Called it a night in Jonesboro, AK where Hotwire found me a good rate at what turned out to be a Holiday Inn. Unfortunately I discovered that Jonesboro is a dry town so I opted for Cracker Barrell again. There was a club I could have joined as a guest at the Holiday Inn that had the adult beverage I thought the day deserved but it was extremely smokey and it ws karoke night. Not a combination that appealed to me so I figured I’d call it an early night and make it a long next day home of between 565 and 600 miles depending on how much super slab I could tolerate.
The day started of pleasantly enough even if it was a little bit warm. An early lunch at a country buffee about 40 miles southwest of Little Rock had the best hush puppies I’ve eaten since my grandfather passed away. They wern’t quite as good as his but were the closest I”ve tasted made a good start.
Passed through Texarkana heading into the final 300 miles to home. It looked like I’d arrive around 8 if I didn’t make too many more stops. Sun was shining and it was in the mid 80s. Approximately 60 miles southwest of Texarka disaster struck. I heard a sound like a metal file going across a zipper. My immediate thought was “this doesn’t sound good” and I took my hand off the throttle looking in my mirrors to see if I could figure out what caused the noise. As I slow I feel the bike start to oscillate, definitely not good as I aim for the shoulder of the road and feather the brakes to try and keep control as the back end starts flopping like a fish on a hook.Fortunately I was able to make it safely to the wide shoulder (there is a benefit to being on those farm to market roads in Texas) and stop there. I hopped off and discovered the back tire was shredded. I tried to put it on the center stand but with the saddlebags on I couldn’t do it by myself. So figured put it on the kickstand, pull off the saddlebags then put it on the center stand while I called AAA.
I discovered that with a flat rear tire the kickstand was unable to hold it up so over she tumbled again. Sigh, this picking up the bike was becming old. It was also even more difficult than when picking up against the wind or maybe my adrenline wasn’t as high, who knows. Luckily a gentleman and his wife pulled over and help me get the Scarabeo on her center stand. We took the opportunity to take a good look at the back tire.
Seems that zipping sound I heard was the belt peeling off my tire. Funny, it looked good when I left Paducah and I hadn’t noticed any problems when I filled up with gas in Texarkana. I called Piaggio roadside assistance who in turn called several local motorcycle shops to discover that they were either closed or had no tire remotely close in stock. The local man called a friend who worked at motorcycle repair shop about 15 miles away but he said he would put on a tire if I could find one even though the shop was closed. In the meantime I discovered the closest Piaggio dealer (same tire as the BV 500) was back in Texarkana but they had closed at 2 p.m. - 20 minutes before I tried to call them, sigh. Their recording said they would be open on Monday. The next closest was Dallas – 160 miles away. I made the decision to get the bike towed back to Texarkana and see what I could do about getting a tire there. Called AAA who said they’d send a truck. By now it is almost 4 o’clock having wasted 90 minutes trying to find someplace answering their phone that ether had a tire or could get one quickly and install it. The Harley dealership was at least willing to install one if I could get the bike and tire to them on Monday but the Honda dealership flat out refused to touch my Aprilia.
3 1/2 hours later the tow truck finally shows up. The folks who stopped waited with me for over about an hour of that time. Piaggio assistance called the local sheriff’s department motorist assistance unit which sent an officer in an air conditioned SUV to come wait with me. I really appreciated both the company and the a/c because there was no shade nearby with temps up in the 90s along with the humidity in the 80% range. The tow truck driver when he appeared had his girlfriend with him which made the cab a little crowded and he wouldn’t agree to leave my bike at the dealer in Texarkana. After seing where it was located I agreed with him. He dropped both the bike and me off at the Holiday Inn Express. There they were gracious enough to let me leave it near the front door so the desk could keep an eye on it.
Sunday passed slowly between surfing the net looking for someplace with an in stock tire. My brother offered to come pick me up with a trailer on Monday but he couldn’t come on Sunday. Monday morning I called the Piaggio dealer who said it would take them 3 days to get a tire – what’s up with that? .The day before I was given the name of the best motorcycle shop in town according to a few of the locals I talked too and my web surfing confirmed their reputation. So I called Cycle Zone of Texarkana. It was no big surprise to find tha they didn’t have a tire in stock either. That’s the problem with riding something non-standard, there are a few parts that are just not easy to find. However, his supplier could have one to him by 10:30 the next morning. So I got AAA to tow my bike over to him. I called AAA and arranged for Enterprise to pick me up and get a rental car. The rental car turned out to be a small pick-up which was fine with me.
Tuesday morning I checked out of the hotel and went over to Cycle Zone at 10:00. Randy had agreed to let me leave the saddlebags there while I returned the truck to Enterprise. While I was there UPS arrived with their deliver that was supposed to include my tire. It wasn’t there! Randy called his supplier who said that the tire hadn’t been ordered – well, I had seen the confirmation when he ordered it AND he had a separate email confirmation. Not that those did us any good so I’m back on the phone trying to find a tire in Dallas or Little Rock I could pick up. I even ccalled my Houston dealer but nobody had one in stock. Randy took one look at the rental I had from Enterprise and said “we could load her in there and you could take her home”. Brilliant idea, until I called Enterprise to find out what the one way drop off would be – $600.
Plan B, my husband or brother could come get me with my brother’s trailer but 600 miles is a lot in one day. So Plan C, called Budget and they had a small 10′ moving truck for $165 with drop off in Houston, reserved immediately. Okay, now I’ve got a plan. Back to Enterprise who took me to the storage place to get the Budget truck – nobody there. The phone number posted on the door went to some person who was a little irate at being called. They had the number for 6 months. Call Budget who can’t reach them either so send me to the other Budget truck rental. A big thank you to the folks from Enterprise for allowing their courtesy driver to shuttle me all over town. Get the truck and drive back to Cycle Zone when Randy and one of his employees load the Scarabeo in and even straps her down with his personal set of canyon dancers. Randy wouldn’t let me pay him for the canyon dancers or assistance in loading. I can’t say enough good things about Randy and Cycle Zone even if he wasn’t able to get my tire through no fault of his own.
On the road home again but definitely not as pleasant as if I were riding instead of driving. The rental truck was the worst vehicle I’ve ever driven. It stuck like oil grease, the drivers side mirror required a wedge to keep it from flopping down. The a/c was held in place by the lid of a fast food drink cup and there was no suspension but it got me home by dinner time. Getting it in the driveway was a challenge due to road construction and cones in front of my house but I managed.
Next morning I called Houston Superbikes, my local Aprilia dealership and made arrangements for them to get a new tire in and service the bike. Not only was it time for an oil change but the bike had tipped over twice, the second time with a small gas spill so I wanted to make sure there was no mechanical damage. The few scratches were not worth replacing the farings or front fender. The saddlebags protected the rest of the bike.
Returned the Budget truck to the nearest Houston location. The owner of that location was just as disgusted with the condition of the truck provided to me as I was.
The trip out from Houston to Washington D.C. was all that I could have wanted with good weather (okay a little fog and rain but not that much). The trip home, not so much. I could do with less drama and unplanned expense. I learned that an iPad is great for email and surfing, even some photo editing (Adobe Photoshop Touch rocks) but it isn’t a substitute for a real computer. My time in Texarkana would have been much less frustrating (and much less costly) had I been able to work while I was stuck there. So my next trip of more than on overnight I’ll be bringing my Win 7 tablet or MacBook Pro.
I did success in coloring in my ride map: