Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking At The Bright Side Of A Suddenly Dead Battery On A Hot Summer Day In The Desert

I had been worried about not having anything to post today, but my ever-faithful Triumph, as always, provided.

The heat has arrived in Phoenix. It's the time of year when I can count on sweating more or less from the moment I leave the house until just before it's time for bed. Such is life in the desert. I can deal with it.

Of course, the temperature extremes in the desert are very hard on auto and motorcycle batteries. If your battery lasts more than a year here, it's one quality battery. That's why our car has a Die-Hard in it. I'm sure there's a compelling reason why I haven't put a Die-Hard in the Triumph, but I can't think of what it is. Anyway, I've got some other battery the dealer put in there right now.

And it died again. I just got the new one in March.

I discovered the dead battery thusly: After fifteen miles of desert freeway, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up coffee filters and tortillas (why else?). Every one and their cousin had also stopped at the Quick n' Dirty at the same time. I shouldered my way through the hordes of lifeless heat zombies, got my two items, checked out, and put my gear back on.

When I thumbed the starter, it coughed weakly and asked me not to do that again. Of course, I did try again, much to the starter's irritation.

The only reasonable thing to do was to raise my arms to the sky and yell "Today? Here? Seriously?" The other parking lot denizens took this as an their cue to look elsewhere and move away slowly.

Luckily, I remembered there are two things in my favor in these situations. One, my motorcycle has a clutch. Two, a Lucky in motion has a lot of inertia on his own. Added to a rolling motorcycle, well, don't try and stop me. My only concern about push starting the bike was whether or not the thing would run with a dead battery. Some bikes don't. A modern Vespa, for example.

I got the motorcycle rolling across the parking lot, shifted into first gear, popped the clutch, and rode along home. The instrument cluster was not behaving right, of course. The displays kept going blank on me at low RPMs, but the important thing was that it kept running until I got home.

So now I just have to wait for the bike to cool off enough so I can stand over it long enough to pull the battery. Easy as really, really hot pie.

And here I was worried I wouldn't have anything to write about. See? It's not all bad.


No Name said...

now you must invent the battery cooler

bobskoot said...


don't you carry spare "AA" batteries in case of emergencies ?

Riding the Wet Coast

Charlie6 said...

Back when I had the Ural sidecar rig, she provided me with a "plethora" of writing material related to mechanical and electrical issues.

And yet, I still miss it sometimes.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

mq01 said...

eeek, thats no fun! but glad you made it home! i didnt realize the heat burns up batteries that

irondad said...

Thankful for Gremlins? What a life.

Saw Phoenix on the news recently. What's with that giant dust cloud? Something tells me you had a hand in it but I can't quite say why.

Lucky said...

No Name - Good call. I wonder if the charging system on the average motorcycle can power a peltier cooler strong enough to battle desert heat.

bobskoot - Yeah, but you know how easy they are to lose.

Charlie6 - Yeah, my VX800 gave me all kinds of things to write about, and it wasn't even Russian.

mq01 - Not many things like the heat. It's what makes desert life so exciting!

irondad - I don't know what makes you say that, but I have to go now... (BTW - We're headed for Oregon later this month.)

Joe said...

Ohhh! I'd definitely prefer having nothing to write about than having a dead battery. Ironic that you just wrote about this; I was wondering only this afternoon how long I might expect my battery to last.