Dave's Counter-Clockwise Tour 2003

Day Two

by Dave Schultheis

Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - Kingman, Arizona

There was rain overnight, and I was awake several times, but I did get _some_ sleep. I got up at 5:32 a.m., dressed, packed and loaded the bike, and left a message about the hum on the TV and the slow-running drain, as if I thought it would do any good.

The Weather Channel did not have a Kingman insert for "local on the 8s," so I relied on the view outside the motel. The sun was up, but was behind the clouds, and the temperature was 70 degrees.

I got the bike started and warmed up, and left at 6:30 a.m., hitting Interstate 40 a few minutes later. It seemed cooler. There were high dark clouds ahead, occluding the sun, and it cooled to 68 degrees. Somewhere in this area, I saw what looked like calla lillies at the side of the highway.

I stopped at Jolly Road, exit 103, for a load check and to put on my lucky green shirt, as it would be getting cooler enroute to Flagstaff, due to the higher altitude.

As I continued east, I saw more and more sunflowers growing along the side of the highway. After a while I stopped for a sunflower picture.

The posted speed limit was 75 miles per hour except in construction areas, but I found myself doing mostly 70 mph with not too much traffic.

Near mile 144 or 145, I rode a half quarter mile into Ashfork AZ for a picture. Near the city sign, a woman was pulling weeds in the divider and gave me some information about the place. Ashfork is the flagstone capital of the world and the home of Kaibab Flagstone. There were piles of flat stones on pallets, just like I had seen on many trucks, but didn't know that they came from this place.

I stopped at the Chevron Station before getting back on the highway. It was 8:23 a.m. and 70 degrees.

There were some sprinkles on I-40, then some construction, then clear skies and 70 degrees for a while. I approached Williams, where one could turn toward the Grand Canyon at mile 161, and stopped at a Jack-In-The-Box ... correction ... McDonald's at mile 163 for a breakfast bagel sandwich, then continued east on I-40.

Near mile 185, I passed Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson in Bellemont AZ, and gave a nice wave at the dealership, which I believe is required in the owner's manual.

Almost five miles down the road, at 9:30 a.m., the bike began cutting out, then stalled, and lost all electrical power. I waited, then it started, then it died. I waited again, then it started and died again. I waited again, then it started, and ran fine.

At this point, I made the critical decision to return to the dealer, instead of going on. There is no other dealer until Albuquerque, and I didn't need to be stuck.

So I rode a few tenths of a mile to exit 190, turned back westbound, and miraculously rode all the way back to Bellemont without any problems. I got to Grand Canyon H-D at 9:50 a.m., where it was 74 degrees and just beginning to sprinkle. Evidently the front I had passed through a while back had just arrived.

I was invited to pull the bike into the shop and unload everything from the seats and rack, which I piled on the floor. They took the bike in, I hung up my jacket and took a seat on a bar stool at a table full of motorcycle magazines and catalogs.

These things take time, of course, especially with a small service department, and other bikes in for repair, but they estimated that it would take about a half hour for electrical diagnostics, so I told them to do what they had to do. I went to the bathroom, drank some water, and wandered around the store.

There were other customers waiting for service; three friends from the south (FL, GA and SC, I think) that were part of a group of 60 bikes that were riding through the west. Five of the bikes had broken down over the weekend and had been brought here. All but two were fixed and had gone on their way. These guys had been here for two days. One of the three guys' bikes was fixed, but he was waiting for the other two.

After I spent some time talking to these guys, and wandering the parts and MotorClothes departments (no Fat Boy logo tee-shirts), Service Manager/Writer Dave and Technician "Bobber" advised me that they had narrowed the problem down to the main circuit breaker. It was "hot, black and corroded," and appeared to be original equipment, so they proposed replacing it. Of course, I gave the okay, and after some time passed, they had replaced the part, taken the bike on a test ride and returned, so it was ready, and I paid, then reloaded all my stuff, and I was outta there at 12:20 p.m.

I headed east on the highway at a cool and breezy 73 degrees, prepared to make up for three hours of lost time, when all of a sudden I lost all electrical power. I got as far as I could coast, but the bike stopped aproximately one tenth of a mile from where it had stopped three hours before. For the record, I had been riding about 70 miles an hour, slightly uphill, fully loaded.

I'll pause for a moment while you think about what _was_ done versus what _should_ have been done.

I waited and tried to start the bike again, but no dice. Each time I tried, it lost all electrical power. The only thing that would work was the four-way flashers.

That was a hint.

I pulled out my Sprint PCS cellular phone and checked coverage; there was none. I switched to analog roaming, and could barely get a signal. It was not good enough to make a call.

It was cool and windy and there were plenty of cars rolling by on the highway. Some honked and some flashed their lights, but nobody stopped.

Time passed. 12:45 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 1:15 p.m. 1:30 p.m. 1:45 p.m. I watched various highway department vehicles go by, by never saw any highway patrol or state police.

[At one point I thought I saw a truck pulling a trailer marked "Youngblood Trucking" rolling westbound and tried calculating if my friend Mike F. from North Carolina would have been this far west by Tuesday afternoon, but eventually decided that it was probably someone else.]

I finally saw a police vehicle of some type go by, and waved. The vehicle took the off ramp, just a few tenths of a mile down, then went back westbound, so I waved again, and evidently the officer had seen me, and gone back to Bellemont to turn around again, because a while later the vehicle rolled up and it was a tall, blonde female officer from the Yavapai-Apache Nation Police. It was 1:55 p.m.

Since I have watched more than one episode of "COPS," I kept my hands in plain view at all times and did not make any furtive movements. I could see the officer talking on the radio, but she also signaled me to stay where I was.

Eventually she advised her dispatcher that she was stopping to talk to the big, bad biker, and got out to talk with me. I asked if she could call Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson and she said she could not, but she would call the Arizona Department of Public Safety and they would send the Highway Patrol. That did not make sense to me then, and it doesn't make sense to me now, but I guess it was better than nothing.

At 2:10 p.m. Officer Johnson of the AZ Highway Patrol arrived in a Dodge Ram pickup. Again, I kept my hands in plain view at all times and did not make any furtive movements. First the Yavapai-Apache Nation officer briefed him, then he came and asked me what the problem was. I 'splained that I'd just left Grand Canyon H-D and needed a phone call to them, so they could come and get me.

He was somewhat hesitant to make the call, but when I provided the telephone number, he finally agreed that it made some sense, and he asked me to wait with the bike while he made the call. A few minutes later he said, "They'll be here. I'll check back. Shouldn't be too long." And then he left.

About this time I noticed that the technician had failed to replace one of my saddlebag guard bags; the one with the cold water. So I resolved to do a better post-service inspection next time.

While waiting, I used the opportunity to take four pictures, one facing in each compass direction, in case I ever needed to recall the sights I had stared at while I waited for help.

It started to rain, and a few minutes later the Highway Patrol officer returned, and had me wait in his truck. He had made a traffic enforcement stop down the highway a short distance and returned to see if the trailer had arrived yet. We waited.

At 2:45 p.m. a technician named "Boulder" arrived with a pickup truck and trailer. We loaded the bike onto the trailer, I thanked the officer, we took exit 190 and returned five miles to Bellemont.

We got back to the dealership at 3:00 p.m., rolled the bike off the trailer and pushed it into the shop. I unloaded all my gear again, and they took it into the service area. All under the watchful eye of my three new southern friends, who were still waiting for repairs to one motorcycle. You can imagine some of their friendly conversation as I made a repeat appearance.

After a few more minutes of diagnostic work, I was advised that I needed a new battery. The tech invited me into the shop and showed me how he tested the battery. Twelve point three volts was not unreasonable, but under load it went to 9 volts and then to one volt. There was clearly an intermittent open circuit in the battery. I then recalled that it had been September 2001 when that battery was replaced in Reno, and yes, it had been nearly two years, so it was just about time for another battery.

