As the thick white, putrid smelling smoke pouring out from under the tank, all I could think of was I've got to get off the Beast before the 41L gas tanks explodes.
Three days and 1200 miles ago I had set off to take the Beast on a shakedown ride to the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Colorado.
Getting to Silverton involved two long days of riding with the first night was spent in Dillon Montana.
I arrived about 8:00 PM only to find the place packed. I mean there were no hotels with any rooms. As I stood outside thinking about heading down the road or just look for a place to pitch the tent, I heard two people talking about how they had just checked every hotel in town and no one had rooms, not even the Best Western next door. I hadn't tried them, what the hell, why not. I guy on the other side end of the phone just started laughing when I asked if there was any rooms available. "You must be the luckiest guy around", he said. "I just had two cancellations and someone just took one of the rooms. The other is still..." I'll take it!
I got a 6:30 AM start right after a nice breakfast of cook-your-own waffles in the hotel. I really need to get off the interstate as yesterday's ride was really shit. I had about another 200 miles on I-15 I'd need to take but after that it was secondary road all the way to Silverton, some 790 miles way.
I'd always wanted to see the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area so I broke off from the interstate at McCammon and started riding US-30. This road is fairly deserted except for the truckers so the next 200 miles when quickly. I was starting to like the 41L tank as the Beast gets some 43+ mpg which means I have over a 430 mile range. Not that my butt can take 400 miles without a break, but it was nice not to think about gas every 200 miles.
One thing I was starting to learn on this trip is that rushing to get to a destination was just not really all that fun. It was something like 1,200 miles from Spokane to Silverton and I wanted to do this in 2 days. So I was missing a lot of sights, roadside historic signs, and photo opportunities to put in the miles. Next time I'll slow down. Anyway, I was finally going to see Devil's Tower in Wyoming on this trip. I had been near it three times before but never had the time to stop.
The last 50 miles into Silverton are on the wonderful switchbacks of the Million Dollar Highway. Unfortunately there was construction and it was starting to get dark. I had noticed the low beam wasn't working so I would run the high until I had oncoming traffic. I didn't want to stop to switch the bulbs any anyway, I'll just go and get a new one in Silverton or Durango tomorrow.
After two long days of riding I didn't feel like getting on the bike so I spent the next day attending various HU seminars/workshops.
When pulling the low beam the next day to check it for replacement, I notice it was a 100W bulb. Thinking this was a little high, I check the manual to find the proper bulb should be 50W. I walked down to the local gas station and purchsed a 50W bulb and went back to camp toinstalled it.
Silverton is a small tourist town. Twice a day a train pulls into main street to load/unload people that board in Durango. They spend the day walking the streets of SIlverton and board for the return trip home later that day.
With the bike ready to go, I took off for a day ride up to Cinnamon Pass, part of the Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway. It looked like a nice ride and would take me past a few old gold mines as well as offer great views of the rockiest once on top. Two miles up the road and the beast suddenly lost power. As the thick white, putrid smelling smoke pouring out from under the tank, all I could think of was I've got to get off the Beast before the 41L gas tanks explodes! I pulled to the side of the road and quickly removed my camera. As I stood at a safe distance my initial thoughts were that I hoped the bike wouldn't go up in flames. Then again...... if it did, I could get a new ...... wait a minute, I had left my wallet in the panniers, if it burned now the hell would I pay for a ride home. After what seemed like hours (I'm sure it was only a minute or two) the smoke stopped and there were no flames.
A few locals in pickups and some bikers returning from rides stopped to ask if I needed help. Well, do you have a new bike? Lucky I had rided up hill so I turned the Beast around and rolled back into camp. After about a hour or two this is what I found.
The wiring harness was completely fried and there was no chance of a field repair. I learned about Marty and Laurie that had a trailer with room for the Beast. Marty was just returning from his shakedown trip to Alaska and planed to head to South America in a few months.
At Gunnison we found a U-Haul, offloaded the bike from Marty's trailer, loaded it in the U-Haul and started my trip home.
Several days latter, after deciphering the BMW wiring diagrams I determined that the 100W bulb had damaged the wires before burning out and once I installed the 50W bulb the current was too much for the wiring insulation and the whole thing went up in smoke. I could have had a lively conversation with the original owner at that time!
The damage was so great that the complete wiring harness would need to be replaced. A quick check online and I found a new harness lists for $1200. I looked on ADVRider and found a guy parting out an '01 GS and $100 later it was in the mail.
My morale was down a bit as I had taken a little over a week off and had planned to ride to both the HU event in Colorado and then make my way up to the National BMW rally in Gillette WA. Now, my bike was down, and it would take a few days to get the part and a few more to replace the harness. And, once replaced I didn't even know what else might not work due to the melt down.
Knowing I had a plan for the Beast, and not wanting to go back to work I loaded up my trusty Ducati and took off for Gillette.