A while back, I rode my bike, a vintage, 1980 Honda CB900 Custom, to my day job. I now telecommute four days a week, so this happens less and less in inclement weather. On the day in question, I was riding through 37 degree weather onto Bainbridge (Braindead?) Island at about 5:30AM, in order to catch the ferry to Seattle.
My toes and fingers were numb when I arrived there. Why did I ride my bike? Well, its like $26 round trip for the SUV and $12.50 for the bike, that's why. So, I got to work, rather uneventful so far. Then things started to happen.
See, I had hoped to leave work at 3PM as I always do, ride up to see my girlfriend at her coffee/sandwich shop she owned at the time in Northgate, and then we could go to maybe our favorite Thai place on Lake City Way. She was a tiny, very cute, Vietnamese lady. That relationship however, has gone by the wayside. That is another story entirely.
Before I headed out, I got an email saying I needed to work at 6PM. I forgot to bring my security key fob that allows me remote access to work via a web browser, or I could have done it at my gf's on her laptop. Which meant, I had to leave our plans for the evening earlier than I had planned, and catch the ferry to be home to do the work that people were depending on my doing, sometime close to 6PM.
So, I got to her place, hung around having an argument with her friend girlfriend on the subject of "Faith" (that was an interesting discussion), her being an interesting character and at least one time Catholic.
So, sadly, I left about 5:20PM to catch the 5:55PM ferry at Edmonds. That's when things began to get interesting.
My bike's right directional light was acting up that morning. I knew that, but now the left one was. Half way to the ferry, that switch just broke, it just flopped around, no more directional signals. It was still daylight out, so not too much problem, I just had to use hand singles, though never much fun on a motorcycle.
I got on the ferry, and read some of "Harry Dresden, Wizard" by Jim Butcher on my Blackberry. An uneventful 30min trip across Puget Sound.
I got off the ferry in Kingston. I was paranoid and careful about changing lanes and making turns. I left Kingston by the back way and headed up along the water then inland, past Kingston High School road when all of a sudden it started to rain on me. However it wasn't supposed to until about 1AM. Pacific Northwest Weather. Its been said we have the highest rate of suicide by Weatherman in the world. Not true. They either learn to deal with disappointment or the move to healthier climes.
And now it begins....
There is a bit of a hill, leading up to the "T" intersection and stop light at which, I stopped, it now being dark out, and raining. I was wearing leather chaps and a raincoat so it wasn't too bad, plus, the night before I had shined my bike boots and waterproofed them. Lucky.
While sitting at the light, the engine started to sputter. I looked at the mileage. I can do about 120+ miles on a tank of gas. I had put premium in it the last two times and it seems to burn it faster but I get better performance. I was at 109 miles on my trip meter.
Suddenly, the engine just died. I sat there, first and only in line at the light, which was still red, another car on crossing my path on my right was at his light, now red as mine had been as mine turned green. In the distance behind me in one of my rear view mirrors I could see a car approaching me.
I tried to start the bike, it quickly ran the battery down to the point that it obviously wouldn't start.
You see, I'd been having problems with the battery. In a previous blog elsewhere I had detailed the event earlier in August when I got the bike. How I had bought it from a friend about 25 miles away, ridden it home, and unbeknown to me, there was almost no water in the battery.
That time, it had stalled, in the middle of rush hour traffic, in the middle of the I-5 freeway, downtown Seattle, during the time the Blue Angels were flying over Lake Washington at the hydroplane races. Not, a pleasant experience. Luckily, that day, after a few minutes on the side of the road, it gained enough charge to restart and I got home that day. One thing I always liked about Hondas, they always got me to my destination. My older brother can't say the same about his Harleys.
So I think I damaged the battery that day and it has been limping along ever since. If it starts in the morning the bike charges enough so that I'm good all day (it has to be over 3,000RPMs though to charge), but if there is an unusual drain, such as trying to start a bike with no gas, well, then it drains the battery rather quickly.
Which was the point at which I was then at. In the dark. In the rain.
And, in a hurry to get home by 6PM because, well, people were waiting on me.
So I pushed the bike off the road, I was now facing the way from which I had just come. With people driving by, staring. Which, especially for a biker, is mortifying, at least to some degree. Not to mention. NO one ever stops to help a biker. Unless, its another biker. All smart bikers, at that moment, appeared to be home, sipping wine, beer, or hot chocolate; or heroin, crack, chewing bullets, or whatever that other class of biker likes to do during times of bad weather in the PNW. Like a smart biker.
So, I continued to sit there, in the dark (except for the traffic light repeatedly changing green, seemingly taunting me) and in the rain. All I wanted was to go home and get my work done for my company, so I could get it over with. The work that ruined a nice dinner with my girlfriend. The work that eliminated my having delicious Thai food that evening, with a delicious Vietnamese woman.
Sometimes, my job just sucks.
Then it dawned on me, the problem was electricity, right? I just needed a charge. Cell phone? No, too small a charge. Well that was the limit of my electrical inventory. Well, I WAS sitting at the top of a hill, not to mention that just around the corner, in the direction I had been heading was a rather large, much steeper and much longer hill. But the bike, weighing in at over 500 pounds, well, I opted for the shorter hill back the way I had come. Hoping that would be steep enough.
I had flipped the switch on the gas tank engaging my reserve tank of about a gallon, plenty now to get me home. I LOVE emergency gas reserves. Sometimes, I miss my Grandmother's old VW Beetle, because it had one.
But I now also needed to draw the gas into the engine, thus I needed some battery power. Or turning over the engine by rolling forward, which I began to do. Before I even made it down the hill I had enough momentum that I popped the clutch in first gear and BANG the bike started. I noted that the traffic light was now green and there were no cars, so I quickly whipped back around and ran through the light and picking up speed on a now newly slippery road, feeling quite ecstatic with my newly found ability to actually ride home.
That was when the rain started coming down harder, and harder. But I finally made it home and with difficulty, parked the bike in the garage in the front corner next to the SUV. Irritated and wet, I got into the house and with some difficulty, I got my gear off.
Oh, did I mention, that the morning began, with my breaking the zipper tab on my raincoat? So now I had a hell of a time getting it off.
Frustrated and irritated, but glad to be home now, to see my kids (my daughter who had been sick for a couple of days but was feeling better now (yes I was going to have dinner with my girlfriend as I usually do on Wednesday nights, but I was going to cut it short that night because of my daughter anyway) and my son who was pumped about having just rearranged his room), I only wanted to get my stupid work done for my job, that had so ruined my having dinner with my delightful girlfriend whom I got to see so little.
My daughter was feeling better and my son had to show me his room, and then asked me to get the internet fixed for him! Oh. Great! Well, he had mentioned it earlier that day but it slipped my mind.
I got onto my PC. Then I found that it had evidently crashed. Sigh....
So I rebooted it. It took a while to all come back up, the same as well with the internet, but it finally did. So then I tried to log onto work.
Now realize, before I left work, I had set the PC at work up so that everything I needed was on the screen, ready to go. But now, I found it too had crashed. Now, I had to get the damn thing back up again, too, and get everything back in order to be ready to do the work that I needed to do.
Finally, I got everything back up, access to the needed servers was back online and I checked my work email.
Wherein, I then found a certain, somewhat relevant, email. Which said: "We're canceling the work for tonight due to a security access request having not gone through. We'll do this tomorrow night instead. Hope you all have a great evening!"
I've had better nights.