June 28, 2011

   Well, not really raining raining, just a little light drizzle now and again.  I believe the natives call it Florida liquid sunshine.
    So..........we're done.  We left our damp hotel room early and headed off for the final day's ride.  A short one as we hoped to get in in time for lunch.  Fortunately the heavy rain from the day before has left and the remnants are just light sprinkles now and then. This seems like a ridiculously short day - yet it seems to never end.  Can that make any sense?  We finally pass Miami and near the end of the turnpike I realize I haven't seen Charles for over 15 minutes.  He sometimes lags back a little but never for more than 5 or 10 minutes at most.  The end of the freeway where it becomes route #1 has a stoplight so I decide that instead of just going slower I will pull over and wait.  I'm in the inside lane of three, about 3 vehicles back with others in the other two lanes.  Lots of traffic.  All of a sudden as the light turns green I see Charles go buy in a hurry. (?)  Oh Oh - this is a problem as he hasn't seen me and is hurrying to catch up to me and he's not going backwards so it "ain't gonna happen".  I try to make 99 go as fast as her ailing engine will take us but I can only get to within two car of Charles.  I anticipate doing some illegal tactics to jump the two cars but it is a single lane each way now through a detour and wouldn't you know there are 3 cops within about a mile.  I know that a discussion of my performance driving tactics with Florida's finest would only slow me down even more  so I bide my time. I ride to either side of the lane hoping he will spot the very unusual headlights of 99. No luck as he is concentrating on trying to see me up ahead.  Soon a passing lane opens up and like a shot from a cannon the big 1000cc of German engineering just dwindles in the distance.  99 tries but not even a slight chance to catch that bike especially with a rider with Charles' experience in a hurry.  I said an impolite word! Also some probably anatomically impossible suggestions at the situation.  I also could understand how Charles must feel.  Heh, heh, he's going to think 99 and I have been holding out on him and that we've had a turbocharger hidden away all this time.  I don't know whether to be upset or to fall over laughing - I do a little of both.  After all this distance without ever losing one another we screw up the last road and it is also a dead end.  Go figure.  I should have never put myself in the right lane in heavy traffic and Charles should have seen me ... sure he could have x-ray vision through the trucks etc. - doh! I put it down to final day jitters.  After I realized that my pursuit was hopeless I did what we had decided to do in such a situation.  I called Lynn and advised her of what was up and hoped that Charles would also phone her and find out he was chasing a tail wind so to speak. No such luck so I had a solitary ride for the trip out to the end of the road.  It was actually quite pretty and the sun on the blue of the water with the white beaches etc. etc. and all that beautiful Florida Keys stuff was a joy.  I couldn't believe what had transpired and where we had been since 99 and I travelled this road the last time.  Literally to the other end of the North American Continent. Naaah ...can't be.  Prudoe Bay must be on another planet it is so different from this warm sunny place where the water is actually liquid and sweat doesn't freeze when you take off your jacket. You don't even have to plug in your clothing anymore - what a novel idea.  During all of this screwing about I did another amazingly dumb thing. No comments please!!  I realized just about a mile from the Key West bridge that I hadn't refilled the main gas tank from the fuel cell.  I look at the trip meter and it read 211 miles from the last gas stop - oh shit! I spastically reach behind to turn on the flow from the fuel cell and just at that moment 99 died a sudden death from starvation.  More oh shit! Of course there is traffic etc and no where to pull off as I'm in the outside lane.  Of course it takes a few minutes to get gas enough to feed the fuel injector and of course I'm having no patience so manage to try to ride it too soon and manage to stall it twice. I said another impolite word.  Finally after 99 was fed we proceeded on our way across the bridge to Key West. A quick right turn and only about a mile to go.  Damn - WE DID IT!  I could push her from here.  And there is the gas station we started from.  And there is Lynn and Terri holding up signs saying "BOB - CHARLES STOP YOU ARE HERE"  in red in the shape of a stop sign.  Another saying "Congratulations on a job well done"  Charles is already at the pumps and I pull in for that all important receipt.  Card swipe, a teacup of gas (just enough to get a receipt) and wait for that all important piece of paper.  I wait.  No paper.  Read the screen.  "please see cashier for receipt" I say another impolite word, this seems to be becoming a habit. Can't wait any longer so I succumb to a hug and kiss from Lynn.  Sure feels good..........now \i was supposed to do something important.  What was it?  Oh yeah the damn receipt - the clock is still ticking.  I run in to ask for a receipt for pump 3 and of all things the cashier is talkative.  "Are you the guy they've been waiting for.  Did you really go all the way to Alaska on that little bike? I silently said another impolite word (definitely have to curb this habit) and asked politely if I could PLEASE have the receipt as I needed to stop the clock.  Oh damn - now she is confused.  I finally get that all important piece of paper and the clock stops for the first time in oh how many days since it started ruling my life at this very same station at the start of all this foolishness.  We parade to our hotel and sure enough they've splurged and we are staying at The Southernmost Hotel which is a mansion built in the 1800s and is located right beside the southernmost point marker.  Not only that but Lynn managed to get the cabana room which is the southernmost hotel room.  We are right on the ocean's edge and are actually south of the marker.  How neat is that.  I forget all the impolite words.  99 and the Old Girl have done the almost impossible.  They have been both pushed far far beyond what a 30 year old bike with now over 500,000km on it and a tiny little puddle jumper of a bike that was designed as a kid's toy. I have a tear in my eye as I give 99 a kiss on her dirty nose. Well - I did give it a little wipe first. Ed recorded that little event with his camera.  The sad thing is that 99 is probably a terminal case. Actually the poor thing is as close to trash as it is possible for a year and two months old bike to be.  The only thing that seems to be only slightly affected is the engine and it is not real good but perhaps another valve adjustment would help.  There is way too much to attempt repairs.  Most of the body panels are now loose due to the tabs and fittings vibrating themselves to dust. Breaks, lights, transmission sounds like scraping fingernails on a blackboard, headset bearings trash, sprockets trash, etc. etc. etc.  After all the poor thing has been near or at or well over redline for over 24 days.  Not to mention last summer's little jaunt across the continent at a record time.  How it could do that and not self destruct is an amazing feat  to me. Not only that, but also over one of the most destructive roads on earth (for a street bike), the Dalton Highway. Honda builds one hell of a bike! She gave her all.......and it was enough. Barely.
  I'll wrap this up with comments and reflections shortly.  Also 99 tells me she also has a story to tell.  Oh, I hope she didn't pick up any impolite words.  We'll see.  I'll send this for now and add in some photos tonight.
to be continued...

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