Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Grinding, Crunching Lethbridge, AB, Tuesday, 30 August 2011 7:40pm

Let me start this off by saying that the guys at Scougall Motors are awesome. If you ever find yourself near Fort Macleod AB and need car-related services, definitely get in touch with them.

I stopped for gas in Claresholm, and noticed that when my bike was moving slowly it was making a grinding, clunking noise. It seemed like it was coming from the chain, so I stopped for a while at the gas station to clean and re-wax it and continued south. It seemed better, but I resolved to have it checked out once I was back in the US.

Around Fort Macleod, the noise got worse enough that I didn't want to continue, so I pulled in at the nearest business that looked like it might know where I could find a motorcycle mechanic, which was Scougall Motors. They told me that there wasn't one closer than Lethbridge, and let me use their phone to call them.

I also called the AMA (note: the American Motorcyclist Association, not the Alberta Motor Association, which causes confusion in these parts), wondering if my tow coverage extended into Canada. It did, and the distance I was calling for should be within the free coverage. Great! I waited for the call from the towing company.

The towing company quoted me $240 on top of the coverage, "because we have to bring a flatbed truck out to pick up the motorcycle". The AMA had specifically told me that that was covered, so I called them back and they started calling around to their local affiliate and the towing company (a sub-contractor) to figure things out.

While this was going on, the guys at Scougall commiserated about towing companies and how bad it is to have car troubles so far from home. They had me demonstrate the noise and their (auto) mechanic tried to see if he could tell what was wrong. The noise happens when the bike is off and in neutral and being walked forward, and it seems to be coming from the back of the bike, so I'm hopeful that it's not something wrong in the gearbox.

When word got around what was going on, one of them (Michael) mentioned that he was going to Lethbridge anyway, and we could just put the bike in the back of a pickup and drop it off there.

So we put the bike on Scougall Motors's hydraulic lift, rolled it into the truck, and we were off to Honda Lethbridge, who conveniently had an unloading ramp outside of their service area (they had closed while the towing companies were trying to overcharge me).

So I'm now checked in at a local motel, waiting for the shop to open tomorrow, so they can have a look at it. I'm hopeful that it's the chain, since that's an easy fix and something the shop is likely to have in stock. The chain has taken some abuse, what with the dust of camping, running for extended periods in hot weather, and today near-freezing rain.

Oh, yeah. Even if the noise hadn't happened, it wouldn't have been a great day of riding. It was thundering when I woke up in Banff, and, while that abated before I left, it was raining steadily and quite windy. I had originally planned on taking some scenic roads that the biker from Calgary had recommended, but after half an hour of cold and rain, I decided to take the fastest route instead.

The Trans-Canada Highway is not the ideal place to be riding in those conditions. The temperature was in the low 40s, and the road is largely unprotected in this stretch, cutting across the plains. There's also a lot of large truck traffic, and the associated splashing. I stopped in a parking lot in Calgary to change socks and add two more layers (a new personal record, I think: tshirt, thermal, light fleece, heavy fleece, jacket liner, jacket). One plus side of this motel? Laundry machines, so at least my clothes should be clean and dry for tomorrow.

If it turns out that it's not the chain and the shop needs to order some parts, maybe I'll have time to get caught up on my photos.

192mi in 4:43


Scougall Ben (Anonymously) Wednesday, 31 August 2011 10:27am

Wow, good karma coming through for you! Be sure to write Scougall a review on yelp or ratemydealer or something.

I've been learning a bunch of lisp (clojure) the last few weeks - love to talk to you about it the next time you are in town.