Itís also time to have the motorcycle serviced. Every 6,000 miles the bike needs to be checked out and have the fluids changed. Working this into the schedule is difficult but Iím happy with my choices for service stops. The bike will be worked on a total of five times during the 100 days. The stops are BMW Motorrad of St. Louis, BMW of Denver for the 12,000 mile service, Cycle-Logical BMW in Eugene, Oregon, for 18,000 miles, Lonestar BMW in Austin for 24,000 miles, and probably Bobís BMW in Jessup, Maryland, for the big 30K. The service isnít exactly a bargain but it is worth every penny. After all, the bike is my lifeblood on this journey and without it my trip would be over.
Iíve always wanted to see the BMW Motorrad shop, and my visit is no disappointment. I get there shortly after they open at 8:30 AM and am greeted by Dave Clark, the service manager. I made the appointment with Dave about a month ago. Besides the 6,000-mile service Iíve opted for a few extras. These include having a Throttlemeister installed (kind of like a cruise control), hardwiring the GPS so I donít have to unplug it every time I stop for gas and move the tankbag, and a new set of tires. The tires have plenty of tread left, probably at least 2,000 miles, but I donít want to stop for service again until Denver and Iíll be riding through some areas where BMW Motorcycle dealers are hard to come by. In case you were wondering, there are 158 authorized BMW Dealers in the U.S., but none in North Dakota or Wyoming.
Tom Donovan, a BMW Certified Level II Technician works on my bike. Basically he is one step away from a Jedi Master. Like most of the great BMW mechanics, heís a terrific guy Ė friendly, informative, and meticulous. He answers all of my questions, not just with quick responses but with detailed explanations. He also doesnít mind me videotaping him as he works on the bike.
BMW Motorrad is one of the great dealers. Besides BMWs they also sell Kawasakis and they have lots of bikes. I spend part of the day speaking with Bill Heggarty, a co-owner of the shop and Lee Birdwell, the Parts Manager who has been in the business over 30 years. These are real nice guys who have some fun stories and interesting suggestions for places to stop along my way.
By mid afternoon the bike is ready. Dave takes her for a quick test ride to break in the tires a bit. Iíll be very careful riding on new rubber. It can be slippery for the first 150 miles of so. Believe it or not, one of the most common places for a motorcycle accident is right outside the dealership. The customer takes off on the new tires, banks hard out of the parking lot, and the slippery rubber takes the bike down. I'm determined not to let that happen, and I try not to lean too much into my turns for a while.
I head southwest through the city for a quick stop at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. This site is still being developed so there's not much to see. I get the stamp and bolt. Itís hot out and I want to get back to the hotel, rest and reflect on where Iíve been and look ahead to where Iíll be. Itís been a very exciting and interesting trip thus far. Iím enjoying myself immensely and I canít wait to get out west. I've also enjoyed writing these journals and getting the tremendous response from all of you. The stories you have all been sending back to me about your travels and journeys have been fascinating. I think Iíll share them with everyone at some point down the road.
As the station was reopened, the local newspaper asked people for their memories of the old station. The letters sent in are collected in a display area within the mall. Below is my favorite: a poem written by a local resident.
St. Louis Union Station by
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