What was . . . man . . . what did I just hit?
The V-Strom bucked and jumped like a wild horse, but somehow I kept it upright. I wheeled into a convenient parking lot and ran my hand around the front rim. No obvious dents and the tire was holding air. Maybe I got lucky. I walked a short distance up the road, expecting to find a rusted out muffler, or maybe a piece of lumber. It was neither. What I hit was a piece of the road itself. The brutal Northwest Indiana winter had claimed another victim.
The crater on the ironically named Sturdy Road was a few feet long, and growing. The chunk was roughly eighteen by twelve by three inches and weighed about fifty pounds. I disgustedly heaved it onto the shoulder, making a mental note to take a picture in the morning. The morning, ah yes, I was scheduled to head out on a road trip to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and ultimately, Kansas.
Riding a compromised machine on an extended tour is never a good plan. Luckily, the Strom’s brother bike, a Bandit 1250 sat ready to serve. The luggage was quickly swapped and duffel transferred. Actually, the GIVI hard bags and trunk were purchased with the big Bandit and adapted to the Strom. Both bikes are 2007 vintage and carried me to Alaska, the Strom having an edge in comfort and fuel range. It has been my primary long-distance mount since I picked it up as a non-current model on New Year’s Eve 2011.
Other than a brutal west wind on I-57, the ride to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri was uneventful. Increasingly though, I noticed sloppy shifting as I pulled away from gas stops. A quick check of the chain revealed it to be drooping like soggy spaghetti. Not wanting to push my luck, I decided to make the run to Kansas City where I was to see my newest granddaughter. A visit to Amazon.com had a new DID X-ring chain and sprockets waiting when I arrived. The ride through southern Missouri on pot-hole free Route 7 was a joy. I highly recommend the road and will be doing a story on it that I hope will run as a favorite ride in Rider Magazine.
I swapped the drive train in my daughter’s driveway with the tools I carried, along with a torque wrench and 32mm socket courtesy of O’ Riley Auto Parts. They offer select tools for loan with an appropriate deposit. A sweet deal! Arkansas was still on the table at this point. That is until I pulled a nail out of the rear Michelin a couple of days later. Argh! This was quickly repaired with my Aerostich plug kit and Slime pump, both of which I never leave home without. A Michelin Pilot Road Four was eventually located at Shawnee Cycle Plaza, a great shop. The tire was exactly what I wanted. This is a huge deal. In the past, I’ve made due with whatever was in stock, typically track-spec rubber that wore out before hitting the state line.
Time was running short so I pointed the Bandit’s front wheel northeast. The potholes were still there when I crossed the back into beautiful Northwest Indiana. Actually, Illinois has a good crop of its own. Oh, and as for the Strom. Both rims are bent. My comprehensive coverage will take some of the sting out of the bill, but I could definitely get used to riding where the road isn’t ready to swallow the bike at any instant.
|Missouri Route 7|