First ride and a sign from above.


     That first ride of the year can sometimes be an adventure. Last week we had a couple of warm days, a kind of teaser that spring likes to pull on us this time of year. Anyway, the warm weather triggered the bike bug in me and so I decided to fire up the 550 Suzook and take it for a quick spin. Since the big bike (my trusty ST1100) is still on the workbench waiting for me to finish some overdue winter work, the 550 was the next logical choice. I was  anticipating riding it to work on Thursday and that actually got me motivated. After installing the battery and siphoning gas from the snowblower (hopefully I won’t need to run that til next winter!) the old girl fired right up and off I went. I’m usually a bit rusty after not riding all winter and this year is no exception. I made a couple of passes out on the highway and spotted my neighbor, Jerry, out raking the gravel back onto his driveway so I stopped to chat with him a bit. After leaving his place, I rode back home and decided to replace the rear tire on the bike with a better looking used one that I found in my collection of too-good-to-throw-away used tires.  I had about an hour to mount the tire, and take a test ride before lunch and then it would be off to work for me. The tire mounting went OK and I had it done with about fifteen minutes to spare before noontime. Perfect, I thought. Just a quick test ride up the highway for a mile or so and I would be back just in time for lunch. Off I went, again, down the driveway. I had just pulled out onto the blacktop and hooked second gear when the bike revved out of sight, like I had missed a shift or something. Except that I didn’t. I looked back and thought that maybe the chain had come off the sprocket. Nope. There was no chain dragging or anything so I pulled over and stopped. There in the middle of the highway was my chain, alright. After waiting for a couple of cars to pass, I walked back and inspected said chain. The master link had pulled apart, causing the chain to be spit right out the back of the bike. Not a good situation, but at least I wasn’t too far from home, so I started pushing the bike. I had only gone about a hundred yards up the driveway when I figured I might as well abandon that effort and walk back to get my truck. The walk home gave me some time to reflect on what could have gone wrong. I had replaced the chain last summer and it was a good quality O-ring type chain. The kind that will go at least 10k before wearing out. Since the safety clip was missing I could only assume that it had parted company at some point and the sideplate had fallen off too, sometime before the chain derailed itself. I had removed the chain from the rear sprocket for the tire replacement procedure but had not taken the master link off, or inspected it upon reassembly, something I wish now that I had done. In forty years of riding, I have never tossed a chain on a streetbike and maybe only one time on a dirtbike that I can remember. Strange.  Anyway, I got back home, took the truck back down to the disabled bike, loaded it up and hauled it back to the shop. By now it was just past noon and there was no time to find a replacement master link, put the chain back on and eat lunch and then round up my riding gear, rain suit and backpack before it was time to go to work so I was forced to drive my truck on the first really nice warm day. Bummer! But, that’s how it goes. I took the whole episode as a sign that I should not ride to work that day. On the way to work, in my truck, I kept looking out for hazards that I might have encountered if I had been on two wheels but saw none. Better safe than sorry, I guess. There will be plenty of better riding days to come, hopefully, and maybe I will just have to ride my trusty ST1100 to work first, like I usually do.    

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