So those who said, "They should have load-tested the battery the first time," were correct.

By this time it was raining like a son-of-a-gun on the tin roof of the dealership. I was glad I was indoors and not riding in it. On the other hand, I would have been a few hundred miles east of there if the situation had been different.

I got to see something amazing while I was waiting. The techs had explained to one of the three guys that his motorcycle had a very serious problem. He decided that he had waited long enough, so he walked over to the Sales Department, pulled out his check book, and traded in his Ultra Classic, which was still on the lift, for a brand new 2003 Heritage Softail. He picked out some accessories, removed all his stuff from the CUI, stuffed it into the new saddlebags, and prepared to continue his trip.

It must be nice.

Meanwhile, the technician replaced my battery and buttoned everything back up again, including putting the saddlebag guard bag back on. They rolled the bike out to the waiting area, charged me _only_ for the battery, and I reloaded all my stuff. Again.

After thanking them, I got going again at 4:10 p.m., now over 6 hours behind for the day. Fortunately, I hadn't made any reservations that needed to be canceled, so I just kept going.

Back on I-40, it was ten miles to Flagstaff. I passed some dark clouds, some sprinkles, some rain, some construction and some hot temps (98 degrees). Life was good.

About 5:45 p.m. I stopped for fuel at a Texaco Station in Holbrook AZ, where gas was a little cheaper and it was 82 degrees. They had 2 liter bottles of Dasani water on sale for $2 each, so I got two of them. I put one away immediately, and stored the other one in a saddlebag.

At 7:00 p.m. I stopped at the Navajo Travel Center, exit 325, for rest and hydration, also got a Subway Sandwich and talked to the nice lady. She said the New Mexico state line was 35 miles and Gallup NM was 55 miles. There were no other choices but to push on, so I did.

It got dark about 7:30 p.m. and I crossed into New Mexico at about 7:50 p.m. There was construction at the border, with trucks, cones, trucks, uneven pavement, trucks, barricades and trucks. It was quite unpleasant.

But I made it into Gallup NM, exit 16, and stopped at the Budget Inn at 8:20 p.m. It was 80 degrees. The place was not very full, the price was $29.95, and they had outside rooms. I asked the (ethnicity deleted) woman at the desk for a room where I could park right in front, and she gave me the key to Room 108, which had 2 beds, for the single rate.

When I got down there, cars were parked right in front, so I went back and asked if I could have Room 114 and park the Road King in the big "X" area in the corner, where cars could not park, and she agreed.

Even though there had been no signs at the border, I realized we were now on Mountain Time, and it was approaching 10 p.m. as I carried things into Room 114.

This was an interesting room at an interesting place. One light bulb burned out when I turned on the switch. (Kinda the way my day had been going, eh?) In the bathroom, there were two bath towels, one hand towel and two face cloths. There was no bath mat. There was a tray to hold soap and other small items; it was screwed to the cabinet. The channel-changing buttons on the television set were broken; I had to be creative in finding something to poke through the holes to change the channel. A large room fan was bolted to the dresser.

On the other hand, the fan worked, so did the air conditioner, and there was a good place to put my T-Bag. The woman at the office gave me a quarter so that I could get some ice from the ice machine, and then, since I was such a nice, polite rider, she gave me another quarter for more ice.

I turned on my Sprint PCS cellular phone and surprisingly, it had a good strong signal. It told me it was 10:15 p.m. and I had a voice mail message. So I retrieved the message, then checked voice mail/pager messages.

I took a shower, watched "Cheers" on Nick at Nite, checked the maps for the next day and went to bed.

Miles for the day = 367. Miles for the trip = 967.

Tomorrow: rain, heat, and another long day riding through Texas.

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Created on February 3, 2004. Updated on February 12, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA