December 23, 2005 - Friday
Philadelphia, PA To Heightstown, NJ

Hmmm - today is certainly starting out with some spice.

A quick morning - checkout is 10:30am - I slept in. This would throw off my plans for the day’s route. No issue - I really want to re-check weather. Well, most of the time before checkout was spent talking with another guest (Jin?). An IBM ThinkPad in her hand she had some questions regarding the wireless connection. That sorted we chatted about vacations and such.

Time getting short I skipped the weather and re-route issues and prepared to dash out and get the bike from the parking garage 1.5 blocks away. Suited up, off I head - taking one run of luggage from the third floor (guys) dorm room down to the front desk area. Fifteen minutes before the hostel door locks for the day.

Out in the parking garage my hopes for a good day sink - the bike's taillight is on - and not too bright at that. I locked the handlebars last night and didn't pay good attention to the key position I selected. One position locks the handlebars and the other locks them and keeps the tail light on (useful when broken down at the side of the road at night).

Ever hopeful I put the key in and turned it to ON - dash light were dim. Prepare for ONE start attempt - choke on, neutral, clutch in, throttle closed but ready to open - push start. Nothing. Not enough to hear a click in the starter solenoid. The bike's not going anywhere - now fewer than 15 minutes to get to my stuff out of the hostel.

Back out to the street a taxi sat at the light - empty. I grabbed it, handed up a $20 and asked the driver to get me to the hostel (1.5 blocks down) and wait while I fetch bags. I could have simply re-checked into the hostel, $25 for the night, but I wanted to get moving. The taxi driver dropped me off near the hostel but he had to get moving so he told me he would go around the block and come down the street the hostel is on (Bank Street is little more than a one way alley - there are many of these such streets in the area - no easy spot to park).

I shuffled bags from the third floor to the front desk. I'm dressed for riding - coat, t-shirt, riding pants, long john pants - I'm getting hot with the stairs. All items at the front desk - 10:25 - 5 minutes to spare - sweet. The taxi is now in the "alley" and with a few quick shuffles from the front desk to the trunk all items were with me. To the parking garage the driver and I went.

On the way to the garage I asked the driver if he had jumper cables - no but he thought the garage attendant might. Sure, they must, right? Well, I asked the driver to drive up to the bike - parking garage ticket to get in. Most items loaded onto the bike I kept the laptop and small electronics with me. Driver and I rode down to the garage ticket booth to check out - no charge for the taxi "parking". The driver and I completed our transaction and I wished him many thanks.

Back to the garage attendant I inquired about a jump - nope, sorry. At least they had a phone book I could borrow.

One level back up I was at the bike. Hmmm - what are the odds I could push start the bike on the sloping garage floors? I figured I'd better try pushing it uphill first. It was moving sluggish. I don't recall it being that sluggish. It's not that cold. I didn't want to think about a flat tire - I didn't want to even look. I wanted to get the battery charged and the motor turning.

One customer across the way was getting into his car - no jumper cables though he did offer his cell phone. Thanks - I'm set with that. He left. The open spot wasn't going unfilled for long - a Subaru wagon pulled in. Again I asked - Jumper cables? Yes!

The kind lady (THANK YOU   THANK YOU   THANK YOU) took many minutes of her time and helped me. She pulled out and parked her car next to the bike (cha-ching - the battery was on the side of the car closest to the bike).

She was out of the car standing behind the bike as I tried to start it a time or two - no dice - but it was turning over a little. Time to wait and let the battery charge up a bit. A few minutes later I gave it another try. RrrrRrrrRrrr - Vrooom - Vrooom - KA-BANG! Inside an all concrete (or is it cement - I get the two confused - one is an ingredient while the other is the final product) parking garage the backfire was LOUD. This kind lady was standing to the rear of the bike. I'm sorry!

Well, bike running, her spot now taken by another motorist, she left and found another spot.


Load the bike up and get out of the garage - this was my thought. If the rear tire has issues I'd rather take care of them outside. Yep - the bike is rolling sluggishly. These tires have heavy sidewalls - now I was glad for this. The rear was flat but ridable at slow speed.

Down to the ticket booth I handed the phone book back and paid my dues. The garage exit dumps out onto another alley street. I went about 30 feet and picked a spot to check into the tire.

