Getting Home From Laguna Seca: The Saga

Watching the Races at Laguna Seca is always fun. It’s a great tradition my friends and I have. This year we did it again and it went great. Well going to the races and hanging out with friends was was great. Getting home turned into a bit of a adventure.

First let me say that the Sena 20S helmet communicators are awesome. Things would have been so much worse if we did not have them.

Fox Hill. It’s the place all the cool kids camp.

The saga started about 40 miles from Laguna Seca Raceway on Highway 101. We were heading north, lane splitting through very slow moving traffic so going about 25-30 mph. I was leading and since I tend to go a bit faster than her when splitting I was probably 50-75 meters ahead of her when it happened. Her engine just cut out. I heard a panicked wife cursing and trying to get to the side of the road. I had just gotten on a narrow bridge as this happened which had no shoulder for me to pull off on. I had no idea what could be wrong with her bike and we lost connection as I rode out of range.

I called her as soon as I was safely off on to the shoulder. She answered and told me that she couldn’t get the bike started, but that the battery seemed ok since it was trying to turn over. She asked if she could be out of gas and I thought that maybe it was possible. Neither of our warning lights had come on however and normally her bike has a slightly better range than mine. I told her to shake the bike around and listen for gas and then call me back.

While she was doing this I decided to see how much gas I had left, opening my gas tank and peering in. This action prompted a gentleman with a trailer to pull over and ask if I was out of gas. Right at this time my wife calls to say that she can’t hear anything in her tank. The gentleman says he has a gallon or so that we can have. He just pulled a gas can out from his trailer and gave it to me, refusing my offers of money. In fact he told me to just keep the can.

So I hiked back to the poor wife and her bike and put at least a gallon or so of gas into her bike. The bike then started and we rejoiced thinking that our problems were over. Luckily I hitched a ride back to my bike in the back of a pick up driven by a friendly couple. I got my bike situated and we hit the road toward home. Things seemed fine and we thought everything would continue to be fine when we stopped to get gas on the south edge of Gilroy.

We had no idea the drama would continue from here.

No luck, after getting gas we couldn’t get her bike started again. Thinking that somehow the battery was low since we did all that side of the road crazy, we tried bump starting it. Bump starting a bike is easier now that I don’t have a plate and ten screws in my lower left leg, but it still is a giant pain in the ass. After four tries I got it going. So I rode it back to the gas station. My wife then had to run to the bathroom across the street since the gas station’s restroom was closed. While I was waiting for her to return the bike died… again.

Words fail me even now.

I called my friend who was driving from Laguna Seca and found out he was near by. I asked him to see if he could meet us since I was out of ideas of what was going on with her bike. After I got off the phone with him, on impulse I decided to try one more time to start the bike. Shockingly it started, so I canceled the meet up and sent the wife on her way home. I didn’t want to risk it dying again with what was thought to be maybe a battery issue. I got my gear on and followed her as fast as I could.

Traffic was still heavy with a lot of lane splitting. So I did catch up with her about 10 minutes later. I followed her for a while until and then the bike did it’s I’m done thing again. I helped her change lanes and get off the freeway. Luckily near an exit. I sent her off on my bike while I pushed hers off the freeway.

My friend arrived and we discussed options. My wife wasn’t ready to leave her bike on the side of the road off a random exit in Morgan Hill. So we unloaded all of our luggage including my extra warmer gloves and clear visor, and put it in the car. We then sent them on their way, and got going ourselves hoping to make it home… eventually. We know thought that the problem might be because the bike over heating and maybe a bad temperature gauge I replaced recently.

We got back on the road, this time wise to the eventual cutting out of power we stuck to the slow lane. Also since we thought it was an overheating problem we wanted to be going slower to keep the rev’s a bit lower. This seemed to be working well and as we got closer to San Jose we decided that we would stop at a Starbucks for Coffee Chai once we got there. We could take a break and wait for the bike to cool down and hopefully make it home.

We almost made it to Starbucks. The motorcycle died on the off ramp. We waited a bit, started it again and collapsed once we got our Chai. We were pretty worn out by this time. We did not hurry our break, thinking still that it was an overheating problem we discussed our options. We had only traveled 18 miles this last stint, and we had another 40 plus to get home. As we discussed our options I realized that Nichols Sportbike was only 18 miles or so away. We could go there, drop the bike off and then head home.

This sucked, one of the worst spots to be stuck.

This seemed like a much better plan, and thank goodness that we went with it. The bike ended up stalling twice more on the way to the shop. Each time at a lower temperature leaving us with no idea what was really causing the problem. We got to the shop just as the sun was setting, nearly five hours after we left Laguna Seca. This left us with a new problem, getting home safely with the dark smoke visor I had with me.


So close… yet so far.


With no other good ideas we headed home, wife now safely on the back of my motorcycle. (On what mush be one of the worst passenger seats on a motorcycle! The poor thing.) Despite light rapidly fading from barely to nothing we made it home safely. Honestly it wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t recommend it, but with both of us paying attention and riding roads I knew very well we got home with no more incidents.

We still don’t know exactly is wrong with the bike, my mechanic hasn’t had a chance to look at it yet and it’s not a high priority for us. The biggest take away from the whole adventure was how amazing the headsets were. I don’t know how much further down the road I would have been for the first instance if we weren’t in communication and it really made all the rest of the crazy we had to deal with much easier.

Also worth mentioning were how great people are. Stopping and checking to see if we needed help. I mean it wasn’t that many considering how many zoomed past, but it doesn’t take more than one to change turn a bad situation around.



About MotoCynic

I started riding motorcycles in 2006, and there is no going back. I've ridden more than 100,000 miles, most of it on a Ducati Monster, and despite setbacks and murderous BMW's I'm loving every mile.
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3 Responses to Getting Home From Laguna Seca: The Saga

  1. motoventures says:

    So glad to hear you are both safe and made it home without anything major happening! Now just hoping your mechanic will have good news…such as a simple and inexpensive fix!

  2. Pingback: T-ClOCS: It’s still a thing | Motorcycles and the Cynic

  3. Pingback: Looking Back: 2016 Bucket List | Motorcycles and the Cynic

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