I quickly made some calls and texts: yes, both clients would gladly move things up to today. Splendid!
A quick shower, quicker breakfast, grab necessary tools and backpack them, prep my customary flask of tea, pack everything into Melody's pet carrier, top off the tires with a bit of air, then take off for the Big City with a bangin' vintage soundtrack, kicking off with a song whose lyrics should've been a warning:
Got to pay your dues
If you wanna sing the blues
And you know it don't come easy
The ride into town was contrary to what Le Wife feared, totally uneventful: roads were mostly dry, and side streets here and there had snowbanks that were almost laughably easy to maneuver around. Parking was easy as well; a good thing, since one of my two clients was in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a wonderfully funky place to live, but notoriously sparse in terms of public transportation. Without the bike, I literally couldn't make a go of it there. Client there was new, a referral from another client of mine in the Hook. Had to negotiate some seriously wonky cobblestone streets to get to him, which reminded me that I had to get serious abuot replacing the shocks when Melody's next service comes up, a bit less than 200 miles from now.
Gassed-up the bike, then got to my second gig in Park Slope a few hours later, doing technical and tutorial work for a client who's had a rather rough time in the past year, and was seriously glad to see me.
Started my way home just before dusk, through the Slope, past Sunset Park, skirting Bay Ridge by a good margin, then crossing the Verazzano (lower level, it was a bit gusty), and pretty stoked that I got so much done and still would get home in time for dinner with Le Wife. Still wasn't terribly cold, and while there was more traffic than in recent months, and most driving well over the posted limit, nothing was fazing me…
Until somewhere around Exit 12, on the Staten Island Expressway, when the bike nearly threw me forward as it seemed to be lurching to a quick halt…in traffic. I was three lanes from the outside median, two lanes from the inside (counting the HOV lane). A bit of a white-knuckle move, but I managed to signal and wave at the same time to warn traffic behind me, and made my way to the (narrow) inner median.
Took two minutes to process everything: first 30 seconds were all holy flaming shitballs, I didn't get rear-ended. Next 30 seconds were spent taking note of my approximate location, since based on the feeling of this sudden stop I had a sickening notion Mel and me weren't getting out of there on her own power. For another 30 seconds I recall that my smartphone had just had a major software update, meaning that the apps I set up for just such an emergency (AAA, Geico) might not have what I need Right Now, which turned out to be correct. Word-to-the-wise, and all that. But the final 30 seconds had me noticing something radically different from the last time (and first time) Melody stranded me for seemingly-mysterious reasons: the engine. It was still running.
I was momentarily confused. I gave the throttle a little twist.
Nothing. Engine revs, no forward motion.
I gave it a bit more throttle.
Still nothing, but now a faint, unfamiliar noise.
Now I had a good idea what happened this time. I shut the engine off (but left the lights on…would likely come to kill the battery, but besides not wanting to do further potential damage to the drivetrain, I wasn't too keen on getting myself killed). Put the centerstand up, then crouched down for a look at the transmission housing. Sure enough, there was grey angel-hair pasta from what used to be Melody's drive belt.
"Well", I said to myself, "maybe this won't be as bad as the fuel injector snapping in two…maybe."
Called Geico: I remembered that I had roadside assistance, but recalled that I didn't pop for the better version of that coverage, so it might not be a big help, and after some kibbitzing with an agent, decided to go with AAA. (In retrospect, this might've been a mistake on my part, since the talking lizard would've covered half the miles getting home.) In either case, there was the age-old problem: I was on an Expressway. Any thoroughfare that ends in "way" or "pike" is generally off-limits to any roadside assistance other than that provided by the authorities of said thoroughfare. This was pointed out to me by the rather friendly gent who pulled up in a snazzy Dodge Charger Police Special, who'd been dispatched to investigate my situation, and who helpfully had an authorized flatbed to get me and Mel off the Expressway, but only off the Expressway, which in this case was roughly a half-mile to a local Mobil station. (That'll be $136, please, refundable by AAA, hopefully.)
Call AAA again to coordinate getting a tow from gas station; confusing talk about what is and isn't covered (I tell them we have a powersports rider on our plan, a lesson we learned during my last debacle); I'm told I'm only covered for the first four miles of towing, and on the hook - literally - for about four bucks a mile from there. Then I'm told that all I'm on the hook for are tolls, which happen to be much higher (at least in these parts) for commercial vehicles than private. Yep, it's kind of a racket.
Have several conversations with Le Wife about this latest mishap: Are you okay? (Yes, fine, other than the first 30 seconds of panic.) Is that bike really made for what you're doing with it? (Yes, but I clearly need to keep a tighter eye on a few things.) Why can't you just take the train? (We've talked about this, dear, and it's mostly no-can-do, especially at this point in time.) If you keep riding like this, are you going to be more vigilant about maintenance? (I swear on a stack of Superman comics* I'll be mega-vigilant about keeping Melody on her toes after this…although you might not be crazy about the tab this time around**)
Second tow-guy shows up. Cool dude (aren't most towing peeps?), but he regretfully informs me that I can't ride in the the cab with him: COVID, and all that. I tell him it's cool, Le Wife's younger son (who's been living with us since last August) is getting off work and can pick me up. I help get Melody on the flatbed and properly lashed down for the trip home, and I wait in the cold until Younger-Son arrives, my helmet still on, but my heated gloves' batteries exhausted. Staten Island is an interesting place, but…
Me and Younger Son (not of my siring, BTW, but I dig him nonetheless) arrive home some 20 minutes before my bike does. It's about midnight, and I haven't eaten, and I'm going to cook dinner for myself anyway, since I'm truly famished. But I wait till the truck pulls up: the driver, who's almost a ringer for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, tells me he tried to call and tell me he stopped at his house to pick up a few extra straps to secure the bike. I thanked him profusely, help him roll Melody off the flat, pushed a twenty into his hand and said "thanks, man", and pushed the bike into the back of the driveway. The least I could do (and all the cash I had.)
To Be Continued.
* I got that from a recent John Cadogan YT video. Let's just say that he has an iconoclastic (read: Australian) sense of humor, which I don't always cotton to, but mostly do.
** As mentioned before, I'm petitioning this time around for a full set of Malossi shocks, which will bring the next service interval to a rather heady tab…again. But the bike does so much for me, and not just for shits 'n grins.
Earlier That Day: Snow in one part of Brooklyn.
Slightly Later That Day: More snow in another part of Brooklyn: note "non-European-maintained" cobbles.
Much Later That Day: Melody On the Lift. Ugh.
Evidence: Okay, tell me…how bad IS it?
Last edited by amateriat on Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:08 pm; edited 9 times in total