Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hunting Gremlins during the club's St. Patrick's Day Ride

Temperatures from low to high 40s, sunny and windy in the afternoon.

Yep, I meant gremlins, not leprechauns which would have been in keeping with the theme of today's ride!

I decided this morning to give group rides one more chance by deciding to participate in the ColoradoBeemer's Saint Patrick's Day ride to the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade down in Colorado Springs.

I was heading towards Morrison on the west side of Denver and about halfway there my brakes warning light telling me there was something amiss with my tail lights came on! My brakes worked fine and I could see my brakes flashing when I pressed the brake pedal when I stopped to check. Weird. I continued on to Morrison and stopped again at the gas station just outside Morrison both to tank up and to do a closer inspection.

Well, the warning light was still on and now the brake lights were not behaving correctly. I cursed silently as I parked Maria and started diagnosing the problem. Since I'd been doing wiring recently for the voltmeter and the trunk's new light, I concentrated there. I wasted a few minutes here before deciding were no issues with my recent wiring work, so I moved to the taillight's snakes nest of wiring.

I found that the common ground connector for several ground wires was loose, I tightened it up and the warning light went away. Cool, I thought, I'll just drive on and replace the connector when I get home in the afternoon! Little did I know at this time that the electric gremlins would reappear again.

I was a 1/2 hour late to the meeting point but it turns out I got there just in time to join the riders as they left Red Rocks Grill. More good karma I thought.

I settled into the #12 of 13 riders. We rode east out of Morrison which puzzled me since the published route was supposed to be through Deckers which involves going West out of Morrison. It was quite the convoluted route that the ride captain tooks us on. Its main purpose turns out to get us down to Colorado Springs while avoiding the slabs. I surmised on the way that the roads to Deckers must not have been in good shape, a fact I confirmed by asking one of the riders later.

Group riding is just not for me I've again decided. Too much jockeying around at times, too much accordion effect for my liking as riders sped up or slowed down. Not knowing the route we were to take was also annoying but I blamed myself for that one since I was late and missed the ride briefing. Damn sure no stopping to "smell the roses" or take pictures even though there were several great shots of Pikes Peak while we were on CO83. I like being able to stop when I wish and take pictures or whatever. You really cannot do this during a group ride since people think you may be having mechanical issues, the sweep and others may stop to check on you, etc etc...basically you have to hang with the group or you put a crimp on both the schedule and flow of things for everyone.

I did manage to not drop the camera and take this shot of the riders in front of me with Pikes Peak in the background though.

We ended up in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Colorado Springs. We'd had a couple of riders ride off on their own before we got there, guess they did not want to continue onto the parade.

After a bit of meandering and listening to the other riders talk about their motorcycles and such, I too decided to bail on the ride and go off by myself. I told the sweep, ziggi that I was bailing and they all went off to the parade. I guess it's just something in my character but I felt out of place amongst my fellow beemer riders. Not something that is conducive to further hanging out with them (no fault of theirs mind you, they were friendly enough), or of participating in future group rides.

I headed towards Garden of the Gods Park which was nearby it turns out. It was not too crowded since the temperatures were in the 40s still. Here's some pictures I took that turned out OK. I simply must get a wide angle lens camera for some of these shots in the future!

Garden of the Gods Main Parking Lot

Balancing Rock

A view of Pikes Peak from Mesa Overlook to the east of Garden of the Gods

Pictures done, I headed back north towards Denver using the I-25 slab to get to the Air Force Academy's North Exit and cut over to CO83 or Parker Road from there. It was while I was heading to Parker Road that the dang brake light warning light came on again! I stopped again, checked connections and nothing seemed amiss, I fired up Maria and the warning light went away as usual. Great I thought, there's something wrong and it's sporadic!

I headed off towards Franktown and about halfway there the warning light came on again. I just kept going, very frustrated with the dang warning light by this time.

I made it through Franktown and Parker just fine following CO83 and since I wanted to get to an auto parts store quick, took the E470 slab eastbound and got off at the Smoky Hill Road exit where there's an auto parts store. I bought some two prong adapters, some 16 gauge male/female connectors and stared replacing what I thought was a bad common ground connector. Had to buy new connectors because the ones I'd been carrying in my toolkit were crap.

About 10-20 minutes later, that was done, but the dang warning light was not turning off! It'd be fine before I put the tailing back into the tail fairing but then it'd stay on when I checked it again!

This went on several minutes as I kept re-checking connections and dismounting/mounting the taillight assembly to do so. Aaaarrgghhh! Finally, in the snakes nest of wiring that is my tailight assembly, I spotted a gray with white stripes broken wire! Hallelujah! There was the problem! It was a cable that led to the riding light at the rear of the motorcycle!

Of course, the wires involved were thinner than what the 16 gauge connectors I'd bought could grip, so I walked back into the auto parts store and got some 20-24 gauge connectors. The broken wire was too short, so I had to splice a bit of spare wire which I carried to enable them to connect with butt connectors. Repairs done, I switched on the ignition and joy of joys, the warning light went away and stayed away even after I remounted the taillight assembly and put everything away.

I got home and used bigger vise grips to tighten all reachable connectors in the tail section, then did a test ride, no more gremlins. What a PITA it was to troubleshoot this lighting issue, the dang wire must have been just barely connecting so that I never spotted it before and of course sometimes would make contact and sometimes not as vibrations occurred while riding! Man!

Some things I learned about my tool kit:

1. The mini vise grips I bought are too small, I could not put any real pressure on the wire connectors. Must either figure out a better way or get bigger vise grip.

2. The connectors I'd been carrying were impossible to tighten onto wire, even using bigger vise grips at home. How they're supposed to work? I've no idea, I've now more pliable connectors in the tool kit!

3. I realized that I did not carry a good wire cutter in the kit, I now do. Must find a small wire stripper as well, the Leatherman multitool did OK at this but it was a bit hard on the thinner wires.

About 200 miles of riding today, beautiful weather if a bit on the cool side while heading down to Colorado Springs. Beautiful views of Pikes Peak during most of the trip down as well. Here's a parting view of this majestic mountain:

1 comment:

Conchscooter said...

Nice pictures. Traveling alone is something we all feel the need to justify. I prefer it myself, and I too feel the need to justify it. I actually like my own company and apparently you do too. As an aside riding alone makes for a better blog...