The start of the Motorcycle Cannonball is looming large and I suspect all the riders, including myself are rushing around dealing with last minute details. I have heard of several riders in accidents, some of them pretty bad. And I have heard of many riders dealing with serious mechanical issues. I wish them all the best in healing their bodies and machines in time to join this amazing cross country ride.
I have also been facing some health issues. About 6 weeks ago I tore the Achilles in my left leg. It was so bad I have been wearing a soft cast 24/7 for the first 5 weeks and during the days for the last week. After consulting my surgeon and physical therapist (who I work with 3 times a week) I rolled my 1929 Harley JDH out of the garage today for the first time in over six weeks and went for a ride to make sure the old Harley was good and to see how my Achilles felt – especially when operating the left foot rocker clutch.
I felt OK rocking the bike forward off the rear stand and rolling it out of the garage. And I felt OK pulling it back onto the rear stand out in the driveway. I went through the standard starting procedure. Gas petcocks on, choke fully on, full throttle, retarded ignition (activated by the left hand grip), ignition off. Two solid primer kicks. Then, 1/2 throttle, 3/4 ignition advance, choke 1 click off, ignition kick and start. But it didn’t. This bike just about always starts on the first or second kick. So I kick it again. Nothing.
50 or 60 kicks later it finally fires and runs but quite rough. I wonder if it is stale gas from sitting so long. I twiddle with the choke and ignition timing, but ti just does not sound right. And this bike always sounds right. I let it warm up for 30 seconds or so as I put on my new riding gear to see how it works. Thanks Nolan helmets and Vanson Leathers for the wonderful new modular helmet and amazing custom leather jacket.
Once warmed up and fully geared up I roll the bike off the rear stand and it lurches forward less thana foot and dies. I look down and see the handshifter is in the neutral position on the shifter gate. But it obviously is partially in gear. I wiggle the shifter forward and back to make sure it is now in neutral. It starts on the first kick and idles beautifully.
I carefully push down on the heel of the clutch and I feel OK. I gently slide the shifter into first gear, roll on the clutch and ease on down the road. Life is good. I ride it around the winding country roads near where I live, running it through the gears and feeling no p[ain in my Achilles. I am pleased. I ride about 10 miles of so to a local Sunday breakfast place frequented by other bikers. When I got there about 8:30 there were about two dozen machines. Mostly modern sportbikes, one old BSA cafe racer and a 1960s BMW 600. Everyone checked out my bike and a few asked about when the Cannonball starts.
After breakfast I stopped on the way home to get some fresh gas. The bike ran flawlessly. At home I checked it over, regreased all the fittings I could find on the bike and set my sights on starting to organize my spare parts, tools, and gear. One and a half weeks left and counting. Not sure if I am more excited or nervous about this.