Running out of gas on the freeway is a great way to meet new and interesting friends!
So, you might notice that I’m on the other side of the road in this photo as I was on the last. The story….
Peter and I were up at East West Hockey, getting our fix for that other hobby we have. “I think I need gas,” said I. “But we’re right by the freeway!” said Peter.
We rode down to Logitech, thinking we’d do some skating, but sadly, they had a hockey tournament going on and thus had no public skating sessions this afternoon. So nice of their website to have mentioned this! Oh wait, it didn’t. Anyway, we figured we’d find me gas between Logitech and the freeway.
Only there wasn’t any. Anywhere. Lesson to locals: don’t be low on gas around 10th and Alma in San Jose. There ain’t nothin’ there.
LESSON #1: Get gas where you know there’s gas. There was a station less than 6 blocks from East West Hockey.
We got onto the freeway to head back home and I noticed a decisive lack of power. This whole “running out of gas on a fuel injected bike” thing was all new to me — I was waiting for the carebuteors’ STUTTAHSTUTTAHs.
Anyway, I finally ran completely dry and had to pull to the lefthand shoulder (see first photo). Peter noticed immediately (thanks, sweetie!) and pullled off the freeway to find me gas. So now I’m sitting there for about 15 minutes, watching cars come around a curve straight at me at 80mph.
LESSON #2: If you think you might possibly run out of gas, stay in the righthand lane. And don’t stop just pass the apex of a curve.
I think that was the single most nervewracking thing that’s happened to me on the bike since learning to do U-turns in traffic….watching those cars aiming straight at me for that split second before they continued on through the curve. *shudder*
After about 15 minutes, a CHP motorcycle cop came around the curve in the righthand lane and started doing this swervy thing with his lights on. The cars all stopped behind him and he started swerving across the lanes. I thought he was just trying to get over to me, but then he started waving and gesturing. I still was a bit unclear on the concept, so he rode over to me and yelled “Do you want to cross the freeway?” I yelled back, “I don’t know, do I want to cross the freeway?”
He gestured again, so I walked back to the bike, picked up my helmet, and pushed the Z across four lanes of Hwy 280. This, by the way, was an experience I hope never to repeat. Talk about freaky.
So now I’m on the righthand side of the road. The cop pulls up behind me and confirms that I’ve just run out of gas and wasn’t the victim of a hit and run or anything. I tell him that Peter’s on his way with gas, and he starts speaking in tongues into his walkie talkie. Another CHP (in a car) pulls up shortly thereafter, just before Peter returned. She chatted with the motorcycle cop for a minute and then took off.
Peter had gone to the only gas station on earth that doesn’t sell those little plastic gas canisters, so he came back bearing a 20 oz Powerade container of 87 octane. I poured it into the tank and we were good to go.
The cop said he’d follow me as I picked up speed on the shoulder and then merged onto the freeway — I made a joke about finally wanting a cop to be behind me, which got me a tight-lipped smile and probably a note in my file.
Anyway, Peter and I made it to the Texaco by our house then without incident (though that gas station was about 8 miles away…just about 20 oz of gas. I was almost convinced I’d have to push the bike again the last block into the Texaco).
It really was an interesting experience because, like I told Peter after the fact, there’s very little about normal day-to-day motorcycling that just leaves me clueless anymore. I don’t always do it, but I generally know what I’m supposed to do in any given normal situation. Being on the lefthand shoulder of the freeway right past the apex of a turn, though…I was very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure whether it’d be safer to stay with the bike, to walk away from the bike so that I was behind it, or in front of it, or how far to walk away…I know people die on the side of the freeway from oncoming vehicles target-fixating on them, and I really felt like I was in that exact situation, being right at the apex.
Many, many lessons learned today.