Southeast to Key West

Home Plan B

The Disaster on Day One!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Odometer at beginning of the day = 38400

We left home that morning at 6:30am to begin our 19 day vacation and rode 160 miles before stopping for a McBreakfast in Warsaw, Indiana. After breakfast, we rode to the parking lot exit, waited for traffic to clear, then headed down the road like we had done hundreds of times before. But this time was different because less than 100 yards later, the bike lost power as though the kill switch had been flipped.

We coasted into a parking lot and tried to analyze the problem. All the simple things looked fine. The kill switch was in the correct position, we had plenty of gas, and the fuses all tested good. Out came the BMW Anonymous Book. The BMW Anonymous Book is published each year by the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association and lists all the BMW dealerships in the country as well as a list of phone numbers for people who have submitted information about their ability to assist BMW riders in trouble. If there is no dealership nearby, you can try to get some assistance from these anonymous people.

Our first call was to the nearest dealer in Fort Wayne who said his only BMW mechanic had the day off and had a workload that would not allow him to look at the bike for four days. On top of that, he could not send anyone to tow the bike because his trucks were being used to move some things somewhere and he couldn't even reach them to find out when they would be done. Not a very helpful dealer. In his defense, BMWs were not his main line of bikes, he was primarily a Yamaha dealer.

Next, I called one of the local residents listed in the Anonymous Book and found Jack Worth who had a trailer he had just hitched up to his Jeep to pick up his riding lawn mower. He said he would come by in a short while. And he did! We loaded the bike and on Jack's suggestion, headed for the local Honda dealer. We owe many thanks to Jack for graciously and generously giving up so much of his time to help us out.

Jack introduced us to George Tubbs and his wife, Charlie, at Lake City Honda who set aside some time to look at our bike. By the way, Jack married George and Charlie; he's a preacher. Even though they don't service BMWs, they offered to check out some things on the bike. George and Jeff got down to business tearing down the bike and looking for the problem. Then they made some phone calls; to the Fort Wayne dealer and to Chicago BMW to see what might be causing the problem and what options we had to get it repaired. The Fort Wayne dealer was no more help than earlier, but Chicago BMW suggested a few things that might be causing the problem. Everything checked out except that we had no way to test a likely cause of the problem, the Hall Effect sensor. George thought we could overnight the part and just replace it, but at close to $300.00 plus shipping, prudence dictated we should be sure it was the problem first and neither dealer had the part in stock anyway.

We reluctantly accepted that our vacation, as we had originally planned it, was over so we went to Plan B. We would tow the bike home to have it repaired by Chicago BMW. We called Andy, our son-in-law, to see if he would be able to drive here with my motorcycle trailer and rescue us. He was working and would not be able to get here until the next day, so we were going to have to spend the night.

George and Charlie told us about nearby accommodations, some good places to eat, and about a local artist community that we could visit to salvage something from our shortened vacation. They even gave us the keys to one of their trucks so we could get around until the trailer arrived. We left the dealership and drove to The Village at Winona where we walked around all the local artist's shops that featured painters, photographers, jewelry designers and assorted craftsman. It was a really neat place. We were able to talk to the artists who were very friendly and willing to talk about their art and the artist community as long as we wanted. We spent the night at a Comfort Inn hotel and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Ruby Tuesday's. I highly recommend their steaks.

Odometer at end of the day = 38560

Miles ridden today = 160

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Home Plan B

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