Running hard through the no-mans-land that is the extremely dangerous and more or less permanent construction zone on LBJ (I-635) between I-35 and US-75, traffic began to slow and I pulled in the clutch and let her drift…
I’m not feeling so good…
Long familiarity with this machine and a quick glance at the gauges and I already knew why.
“I know babe. If you can just get us home I’ll take care of it.”
And just like that…she was gone.
The 103 degree heat had taken its toll. The battery was gone. I should have recognized the signs a couple days ago…an odd reading on the voltmeter on startup…the burble at idle…but it’s been a frantic and busy week.
Now, at idle, the weak battery dragging her down along with the various loads had exceeded the output of the alternator. When the cooling fan kicked on, the voltage dropped too low to sustain the ignition system. The voltmeter was flashing red and indicating 8 volts.
Her heart had stopped.
There couldn’t be a worse place for it…LBJ has been under construction in this section for my entire lifetime…but I’ve never seen it in worse condition or more dangerous for the motorcyclist. Constant lane shifts, NO shoulders, mixed old and new pavement bridged together by asphalt patches, ridges, gaps just the perfect size to eat a front motorcycle tire, and holes the size of small basketballs litter the high-speed landscape.
They couldn’t make it more dangerous if they were deliberately digging pitfall traps to catch the unwary. “Hey! Joe! Bait this one with a long-legged chick in tight leather! Maybe we’ll catch us a Big Bellied North American Motorcyclist!”
Still rolling, I figured I only had one shot…without question she wouldn’t start with the starter again. It would simply drag the voltage even lower. As long as we were rolling…I might have a chance.
I let out the clutch, engaging the engine. Now it was turning, but I was also rapidly slowing.
The bike dragging the engine…turning the alternator…
I dropped her a gear, chirping the back tire but raising the RPM’s over 2000. Now we were slowing even faster. Traffic was speeding up. Things were getting dangerous.
But the voltage climbed…
But she didn’t run.
Not much time left…
I vaguely remembered…an ICM cutout…for low voltage…it probably needed a hard reset to come back on…that means turning off the key.
We were still slowing. The cages were oblivious. Soon it would be ride or die. Sphincter factor of about 7.6 achieved.
Yep, one shot.
I watched the voltmeter…it went green. That’s 12 volts or better.
I reached down and turned off the key. “One thousand one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.”
Vooom! The big bike roared to life.
BWAHAHAHAHA! Boss! I’m back!
We were back up to speed before I could blink. I get to live to ride another day. I vowed to not let the RPM’s drop under 2000 till we were back home.
As we climbed the massive 150′ “High Five” transition ramp the traffic broke and I pushed her over 80, reveling in the height, banking, and steep decent back down onto the northbound road.
“Get us home Babe.”
You got it Boss!
I’ll see you on the road.