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September 29, 2016

Meltdown in Oakland

So, yesterday, after work, I've got 1 1/2hours to roll around and shoot Oakland before our team dinner. They kick us out of the building at 5:00 p.m., and our team dinner is at 6:30 p.m. So, I'm rolling around and shooting like mad. And I'm finding some pretty good stuff. It's only the 2nd day that I've really tried to shoot, because Tuesday I met Carol, David, and Sapna out for dinner after work. So, I shot Monday. And now it's Wednesday. And I'm rolling around Oakland near Lake Merritt and shooting like crazy.

Like, this is not what I thought Oakland would be like. At all. And, I once drove through Oakland about 20 years ago as I recall, but nothing matches my memories. And then I'm rolling down one street and I'm like...this is where I was before...he came here.

But Oakland is very nice. Much nicer than they would lead you to believe on TV. And, granted there's been some gentrification, but Oakland is fine. I'd say it's no worse than the Mission, IMHO.

So, as I'm rolling around, taking photos, I keep stopping and starting. So, a lot of clutch work, of course. And then, suddenly, I notice that the clutch point has changed pretty radically. Like, the clutch barely works any more. And, it works less and less and by the time we have to meet for dinner, I pretty much don't have a clutch any more.

So, I park the bike and we go eat dinner at Drake's Dealership (2325 Broadway). Now, after dinner, I get the bike going, but just barely. And now, I realize the clutch does not work at all and this is the same thing that happened to me on the way back from Mexico last year. The clutch is completely gone. The hydraulic clutch is leaking fluid and now I can't stop. Or start really. So, I'm circling around in the dark in Oakland with no plates, trying not to stop at red lights because I can't stop any more. And every red light I come to I just do an immediate U-turn and try to figure out how I can keep the ball rolling.

But finally, I have to stop and the bike lurches/skids to a halt and I'm off in the bad part of Oakland at night. With a DSLR around my neck. And I'm pushing the starter but the bike is just sort of lurching down the street, failing to launch, as it were. And now this black youth approaches me and I'm like..."fuck...I'm dead now"

And, instead, he senses what the problem is and comes and starts pushing on the back of the motorcycle.

"I think if we can get it going fast enough it will start working right..." I offer.

And he pushes while I hold the starter and the bike speeds off into the night. And I don't even get a chance to thank him for helping me because I'm tearing off through the Oakland night on a machine of questionable worth.

Now I've made up my mind to take the interstate as that's the only way I'll make it back to the hotel and I make a few turns and by the grace of God I'm on the interstate and now exiting on Powell Street to the Sheraton and somehow the lights all turn green and I roll into the Sheraton and the bike skids to a halt at my parking space.

In the morning, after much analysis, I determine that the hydraulic braking system is leaking fluid, and I'm supposed to refill it with Magura Mineral Oil, but, of course, I don't have any Magura Mineral Oil on me.

Finally, I decide that I have to find someone to fix the bike because a) I don't have any Magura Mineral Oil and 2) I'm not sure I could figure out how to make it work if I had a drum of Magura Mineral Oil. Although, I did have a guy walk me through the process of bleeding out the slave cylinder without the use of a syringe.

So I'm in the hotel, calling all over the city trying to get someone to fix the bike, but no one will even look at it. They're all completely booked up and they won't help me even though I explain that I'm on the road from Denver or LA (everyone gets a different pitch because even I'm not sure what the real story is).

I'm supposed to be at work and I'm supposed to check out of the hotel and I really can't come up with a plan. I need the bike to be working. But no one has time to work on it. They're all booked up solid and I try to explain to them that I'm truly broken down on the side of the road in Oakland, when in fact, I'm staying in the 4 Points Sheraton in Emeryville, but let's not worry too much about those details, OK?

Finally, I find a guy that says he'll look at it.

"Like...dude...if you can just help me get it rolling again...I can fix it in LA," I offer.

"Well, I don't like to let bikes go out on the road if they're not working properly," he complains. "Get it in here and we'll see what's going on with it."

And he gives me a tow truck driver that he works with and I call the tow guy but he's down in Pacifica and the tow guy says he'll be here at 1:30-2:00 barring any traffic nightmares.

So, I didn't go into work today at all, and instead, I'm holed up in my hotel room, waiting for them to start banging on the door at any second. It's already 12:30 p.m., so I'm not sure why they have let me stay in here for this long.

Basically, I just a squatter in the hotel at this point. Like, I seriously wonder how they evict people from a hotel room when you can't evict someone from renting house no matter what happens.

I think my biggest concern with the bike is that the bike made everything I was doing make sense. Like...I'm on this epic journey up the Pacific Coast and back. And now, if the bike can't continue the journey, then I'm not really sure where I'm supposed to go at this point. Do I go back to Denver? Or back to Los Angeles? Do I fly back to Denver and drive another motorcycle out? Do I need a 2nd motorcycle in Los Angeles? Maybe I do. It's hard to know for sure.

Maybe that will be my backup plan. Fly to Denver, and drive another motorcycle out here. As long as I can get this bike into a shop in San Francisco, then I can come back for it later. On another weekend.

OK. So, now to start looking at plane tickets to Denver. Lord this is confusing. Bought a plane ticket into Denver tonight. So, that gives me some options. The phone rings. It's the front desk. Ask them to move my checkout time to 2:00 p.m. They agree.

I'm thinking now to let the tow truck guy take my bike to the shop to be repaired. Leave it with the until they fix it right. Fly back to Denver tonight. Then, either I can drive back another bike to LA, or I can fly back to LA on Monday.

Lord God this is confusing.

So, the first thing I do, now that I start thinking about putting the bike in the shop, is I start pulling keys off of my KTM key chain. I'm not making that mistake again. I'll only leave him with keys to the KTM. I still need my Honda keys when I get back to CO. Also, my room keys for my place in Riverside. Lord.

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 29, 2016 at 1:02 PM


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