I draw back the curtain a smidgin and I am struck by the light streaming through the tiny gap, blinded I stagger back, falling on the bed. The Abu Dhabi sun strikes again, no, hang on, we are in London and have a gorgeous summer’s day. From Heathrow where we spent the first night, we head to Canterbury in Kent for a sumptuous lunch prepared by Anne’s mother, who, at 89+ still amazingly does everything herself, and then onwards to be reunited with Streak and Storm and start the preparation for our journey to Iceland. We are struck by the variety of textures and greens as we circumnavigate the M25 and M26. The countryside is so beautiful.
We arrive at the storage facility and find that Alan has Streak and Storm out along with all our travelling possessions. We now have to transform five suitcases into four panniers.
As usual Anne attacks the task at hand with gusto, must be the recent project management experience kicking in, or has Anne always been more organised? I spend time shifting though all the tools and spares to reduce our RTW supplies for a more slimline spares for the Iceland trip. Out go the 50 cable ties, spare fuel pump, rusty tools (note to self: leave tools pannier open even if it seems dry), multiple types of gasket sealant. A much more compact package emerges to join Anne’s sterling work with the other panniers. A good morning’s work has been done and my rumbling stomach indicates that lunch beckons. Anne suggests that even though Streak and Storm have been serviced and re-shod, we should still do a test ride today rather than wait till tomorrow. Sensible as usual.
Both bikes start first time and are purring away in the lunchtime sun. We are ready to ride and get fresh fuel to dilute the stale petrol and stabiliser that currently sloshes around in the tank. A line of warning lights from ABS to LAMP illuminate my console. Hopefully most will disappear as we start riding. Our main beam lamps last about three months and usually both go within 24 hours of each other as we run the bikes for almost the same amount of time. The BMW lamp failure is very consistent.
Within a few hundred meters of leaving my radiator fan kicks in, unusual since it is not a hot day. Refuelled just down the road and we are off to lunch at a local pub. It is great to be out in the New Forest, although one has to keep a wary eye for the ponies that graze at the roadside ignoring the passing vehicles, but masters of their domain and they will wonder out into the road from time to time.
My Christmas tree of warning lights stubbornly fails to go out, twice around the world without a glitch and there appears to be a problem(s)? My temperature gauge is rising and suddenly after only 2 miles / 3 kilometres the orange warning light goes red, never seen that before and the temperature gauge starts flashing, time to pull over, “Houston we have a problem”. My radiator is warm on one side and cool on the other. We, well I, do have a problem.
Should have considered the breakdown option in the insurance policy, oh well, too late for that. A couple of calls and Alan from the storage facility very kindly offers to bring a trailer out to collect me in the midst of a busy schedule. Three hours later we are back in storage facility, what next?
We quickly learn that at this time of the year, summer holidays looming, all the BMW dealerships service departments are booked up for 1-2 weeks ahead and cannot help us immediately. It is reminder of the outstanding support that the various BMW Motorrad service departments we visited around the world went out of their way to help an overseas visitor in need in some cases when we had just turned up to enquire about availability.
It also dawns on us that our ferry trip to Iceland is only a week away and there is no capacity for at least 2 weeks after our planned departure date. Only one ferry a week goes to Iceland so if we cannot get Streak fixed by Friday our planned visit Iceland with Streak and Storm is over.
There are no practical motorcycle alternatives we can think of: buy another similar bike, hire one for the trip, over two months with our August break do not make financial sense. As we are considering the various alternatives I realise this type of decision making is what Anne faced everyday as a project manager, juggling issues and priorities. We also realise that it is unlikely that we can recover any of our Iceland expenses from our Insurance policy due to the multiple exclusions including “any vehicle breakdown”.
The rest of the afternoon is taken up with phone calls to various motorcycle mechanics, gaining advice and information from helpful individuals. They say the problem could be caused by a blocked radiator, failed temperature sensor, gasket leak, water pump failure, thermostat failure, air bubble in the radiator, the list is not endless but extensive.
While holidays have driven up demand for servicing, we find one mechanic who works on BMWs who is going on holidays next week so he has run his workload down and has offered to help this week. He will come to Storm on Thursday morning to see if it can be fixed before the weekend, problematic is spares’ availability. There is no spare radiator is in the UK and it takes a up to one week to deliver from Germany. The centralising of spares by BMW causes problems when you are time constrained as we are.
So what is next? We do not know. From posting month old blogs recently, I am now giving you all a realtime view of our dilemma as it unfolds. If you have any suggestions or out of the box ideas we are listening. While this has been disappointing, frustrating and even a little stressful as we try to make the ferry next week, we remind ourselves that we were successfully able to travel twice around the world with Streak and Storm and we have this problem now rather than in a week’s time while on the road.
As we walked to have a drink and dinner and console ourselves after a tumultuous couple of days I see a mother walking towards us pushing her severely disabled adult son in a wheelchair – we are so lucky!– Anthony