Gloria and I recently went on a motorcycle trip celebrating our anniversary.  It was a wonderful trip, until the last leg of the journey. 

At the end of our second day Gloria noticed an oily residue on her calves.  We attributed this to her applying suntan lotion during the day.  We thought that it was just road dirt sticking to the lotion.  The next day at lunch we noticed that there appeared to be a pattern in the way the dirt was accumulating.  After looking more closely at the bike we discovered that the rear shock was leaking fluid.  I asked at the place where we had stopped whether there were any shops in the area….no.   I called a friend who has worked with motorcycles for years and asked how serious a problem it was.  He informed me that the shock itself might be ruined but that it should be safe to drive home, as long as we were careful.  We were still dripping oil, so it wasn’t dry yet, so we started for home. We were about sixty miles from the end of our journey.

Shortly after getting underway we hit a massive bump.  Then, there was a different sound to the bike.  The road noise sounded different.  Everything felt fine but there was a hum we hadn’t heard before.  I told Gloria that I would stop at the next gas station and look everything over.  As we were going down the road, Gloria started complaining about her seat getting warm.  There was a problem.  I asked if she could make it the two miles to the nearest town and she responded with a resounding,  no!  Stop the bike now!  I pulled over, she hopped off the back and I notice a small column of dark smoke rising from beneath the seat area. 

Our bike’s previous owner had been short.  The bike had been modified from it’s original construction.  My friend that I called did not know that important piece of information.  The placement of the rear shock had been lowered.  This had an unintended consequence.  When we hit that bump we bottomed out the shock.  Since the shock had been lowered this meant that instead of hitting the mechanical stop on the shock, we hit the rear tire.  That took a chunk out of our tire which resulted in the changed sound that we were hearing.  Then, enough fluid and air had been forced out  that we were making light contact with the tire as we rode.  When I looked under the bike at the back tire, it was very hot to the touch, had chunks missing, and had obviously been literally melting down.

Our ride was done.

We called AAA, thankful that we had the premium service that would provide towing up to 100 miles, and more importantly that the tire hadn’t blown.  We looked up and realized that we had stopped at the entrance to a hospital.  We were thankful that the only service we needed from them was a cold drink and a cool place to wait for the tow truck. 

I believe that God was watching out for us.  It could have been much worse.  My bike needs a new tire, a repaired rear shock, and we have to undo the modification.   We are fine, enjoyed our trip, and had an adventure, even if it included a breakdown.


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