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Georgia On My Mind
May 2003

Day 9 part 3a

It's now late afternoon and we decide to pull in to the next gas station as we cross a small town.

At the cash, the elderly man asks how I am. It turns out he's the owner. I reply that it’s great that this rain has stopped, so we can continue running around stimulating the local economy! J

He chuckles and admits that it's true. He says that when it rains, everything slows down, nobody spends. "That's why we're doing our best to keep this wheel turning," I reply. Again he chuckles.

I'm feeling great. It's turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. But there is a certain heaviness to the warmth. Nothing that either Cindy or Carol would notice, I'm sure. Cindy is from Louisiana and Carol is from Atlanta, two places that define hot during the summer months.

We soon finish drinking and gear up. Within minutes, we're snaking our way down Wyah Road. Carol increases the pace a touch, as we still have significant distance to cover.

Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, my engine cuts out. Just like that. I'm astonished as I look down at my RPM gauge. The needle is at zero. I pull in and release the clutch several times, in an attempt to start it on compression but the bike slowly rolls to a stop. Doesn't work. I hit the starter. Turns over, but doesn't start.

Quickly I launch into a mental trouble-shooting flow-chart. Ignition switch off and then on. Kickstand down and then up. Kill switch off and then on. Hit the starter button and it starts. Cindy has stopped next to me and asks what's going on. I have no answer. I sheepishly say that my engine cut out and am not sure why. But everything seems fine now.

As I pull away, I mentally go through a checklist. It feels like it could be a bank-angle sensor malfunction. A sidestand kill-switch malfunction? Could the lopping surge I detected yesterday have been due to a looming ignition/fuel injection problem?

Less than a thousand feet down the road, the engine cuts out again. I click on my right turn signal and raise my left hand. This time Cindy pulls up to me looking a little concerned.

I have no obvious explanation. I cycle the sidestand several times. Maybe it’s the kill switch on the sidestand that is acting up as a result of the abundant rain. Hit the starter… nothing.

Ignition off, then on. Hit the starter. Engine comes to life. But something about the way it fires is odd, like it's not solid. Hmmm… I rule out the sidestand kill switch. It seems that it's the quality of firing that is a problem.

I waste no time in pulling away and maintain high rpm to see if something will clear. This is very odd and I'm intensely tuned-in to the bike in full diagnostic mode. I'm running at 6k rpm in second gear while giving short bursts of acceleration.

It cuts out again. This time Carol also pulls up to ask what's up. At this point, I'm a little embarrassed to be holding up the show. I answer that I seem to have an ignition or injection problem and that I'm not sure why.

Let's see. This happened within minutes of having fueled up. Too quickly for it to be bad fuel. Besides, both Cindy and Carol fueled up (albeit at different pumps, but probably from the same tank) and are not experiencing problems.

The bike has been subjected to strong, sustained downpours while parked overnight. Could it be that humidity has worked its way into the ignition system? If so, why has it run well all day at varying altitudes, temperatures, and loads?

It doesn't make sense.

Montreal, Canada

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