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On Monday Roberta and I decided to go for a ride down Highway 1 along the coast. The plan was to head down past Big Sur and take the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road up and over the hills to Highway 101, then up to Greenfield and cut back across the hills along the Carmel Valley road.   It would be a fairly long ride, but nice.

From 2011 Adventures

Well, best laid plans and all.

We took off at about 2pm and headed down the coast. Cruising in and out of a bit of fog and sunshine. We met another biker on a new GSXR-750 by the name of Mat. He had wandered over from Arizona to spend some time with friends up in San Fran and was headed down the coast to LA and back home. He told us that pulling a wheelie on the Golden Gate bridge earned him a $3000 ticket. Ouch! We stopped at the Big Sur Lodge and had something to drink and some Sweet Potato fries.

It was a nice day for a ride.

From 2011 Adventures

The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road was basically a paved goat trail. Mostly single lane with turn outs and a shear cliffs edge most of the way up.

From 2011 Adventures

The view from the road was pretty spectacular.

From 2011 Adventures

After we crested the top of the hill and ran across towards hiway 101 for about 5 miles or so we stopped to rest for a few minutes. It was hot as the dickens. At that point the air intake temp (outside temp as read by the bike) was up over 90 degrees. We had seen 1 car and 1 motorcycle in the 30 minutes or so it took us to cross this far. We had no cell service at this point. We hopped back on the bike and started down the road when I noticed that the bike was showing a Check Engine Light.

Oh crap! We are literally in the middle of no where with no cell service, on top of the mountain 15 miles up a goat trail, and 80 miles from home. We stopped, I checked all the fluids and everything else I could think of. Nothing looked abnormal It was an Error Code 18 on the dash.  We had no idea what this was. So, the choice we had was to head back the way we came to Lucia, a no nothing little town with a gas station and a restaurant or continue forward towards Fort Hunter Liggett and King City.  We chose to go forward in the hopes that there would be better services that way than on the coast.

Another 15 miles or so of nervous, cautious riding and we reached a T in the road. To the left I could see Fort Hunter Liggett, to the right a sign saying Jolon, which I couldn’t see and didn’t know what was there. I didn’t bring my badges, but I figured the gate guard would at least  know where the closest services were. When we pulled up to the gate my air intake temp showed 104 degrees. Holy crap was it hot.  We explained to the guard that we had thrown a Check Engine Light on the bike and had no idea what it meant, where was the closest service station? He started to explain how far Jolon was when he noticed my DoD sticker on the Bike. Stopped, asked for my ID and registration, then said, go through the gate to the stop sign, turn left and go over the hill. It’s there on your left. Thank you Sir!

Even though the gas station was closed there was shade, a soda machine and a place to stop where we could get our asses picked up if the bike had truly died. Roberta whips out her Droid phone. does a Google search for Yamaha R6 Check Engine Light Code 18 (Thank you Google!!) and discovers the error showing is Oxygen Sensor failure. Turns out, after all that stress, that coming up the steep climb from sea level to 2800 feet, which I had been taking slow and easy, the bike had leaned out enough that the O2 sensor tripped a failure. No big deal. In fact the code reset itself after going down the freeway for 10 miles or so of normal riding. It would have been nice to know that when we were in the middle of no-where, worried we were going to get stranded in 100 degree heat, with no water, no cell service, and no one else around.

Anyhow. Once we figured out we were good to go we thanked the gate guard, headed into King City for dinner and then up the 101 to Salinas and over toward home. It was faster getting home that way than if we had cut through Carmel Valley road. In fact, by the time we got home it was pushing 9pm. A long day of riding.

We’ll definitely remember what an Error Code 18 is from now on. I can tell you that much.


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