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Mechanical Problems, Nightingale, Uncategorized

That Time I Blew a Tranny Outside of Roswell (this may not be about what you think it’s about)

I’ve just spent a great weekend with my Diva.  Knowing I wouldn’t want to be working on a post during our getaway, I pulled up a very old post from my Live Journal days.  This details my very first serious breakdown on a roadtrip.  It happened after a really fun few days at Roswell during what was the Dodging Oklahoma Tour.  Dodging Oklahoma happened because Mr. Man and I had just spent way too much time riding through the uninteresting portions of Oklahoma.  We decided to design a trip the would eventually take us to Hot Springs the very long way while circling around Oklahoma.  We had made it to Roswell and I belive we were heading to Dalhart, TX that day.  About 30 miles into the day things went a bit pear-shaped.  And the title to this post is a bit misleading I suppose.  It was my original post title and I couldn’t come up with a better one.


It’s true that we should have been in like Arkansas City or Coffeyville or somewhere in Kansas right now but we aren’t and thats how it goes.

Let me say that all four of us are perfectly fine and healthy, no one wrecked their bike, no one got hurt in any way shape or form.

About 30 miles out of Roswell yesterday morning fifth gear let go on me. The transmission slipped out of gear and the engine spun with no acceleration…but 4th worked fine. OK…at our next stop we talked about it a bit and decided that the dogs on the gear must be worn. This is going to really hurt financially because the transmission will have to be replaced or rebuilt but at this point, no one is thinking too hard about that. We’re more thinking about the getting to civilization and maybe a stiff drink at this point. We checked my transmission fluid, loosened my clutch a bit and went on. I had 5th again….then I didn’t…..then I did…..and on like this. We found that keeping our speed to 6omph meant I kept 5th gear for a much longer time before it would slip out.

Let me stop here and reassure everyone that the gear slipping in no way impacted the bike’s handling. There was a slight lurch to the left but because of the sidecar, the bike remained stable. I’m not sure what would have happened to a two wheeled bike. To make sure I’m riding as safe as possible, Mr Man puts me in third position and moves Spyderman to drag. I felt a lot safer in the middle of the group although I missed drag a lot.

The decision had been made to head back to Abilene. From there Mr. Man and I would take the bike into Fort Worth to Perry’s shop. Spyderman and Zippo would either go with us to Ft. Worth and if Perry could just switch out the transmission for a new one, we all stood a chance of making it to Hot Springs in time for our reservation. If Perry didn’t have a transmission handy, Spyderman and Zippo could either go back to Austin with us or leave from Abilene and make it to Hot Springs on their own. A few calls from Perry and we get the news that he doesn’t have a transmission and it’s a few weeks to rebuild it. So Spydermand and Zippo will either be going home with us or going on.


Spydermand and Ros, our mascot for the trip.  Photo by Zipppo

We were about 30 miles out of Lubbock in Anton, TX with about 100 miles to go to Abilene. Fifth gear goes…then fourth goes…then a hideous whining/dragging noise happens. I slow down and slow down and Mr Man pulls us over into the parking lot of an abandoned convenience store. We very quickly ascertain that the transmission is now blown. We think a bit and the smokers smoke and I pass out snacks from the cooler and we drink some water. We then call AAA for a tow.


Me and Ros making the best of a bad situation. Photo by Zippo

I’ll leave out the couple of hours of waiting and negotiating with tow services. The bottom line is that I got towed into Lubbock and we stayed last night at the Raddison (the Embassy Suites was full but we certainly felt like we all deserved a hotel that might have a bar.) I had a few drinks and Spydermand and Zippo made the choice to go on to Hot Springs alone. I’m so proud!!!! Our little ones all grown up and independent. We got some sleep and the next day I called around today and found a towing company out of Austin that would drive to Lubbock and get my bike and tow it home today!!!  So I’m waiting at the hotel for the tow truck and riding back with them. Mr Man is staying one more night and heading home tomorrow. Zippo and Spyderman also stayed today in order to tidy up a few loose ends, cancel and make hotel reservations and do a little shopping for supplies (and also to make sure I found a way to get the bike back safely). So tonight I’ll be home and my trip will be over.


Watching Skylark getting towed home.  Photo by Spyderman

That’s an ok thing actually. Anytime you make a trip like this on a motorcycle, you accept the risks involved. One of the risks is the fact that you will suffer a mechanical breakdown that will end the trip. I’ve had a blast really…I’ll still have a week or so off of work and that never is a bad thing. I’m safe and my bike can be fixed. There will most likely be more later after I’m back in Austin.

As a follow up, I made it back to Austin just fine.  I wound up deciding to rent a car and drive back following the tow truck.  I got into Austin in the early morning hours and fell into bed.  A few days later we loaded the bike onto a trailer and took her to Martindale Motorcycle Works where her transmission was replaced.  This was the beginning of me realizing that my beloved R90 might not be the bike for me if I wanted to keep making long road trips.  It was one more long trip and another blown transmission before I was sure she was the wrong bike and bought my big 1150GS.  Looking back on this emergency with the experience I have now, I’m not sure I would do anything different.  One of the many options we discussed was renting a Uhaul and just driving the bike home.  I might have pushed a little harder for that option since I would be in control the entire time instead of waiting on a tow truck.  We might still discard the idea but I would have pushed for it harder.  Now I also have MedJet Assist.  That service would have opened the possibility of my bike being shipped home.  I could have rented a car and driven a support car for the rest of the trip.  We may have decided that was not the best option but it’s an option I didn’t have available to me at the time.


I was so happy to leave this burnt out gas station.  Photo by Spyderman



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Who is Sidecar Adventures?

I'm just a Girl with a 1975 BMW R90/6 rigged to a 2006 Ural Retro Sidecar and a 2002 BMW 1150GS rigged to a DMC Sidecar. This is the story of my life on the road, in the garage, in my kitchen, my closet and, on occasion, in my makeup collection. I'm a Femme with a wrench, you have been warned.
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