This year there are two Moto GP races held in the US, one at Laguna Seca raceway in California, and one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. We’ve been watching the races on TV all season, and decided a few weeks ago that Indianapolis wasn’t too far to go to see a race live if we could make the time. Well we made the time, and the weather held out, so we packed up the bikes and headed out Friday morning.
I figured we would take two days to ride the roughly 600 mi to Indy, spend all day Sunday at the track to watch the races, and then take two days to ride home. I’m posting this from the hotel in Indianapolis, so we made it here ok, but Day 1 was a bit of an adventure. (I don’t want to take up the whole homepage with this one post, but you’ll definitely want to see the pictures, so click below to see the rest of the post.)
We had pretty decent weather with a mix of wet and dry roads as we left home and headed northwest into Virginia.
We stopped for a picnic lunch at Hungry Mother State Park (most hilarious name ever, although the history is actually quite sad).
We like to stop here to rest before heading up Rt 16, which is a fantastic curvy road that approaches motorcycling nirvana.
We were heading west on Rt 460 (west of Tazewell, VA), with the intention of making it to a campground in Kentucky, about halfway to Indy. Those plans were not to be.
I was going an indicated 70mph (which means I was probably going about 60-65, motorcycle speedometers are notoriously inaccurate), when the bike started to feel wobbly. In all the riding we’ve done, I’ve never had a flat tire, so I didn’t immediately identify what was wrong. All I knew is that the steering felt really loose, and the whole bike felt unstable. It started out as a fairly subtle wiggle, like maybe the front wheel had caught a groove in the road, but then it got worse pretty quickly. I was pretty nervous at this point and slowed down, which did nothing to improve stability or stop the very disconcerting wiggle (wiggle is such a lighthearted, innocuous word, until its used to describe the motion of the motorcycle you are currently riding). It felt like forever until I found a paved parking lot off the side of the road and pulled in. That’s when I saw my rear tire:
Kevin was able to find a place to make a U-turn across the divided highway, and was on the scene a few minutes later. A quick inspection revealed a nearly 1/4 inch tear in the tire that we wouldn’t even be able to plug so I could ride (very slowly) to a dealer or bike shop. I was stranded in that parking lot.
I think Kevin says it all in the above pic.
The good news is that I didn’t wreck, which I think is notable given how quickly and severely that tire deflated. Also, the wheel was fine, so all I needed was a new tire. So, all we had to do was call around until we found a tire, and then call for a tow service to bring my bike there. Hurray for smartphones and good cell reception, which helped this process immensely.
After calling about 5 bike shops, we found a Kawasaki dealer about 60 mi away in Bristol, VA that had a tire in my size (and my preferred brand no less). They said if I could get my bike there by 4pm, they would get the new tire on it for me. This was about 2:15pm. After about the 4th tow service said they were unavailable, I was getting concerned the whole trip was in jeopardy. If I didn’t get a new tire today, there probably wasn’t enough time to ride to Indy in time for the race. However, Jeremy at A&J towing came to the rescue, and jumped in his truck (a nice international roll-back), and got the job done (pretty reasonable price too, considering.)
I sat in the nice air conditioned truck chatting with Jeremy and petting Scrappy, an adorable chihuahua mix, while Kevin rode through a short rainstorm following on the way to Bristol. We arrived at 4:05 pm, and atlas honda had the new tire on my bike in about 20 min.
That done, we stopped for a dinner before heading back out on the road.
All in all, the flat tire cost only us about 3 hours and some $$, but didn’t really change our plans. This part of the country is so dense, you’re never that far from civilization and places to buy necessities. We rode another 100 mi after dinner, and made it to the campground a little after dark. It could have been much worse, but instead added a little excitement and adventure into the day.