---he catches some in his hand---"Yes--that's gas--you never know what my hired help puts in here--sometimes kerosene, sometimes diesel--but this is definitely gas." Smells like diesel to me--but I'm desperate and lug the 5 gallon container to my bike about a block away. (Side note---while I am in the barn with the horse dude, Ed and Gary pass by in Ed's car and Ed comments on the nice K bike in the driveway at this place, but Gary doesn't see it.)
So now I have to decide how much of this suspicious smelling gas I should put in the bike. All I need is enough to get 4 miles down the road--so I pour a little in and then a little more and start the bike--OK. Carry the 5 gallon container back towards the horse barn--horse dude and wife and kid are leaving so he tells me to put the container by the fence. I hand him 4 dollars and ask him if that is enough---"Takes about $20 when I fill that up now"---I assure him that I only used about half a gallon and he throws a buck back at me (cheapest thing on a BMW is the rider). Thank you--have a nice day. I then ride to Ponka--stop at the co-op gas station (not open)--ride thru town to the other gas station and fill up (this is where I find out about the gas station in Newcastle where I WOULD’A got gas if I looked). Ride on to Bob's Bar and immediately order a Schlitz Tall Boy Adult Beverage. "Where have you been Dale?" some ask. I tell them I'm just getting an early start towards the Big Johnson Award (Big Sioux Riders annual ―unusual happening award‖)!