Three items - right in a row - across the tire. Dang. When it rains it pours - at least, as rain goes - this was only a light rainfall. A helpful person to assist with the battery - done. Outside the temps were just right, the skies blue, the asphalt dry. Unload the bike and get at the flat tire supplies - plug kit and slime.

The still cam pulled out for pictures of this "event" said "Change the batteries" Sheesh - tack that on the list. Look for my spare batteries - empty - OK - plan B (or am I now on plan K?) - grab the video camera and snap some stills with it.

Three items - right in a row across the tire (see pix). One item, missing the head, looked like some sort of aluminum nail (pop rivet end?), the other a decking screw, the third a nail. Across the tread (no sidewall issues). The items removed I moved to the plug kit. Hmmmm - the process works. A bit in the 'grunt work' category.

The alley was abuzz with construction workers (some sort of brickwork going on), people walking through, and delivery trucks. A few folks stopped to chat while others just looked with curiosity. About this point I figured I'd see the Subaru leave the garage - not yet.

Tire plugs in I moved on to the Slime. That done - easy stuff to work with - I moved on to the air compressor. Dead end there. It would work and work and work - but not build pressure. I pulled the compressor apart (two screws) and coated the piston and valves with oil (from the quart of motor oil carried). Pressure built up to three pounds above zero. Stock PSI for this tire is 50. The pump isn't doing it.

Mr. FedEx was parked next to me - what a perfect person to ask - "where's the closest gas station that would have air?" "Second and Vine. Two up and perhaps five over. A Gulf station". Done deal - I should be able to ride on the tire that far. Speeds in the city are barely 20 MPH.

Somewhere in the process the kind lady walked by with a "what are you still doing here look" Flat tire.......  Perhaps she’ll get a kick out of this write-up!

Over to the Gulf station. A quarter into the air machine it popped to life. It pumped until it could not inflate any more - 35PSI. Enough to ride on - but - this is a corner station with three mechanic bays - they must have shop air inside. The proprietor was happy to assist and tossed the shop hose under the middle door - it completed the job with ease.

Pressure set I suited up with the intent to get moving a bit, find a place to get something to eat and settle on what route to do for the day.

Back down Vine, looking for an Interstate 95 entrance, I saw some cycles on the side walk - must be something bike related there - Moto Guzzi shop. Since I was now moving, I kept moving.

I-95 entrance found I started the process North. Not perhaps more than three miles up the traffic started to thin just a bit (4 lanes wide northbound). One small white, four door (Cavalier / Skyhawk) was in the second-in lane with me behind in the third-in lane. It started to swerve - back and forth in its lane. Cars around it slowed. The white car started an oscillation that progressed - it was now not staying in its lane and was going into the lanes next to it slightly. Shortly the tires started to bark saying they can't hold on.

A couple more oscillations and the car did a decent right turn, crossed the lane next to it, crossed over the 1/2 lane at the beginning of an exit, crossed over the shoulder and smacked the cement wall right across the front of the vehicle.

Parts flying the car lifted a foot and spun to a rest. A few cars were moving over to stop while the rest of the pack started moving back to speed.

About 1/2 mile down the road I thought - I should have stopped - if nothing else I had a first aid kit with me. dope slap to my helmet.

About 2 miles further up a police car was sitting in the center of the road. I pulled in to ensure the accident had been called in and the officer went into a yelling "You can't U-Turn here" mode. Calm down buddy - do you know about the accident just down the road - yep. He made no action to head there though.

Glad to leave his warm company I tested the air holding capability of the rear tire - it's ability to support full bike weight, in addition to acceleration - to merge back onto the highway starting in the fast lane. After the tach passed through the power band the front was able to catch up to speed and I clicked into second. Nice to have a vehicle that's able to merge into traffic with ease.

So, it's now 3:51pm and I've had brunch and typed this long account. Next will be to check some phone messages, decide on a stopping point for the night, plug the route into the GPS - go.

When this picture was taken I didn't notice the "third" object on the far right

One key item with Slime - the included valve stem remover tool.

Using the rasp to open and clean the holes

Hard to push the plug material in - easy to pull the tool out.

Slime valve stem valve removal tool - right - removed valve - left

Plugs trimmed.

Slime going in....

After the Slime was added I started the bike, clicked it into first gear, and let the Slime get distributed / coat the inside of the tire.

The pump - trying and trying....

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