Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Day 3: A Gas Shortage in Iowa, near Waterloo. Couldn't escape if I wanted to.


Day 3: A Gas Shortage in Iowa, near Waterloo. Couldn't escape if I wanted to.

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**
Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
I don't know who you are, Murphy, but if I ever meet you in a parking lot, you're getting a swift kick to the nuts.

At least the first part of the day was just fine and dandy. Actually it wasn't.

It started with a delay in picking up Susy from her orientation session of year 3 or medical school along with slow service at the sushi place that forced us to get our orders to go after sitting down for lunch. I returned to her apartment to put her food in the fridge and gobbled up mine in front of the laptop while staring at her cat. I was pretty discombobulated (I wasn't even the one in a hurry) and I had to make multiple trips between my apartment and the bike because I kept forgetting pulling things from her car.

[Side note: Susy lives on the 15th floor of a high-rise apartment and every entrance, including the one to the underground garage, had a key. Total PITA. This will cause quite a few issues at the end of my trip, so stay tuned to the end of this series.]

I finally leave Peoria closer to 2PM with a full tank of gas. My goal was to get as far as I could before stopping to fill up, and looking at the average MPG my bike was putting out (I can get that reading on the FJR), I figured I could get at least 220 miles out of this tank. Considering that averages aren't the most accurate way to estimate range, this wasn't a good I was about to find out.

But before this story gets weird, I did rig my Motorola Droid Razr M and RAM X-Grip to take this cool clip of Eleanor and me crossing over the Iowa/Illinois Memorial Bridge into Iowa.

Now, when you're on highway with no gas station in sight (in the middle of Iowa nevertheless), it's never a good feeling when the bike surges multiple times and then finally dies. In the six years that I've owned Eleanor, this is the first time this has ever happened to me, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune moment. I did try my luck once and came pretty close to running out of fuel somewhere near Eastlake.

As Eleanor sputtered to a stop on the side of the road, my mind flashed back to the last time that happened (in 2006), somewhere on I-40 westbound in California just short of I-15 when I was still on Irene, my 2005 Suzuki SV650. Fortunately, I had a couple friends trailing behind me when that happened so siphoning a bit of gas out of one of their tanks wasn't much of an issue. This time, I had to employ the help of a tool that I hoped I didn't have to use but glad I always have at my disposal: roadside assistance through my membership with the American Motorcycle Association.

I'd rather be passing those barns and silos, not staring at the same one for the next hour.
So out of gas on I-380 in Iowa, south of exit 62 near the town of Gilbertville, I dismounted the bike, took off my jacket, and planted myself under Eleanor's shadow with one of the granola bars I kept in the lunchbox inside my topcase. (TIP: Always carry water and non-perishable food on your bike because you'll never know when you need both.) About 40 minutes later, a gentleman named Doug from Silver Eagle Harley-Davidson and Yamaha in nearby Waterloo arrived with a gas can and filled my gas tank halfway full so we could get to the next station and top it off.

Yay! The cavalry has arrived!
It turns out that Doug wasn't just any regular employee at the store; was the general manager of the dealership. He wouldn't take the tip I offered him, and gave me a keychain from the store as a souvenir. And as a thank-you, I followed him back to the shop to look around and meet some of this staff. It was a beautiful dealership, too! We chatted for a bit about our strange stories working in the motorcycle industry, the customers we loved to hate, and why nobody in Waterloo wanted to adopt a brand new 2012 Yamaha Super Téneré or give a 2005 Yamaha FJR1300 with 11k miles a new home, despite the fact they're awesome motorcycles. (Believe me, I win the lottery and I'm coming back for that Téneré!)

So yes, a HUGE shoutout to Doug and Jenn from Silver Eagle Harley-Davidson/Yamaha in Waterloo, IA for their over-the-top hospitality and generosity in getting me back on the road. When I make that ride across I-80 to return to Lincoln, NE for my quarterly WOW Board of Trustees meeting, I will be sure to make a personal visit again to see how they're all doing.

Thanks to that delay, I rode most of I-35 northbound in the dark and finally made it to my friend's house in Apple Valley at about 11:45PM (I was supposed to have made it there by 8PM according to the GPS). I was tuckered after that adventure, but glad for a very interesting detour that reminded me of one of the reasons why I want to stay in the motorcycle industry: motorcyclists are a close-knit community, and the good people in the industry not only look out for their fellow riders but also their own peers.

Now that I'm a bit more recombobulated, I leave you with biker duckies from the guest bathroom of my friend's abode in Apple Valley, MN, a suburb of the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Why biker duckies? Because motorcycle.