Old bikes, like old dogs, have a way of telling you that they don’t want to do what you want to do on a given day.
My original plans for last Saturday was to hop onto PA 144 and head out to Renovo, take in the Flaming Foliage Festival, and have what was sure to be the last funnel cake of the year. The bike had other plans.
I pulled into a gas station in Milesburg where I usually gas up before heading north. The air was a still cool, so I drank a cup of coffee and warmed myself in the sun before getting back on the road.
The bike started right up, then died as I began to pull out of the parking lot. No problem, clutch, break, feet down, try again. Nothing. Worse than nothing actually, it backfired—loudly. There is nothing more conspicuous than sitting in the middle of a gas station parking lot with a dead bike after a backfire.
I pushed it off to the side of the parking lot and moved it onto its center stand and waited. Hoping that in a few minutes it would change its mind and want to go to Renovo. I tried again, more sputtering and a backfire.
Eventually, I pulled out the tool kit and started running down the checklist of things that go wrong on an old bike. It’s a long list so I stuck to the simple ones. The ones that I understood. Things like spark plugs. The right one looked like it had just came out of the box; the left had some carbon build-up. I’m not sure, but I remember reading somewhere that on boxer engines, like those on my airhead, the left plug tends to dirty quicker since the bike leans left when on the kickstand and not the center stand. By now that little piece of trivia didn’t matter. I had a dead bike.
When I made the decision to buy and old bike, I expected something like this to happen. The bike, for whatever reason, would one day decide it didn't like what I was doing and want to head home. Eventually I did get her started and we rode back home. We took time for lunch at Mr. Hot Dog, and coffee at Cool Beans. However, it looks like I'll have to wait until next year for the Flaming Foliage Festival and fall funnel cake.