Today got off to a slow start. Trouble sleeping last night, and dreading the cold this morning, we didn’t get out of the hotel till 10AM. When we came out we discovered two things: one it was wonderfully warm “We could ride all day in this!” and then that Kay’s rear tire was flat. We thought maybe we’d be able to make it to the gas station for air, which was located at the end of the block, but it quickly became apparent that the bike wasn’t going anywhere until we aired it up. Dealing would have been painful if not for the nearly 40 degrees of warmth.
Luckily, we’re prepared. We dug out the Cycle Pump from where we’d stowed it and filled the tire. After we’d inflated the tire, Kay removed the Cycle Pump nozzle and we heard air hissing from the valve itself. It seemed like a problem with the core. We’ve got some spare cores, although neither of us is quite sure where they are, but Kay decided to try to tighten the core with our core tool that came with the Bead Breakr. Success! The core was tightened and tire fully inflated to spec. Checked the other tires and we were off.
Got on the interstate and noticed pretty quickly that my Gerbing’s heated jacket wasn’t working. It was somewhat warm and I decided to try riding without it heating me for a bit, but I started getting colder and colder at interstate speeds. I agreed to stop if we came across a rest area to check the connection, but I didn’t want to actually exit the interstate because I felt that would take too much time out. It was already after 11AM when we hit the road and I didn’t want to delay us any further.
After about 20 minutes of riding, the jacket magically came on. I was warm! And less than 5 minutes later, the jacket turned off again. A few minutes later, when I was just about to ask if we could pull over at a gas station, we hit a rest area and pulled off. I jiggled the connections a bit (pushed up from underneath, where they were connected) and the jacket started nice and warm again. It was lovely. Off we went to Charlotte, NC to pick up our Corporate Runaways stickers!
Stickers were surprisingly fast (walked in and saw them sitting on a table waiting for us) and we stopped for lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant that was advertising a cheap lunch special. You know it’s a good Mexican restaurant when 90% of the clientele are Mexican and the TV is on a Spanish channel. This restaurant even had trash cans next to each toilet. And anyone who’s read about travel in Mexico knows what those are for.
While we were there, Kay revealed that the right arm of his glasses were coming apart again where he’d JB Welded them. An ongoing debate started about whether the glasses were functional enough (Kay maintained that they were, while I said it was silly to go further without more functional glasses). The debate got even more heated when Kay went to pull the glasses off later and the JB Welded arm fell off. Two lenses, one arm. Not a pair of glasses, I maintain. Kay still wants to wait till we get to a border town in Mexico where he thinks he can get glasses cheap. This has become a point of contention now.
Went back to the bikes after lunch and turned on our Sena SMH-10 headsets for our typical headset check, and I couldn’t hear Kay’s microphone. I could hear them connect and it sounded like I should be able to hear Kay, but nothing from the mic. We’ve had two microphone/clamp units fail on us already, so we were exasperated.
We tried swapping the headset transmitters and when Kay’s transmitter was on my helmet and mine on his, I could hear him. The problem seems to be with one of the pin connections. Unfortunately, since the GPS is synced with Kay’s transmitter, it meant I had to take the GPS for the rest of the afternoon. Am concerned about the longevity of the Sena headsets at this point, since we’ve had so many problems with them. If any headset manufacturers out there want to show up Sena by sponsoring a trip across the Americas we’re all ears and easily FedExable until we leave the US.
Taking off after lunch, I noticed quickly that my heated jacket wasn’t warm again. Pulled over at a gas station before we got on the interstate and pushed up on the connecting wires again and the jacket was magically warm. Started to get worried about the jacket at this point, because I was pretty sure it wasn’t user error. At this point it was getting late (after 3PM) and we still had a lot of miles to make it to our “early stop” hotel. Hopped on the interstate and determined that we had just enough gas in the tank to make it to the hotel.
Unfortunately, at around 130 miles (after roughly 2 hours on the interstate) my Gerbing’s jacket cut out again. Out of nowhere, the heat just turned off. I tried pushing on the wires. I tried wiggling around, standing up, leaning forward, backward, sideways – everything I could think of to reconnect whatever wires weren’t connected. Nothing. We still had around 30 miles to go, but it was getting dark and I was getting more and more convinced that the problem is with the jacket itself, so I decided to push on without it.
By the time we arrived at our hotel for the night, I was half frozen. Was also annoyed to realize that the “non-smoking” room smells like smoke (and has an ash tray), and that the Wi-Fi doesn’t actually enable me to load a web page (we can ping and do dns lookups). Saw on the iPhone that I had an email from a client, so I had to get back on the bike half-frozen and ride down the street to McDonalds to get a working Wi-Fi connection. Now I’ve gotta get some work done for a client and go back to McDonalds in the AM to send it off.
This has been a day full of ups and downs. We were happy to find warmer weather, and to solve the flat tire problem so easily. Less happy because Kay’s glasses are officially broken (although he still insists on wearing them), we may have a problem with the Sena headsets, and my heated jacket may be broken. And instead of dealing with any of that, I have to get some work done for a client.
Today’s tally was only 279 miles, with the late start, the effing around in the middle of the day and the early sunset. We made it from Burlington, NC to Lavonia, GA. Tomorrow we’ll push on – trying to get to Baton Rouge, LA to pick up some tires for my bike. We’ll probably end up putting them on in the parking lot because we don’t feel like paying them $80 an hour to do it for us. Looks like we’ll be in Baton Rouge early in the am on Monday, and the bike shop isn’t open until Tuesday, so haven’t figured out what to do about that yet. Logistics in the US are proving surprisingly difficult. Looking forward to leaving the country so there are fewer plans and more fun riding.
Side note: Kay is totally running around the hotel room stickering everything he can find to sticker. Several stickers on the panniers, stickers on the laptops, stickers on the helmet even – and stickers on the bike tomorrow when it’s light out. Want a sticker? We’ll send stickers to the first 10 people who ask – we’ve got plenty. Just send me a PM with your mailing address! (Anyone who donates can also get a sticker – just send an email via our website with your mailing address and we’ll send stickers either before we leave the U.S. or when we get home in April, depending on logistics.)
Kay’s addition: Dachary’s convinced my glasses are going to implode at any moment. I contend that one arm is more comfortable in the helmet than two, and when they’re not in the helmet they stay on most of the time. I’m seriously concerned about her Gerbing. We still need the electrics for two or three more days I think… Stupid cold spell. I’m somewhat afraid of my Kanetsu now and keeping it dialed as low as I can, but despite it’s pain in the ass SAE connectors and 1970’s tech, it works. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to ride in back while she dealt with the GPS, but I am pissed about the Senas. We love the design and the usability, but three hardware failures in under six months?!