300 More Boring Freeway Miles to Shreveport, LA

I woke up to wind and mist, but thankfully no real rain today.  For some reason I was pretty short of breath this morning, getting out of breath doing the simplest things like getting dressed or walking down the hallway.   That’s the thing with Pulmonary Fibrosis, there are good days and bad days, days you breathe fine, and days that everything seems to make you winded.  I have yet to figure out a correlation to anything specific.  It just seems to happen for with no rhyme or reason.   I have learned to adapt, and just do things slower when I am having a bad day, on order to keep my oxygen saturation levels at a safe level.    

I pushed through it and got the bike loaded and was on my way.  300 more miles of Interstate Freeway to my stop for the night just outside of Shreveport.   I have a Bluetooth headset in my helmet, but I don’t usually listen to anything unless I am droning along on a long boring highway.  Today I listened to podcasts.  One of them was an interesting story about Triage, and they started talking about a younger woman from Haiti, and how she had a lung disease that made her short of breath.  This was in Haiti, right after the big earthquake and all the hospitals were almost out of oxygen.  Because this woman had a terminal illness, they decided that she was going to die anyhow and so they would not waste oxygen on her, when others who could be saved needed it.  That must be a horrible decision for a doctor to make.  

The reporter started talking about how she went with this woman in an ambulance to another hospital and how she soon started having distress, gasping for air.  It made me think about my own disease, and how I dread getting to the point where I have to be on Oxygen all the time, knowing that without it I will suffocate.   Not a pleasant thought, but a reality for me at some point, as this damn disease knows no cures and has a 100% mortality rate.  It made me glad I chose to do this ride now, because carrying oxygen on something like this is not really possible.  I even tried a small, portable oxygen concentrator, for the higher elevations, that would plug into the bike and I could wear on my back, but I found it wasn’t practical and the nasal canula would constantly come off when I put the helmet on.  Even if I managed to get the helmet on over it, the oxygen probably wouldn’t transfer to me as well when at speed as it would get whisked away with the airflow in the helmet.  I decided against it in the end.   

At one of the gas stops in Louisiana I noticed two stray dogs hanging out near the gas station.  I tried to get them to come to me but they were skittish.  I bought a couple of burgers in the gas station and tried to coax them over with the food, but they still were wary of me.  They had probably suffered at the hands of a human at some point in their lives. I ended up ripping up the burgers and throwing them into the field next to the station where the dogs were standing, watching as they quickly gobbled them up.  

I made a final stop for gas about 10 miles from my hotel and I noticed fresh oil in my skid plate and dripping onto the ground.  Great.  Just what I needed.  I texted a picture to my wife and she replied “You should’ve taken the BMW”.   I hoped she wasn’t right.  I decided there wasn’t enough of a leak that I couldn’t make it to the hotel where I could investigate further. 

Once at the hotel, I checked in and dropped my gear in my room then went back down to take a look at how bad it was.  Bella is a 4-month old bike with only 3000 miles.  I couldn’t believe that she was leaking, despite being Italian.  I pulled off the skid plate and traced the leak to the oil filter.  It was certainly tight enough, and had been on the bike already for 2000 miles with no leaks.  I wiped everything down and started the bike again, lying under it with a light and looking for the source of the leak.  I quickly found a barely-visible crack, less than a millimeter long, where oil was slowly weeping out when the bike was running.   The culprit was an oil-covered rock I found in the skid plate that must’ve somehow gotten kicked up and in through the airflow holes and wedged between the skid plate and the filter. It was getting dark, so I re-installed the skid plate and went up to my room to think of a solution.

I have a spare filter, for an oil change down the road, and I always have a quart of oil on me.  I could do a quick filter swap in the morning and try to lose minimal oil.   Then a friend suggested JB Weld.   I only have to go 300 miles to Austin in the morning and I already have a service appointment for an oil change at a dealer there, so JB Weld would do the trick.  There is an auto parts store near the hotel that I could buy it at in the morning.  Satisfied with this answer, I retired to my room for the night with my plans in place to fix Bella tomorrow morning. Hopefully this first problem will be the last, but even if it isn’t, that’s all part of the adventure, isn’t it?