Getting Ready for the Long Road

Ever since I read On The Road and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I have dreamed about going cross-country on a motorcycle. I took a trip to Canada last year on a rented Triumph Street Triple, but that did not even come close to satiating my thirst for the open road. I purchased the Brick for the sole purpose of completing this longtime dream of driving to California and back. She’s long in the tooth, a 1988, so I have been doing a lot of prep work to get the bike ready for the excursion.

Once again my generous boss donated his garage for my repairs. I jumped on the Brick and pulled out of my parking garage only to hear the ticking of raindrops on the top of my helmet. I thought I would just head on out, but I have made this mistake before and have been punished. I circled back around, parked in front of my building, and got my Dainese rain gear. I put the gear on as it started to rain more heavily. I had to get this work done as I leave in a short time, so I powered through the storm. It never got too heavy, and I will take the rain over the heat any day. I cracked my face shield open about a quarter inch so it didn’t fog up, and I drove very slowly and carefully. It was a short ride so I was not upset about the weather. I was actually glad to be driving.

I pulled into the garage, threw the Brick up on the center stand, and dug in on the work. My first goal was to change the fuel lines of which there are 3. I smelled gas on my New Jersey Hell Ride so I wanted to make sure everything was ok with the fuel system. I did my research before hand and once again my favorite K bike site Motobrick provided many details about swapping the lines. I ran the bike very low on gas so I would not have to deal with too much fuel spillage. To remove the gas tank I first disconnected the electrical connection on the bottom of the tank. Then I removed the fuel line from the fuel rail and plugged it with a pen cap. I pulled the front line off and just placed my finger over the connector. I lifted the tank off and placed it vertically again a wall in the garage. I then removed the air box to get at the lines that were connected to the fuel pressure regulator behind the throttle bodies. I couldn’t believe the quarry of gravel that had accumulated on the top of the motor.

I changed all of the lines without too much effort and started putting the bike back together. When I went to reinstall the tank I noticed that the vent and overflow hoses were rotting and not connected. I think I just broke them off when I removed the tank on another occasion. This was obviously the cause of my gas smell. As the gas gets hot it will blow vapor out of the vent. Mine was blowing right on top of the hot engine because the hose was not connected. I took my boss’s car to the auto parts store to find replacements for the crumbling hoses. The place was crazy. Parts were lying everywhere like an episode of hoarders. I asked if he had any fuel line. “Over there – lippers are on top of the rack.” I measured off six feet by using my nose-to-fingertip trick and cut the piece off. “Three bucks,” the crusty clerk blurted out. It was like a trip back in time to my Father’s Saab/Citroen dealership I used to mess around in as a kid. I went back to the garage, hooked up the new lines, and remounted the tank.

I went to put the air box back on and realized I lost one of the clips. I looked for 30 minutes trying to find it and couldn’t believe I misplaced it. I just decided to continue with the rest of the work. My boss brought me a squid salad and pesto toast for lunch. I felt like one of the Ducati mechanics in MotoGP known for their extravagant feasts in the paddock. I next changed the fuel filter inside of the gas tank. I had done this on my Ducati before so it was a quick swap. I changed the engine coolant and oil as well. I switched to full synthetic Mobil 1 which can go 10,000 miles before a change. I want to be able to drive straight through on my trip with no major maintenance along the way. I will say that every time I change fluids on this bike, I can’t believe how pristine the previous fluid looks. The coolant, motor oil, final drive oil, and transmission oil all looked to be brand new when I changed them. The previous owner was a stickler for maintenance and this bodes well for the life expectancy of the bike.

It was a long day. I learned a lot about the Brick and felt good about having her in such good shape for the upcoming trip. I started to clean up and thought about the missing air box clip. There were two others so I was okay until I ordered another one, but losing the part was digging at me. I thought about when I was a kid, my mother used to say, “Pray to St. Anthony, he will help you find anything.” I am not a religious person so I didn’t say the prayer, but as I pushed the broom around, I noticed just off the edge of the garage cement in the grass was the missing clip.

I popped the clip back on and smiled thinking about my mom. She is one of the most cheerful people I know, and could always make me laugh when I was down She also knew when to leave me alone when I just needed to work things out on my own. I can say hello to her and she can immediately tell if there is something wrong with me. She has seen me through so many ups and downs, and even though I don’t talk to her much, I feel her constant presence in my life.

The driving rain stopped almost divinely as soon as I finished cleaning the garage. The roads were still wet so I took it slow. I decided to go straight home, the whole time thinking of the long road on the trip of a lifetime that draws closer with each passing day.

Click for larger versions:

Gravel on top of the engine

Just a short trip to NJ

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6 Responses to Getting Ready for the Long Road

  1. Michael P. Louis Ash, Jr. III says:

    Another good one, Joe! (And I impressed myself yesterday by changing the spark plugs on “Big Hank”! BTW; what’s the name of this bike?

    • Joe Popp says:

      Mike: I love doing my own work. It’s half the fun if you ask me. I stopped naming things a while ago. I try to keep in mind that they are just things and to not get too attached to them.

  2. Kathy says:

    I am so looking forward to being your virtual companion for this upcoming journey. I’d love to ride across country one day, too. Taking my time, not in an Iron Butt sort of way. I hope you are able to do it as a leisurely place so you can really absorb everything. You strike me as the sort who would prefer a meander, too.

  3. Joe Popp says:

    Kathy: Thanks for the comment. I have some iron butt days but a few days off as well. I’ll be in Indianapolis for the MotoGP race and I am getting to take a track lap! Very excited…

  4. tylordurand says:

    Looking forward to the “postcards from the edge” segments on this long ride. And please don’t forget the food photos!

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