August 1st, 2009

Vengeance on Two Wheels

The continuing adventures.

My surgery was June 29th. I haven't ridden my motorcycle since the last sunny day before that one. I anticipated there might be some problems with getting it started, but nothing like this.

Yesterday, the plan was to ride out to Moto Market in Acton to visit lionstar. She's covering the store while the owner is (supposed to be!) on vacation. I was going to work on one of the last two papers I need to finish in order to complete my Cornell degree (really for real this time, they have assured me). Problem? Bike won't start. Okay, it's been sitting. First, check the battery. Well, my plans to jump the bike were ruined by the rain (maybe it's perfectly safe to jump a battery in the rain, but I wasn't about to risk it). I also checked the tank and noticed it was a bit low on gas. So I took Becca's car and got fresh gas while the battery was charging. I added the fresh gas, some Seafoam and Techron, and let it sit overnight.

This morning, I had a freshly charged battery. Connected that to the bike, tried starting it, no good. Called motomuffin. She suggested I pull my air filter. Did. Still nothing. Called milktree. Like Kate, he thought the carbs might be bunged, but I had just had them cleaned right before my surgery. He suggested draining the carb (probably flooded). Bike started, but wouldn't run with even an ounce of throttle. He suggested running the engine with the petcock OFF til the old gas was out of the system, then try it with the petcock set to ON (so it would pull fresher gas than the reserve). Turns out my bike can run for a really long time with the petcock off. Or maybe that's related to what's wrong with the bike. Either way, the bike overheated. Radiator fluid coming out from various places, steam rising off the bike. I was on the left side of the bike, so I turned the key off first (HOT) then hit the kill switch. I let the bike cool down.

So while the bike was cooling, I cleaned up the antifreeze that had boiled over. Once the fan had cut out and the bike stopped smoking, I decided to check the tank to make sure the gas was not draining despite the petcock being OFF. But there was a hissing noise. The radiator, right? No.

Picture a geyser, at least double my height (over a dozen feet) of gasoline. Hot gasoline. Rocketing straight upwards as if it were being sprayed from a firehose. I ran as fast as I could, averting my eyes. The gas came sheeting down, in a wide enough circle that Becca's Scion was completely within the blast radius. I couldn't outrun it. Fortunately, I had the pitcher of ice water I had been drinking from in my hand. I popped open the top and doused my head. My face and neck were feeling hot (though more like a chemical burn than hot burn, if that makes sense). I doused myself with the last of the water and ran inside.

Figuring water and gas immiscible, I ran into the bathroom and grabbed a handful of liquid soap. I soaked my head in the shower (thinking of Dr. Roberts and the high school chem lab the whole time), then lathered up my face and neck in an attempt to get the (still burning) gas off of me. Rinsed once, realized I still had my shirt on, whipped my shirt off, and washed myself with soap again. Fun times. I'm starting to feel better by then, but who knows, with adrenaline and stuff. I figure I'll end up somewhere between mild sunburn and 1st degree at worst.

The landlord took his hose back last summer, so I had to borrow the neighbors. I washed off the driveway best I could, then hosed down Becca's car. At that point, I turned to her and said: "Becca, I'm *that* neighbor."
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    Duran Duran - Ordinary World