Thanks for the input thus far. An update-- after sitting for several hrs with the engine at room temp, the gauge still shows the needle in the red. So presumably this tells me that either the coolant temperature sensor has failed or there is a short in the wiring somewhere, is my logic correct here? Any suggestions on troubleshooting that?
Assuming then that the error is in the sensor or gauge, I am hoping I can continue to ride until I need new tires in a month or so and rely on the coolant temp warning light to indicate the unlikely event of a second unrelated failure causing actual overheating. This would save me an extra trip to the dealer. Is this safe?