Now I know that plenty of you guys are stuck in the cold and the snow and really jonesing for a few hours in the saddle. Even if there isn’t any snow, the cold is enough to turn even the most insulated butt into a popsicle and that means short rides.
On the other hand, I had a bit of 70-degree weather last weekend and made the most of it. Not a long ride, but an exciting one.
152 miles into it, the bike shut down. Plenty of fuel on the gauge, perfect oil pressure, no reason for it to not work, but it died deader than easy credit on the side of Highway 280 near the Alabama state line. No cell phone reception. Not a lot of traffic. Damn.
Starter whirred fine, got the engine to sputter and not catch. On a whim, I pulled the gas cap. Empty.
Somehow, after all the tinkering and fussing over electrical stuff over the years, the sending unit finally gave up the ghost. (That night, the ohmmeter verified – DOA). Damn.
So I got to take a walk. A couple of miles of road under my old engineer boots brought me to a ramshackle trailer and outbuildings set back from the road. There was an old man sitting on the front porch and I hailed him from the road. Walking into the yard, we exchanged pleasantries and I explained my problem.
He drawled out an answer so thick in “Southernese” that I had to strain to understand it and then the old coot let loose a brown stream of Levi Garret into the dust of the yard. He started to laugh.
Then he cut his old squirrel shooter’s eyes at me and said, “Son, I got 300 gallons of diesel fuel, a freezer full o’ venison, a chicken in the pot fer ma dinnah, and a new razor blade. I got everything yer heart desires, but I ain’t got no gasoline.”
Every internal combustion engine he owned – truck, tractor, combine, and even forklift – ran on diesel.
An hour later, the old boy dropped me off in front of my bike with a quart mason jar of gas he’d driven me down to the local store to “fetch” and we said our goodbyes. I poured it in, primed the system, and the old Sportster turned right over.
The old man, “Jeremiah Leonidas Vines, but call me J. L.” looked on with something approaching admiration. He let out a chuckle, kicked a rock, and said that when he’d been stationed in France as a young man, he’d ridden a breakdown-prone Triumph before cycling back to the States in 1962. More than once, he’d been stuck out in the boondocks and had to hitch a ride back to base. He’d never thought about a motorcycle again and couldn’t fathom why anyone would want one, but he hadn’t forgotten what it was like to be stuck…