Or, The Saga Of A Trip Almost Ruined But Saved By Kamal. Thankyou, Kamal, and Discount Tire in Maryville, TN!
I arrived on the Dragon late on Thursday morning, after driving through rain of Biblical proportions on I-75 all the way down from Lexington, KY. It stopped raining on the other side of the mountains (Knoxville), but the Dragon was still damp--wet in places. That checked one of my boxes--I've always wanted to make hard-ish passes in the damp (but not in pouring rain). But the road was crowded, so I packed it in after six passes. After all, I had two more days to play.
I was back at 8:00 on Friday morning, and thus begins my tale of woe and redemption. The Dragon was already crowded-ish, with touring bikes and mini-SUV's. Great Smoky National Park had just re-opened, and some of these folks may have been "leafers." So it was tough to make an unobstructed pass, even when I used pull-offs. Rule Of Thumb: you need to give your Obstructor two minutes or more to avoid catching him again. And I spent part of the morning learning how to use my GoPro video camera by making mistakes. (GoPros are easy enough to use unless you are ETC, Electronic Technology Challenged, as I am.)
The real "fun" began just before noon, when I was making a northbound pass. I heard a loud sound, a kind of pop/crack, which made me think I'd just run over a walnut shell about the size of an orange. Of course I got out of the gas as soon as I heard it. The left rear tire began to deflate rapidly, and the TPMS light came on. Props to Michelin: the tire did not fail explosively. The Dragon Gods were on my side, and I reached the pulloff where Kamal was shooting for Killboy.com about 1/8 of a mile later with a "whump, whump, whump." He waved me in. (This is a "thumbs up" that nobody is approaching from the opposite direction, so you can cross the road safely). Being lazy, and not wishing to be impolite, I sat and chatted with Kamal for 20 minutes before pulling out the jack.
When I got the tire off, this was what we saw:
I thought my day was done, and maybe the whole trip was down the tubes. What were the chances that anybody in Robbinsville handled Michelin tires? Kamal thought for a New York Minute and said "I've got you covered. Go to Discount Tire in Maryville and tell them I sent you. You'll be back here before the sun goes down." He gave me street directions that even I could follow. I mounted the space-saver spare and motored slowly into Maryville.
Kamal was dead right. Discount Tire could get my Michelin in a day. I opted instead for a Yokahama of identical size and similar construction (a 4-season tire like my Michelins, with a similar tread pattern), which was in stock. They had me in and out in under 1/2 hour. I was back on the Dragon, making passes, in under two hours. That does not include 40 minutes of fine gearhead conversation with Kamal.
|My Willie Nelson shot: "On the road again, so glad to be back on the road again!"|