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My Motorcycle Blog: Memorable Rides
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

* November, 2006 blog * * October, 2006 blog * * September, 2006 blog * * August, 2006 blog * * July, 2006 blog * * June, 2006 blog * * May, 2006 blog * * April, 2006 blog * * March, 2006 blog * * February, 2006 blog * * January, 2006 blog * * December, 2005 blog * * November, 2005 blog * * October, 2005 blog * * September, 2005 blog * * August, 2005 blog * * July, 2005 blog * * June, 2005 blog * * May, 2005 blog *

The First Flat on My Harley

November 28, 2007:
The first inkling that trouble was on the way was on Wednesday, November 21st. We were scheduled to head out of town for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to get in one last ride before being without the bike for 96 hours or so. Thus, I got up a little early to hit the road for a short ride before we headed to Midland, where my parents live. Our goal was to be on the road by eight, so we could arrive in Midland before dark. Maria and I had been out on Tuesday night, and there were at least a couple of last-minute items to take care of before we could leave. That didn't leave much time for a ride, but I wasn't about to totally skip it.

After we took Sarah for her morning walk (I wanted her a little worn out before she got in the Jeep for ten hours), I suited up and headed for the garage. As is my constant routine, I checked the air in the tires. The front tire was spot on, but the rear tire was suspiciously low. It was three pounds low. Hmmm.

I pumped the tire up, and headed out for a six mile run. The ride was more interesting than I had planned. I was headed back to the house on 11th, going east, when I decided to check the mail box. A car was slightly ahead of me on my right. I put on my blinker, did a quick head check, and dropped over to the right-hand lane. And I was really close when I changed lanes. The car ahead of me decided to pull into a driveway on 11th, without signaling. Fortunately, I was able to quick-brake out of trouble, but it was close.

When I analyzed the problem, I realized that my mistake had been in switching lanes too close to the car ahead of me. If we had both continued on down the road at the speed we had been traveling, all would have been fine. And there was no reason for the car to change speeds. Or so I assumed. I did not expect the driver to slow down to a crawl to execute a hard right-hand turn into a private driveway. My presumptions almost did me in. Yikes. Be careful out there--and leave plenty of room between you and any car you are trailing.

Otherwise, Wednesday's ride was fine, and it felt good to get in some seat time before entering the world of four-wheelers. As we headed for Midland, I had logged 6412 miles on the bike.

I had no riding on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. However, on Saturday I decided to get my motorcycle fix by visiting the Harley Davidson dealership in Big Spring, Texas. I had seen a guy wearing a t-shirt saying that this was the oldest H-D dealership in Texas, and it was only forty miles away. My Dad and I hopped in his pickup while Mom and Maria decided to support the local economy with a shopping spree. Over three inches of snow had fallen on Thanksgiving, but it was all melted away by Saturday. More snow was forecast for Saturday afternoon. I wanted to get to the dealership and back before it hit. I checked out the web and found their website. They were open on Saturdays, so off we went, with Sarah in tow.

We beat the snow, but the dealership was locked up tight. I guess this weekend is not a big shopping day in the motorcycle world. At least in Big Spring. I looked in the window, and the showroom looked interesting, but I could not see many details. Oh well, something to look forward to on another trip.

On Sunday we headed back to Houston. We endured three hours of harrowing driving through 130 miles of snow before driving out of the white stuff. We made it back to Houston about 6:30 p.m. After feeding the dog and unloading the car, I suited up for a short ride. When I checked the the air in the tires, I was saddened to read that the gauge showed that the rear tire was down by twelve pounds. Ugh. I knew I had a tire problem. Still, because of the stretch of non-riding days, I wasn't yet sure how bad it was. I took a post office run on Sunday, and decided to see what Monday held. I now had 6415 miles on the bike.

Monday morning dawned dry but cold. A mean cold. Not good riding weather. When I checked the rear tire, it was only down two pounds. Of course, I had aired it up to the normal 36 psi less about twelve hours before. At least the leak wasn't getting any worse. I took a short ride, just to keep my hand in. The real test would come on Tuesday.

It was still on the cool side on Tuesday. And it had been twenty-four hours since I had aired the rear tire back to 36 psi. When I checked the pressure on the rear tire, it read 31 psi. I checked and rechecked. A five pound loss. Things were getting worse. I kept the ride short, and stayed around the neighborhood just in case. After about three miles, I rode up the driveway and stopped the engine. I had 6425 miles on the bike. Using the valve stem as a guide, I began my search of the rear tread to try and locate the problem. Directly opposite the valve stem, I found a thin wire sticking into the tire. I did not try to pull it out for fear that removal would make the leak worse. At least I had located the probable source of the problem.

When I got to work, I called Stubbs and set up an appointment to have the problem fixed on Wednesday morning. When I had purchased the bike, I bought the all-hazards tire coverage, and I was about to find out how good of a buy it was.

Wednesday, November 28, dawned warmer than recent mornings. After we got back from Sarah's walk, I checked the air in the tire. It was down another five pounds. I aired it back to 36 psi. I then went inside and fixed breakfast.

I was ready to head for Stubbs a little before eight. I checked the rear tire again just before leaving. It was down a pound since I had aired it up 60 minutes earlier. Time to get to Stubbs.

Out of an abundance of caution, I headed to Stubbs on the back roads. I didn't want to press my luck on the freeway. I didn't want to face a sudden flat rear tire at 60 mph.

The ten mile trip was uneventful. Stubbs got to my bike right away, and I sat and read a book while I waited. They had predicted under two hours to deal with the flat, and they were accurate on their estimate. The Dunlop tire cost $153.86 and labor was $80. With the extended tire coverage my cost came to zero! I highly recommend you get this coverage if you drive the Houston streets.

Troy showed me the cause of my flat. It hadn't been the wire I had suspected. Instead, it was a four-inch long bent nail, with about a fourth of the head left. I'm surprised the tire held any air at all.

In fairly short order, Stubbs had delivered my bike to me, complete with a brand new rear tire and a fresh wash job. I rode on in to work, taking the long way. The temperature was in the 60's, and it was a good day for riding. By the time I made it home after work, I had 6466 miles on the bike. Thursday promises to be warm and dry. And I have no early morning appointments. So, I'll see you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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For the November, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the October, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the September, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the April, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the March, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the February, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the January, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the December, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the November, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the October, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the September, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the August, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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*Note to Law Enforcement:

All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.

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