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08/14/2001 Entry: "Ride West--Day Two (Tuesday, Aug. 7)"

Begin: West Memphis, AR
End: Tulsa, OK
Distance: 549 miles (19537-20086)

It was drizzling in the morning when I packed up the bike. I got everything settled and began the day's riding. I planned to ride I40 out out of Memphis all the way to New Mexico, stopping in Oklahoma City for the night. For the first 150 or so miles, the ride was pretty uneventful and the scenery nothing to write home about. I40 in both Arkansas and Oklahoma is undergoing significant stretches of construction and the interstate was several times reduced to a single lane in the westbound direction with 40 mph speed limits.

Riding through Little Rock, I came up on a motorcycle cop from behind just as he was taking the offramp to I430 south. He gave a friendly wave, which I returned, and on I went. About 20 miles outside of Little Rock, it started to pour, buckets of rain just dumping out of the sky. A few minutes later, I passed a big pickup truck that had apparently spun out in the rain and came to rest against the outside guardrail facing the wrong direction.

I had reason to be very thankful for my Aerostich suit and Alpinestar boots, which kept my body and feet dry and comfortable. The Olympia leather gloves got wet, but not uncomfortable. I discovered at the my next gas stop, however, that the dye from the gloves had stained my hands black. After about 40 miles, I road out of the rainstorm into the heat of the day. My gloves were dry within about 10 minutes of being out of the storm.

Coming into Eastern Oklahoma, I noticed that the release on my clutch lever was starting to move lower down in the pull of the handle. This problem worsened as the day wore on and I began to become concerned. I figured that there must be a BMW dealer in Oklahoma City, which I planned to reach before 5pm, and I would have it checked out there. I stopped for gas at around 4pm in Shawnee, about 30 miles outside of Oklahoma City. While at the station, I asked to borrow their Yellow Pages so I could see if there was a dealer in OK City. According to the phone book, there was, but when I called the number there was a message saying that the dealership would be open in September 2001. This was a little frustrating, to say the least. Next, I called a Triumph dealer in the phonebook and they told me there were no BMW mechanics in OK City, but that there was one in Tulsa. They didn't have a number, but they gave me the name--Atlas Motorcycles. I tracked them down through information and found out they were open until 6pm.

At this point, it was nearly 4:30 so I really had to haul to make it the 100 miles to Tulsa before they closed. I took State Route 18 from Shawnee up to I44 east, which is a toll road in OK. I made it into Tulsa and to the dealership about 15 minutes before they closed, despite 10 miles of traffic when the I44 was reduced to a single lane with a posted 40mph speed limit for about 10 miles. The folks at the dealership were nice and promised to get to the bike first thing in the morning, which would be at 9am when they opened. They theorized that there could be a bubble in the hydraulic line and this could cause the problem. One of the guys behind the counter said as a throw-away comment that you could build the pressure back up in the clutch by pumping it if this was the case. This offhand remark turned out, for reasons that will soon become apparent, to be crucially important to me finishing the trip.

I left the bike at the shop and got a ride from Clay at the dealership to a local La Quinta. Later I caught a cab to the city's Cherry Street neighborhood, which is nice little area with shops and restaurants, had dinner, then went back to the hotel and hoped that the problem would be simple and the fix would be fast, inexpensive and effective.