Writing this on 7/15/2015
It’s been an eventful few days, but I’ll start from where I left off on my last entry.
I left my uncle’s place on 7/12, a Sunday. I had intended to stop at a couple of scooter shops (only things that were open) on my way out of town to try and see if anybody could help me get the handlebars straightened out. I went to one with a ton of asian employees and hardly any of them spoke any english. One man started to help me, but the language barrier was such that he thought I just wanted to adjust them. Once he realized what the actual problem was he said he could not help me. My GPS app would not accept the address I’d gotten for another shop to try, so I got on the road to Montreal. I ended up leaving Toronto later than anticipated, and sundown came before I made it to Montreal. I found a truck stop to camp out at for the night. Unfortunately it did not have any grass spots that weren’t 3 feed high in weeds, and my tent’s weakness is that it HAS to be staked down in order to work.
I was incredibly tired, and necessity being the mother of invention, I ghetto-rigged the tent using bungee cords and heavy stuff to be able to sorta prop it up.
The next morning I made it to Montreal, where I met my contact, Frederique, at her job, Taz Skatepark. I wasn’t able to skate the indoor park that day as they were having some sort of kid’s camp, but there is a DIY section outside that was open. I skated there for about three hours. Afterwards, I left all my luggage at Fred’s employee locker room and went for a joyride around Montreal.
Once I got back to Taz, I reencountered a rather pervasive problem in this trip: the bike wouldn’t turn back on.
I gathered all of my belongings by the bike, got a jump, and left the bike running while I strapped everything down. I rode the bike around the skatepark building, and then it died on me. While running. I figure the bike didn’t like sitting in traffic at idle all day, as that’s too low an engine speed to really charge the battery.
This was a new development. Up until now, the bike would only go as far as to refuse to turn back on, but it would always keep running once on.
Now, it just chose to die while idling.
Worrisome news indeed.
Fred still had about an hour and a half before she got off work, so I took the battery off the bike and set it on the trickle charger. My charger works terribly slow, so it wasn’t enough juice to turn the bike on. I had to ghetto rig some wires in order to be able to get a jump from one of Fred’s coworkers. After I got the jump, I had Fred hold the throttle halfway open while I packed my tools.
I rode to her house as quickly as I could, all the while keeping the RPMs really high.
The bike shut off on me right as I was parking it in front of her apartment.
This new development might be the the beginning of the end of Chris and the Shadow.
I figure so far, the alternator was working, albeit badly. But now with it dying while running, it might be done for completely.
The plan right now is to find a car battery in Montreal, and carry it with me. If the alternator is completely dead and thus not charging at all, the most likely scenario is that I will make it 15-30 minutes out of Montreal before the bike consumes the battery and leaves me on the side of the road. The idea then is to rig the car battery on, and that should get me back on the road, if only for a little while. That saves me from having to get a tow.
I’m hoping that the alternator is still working just enough that at highway speeds the bike will continue to charge.
However, if I do have to switch it to the car battery on the side of the road, I’m going to have to go to my last resort plan: sell the bike, and find alternate ways home.
My options for selling the bike are thus: I can try to sell it in Canada, a difficult feat I’ve been told given that it is an American motorcycle; I can try to get someone with a pickup truck (via craigslist, etc) to let me and the bike hitchhike across the border and sell it in the US; I can try to recharge both batteries, beeline for the border and hope I make it; or I can sell the bike to a scrapyard here in Canada.
I intend to continue on with my trip regardless. As in, I intend to hitchhike to NYC, Philadelphia, Virginia, and onwards to Florida if the bike’s done for. Catching a flight is only going to happen if I still haven’t made it home by the end of the month.
Anyway, going back to my timeline, after I made it back to Fred’s on Tuesday (7/13) we went out for a Poutine, apparently a popular “Montreal only” food item.
The next morning, I skated to the Olympic Stadium which is quite close to Fred’s house (she had to go to work). I rode around for quite awhile before catching the Metro and a bus to Taz. I was able to skate the indoor part that day, and had quite a good time. I haven’t skated this much in a single day in years.
Before leaving Fred’s job at about 4, her boss told me he might be able to score a reasonably still functional car battery for me, so I’m hoping he comes through for me.
Once we finished getting back to Fred’s via transit, we both took a shower and went off to downtown so she could show me the city. We skated around for awhile, and I took several pictures. By the time we got back to her house at about 11pm my feet were killing me from the absurd amount of skateboarding I’d done during the day.
It was a good day.
I’m now (7/15, 10AM) sitting on Fred’s couch typing this entry and planning my next steps. Ha-mes had a few tests he wanted me to run on the bike with the voltmeter, so I’ll likely do that next, afterwards I’m going to call Fred to see if her boss pulled through with that battery for me. Then I’ll pack up all my gear and go pick up a battery, either from Fred’s boss or elsewhere, hit the road to Quebec City, and hope for the best.
I suppose it’s worth mentioning what my current state of mind is:
I am having a great time. Yes, the current status of the bike is stressful and always pressing on my mind, but I have really enjoyed Montreal, and the absurd amount of skateboarding. I am still incredibly happy to have chosen to push forward with this journey. I knew having to leave the bike behind and finding another way home was a distinct possibility given how ambitious this trip was and how old and unreliable the Shadow has been. I’m okay with it, and I’m sure it’ll be a great story to tell someday.
I do not regret coming on this trip.
I am happy.
I am having fun.
And most importantly, I am smiling while I am writing this.
(That last paragraph means mom, please stop worrying about me. I’ll be okay.)