Thursday, February 25, 2010

The trek home from Big Bend Country

It's been a great little getaway to Big Bend Country and I'm ready to head for home. Tuesday evening I met up with the two couples I'd met on Sunday and, after having drinks in the White Buffalo bar, we had a wonderful dinner together at Cafe Cenizo, the restaurant the Gage Hotel. The Food & Beverage Director apparently took a shine to our merry little group as he checked in with us often, sharing some of his background and experience and making sure we had absolutely everything we needed or wanted to make our dining experience enjoyable. One of the women in our group is a real social butterfly (thank goodness, or I might not have been enjoying their company this evening) and she made it her business to find out about every other dining group in the restaurant that evening.

We parted company with hugs after exchanging telephone numbers and the promise to get together the next morning for breakfast at Marathon Coffee, a little breakfast and lunch cafe in town. Then another round of hugs and promises to call and I headed over to the motorcycle and began gearing up to depart. It was going to be a very cold ride for part of the day, at least until Del Rio according to the forecasts.

It was clear, bright and sunny - quite the contrast from Tuesday with its snow showers all day - and I headed east on U.S. 90 toward home. The miles seemed to fly by. I stopped for gas in Sanderson to top off, and then again in Del Rio. The next stop was in Seguin for gas and a quick Jack in the Box lunch. Now on the east side of San Antonio, I knew I was almost home. I was able to turn off my electric jacket liner when I got to Del Rio, but the lowering sun was making things chilly again, and I plugged back in for the last remaining miles home.

My last gas stop was Brookshire, where I exited I-10 onto 359. I was hoping my timing would let me avoid rush hour traffic in Houston, but my XM traffic was reporting delays on the Sam Houston Tollway between Westpark and U.S. 59, always a bad bottleneck. It was especially bad as I passed through there, with all lanes coming to a stop, even though it was the two right-hand lanes that would be exiting onto 59. Lots of jockeying for lane position was going on, which always makes me nervous. Once past this interchange, traffic moved smoothly all the way to my exit onto Highway 288.

At the intersection with McHard Road, I had the red light and I noticed then that my GPS had stopped had turned itself off. Hmmm...the only reason it would do this is if it was no longer getting power and the "continue on battery" request had timed out. I had turned my electric jacket liner off anyway, something I always do on this particular bike when in slow-moving traffic. I immediately suspected the battery on the bike. Funny...I had already planned to bring the bike in for a major service after returning from this trip. I knew the battery was 3 years old and probably near the end of its life. I also wanted to get a new chain and sprockets and possibly a new front tire. But now I had good reason to believe that the battery was going to die on me.

I made it all the way to my driveway, pulled up to the garage door, and put the bike into neutral so that I could activate the garage door opener. When I tried to put the bike into gear to pull on into the garage, the bike stalled and that was it. Pressing the starter button only produced a sickly slow crank and then nothing but clicks. Pretty much the end for that battery. I unloaded everything off the bike and then tried to push it up over the step-up into the garage but was unable to generate enough momentum to do it; I tried several times until I had no strength left.

The first person I thought of who might be able to help was friend Mike. All of my immediate neighbors are much older and have no experience handling a motorcycle. After calling Mike, I remembered that there is one fellow my age who lives just a few houses down on another street and used to ride motorcycles, now has a Honda Ruckus. I called and he was more than happy to help. He was in my driveway within minutes and easily had the bike in the garage. I thanked him profusely and went into the house to begin the process of unpacking. Now I had time to reflect on just how fortunate I was that the battery chose to give up its last bit of power in my driveway and not out in Big Bend Country. Like a faithful steed, my little red FZ6 got me home.

Postscript: A call to the Yamaha dealer this morning and I had a new battery purchased and charging. Mike and I got together for lunch and then drove over to the dealer's to pick up the battery. I had already done the dissassembly necessary to access the battery under the gas tank, so all Mike and I needed to do was remove the old and install the new.

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