I don’t know what to think. I’m not one to believe in fate or destiny or much like that, but looking back it really seems like something did not want us to make it to Death Valley.
I thought I was prepared. I had my chain and tires checked the night before, as well as ridden the Monster to work 2 of the 3 days before. Everything seemed to be fine.
I meet J at the Starbucks by my house a bit before 7am. I let him warm up a bit before we got back on the road and made an unscheduled stop at my work to pick up something and to top off my oil in my bike which was a bit low. We got going again and had a pretty uneventful ride to Santa Cruz.
When we got to Santa Cruz and got off at the exit to meet D and JB for breakfast I realized that the exit was for Soquel Ave, and while I knew it was the right exit, the restaurant we wanted was on Soquel Dr. I had not bothered memorizing any other turns since I was just going to hunt for an address. I pulled into a parking lot and turned off my bike and got out my phone to get directions to this place. We weren’t far and I quickly knew where we were supposed to be.
I go to start my bike and… almost.. but nothing.
Again.. and nothing.
(insert swear word of your choice here)
I call D and tell him what’s up, he uses his other phone and finds a motorcycle shop nearby. I’m hoping it’s just a dead battery and nothing else. It seems strange though since we just rode for 45 minutes. J helps me bump start my bike, which is really all him. My leg doesn’t run well any more. We get my bike started and we head to the motorcycle shop. They’re closed. However there is a Lawn Mower and generator store next to it, and I ask them about a battery. The gentleman there is very helpful and tells me there is a motorcycle store nearby and gives me their number.
J bump starts me again. We ride to the breakfast place, I was planning to leave J there so he could eat and I was going to keep riding to the Shop, but I realize they’re not going to be open yet, and J is convinced he can jump start the bike one more time. (everytime I think about this I feel more in debt to J) So we have breakfast. I learn that JB is actually going to meet up with us later since he had some work commitments come up last minute and was going to take a short route to Atascadero.
After breakfast both D and J help me start my bike. They go to get their bikes and while J meets me right away D seems to be taking a while. After a few minutes I go over to where he was and find out that his bike isn’t starting.
(insert cursing here)
He tells me to go get my battery and see if they have jumper cables. I do this.
They don’t. I do notice however that there is a motorcycle repair shop behind them, so I ask the mechanic if he’ll have a look at my bike. He does and we fiddle for a while trying to locate the source of the problem. He elminates a bunch of stuff, but with the bike not running he can only do so much. We then have the most epic attempts to get my bike started. We try about 10 times, most of which involve a very steep hill, and once again J is the hero.
Meanwhile D is not having any luck with his bike, and about an hour and a half has passed.
While the epic push starts are happening, another mechanic joins us, and his shop is closer than the original and he’s got some new ideas. We bring my bike there.
I then walk balk to the old shop, thank the mechanic there, and give him some money for his time. I then carry all my gear to the new shop and call D. He’s going to push his bike to the shop and see if they can help him too.
I of course during this whole thing am getting pretty down. My months of planing and expectations for this trip are looking to be wasted. I feel bad, not just for myself but for my friends that I’m letting down with my bike problems. (I realize that D’s bike is also not starting, but that wasn’t registering in my brain at that time.)
I get back to Mechanic Two and he has sorted things out. He’s reasonably sure it’s just the battery and after having it on a charger for a bit it starts. He tells me of a place he’s almost positive I can get a new battery. I thank him and give him some money as well.
I call D and J telling them I’m going to ride to get a new battery. I suit up and head to Scott’s Valley to Batteries Plus. It’s a very nervous ride, and when I get there I leave the bike running when I go inside and ask if they have a battery for my bike. They do and I turn off my bike, and install the battery. I call D and J again, and find out that apparently D’s bike was simply suffering from sympathetic electrical woes. His started on his way down the hill to the bike shop and hasn’t had problems since.
Things are looking up and except for the time lost we are happy to be able to get going again. We decide (to my remorse) to forgo the coast. We have lost too much time as it is almost noon, and decide to head inland and meet up with JB just south of Holister and take 25 down.
We put this plan into action, and ride some fairly boring Highway miles to have a nice lunch with JB. It was good to have the 4 of us together, I was excited to be on the road and looking forward to many more miles. It’s sad that it ended in near disaster just a few hours later.