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2 June 2015, 9:30 PM CT, Watertown SD

I didn't expect to be here tonight, Watertown that is. I thought I might even be in Nebraska. Not that I have anything against South Dakota, it's just not what was in my mind for tonight. Only 95.8 miles. Why am I here? This little critter just below.

So, what is this? It is the $25 thing that keeps this from happening.

If you are not sure what it should look like, just glance below.

The critter is a "shifter shaft". It connects the heel and toe shift levers to the transmission linkage. The picture just above looks somewhat orderly, whereas in the one above the parts are sort of strewn about. Which is exactly what happened. I was riding Interstate because I wanted to go faster, I had an Internet meeting that I wanted to take over coffee at noon in Watertown, yes, the same town where I am now. I could see after a while that I was not going to get to Watertown before the meeting. In addition, I could see that I might not have enough gas to get to Watertown. So I took an exit in the remote countryside where I was to get gas. I figured I would just stay there and do my meeting. As I was riding up the exit ramp, I shifted down, and my foot felt absolutely nothing there. I moved my foot up a bit and tried to shift down. Nothing. I moved my foot all the way against the bike and tried to shift down. Nothing. I thought I should take a look, so I leaned over the bike and saw that the parts were strewn about just as you saw in the picture above.

I almost pulled to the side to stop, but decided that might not be a good idea, I should keep rolling. So, I continued in 6th gear, going slower, but with the clutch in the "zone" (riding the clutch for those of you who don't know what the "zone" is) and keeping revs high. Fortunately there was no traffic on the side street so I ran the Stop sign, I was afraid I would never get the bike rolling again with only 6th gear. I continued limping along about 1/4 mile to the gas station, turned left into the station, again thankful there was no oncoming traffic which would have required me to stop. I rolled up to a gas tank, then climbed off to see the mess in the picture above.

I did a check on my iPhone to see where the nearest Harley dealer was, and saw that it was Watertown. I called them, and spoke with Todd in service. He told me that he could help me out, should be able to fix the problem after the bike arrives. He could come pick it up. I told him that I needed to call HOG (Harley Owners Group) first, because they provide free towing to the nearest Harley dealer.

That was a nightmare. I won't go through the details, but it took more than an hour just to get a tow set up. And guess who did the towing? HOG arranged for Todd to get the bike. Why they didn't do that an hour earlier bugs me. I was getting extremely annoyed, a manager came on the line, and they decided to do what I wanted, which was to have Todd get the bike. Finally, three and a half hours after I shut down the bike, it was rolled into a trailer. It took another hour to get to Watertown. Donny came to pick me up, he is one of the mechanics. He also did the bike repair.

Here's my tip of the hat to Todd and Donny of Glacial Lakes Harley Davidson in Watertown South Dakota. Thanks guys.

That pickup is what towed me there, in the trailer.

And one more comment on the breakdown. At the gas station a very kind gentleman offered to give me a ride wherever I needed to go. He gave me his phone number before he drove off, telling me to call if I needed anything. So here's my tip of the hat to Chauch. Thanks very much.

When the bike was ready to roll, I considered riding another two hours south, there would have been enough daylight. Todd discouraged me from doing that, though, because of weather that was building up. Here's a radar shot.

That fat black dot is me, in Watertown, at 4:55 PM Eastern Time. I was thinking of riding to Sioux Falls. The yellow area to the northwest is a Tornado Warning. The magenta area to the southwest is a Severe Thunderstorm warning. It looked to me like Sioux Falls would be farther from any tornado, but Todd said the severe thunderstorms might move to Sioux Falls, that's what often happens. So, I called my local Best Western and decided to spend the night. I just took a look at the radar now, five hours later, the yellow area has been moved almost to Fargo, the magenta area has not been moved, but the thunderstorms within that area are now at the eastern edge.

Let me go back to an earlier time today, when I was running along through the deserted countryside. I took a picture to show you what it looks like, basically flat farm land.

Just now, I started wondering if that picture was North Dakota or South Dakota, I don't remember now, and discovered something. That picture was taken 38 minutes before the broken critter picture. So, it had to be in South Dakota, but more interesting, the shifter still worked at that time. It must have broken when I did my final shift into 6th gear after that stop along the roadside.

And one last picture for you. While I was waiting for Donny to show up in the tow truck, I had lunch. The gas station is also a casino, so I had lunch there. I had an Indian Frybreak Taco.

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