Dang Bugs



There was something familiar about this.

When you’ve been doing something as long as I’ve been riding, there’s always something familiar about almost everything. The challenge is making the correlation as to why.

When I was on one of my frequent  runs through the dirt roads of the valley, someone pulled up to a stop sign in my path with all of the signs of someone that wasn’t really committed to actually stopping.

I punched the horn button, figuring the good-ol-dual-fiamms would help him in his deliberations.

What I heard instead was nothing.

No horn relay clicking.

No impotent bleat.

Deterministically and decidedly absolutely nothing.

Nothing, in motorcycle electric terms, is a pretty easy to classify event. Most other times, you’ve got something. Motors that run and maybe stumble. Horns that half honk. Turn signals that flicker oddly.

But nothing is absolute.

You’ve got nothing.

I quickly ran through the very short list of times I’d encountered nothing.

One of these nothings stuck out.

I was on my way to a job site in Columbia Maryland, a run of about 50 miles, on an early spring morning when the temperature had dipped below freezing unexpectedly.

My R90S was thrumming along on US 32, about 35 miles from home, when it encountered…nothing.

The engine just quit in between compression strokes, and I drifted over to the shoulder of the highway.

I had a flash of ESP that told me where to look. I have no other explanation.

I’d recently added the European headlight switch to this bike that allows on to turn off the headlight. I pulled the one screw that held the switch cluster on the bars, and opened the pod in my hands. Inside the pod was a spider web.

In the morning’s unseasonable cold, the heat being generated by the current had warmed the small space inside the switch pod. The heat had made condensation, which had made water, which collected on the spiderweb, and, which given enough of it, had dripped into the switch causing a dead short. I used my computer tech’s micro Phillips screwdrivers to clear the web away — blew into the switch, and put the assembly back together.

I hit the starter and it started on the first compression stroke.

Forgive me if I felt pretty smug about the efficiency of the roadside repair.

“This nothing,” I thunk, “is exactly like that nothing.”

When I got back to the garage, I took out the technician’s screwdriver.

I pulled the switchpod.

And right where I expected it to be, was another spider and its web.

I don’t know how they get into these tiny spaces, with no apparent openings to the outside, but clearly they do.

Their distant cousins, the mud dauber wasps, also seem to have a fondness for carburetor vents, but that is another story.

I cleared the web out, replaced the switch pod, and pressed the horn button.

My garage echoed with the sound of twin fanfare horns at full song.

My wife Doris, stuck her head out the door and asked, “What the heck are you blowing the horn for?”

“Don’t worry about it, hon,” I said.

“It’s nothing”


2 thoughts on “Dang Bugs

  1. Pingback: Venting | Rolling Physics Problem

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