Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, May 31, 2010

Vodice and the bikes

The morning did not start off so great. Carol’s bike would not start. I thought it to be a weak, run down battery, maybe from the GPS left on overnight. Normally a GPS does not draw much current so I had my doubts but all signs said it is the battery. Now, I am no mechanic, even less an electrician. I could not even find the battery of the 650 GS. Lucky for me, Carol had a service manual that showed us how to remove the right side panel to access the battery. Sure enough, I found the battery in front of the tank but under all the plastic. Naturally I accessed the negative side first and had to take the left panel off, too to get to the positive terminal. Since I had done this many times on my GS Adventure, I knew how to start a bike using my alternator terminals, instead of the battery poles on my bike. Maybe there is an easier way to start a GS 650, without the extra work of taking the panels off but I do not know it. The 650 finally started up well and we ran the engine while I put the covers back on. We were off towards the town of Split in no time. There was no need to do anything but ride to charge up the battery on the 650. The major road was in great condition and we made good time.
The signage is still a bit tough for me. I knew we had to take the ferry in Prizna to cross over to Pag Island. You would think that a major sign would show you the ferry terminal, but no, just a small yellow sign spelling out the way towards Prizna. This is a major road change yet it gets no special attention from the highway department. I guess everybody knows that there is a ferry so why bother advertising it with a big, maybe even overhead sign? OK, I found the road to the ferry, paved, well maintained with even a sign showing that we needed to buy a ticket for the ship before we proceeded to the boarding area.
This ticket office, small and insignificant looking, is new, built on the side of the road on a rather steep downhill slope. I don’t know about you, but I hate to park my bike facing downhill. Looking around I saw a better, albeit not perfect area near the ticket booth itself. I rode the bike closer to the booth itself, got off the bike and made sure the bike could stand on the side stand. It felt a bit precarious but I thought it was ok for the time I needed to buy 2 tickets. Just as I walked up to the window I heard a loud crash and my bike was laying on the ground behind me. It had toppled over the side stand and was now on the left side, wheels in the air. It had toppled over despite the side stand being down. I stood dumb struck. I tried to lift the bike but the side stand prevented me from doing any good. In addition, the mass of the bike was on the downhill side. What to do? How much damage was done? I asked the guy in the booth to help but he was very reluctant. Carol could not help; she was still sitting on her bike, with no safe place to park it on the rather steep downhill slope. With some effort I was able to get the side stand kicked back which freed the bike a bit. I bought the 2 tickets for the ferry and must have made such a stupid face to the attendant that he felt obliged to help. The two of us muscled the bike upright and I tried to use the side stand but something was askew.
Adrenaline still pumped in my blood so I somehow got on the bike without the side being down and rode to the waiting area for the ferry. The bike ran fine. Once at the waiting area I put the bike on the center stand. It is hard to get off the bike not using the side stand. I managed with Carol’s help but I do not like the maneuver. To make things worse, I had to do this again on the ferry, since normally, for the short 15 minute crossing; the bike would just stand on the side stand. All this happened rather quickly. I was busy buying the ticket; fussing with the damaged side stand; parking the bike in the waiting area; getting again on the bike; getting it on to the ferry; etc. I had no time or space to look over the bike. The bike ran well.
Well, on the ferry, some other bikers from Belgium noticed that I was losing gasoline; it was pouring out of the overflow hose. Just before the fall I had filled up with gas, the tank was filled to the top. When the bike fell, gasoline must have gotten into the overflow and now it started pouring out. To eliminate the air pressure in the tank I opened the gas cap and, like a small geyser, gasoline bubbled up and out onto the tank and all over the ferry deck and all over the bike. The bike was still hot from running on the highway. This gas spill made me nervous. One guy was smoking nearby and that made me really nervous but his buddy asked him to move further away.
What do I do now? A quick visual check assured me that nothing was broken, no gas line was ruptured. That was good. I noticed now that the windshield had major scrapes and that the right side of the plastic windscreen was totally broken. The windscreen was actually broken in half. I just stood and watched the gasoline pouring out. Nothing I could do to stop it. I knew from experience that it will stop in time as soon as the air pressure in the gas line is equaled out. I also knew that the charcoal filters, the air pollution device on my bike would now be saturated with gasoline and that the bike might not start. The least it would do is not run well for at least 20 miles. I knew this because it has happened to me before. When the gasoline gets into the charcoal filter it chokes the system with too much gas. The gasoline needs to evaporate or be used up in the recovery system and that takes a bit of time. Nobody wanted to be near me, the guy with the leaking bike, reeking like gasoline. I wiped up as much of the gasoline as I could with the use of some paper towels I had on me. Carol gave me some wipes, too.
Still, as soon as the ferry stopped, the others made a fast departure from the ticking gas bomb. I waited as long as I could but I needed to get off the ferry to make room for the people behind me to get off. So I hit the starter button and the bike started just fine. I rode off the center stand and kept on moving off the ferry, onto the road and just like I anticipated, the motor begun to stutter. I rode on. I was using the accelerator very carefully to not pour too much gas into the system. I rode in high rpm’s to use up as much gas as I could but no matter what I did, I had to shift up to the next gear and every time I up shifted, the engine almost died. This went on for about 15 miles and then, like a mystery, it went away.
Meanwhile the windshield flopped a little in the breeze. I could not stop because I could not use the side stand. All this commotion and I had to use the washroom. How do I stop? Lucky for me the road is rather dull and boring and not heavily trafficked. I find a coffee, sandwich shop and while I sit on the bike, Carol found a hunk of wood to push under the side stand. The bike could stand like this but it was not good, I rode in a similar way last year all through Norway and had devised a side-stand support from a 2x4 but not this year. I needed to get this fixed. After we had a break, I found a piece of a tree trunk and carried it with me, just in case I needed to use it.
The weather was hot, temperature was near 30 degrees C and the sun was beating on us. Yes, we wanted to make the town of Split but why push ourselves? I had had enough excitement for the day, let’s find a town we like and stay there for one night. Looking at the map we decided to stop in the town of Vodice. We could have made it to Split but why push on? We will make Split tomorrow. Meanwhile we call it an early day and enjoy Vodice, which turned out to be a very elegant, almost rich boating town with a very historical downtown. The hotel we found was within walking distance of all the attractions and the beer that night tasted delicious.

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