Breakdowns and My Fancy BMW Motorcycle

Spring is arriving here in the Pacific Northwest, and with our first nice weekend, I texted a buddy to take our bikes out for a ride. First thing Saturday morning I'm up, doing my pre-ride checks and ready to roll when my buddy R. showed up. The route involved heading north out of Seattle via some back roads to the lovely little town of La Conner, across the Deception Pass Bridge, and back to the city via the Mukilteo ferry: similar to this route that I posted a while back.


A funny aspect of living in the northwest is how when the weather starts getting nice, everyone pours out of their homes and hibernation to enjoy the little vitamin D we get each year. The back roads to La Conner were packed with people out for a nice drive, and fellow riders running the winter fuel out of the gas tanks that had sat for so many months. So, after a few wrong turns through the farms on the way, we made it to La Conner, with the crowds and lack of parking, and found a place for lunch while we rested our sore asses. And my buddies sore balls, because he rides a crotch-rocket, and we exceeded the 20 minutes that a person can ride a crotch-rocket at any given period.

The La Conner Pub was a fantastic place to make a stop for food. We sat on the balcony watching the river flow past while I ate a chili burrito, something that I can't believe more restaurants don't offer. A burrito with chili on top are the perfect combination of foods, and this place makes it well. When we went back to the bikes, mine took a couple of attempts to get started, maybe the battery needed more time on the trickle charger I thought, or maybe the gage was wrong and I needed to fill up. If it was the battery, I wasn’t too worried since the alternator should be charging it while we rode. So, we stopped at station and I topped off the tank, which was about half full, and we were off to Deception Pass Bridge.

chili burrito

At Deception Pass the parking lots were ridiculously crammed full of cars and people, all with the same goal of enjoying a quick walk onto the bridge and snapping a few pictures, without being rained on.  One of the many advantages of motorcycle ownership, of course being, it is easier to find parking, We parked the bikes and walked for a few photo moments. Walked down to the beach area and checked out the asses on the occasional chicks that walked past, and enjoyed watching people skipping rocks with children in the sun.
Busy Road
The Beach from the bridge



Back at the parking lot, after piss breaks, we were ready to make the trip down to the ferry for the ride back to Mukilteo; when my not-quite three-year old, under four-thousand-mile, BMW motorcycle wouldn't start at all. Just like the earlier. I gave it a few more tries, we attempted to push it and pop the clutch, but with not even a slight kick of showing a desire to start, we began pulling the bike apart. Most motorcycle manufactures have the battery under the seat. This makes accessing it pretty easy, as a rider only needs to remove the seat. BMW however makes things a little more complicated. In involves removing the center fairing, via 6 separate screws. Two of which are kind of a pain in the ass to get too. The battery connection was fine, and the wires to the ignition and fuses looked were good. We couldn’t check the spark, because between the two of us, and a few other bikers who stopped to help, none of us could actually find where the plus were on the overly complicated BMW. The Harley guys sure enjoyed making fun of my non-running BMW while their Harley bikes were starting just fine.

After a while, we gave up on it and decided it was time to call my AMA Roadside Assistance. My T-Mobile service had no connection. Not a surprise, as they are known for the lack of coverage. R.’s Verizon phone had one bar of service, and after walking around the parking lot, climbing a hill, I got through. But the call dropped. So I tried again in another spot and was able to actually get a representative.

Representative: Thank you for call roadside assist. Are you in a safe place to talk?

Me: Yes

Representative: Thank you for call roadside assist. Are you in a safe place to talk?

Me: Yes

Representative: Thank you for call roadside assist. Can you hear me?

Me: Yes, I hear you.

We go back-and-forth and through a spattering of me yelling over the car noises and the Harley’s leaving with the unnecessarily loud exhaust, I began trying to tell her my situation when the call dropped. So I called again.

Representative: Thank you for call roadside assist. Are you in a safe place to talk?

Me: Yes

Representative: Thank you for call roadside assist. Are you in a safe place to talk?

Me: Yes

Representative: I am having a hard time hearing you.

Me: Yes, I know.

Representative: Can you change locations?

Me: don’t you think I would have if I could. I was just talking to someone and we got disconnected.

Representative: Let me try to connect you to that person. (Long pause while we watched the battery on the phone drain) The other representative is assisting someone else. It looks like you need a tow.

Me: Yes. I’m at Deception Pass Bridge.

Representative: Do you mind if I use GPS to find your location?

Me: That’s fine.

Representative: I’m showing you are at something, something on I-5

Me: No, that’s not close at all. I’m at the south-side of the bridge parking lot in Deception Pass

Representative:  Reception Pass?

Me: No Deception?

Representative: Where?

Me: Deception Pass Bridge. Deception, like you are deceiving someone.

Representative: Do you have the address of your location?

Me: No! It’s a bridge. Like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Except for it’s in Washington, and it’s called Deception Pass. If you send a tow truck from Anacortes or Oak Harbor they will know where it is! They can’t live here and not.

We go back and forth before getting cut off again. I hop on the back of R’s bike and we ride down to a nearby gas station, where we find a super helpful clerk who lets me use his phone.

I call again, and go through my story again, explaining that I don’t have an address again, or the address of the destination just the closes motorcycle dealer I can think of, because apparently they can’t look one up for me. And, she says she will call me back. Eventually I get a call, and find out that the only tow-truck that they can find is going to charge $145.00 per hour for a three hour minimum and it’s not covered by the 35 miles in my roadside assist program. So, after wasting literally hours of time, and as it is getting dark we decide to go back to the bike, give it one more try, and if not leave it, and come back Sunday with a truck to load it up, hoping that overnight someone will steal it.

Me: (To the clerk at the store) If you know anyone who happens to be interested in a motorcycle, there is a blue BMW that will be sitting overnight.

Back at the parking lot it has cleared out, so we decided to give it one more try with pushing it and popping the clutch. R. who is a heavy smoker starts pushing and huffing, and we get it going quick, I pop the clutch and it sputters and dies. But, with that hopeful sign we decide to give it a few more tries when some guy comes up and offers to help. Between the three of us, and a few more sputters and dying we finally get it running. It’s running like crap, but it is running. So, we head down to the ferry in the hopes on making it home. On the ride to the ferry the bike starts to run better, and sounds pretty good by the time we arrive. But, I still refuse to turn it off to the ire of the people working on the ferry, but, after explaining to them that my shutting it off might block cars getting off the ferry the let me off.

I make it home, well after dark and exhausted, and put the bike in the garage to deal with the next day. More to come on the next day.

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