Favorite Rides & Destinations

Fall 2016

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Exhaust Note IN 31 YEARS OF MOTORCYCLE TOURING, I've been stranded exactly once. The day before the Moonshine Lunch Run, four of us rode to St. Louis for barbecue. Bob Fortuna led the way, followed by Steve Efthyvoulou, your humble scribe and Randy Bridgewater. Without warning, along Interstate 70 in not especially scenic East St. Louis, Illinois, my Honda ST1300 died. The motor just stopped. Losing speed, I made for the breakdown lane, surprising a trucker in the process. (Sorry, man!) Randy was surprised, too, and pulled over behind me. Steve noticed my abrupt move in his mirrors and managed to get over just ahead. Bob was already committed to crossing the bridge to St. Louis, but was quickly on the phone with Steve asking where everyone went. Randy knows I wouldn't pull over like that without reason. "You all right, Bones? " he asked over the din of traffic. "I'm fine," I replied, "but my bike died, just like that." Coincidentally, the one person on planet Earth I'd want behind me in this situation is Randy. In addition to being a good friend, he's the most talented mechanic I know. He also has an ST1300. Randy theorized the issue was electrical. We checked the relevant fuses. All good. We swapped batteries by the side of the road. Nope, not the battery. "Either the feed to the ignition switch is bad or the switch itself failed," he surmised, "and we can't address either of those issues where we are." Meanwhile, Steve found a local member of the ST-Owners Rider Assistance Network (RAN), an informal organization of riders ready to help other riders in need. I'm a member and I know it works. Once I got a call in Massachusetts from a rider who had just been T-boned by a bear on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. He was injured and his bike was totaled. I alerted members of the RAN who quickly replied with offers of a trailer, a place to stay, even airline miles to help the stranded rider get home to Florida. Rick Windham, a RAN member from Illinois, pointed me to a Honda shop nearby. I made a call and soon after Tim Mertens, the owner of Belleville Honda, arrived with a flatbed. Back at Tim's shop, the ST's side panel came off. Randy immediately saw the problem: the connector on the wire feeding the ignition switch had corroded and broken off. Tim's tech replaced the connector, splooged in some dielectric grease and snicked it back in place. VROOOOM, back in business. If your bike dies unexpectedly, it certainly helps having two "connected" friends ahead of you, quick access to local knowledge and the best wrench you know on your six. Yes, these are my friends but they've done the same for other riders stranded far from home. So have I. Over the years I've plugged flat tires, jumped dead batteries, tightened loose grounds and helped load unrideable bikes into a U-Haul for a long ride home. Sure felt good getting help when the stranded rider was me. BY SCOTT A. WILLIAMS STRANDED www.FavoriteRidesAndDestinations.com | ridermagazine.com PAGE 89 FALL 2016 ISSUE 02 / VOL. 01

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