When I bought the motorcycle at the end of September I figured I’d have a few weeks to ride and then it’d get stored for the winter. Probably by Halloween. But Indiana weather can be amazingly unpredictable. As a matter of fact in 1984 there were many riding days, though few Decembers have been like that since. But in keeping with this the greatest of Indiana traditions, Thanksgiving week alone let me log over 1100 miles. Seven days well into the high 50′s and low 60′s. And for those keeping count of the “Last” in the title that was the “Last Last Harrah” of which I’ve not posted but have pictures I’ll put up eventually.
So now it’s the middle of December and here comes another week of 50′s. It’s even a possibility that at least one day (they still haven’t decided if it’ll be Friday or Saturday) may break the 60 mark. Even as a now older rider, I find myself still happily riding at anything over 45 degrees. If it’s not raining… too much.
There is a certain amount of hazard with trying to take advantage of all these fringe days though. One is the cold intervening days since every bike I’ve ever owned (this is #4) has been a bit cantankerous to get started when the overnight was 25 degrees. And cold starts can lead to some small level of frustration when on a 50 degree winter day there may be 2 ridable hours, 1/3 of which it takes just to get the fuel flowing and plugs firing.
Of course these frustrations have lead to necessary inventions of such required biker paraphernalia as battery tenders and gasoline stabilizer, too. So it’s not all for naught. The worst part of cold starts, though, is seeing that sun already heading down still not getting a spark. Such circumstances tend to have a deleterious effect on the mind…
Case in point, myself, yesterday. The temp was up to 46 to 50, depending on who you believe. Being an optimist I’ll naturally take the higher. But the Shadow had seen a night in the lower 20′s and she wasn’t real keen on starting. Fortunately these have electric fuel pumps so that I’d also closed off the fuel system and ran out the carburetors isn’t nearly as much a factor as gravity fed systems. But it still took 40 minutes with a 1.5amp battery tender (smart trickle charger) to crank it enough to start.
My ever so patient wife wondered why I’d go out, crank it a few then come in – every 7-10 minutes – but she knew better than to ask.
Once the Shadow was running at low idle and full choke for some moronic reason I didn’t unplug the tender which was resting nicely on top of the instrument cluster. Between the sun dipping and 5pm appointment I was down to an hour of ride time, so went straight away to get geared up; hence trading the smartness of not gearing up until I knew she would start for the stupidity I’m about to describe.
So, maybe 10 minutes later I’m standing at the door all geared up relaying my plans to the Missus. I look out the front door and see smoke streaming from the barn.
Do you realize how hard it is to run wearing 30 pounds of leather???
Fortunately the bike itself wasn’t on fire, nor was the barn. That would have been problematic considering how much smokeless propellant is stored on the workshop side. Nothing was on fire. But the tender… it’s dead. I found it hanging by its cord, which still lay across the instrument cluster, and resting on the right side header pipe. I mean I wanted to black out those 20 year old headers, but not this way! The device was toast so I was glad I hadn’t bought one of the expensive ones.
At this point had I been an extra on Firefly I’d been speaking in Chinese….
But there I am all geared up, the bike warmed and ready. So I head to, where else, WalMart to get a replacement battery tender.