Day 12 – Bust

Day 12 – Bust

N36º 37.030' W121º 50.585'

2009/06 - California or Bust...
6 July 2009 in Alessandro, California

The astute and alert reader will recognize that a narrative thread has been left dangling. They will be wondering what I meant when I mentioned that, starting the bike on Friday morning, the bike sounded louder and rougher than it usually did. Yes, I did mention it. I even spoke of it being an example of foreshadowing. Go and look, if you don’t believe me. You’ll find the reference here. See? I told you so.

Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, there was an unwoven, dangling piece of errant string in this little tapestry of a tale that hasn’t yet been dealt with. Sadly, it’s one of those annoying, nuisance little threads that, when pulled on, starts making a much larger mess. And the mess didn’t actually start on Friday, but on Thursday evening when Dianne and I arrived at the Tickle Pink Inn.

A part of the story that hasn’t been relayed except in the most oblique and summary fashion is our arrival. Of course, it should be a pretty straightforward manner in that we’d actually stayed at the Inn in the past, and therefore knew where it was… mostly. Certainly, we knew the road to turn onto, and the GPS was able to guide us most of the way up the steep and winding track that leads to the hotel. But just at the critical juncture where I stopped recognizing where we were, and most needed the GPS for guidance, was where it got totally lost. As a result, we zigged where we should have zagged, and found ourselves much further into the hills above the Carmel Highlands than was strictly necessary.

Given that the roads are narrow, that on-coming traffic is an obstacle that must be negotiated around, and that tempers were already fraying at the edges (just to take this whole fabric-analogy as far as possible in this little tale we are weaving — pun most certainly intended, and groans fully expected) I suggested that Dianne stay put and I would wend my way back and figure out where we had gone wrong. I found the Inn mysteriously relocated around a turn that I don’t remember taking in the past, and blasted back up the hill to fetch Dianne and guide her to safety and the comfort of a nice, cold martini.

Again, the astute reader will recognize that I’m not exactly tying up loose ends here, but there is a thread to my logic, so please stick with me as we sew the final pieces together. (And yes, I promise to stop with the sewing jokes!)

Our accustomed evening ritual upon arriving has been to oil Alessandro’s chain while he is still warm from the ride (this being the iron horse equivalent of not being driven hard and put away wet). It helps the lubricants adhere more effectively than when the chain is cold. What was odd on Thursday evening was that the chain, which is supposed to have some free play in it, was much tighter than it normally was. Where there is supposed to be about 30mm of play in the chain up and down, it was now about half that. Normally, chains get looser as they stretch from use; they don’t get tighter. It was here that Dianne mentioned that when we were coming back down to the inn she thought that the bike sounded like it was backfiring (which now explains why I revisited the whole getting-lost-on-the-way-to-the-Inn story, doesn’t it, smarty-pants?).

On Friday, things went from bad to worse. Over the course of my ride to Laguna Seca, and my subsequent ride around the circuit, the bike stalled on me no less than half-a-dozen times. And the bike NEVER stalls on me. Once he’s started, he stays started. What was more, after the track ride, when we had gone back to Carmel to finally round up some coffee, I tested his chain again. Where there had been some play in the chain the night before, this morning it was almost completely gone. Something, clearly, was going on.

The good news is that there is a Ducati dealer in Monterey. The bad news is that this was the weekend of the 4th of July, and also the weekend of the MotoGP, which meant quite literally thousands of bikers descending on the Monterey peninsula, and a goodly number of these already booked in for new tires, oil changes and the like. So while they could look at Alessandro, and had a reasonable idea of what was wrong with him (rocker arms failing in one of the cylinders) the reality was that he wasn’t going to be looked at until at least Monday, and the need to order spare parts would delay his repairs that much further.

That’s right, dear readers, the ride around Laguna Seca was Alessandro’s last on this particular trip. Not his last ever, mind, just his last ride for right now. Sadly, we’re going to have to leave him in Monterey for a few weeks. Dianne and I will be heading home on Tuesday together in Fionn. Then I’ll be flying back to Monterey on July 30, and will be spending the Civic/Heritage Holiday weekend (and there are two inspiring holiday names, don’t you think? A holiday named by a bureaucrat if ever there was one) bringing him back to Canada.

So… this story isn’t over. But it is deferred. It seems ‘California or Bust’ was an appropriate, if unwitting, title for this story. As it turns out, this wasn’t actually an either/or proposition. It’s both. For the moment, this story comes to a close. In a couple of weeks, however, the ride will continue.

A final parting shot of Alessandro in Monterey. At least he's amongst his own kind...

A final parting shot of Alessandro in Monterey. At least he’s amongst his own kind…

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