August 16th – Motorcycle Maintenance

I woke up less stoned than I went to sleep and immediately began to stress about dealing with our again non-working bike. This machine was really turning into quite the pain in the ass. I called my insurance company, and they dispatched a tow truck to where the bike was still parked at the Co-Op. While we were eating breakfast, there was a knock at the door. Looking through the peep hole I could see it was the dude who had dropped us off here the night before. I opened the door with a smile, and asked “What’s up?”. Turns out we’d forgotten our tarp in his car, so he was just bringing it back to us. We thanked him again for his continued generosity. We smoked a couple bowls, then walked the short distance to meet the truck.

We arrived at about the same time as the truck, though the parking lot was too full and narrow for the truck to get into, so we did have to roll the bike about a block to where the truck could park. To his credit, this tow truck driver was on the scene exactly when promised. Much much better than in LA when it had taken several hours longer than promised. Before too long the bike was secured to the flatbed, and we headed south to Interstate Battery of the Redwoods, located in Eureka.

The process of replacing this battery has taught me one very important lesson. German engineers are evil sadistic bastards with a fetish for human misery. It took 3 hours to replace that battery. We had to remove every bit of plastic on that bike, and the fuel tank, and the glove box, just to be able to remove the old battery and install the new one. We never did end up getting all the bolts we took out back in. One of the pieces of plastic cracked rather than line up with the holes it had fit over just an hour or two before. I really miss my first bike, a 1989 Yamaha Radian. It had no plastic on it, and was almost entirely mechanical. It was cheap to buy parts for, and easy to install them yourself. I will never buy another bike with plastic on it unless I also can afford to pay the hefty premium to have someone else work on it for me. Fuck BMW. Eventually we got the bike back together, and tried to start it. Though it fired right up, it sounded really fucked up, as if one of the cylinders wasn’t firing properly. The battery shop shared a parking lot with a motorcycle shop, so we walked over to see if they had any advice. An older, short, balding mechanic walked out with a flathead screw driver, blindly shoved it up into the bike through a vent hole in the plastic, wiggled it around for 5 seconds, and then started the bike again. It sounded perfect, and I was quite impressed. I thanked him, and we rode back to Leah’s.

Though she invited us to a party, the simple task of replacing the bike battery had been a thoroughly frustrating and exhausting fiasco. We again opted to stay in and eat and rest, as we intended to ride out of town in the morning. The battery light was still on on the bike, which was quite worrying. We had gotten 2 days of riding out of it the last time that had happened, so I was hoping to make it to Portland before I had to deal with it again. This damn bike was really draining the trip budget, and I was getting increasingly anxious about our dwindling cash reserves. Though I did actually say “There just isn’t enough weed for today,” I clearly did not take into account the fact that I was in Humboldt Country when I said it. A couple joints later, I had a much more zen approach to the bike situation, again resigning myself to the whims of fate.

Though we were kind of sad that our time in Arcata had been mostly errands and bike bullshit, we still determined to ride out in the morning, rather than getting distracted by the raw awesomeness of the town and accidentally moving there. After all, for a trip that we originally intended to avoid California on, we’d already spent quite a bit of time here.


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