For road trips, my planning is generally vague: while keeping to a general plan, I still get the joy of deciding each morning where to head next. My preparations tend to be equally minimal – almost agile. Usually this works out well – with minimal constraints, schedules can be adjusted and plans adapted – but occasionally it bites me in the ass. This is one of those times.
The Original Plan – Option 3
I scheduled time off from work, starting on Thursday, August 14th and returning Tuesday, September 2nd. Thursday would be dedicated to preparation, so I could leave bright & early Friday morning. The first destination would be Boston, where I would be visiting friends; rather than taking I-95, I was planning a more scenic route, north out of Pennsylvania and thru New York state.
After spending the weekend with friends, I expected to take a scenic ride thru Maine, New Brunswick and ending up in Nova Scotia by the following weekend. Something like this. The second weekend, I’d take the Oak Island tour, then head back home via the fastest route.
After a day or so at home, I expected to spend the rest of the second week on a slow tour of Maryland and Virginia, visiting friends; this slow tour would end up back at home some time Labor Day weekend. Overall the distance covered would much less than my previous trips, with the focus on visiting new places and old friends.
What Could Possible Go Wrong?
I had arranged all the necessary items – pet care, stopping mail, etc. – but one item remained outstanding: the state inspection for the Kingpin and it was overdue. I stopped up at Trumbauer’s the weekend before the trip to see if they could squeeze me in on short notice – I have a bad habit asking for service at the last-minute, right before a trip, but they always manage to make time for me and this time was no different. (Thanks Lisa!)
On Thursday morning (prep day), I arrived a little late, but was feeling confident that all the pieces were falling into place. I was reading the news while waiting for the inspection & oil change, when the first hiccup occurred: the Kingpin needed front brakes. Not a big deal: it’s relatively quick job, and just one of those regular things.
A few minutes later, Lisa came over to tell me the throttle cable was sticking when fully open. I rarely open the throttle all the way (that sounded sincere, right?), but the sticking might be an indication it was ready to fail. Technical detail: the throttle cable, and most of the other cables, runs under the tank; in order to investigate, the tank would have to come off – this job just became much bigger. I was beginning to feel a bit guilty as they were squeezing me into their schedule, but the work continued.
Problem #3, Uh oh
After a few more minutes, I was invited over for a discussion with the tech / mechanic. It started with the handlebars, which had a bit of play in them. This, I knew about: on a trip to Sturgis a few years earlier, I had put the tie downs on the handlebars (they should have been on the triple clamps) which had stretched out the bushings that hold the handlebars. The bushings are difficult to replace and the problem would not get any worse over time, so I had decided to let it go.
The next topic was much more serious: one side of the front forks was leaking. I had not noticed the leak, but, apparently, they were overdue for regular maintenance.
In order to replace / repair the forks, the triple clamps would have to come off, which amounts to disassembling the front end of the bike. To further complicate the repair, the Kingpin has inverted forks that use cartridges (to hold the fluid, I assume) and these are a bit unusual.
To summarize: the tank & triple clamps needed to come off and front forks needed to be disassembled. Since the triple clamps where coming off anyway, it made sense to replace the handlebar bushings. This was no longer in the squeeze it in category. Even if the service department was willing to disrupt their entire schedule, parts needed to be ordered.
Although it would not be ready for the trip, I rode the Kingpin home [carefully] on Thursday as I didn’t have any other option. I dropped it back off Saturday morning (thanks to Bryan for the ride), so it would be available as soon as the parts arrived. I don’t have a specific E.T.A., but my impression is that the work will take most of a day and won’t start until everything has arrived. I was promised it would be ready by Friday at the latest, but possibly sooner.
The folks at Trumbauer’s were quite apologetic about all the problems, but, of course, they are not at fault for my last-minute scheduling or failure to keep up on maintenance. Truthfully, I’m grateful to them for finding the problems now, and saving me from a break down in the middle of nowhere.
The original plan will no longer work as I’ll be starting out a week later than expected (but I am getting some home projects done). The trip was originally broken into two parts, so now one of them will have to be skipped. I just have to decide which one.