Saturday, July 19, 2014

Operator error

08_bmw_k1200gt_detail06Riding home from the post office this morning, I found I couldn’t get the cruise control to work on my 2003 BMW K1200GT.

Oh, shit, I thought. I don’t need this kind of problem on the eve of a 750-mile ride to the BMW MOA rally in St. Paul, Minn.

This is the third or fourth time the cruise control has crapped out since I bought the bike in early 2003. It always came back on its own after I stopped, shut off the engine and restarted it. So I rode on home and parked in the garage in the hope that all would be well when I rode again.

Fast forward to 1:20 p.m. when I set out for a free dark roast coffee at Starbucks, cashing in an empty coffee bag. I turned south on U.S. 49, got up to 60mph and flipped the SET button on the cruise control (it’s that gray thing on top of the left control cluster that looks kinda like a little tongue sticking out of a larger gray plastic piece). The gold cruise control indicator light stayed dark and cruise control failed to engage.


I switched the cruise control off and on and off and on to no avail. It occurred to me that the problem might be a blown fuse, but the little red LED next to the gray tongue was glowing, signifying cruise was definitely getting electricity. WTF?

Then I noticed that the toe of my right boot was resting on the rear brake pedal. Application of the front or rear brake cancels cruise control.

I scooted my foot a couple of inches off of the pedal, thumbed the SET/RES tongue and… sonofabitch! The cruise control engaged and the gold indicator light came on.

Feeling like an imbecile, it dawned on me that the previous cruise control “failures” were also due to the same kind of operator error.

So now I don’t have to worry about a malfunctioning cruise control. But there is the matter of having to stab the starter button repeatedly to fire a cold engine. It took 7 pushes to start the bike this morning. The good news is that it eventually starts and almost always starts on the first push whenever I try it later in the day.

And there’s also the matter of managing our cash flow to accommodate the cost of the upcoming trip. I calculate it will cost about $140 for gas. I can eat cheaply – maybe cheaper than I could at home. The rally fee is already paid, so the only remaining expense is maybe $120 or so for lodging to and from the rally. It’s a 13-hour ride, so it’s theoretically possible for me to leave at dawn coming and going and ride the whole distance in daylight. That assumes no delays from traffic, fatigue or weather.

We shall see.

BTW, the Starbucks baristas and their noisy grab-ass behavior is very annoying this afternoon. The only time they shut up is when a customer orders.

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