May 30, 2000

it was a day of adventure and intrigue.
MI:2 has nothing on us. So on Sunday, after changing Peter's oil, we decided to celebrate by going on a ride together. I had been lamenting my general lack of shorts, so we hopped on our bikes and rode to the Old Navy by Peter's house.

First of all, I'd just like to defend my reputation as a Super Cool Chicka (ha) by saying that I only buy Old Navy pants because, well, they fit. Actually going inside of their store makes me want to gnaw my own leg off and start beating the music speakers with it so that the overly-loud pop music shuts the hell up. But the pants fit. Anyways.

So we rode over there, on real streets (which, admittedly, had very little traffic on them at the time) and through parking lots. The only time I got a little nervous was turning into the strip mall parking lot from the street; I was turning right into the driveway, and there were two SUVs in the driveway, waiting to turn onto the street. They had left me more than enough room to get into the driveway next to them, but it was still a pretty tight turn. I started looking at the second SUV as I was pulling into the driveway, but luckily I caught myself before I completely fixated on it, so I finished the turn and straightened up before I almost hit it (it's a weird fact of motorcycle riding that the bike goes exactly where you're looking. Therefore, even though I was turning into the driveway, fixating on the SUV in the driveway would have pretty much guaranteed that I'd plow right into it.). So that was a neat little practical lesson.

the plot thickens!
I should have mentioned that when we started up the bikes to go over to Old Navy, Peter's bike made a Bad Noise. Not like a "I really don't want to start now" noise, but a "GGGRRRRRR!!!!!EEEEEEE!!!!CHUNKCHUNKCHUNK" noise. But it started and we forgot about it. Unfortunately, when we tried to start up the bikes in the Old Navy parking lot, his bike made the Bad Noise again, but this time, wouldn't start at all. We tried a few times, but realized it wasn't going to turn over. We figured the battery had died, and we both got on my bike and rode over to the neighborhood hardware store, which had closed approximately 10 seconds before we got there. At this point, we gave up, and started back to Peter's, to get my car.

About halfway back to Peter's, my bike says "sput!" and dies. Our immediate reaction is "what the hell kinda crack-ass oil did we put in these bikes!!" since, of course, we had just put oil in my bike, and changed his completely. After about a 5-second inspection, however, we realized that we were just stupid and the bike had run out of gas. So we flipped the gas to reserve and put-putted over to the gas station, where I filled the tank and also somehow managed to get gas all over everywhere.

We finished the ride back to Peter's, and I drove him (in my car) back to the Old Navy lot. Since it's less than a mile back to Peter's, he just pushed his bike home, and I followed (slowly) in the car. Once the bike was home, we drove over to Target and got a battery charger.

When we took off the seat and the siding to look closer, we discovered that Peter's problem had nothing whatsoever to do with the battery. "Dammit, I *knew* I smelled something burning," I heard him mutter from the other side of the bike. "Uh-oh," thought I. Turns out that one of the three wires that leads from the alternator to the voltage regulator had chosen Sunday as its day of reckoning. In true carolyn fashion, I have pictures: the side of the bike (the square gray thing with the horizontal stripes is the voltage regulator; it's the wires leading up to it underneath it that we're looking at), the dead connector and wire. If you look at the wire on the right, there's sort of a stub sticking out almost at the bottom of the picture; that's the wire that should lead up into the charred connector (you can see the end of the wire inside the connector, too, it's sorta orangeish).

Last night, Peter cut off the ends of the wires and stripped them, and hooked up the voltmeter to the three wires coming off the alternator. The voltage seemed to be consistant, so at least right now, it looks like it was just a short and not a problem with the alternator. He's going to try to pick up a new connector today, and we'll play with it more later tonight.

i'm possessive. grr.
The worst part about this whole mess (for me, anyways) had nothing to do with any mechanical problems. It was being a passenger on my own bike. You see, after Peter's bike died in the lot, and we took my bike to the hardware store and gas station, he was driving it. I don't have nearly the experience to take a passenger, which I totally accept, but it was still really odd and somewhat uncomfortable to be riding pillion on my own bike. Every time someone looked at us on the bike, I wanted to yell, "this is *my* bike! *I* ride it! He's just driving now because his bike died!". Hrmph.

OK, that's more than enough bike babbling for you today. :)

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