Well, 2004 can really only get better.

After not getting nearly enough sleep last night, I woke up this morning and bundled up in a turtleneck, long-sleeved t-shirt, electric vest, jacket, rain jacket, long underwear, leather pants, and rain pants.  It was pouring rain when I left the house for our Women on Wheels chapter’s annual New Year’s Day brunch, about 45 miles from my house.

Five miles from the restuarant, my clutch cable went out.  I did a lot of clutchless shifting until the very last stoplight before the restaurant, where, naturally, I’d come to a stop right as the cable lost all of its tension.  I lunged the bike five or six times until realizing there was still a teensy bit of slack left at the lever; I loosened the locknut and turned the adjuster out as far as it would go, which was just enough to get the clutch disengaged and the bike started.

A sign on the restuarant door informed us that the diner (which the chapter has been been going to for 10 years) had gone out of business.  Fortunately, one of our chapter members had been early, and left a homemade sign telling latecomers to go down the block to Chevy’s.

Surprisingly enough, given the rest of my day, lunch did not give me food poisoning.

The rain had stopped by the time we left, but I put all my rain gear back on anyway.  Of course, I forgot to tuck my left glove into my rain jacket, so I rode 25 miles or so with the wind whistling right up my arm.  At that 25 mile mark, the clutch went out again.  No problem, thought I, I can shift without the clutch.  I’ll just have to keep moving.

That’s when the gas light came on.

I made it to a gas station after crossing the Dumbarton Bridge (the diner was in Pleasanton, for those in the know).  Naturally, none of the pumps wanted to accept my credit card.  I pushed the SVS from pump to pump, only to insert my card, type my zip code, and have the screen flash “pump stopped…please wait…”.  I gave up after three pumps.

I remembered to tuck the glove back in, but this time, forgot to plug in the heated vest.  

The clutch got steadily worse as I rode down 101 to Cupertino.  It was completely gone again by the time I took my freeway exit.  Of course, the first light after the freeway was red, so I stalled out.  I pushed the bike to the shoulder of the road and dug out the toolkit to see what I could do.  After a few failed McGyver attempts, I finally found a successful hack — I pulled the clutch cable sheath (including locknut and adjuster) away from the lever, and hooked a fuse puller around the cable, holding the sheath back from the lever.  That gave me just enough tension to be able to pull in the lever and slightly disengage the clutch.

So I rode the rest of the way home with a fuse puller holding my clutch together.

At least it’s stopped raining….and now it’s BACK out into the garage to mess with my clutch AGAIN.

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