I took my time in the morning leaving Crafordsville Indiana, and didn’t hit the road until almost 11. I wanted to make sure I was well-rested; these cheap rooms have dirty air-conditioning filters, so you invariably wake to find yourself snoring and stuffy, with fine powder in the back of your tongue. Blecch.
Off onto the Interstate again and I had checked the Internet the night before to find a Suzuki dealership along the route who might have replacement brake pads, as I’d installed EBC’s before I left, against my best judgment… as stock Suzuki ones weren’t available. EBC’s had ruined two expensive discs before for me.
So I called a shop in Urbana Illinois, near the University, who said they had DP pads… and I felt it important to get those damn EBC’s off before they did any real damage to the rotors.
Just before the Illinois line I stopped for breakfast and gas at tiny farm town called Covington. I rolled three miles down a country lane before reaching the place… a tiny place nestled in the wooded farmland there. After gassing up ($2.86 for 93 octane), I spied a little “family restaurant” and headed there. Next to high-volume truck stops, little mom & pop diners are the best for eats.
Inside I ordered ribeye steak and eggs, with hash browns and wheat toast and coffee for $7.50. While I was eating, head down, I heard some activity at the table two feet away and here’s the county sheriff, sitting down with two VERY redneck-looking pals. Harumph. Okay… as Hunter Thompson said, “but we haven’t done anything yet!!”.. so no problem.
Well, within a few more minutes here comes the entire local police force in to sit with the guy; one of them is a serious-looking young jarhead with a shaved head, police fatigues, combat boots, and a huge black .45 clipped on his belt. Now there’s half a dozen countryside gendarmes next to this New Yawk motorcycle-riding long-hair; and God Knows what that boy's carryin’. Meanwhile the old ladies at the other table over are intently discussing what kind of salad that everyone will like at the upcoming church picnic. I finished up as quickly as possible and exited Stage Left. On the police SUV parked in front of my bike was a sticker:
DO DRUGS, DO TIME.
Back out to the highway.
Not long afterwards I crossed the Illinois linbe and or within an hour or so reached Urbana. I got off exit 183 Lincoln Avenue and dug up the bike shop, a large-sized dealer carrying all four Japanese brands. Lots of dirt-bikes and quad business there, it seems. Anyway, I bought the pads that I'd called about and went outside to put them on the bike, stripping off all the packs and gear to get at my toolkit. Changing front brake pads is generally a small job requiring simply to remove two caliper bolts per side and then on screw-in pad retaining pin for each. Pull the old pads out, push the new ones in, re-bolt, all done in about twenty minutes. Wash your hands and hit the road again. Glad to get rid of those EBC’s.
GLITCH #1: the brake-pad pin bolts have internal Allen head sockets… and both of them were STRIPPED as I tried to turn them.
GLITCH #2: I’m wrenching one of the caliper bolts off I knock the stainless brake line just a little and it CRACKS. As in OFF.
Brake fluid starts running all down my wheel and this isn’t good. It became immediately clear to me that the lines would have to be replaced.. And no, dealerships as a rule do NOT carry such things in stock. They’d have to be ordered. Ouch.
Fortunately, the shop used a warehouse in Wisconsin that had the lines… I paid an extra $30 for overnight shipping (even though the kid assured me they always come the next day anyway), and okay, if the lines are replaced I’ll be cool to keep riding, have to worry about the stripped bolt heads later. So I pay the money and Thank God there’s a reasonably-priced hotel up the street ($65...ouch, a little over my budget)… okay, these things happen, just roll with it. The room is nice; a lot better than Breezewood, so I settle down and make the best of it. Get some rest, sort your pack, wash some underwear, check your mail, etc. Good TV stations, (but no porno, alas).
Next morning, bright and sunny again. Good day for making up time. I call the shop, the lines have arrived, I check out and lug all my gear back down the street. I go inside cheerfully, get the lines in a paper bag, take all out back to an old picnic table and begin the operation. Should go easily, I’m going to take my time… and I open the bag up and it’s the wrong brake lines.
It seems that years ago I ordered Russell steel lines in a style that eliminated a center junction block on the stock layout. They sent me a set based on me still having that block.
SO… we re-order the lines again from Wisconsin, this time universal custom fit ones to the right length. Ouch… oh well. One good note though is that the service manager got involved and managed to get the old pad pin bolts out, and they cut a flat slot in the head of each so I can use a flat screwdriver for installation. They each have a cotter pin for safety, so I think that will work fine, and I can check them often until I can get replacement. Anyway, that saves me a chore later and I can throw away those stinkin’ EBC’s now, with any luck.
So I’m back in the Sleep Inn in Urbana, one more night. Not much to do here, so I took a taxi over into Champaign nearby, to a Best Buy store to get a new pair of stereo earphones, as the old Shure’s that Mark had kindly given me gave up a channel and wouldn’t cooperate anymore.
On the way out of Champaign I gorged on a pretty impressive Chinese buffet place… huge selection, for $7.95. Burp.
Now I’m back in the hotel at 6:40 PM… no, scratch that, 5:40 PM… I guess I must have crossed a time zone already somewhere.