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To Sandpoint

After another night of my ridiculously loud snoring, we woke to continued rain and cold temperatures in Priest Lake. The plan was for us (Bryan, Ed and I) to say goodbye to Zach, and continue east to Whitefish, Montana. Bryan and Ed would follow me in the rental car.

This day would turn out to be the most pivotal one of the trip.

The scene from inside Steve's Auto Import Service.  Sandpoint, ID.
The bike fired up as normal, and we headed out. Roughly 10 miles in, I encountered a strange issue with the throttle. We were doing 60-65 MPH on the highway, when all of a sudden the throttle and gas cut out for a split second. I was immediately concerned, and here’s why. BMW motorcycles are renowned for being bulletproof. They just do not have issues, nor do they break down. I had not encountered a single issue with Fiona since I bought her. Continuing the next 10 miles, the same thing happened, except it became much more pronounced, and occurred with greater frequency. We made it to Sandpoint – lovely town, by the way – and took some back streets. As I came up to a second Stop sign, I had to crank the throttle to keep the engine running. It was clear that there was something significantly wrong. The third Stop sign was the final riding stop for the day. The engine finally gave its last gasp, and would not fire.

We regrouped in the rental car, then learned from our mobile phone searches that there was an auto import service dealer just around the block. We pushed the bike to the dealer. The guys in the shop were great, but understandably would not touch a BMW motorcycle for liability purposes. They were kind enough to let us use one of the service bays as a hangout. I ended up contacting BMW roadside assistance (Fiona was still under warranty), and the decision was made to tow to Spokane, the closest location for a BMW motorcycle dealership.

I was majorly bummed when reality set in – we would not get to Glacier National Park, which for me was the Holy Grail of the entire trip. In retrospect, that emotion was a moot point. It turns out that the planned route to Whitefish would have taken us through 16″ of snow. Further, Glacier would turn out to be socked in with snow and closures of the Going-to-the-Sun Road anyway. Add the facts that I was both freezing cold and soaked through my waterproof gear, this issue was probably a good one. The tow truck arrived, and Bryan and Ed headed to Bozeman. I rode in the crew cab of the tow truck with two twenty-something guys who had both recently fled Libya.

Spokane’s Westside Motorsports

I was excited to experience Spokane, where Zach grew up, and where both he and Megan graduated from university at Gonzaga. We made it to the dealership – Westside Motorsports – and rolled the bike into the service area.

Ready for the tow to Spokane.  Steve's Auto Import Service.  Sandpoint, ID.Warning – I am going to rant about Westside. BMW roadside assistance contacted Westside in the morning to make them aware of an inbound issue. Additionally, I called Westside’s service department in the morning, explaining my situation – the trip, being 2,000 mi from home, we’re inbound, please help remedy ASAP.

Here’s what happened – the red-headed guy who appeared to be the service manager consistently stated, “there are others ahead of you, we hope to get to your bike, but you’ll need to hang tight”. Normally, I get that approach – I do. However, when someone has special circumstances, you do the right thing and accommodate. I also spoke with one of the nice kids in the service area – he was very receptive and promised to get me in as soon as we arrived. What happened when I showed up is that the red-headed guy overruled the kid, and bumped me back down in the queue. I was incredulous and pissed off, asking the guy, “are you seriously going to take that approach?” I decided to wait there, and went back every 30 min. to see if the tech had started diagnosing. The tech was perfectly reasonable, a good guy. He suspected a couple of potential root causes, but needed more time the next day. They closed at 6:00 PM, so I caught a taxi into downtown Spokane.

I checked into the Doubletree, then made my way over to a restaurant on the Spokane River. I didn’t have a sense of how long it would take the tech to evaluate and fix the bike the next day.

The Day : Weather

RainRainRain Location State High (F) Low (F) Precipitation (in) Max Wind (mph)
Priest Lake ID 44° 34° 0.73 24
Sandpoint ID 46° 35° 0.72 24
Spokane WA 53° 39° 0.12 32

The Day : Images

The Day : GPS

Total Time 12:02:36
Moving Time 4:22:32
Distance 146.6 mi
Avg Speed 12.2 mph
Moving Speed 39.4 mph
Elevation Max 4,691 ft
Elevation Min 1,732 ft
Elevation Gain 19,283 ft
Elevation Loss 18,702 ft


The Day : Tweets

Glacier National Park, it wasn’t meant to be this trip. You and I have a future date together. I can’t wait. #ANW2012 #Glacier
Jun 07 via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

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Waiting on diagnosis from BMW dealer in Spokane. Overnighting here, will now miss out on Glacier National Park. #ANW2012
Jun 07 via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

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Well, it’s been a heckuva good run on the trip, now an issue. Bike will not run. Getting towed and diagnosed in Spokane. #ANW2012
Jun 06 via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

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© 2013, Terry D. MacVey. All rights reserved.