Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Really Wanted to Ride

Deep down inside me there is a motivation to prove that a motorcycle/scooter can be a dependable, fun and economical means of transportation for the daily commute to the office. When I was younger I did a little bit of commuting by bicycle. That was fun and good for the exercise, but sweating was always a problem. You can imagine being a bit pitted out with damp clothing when you arrived at the office and not being real comfortable for the day. You can counter that problem by stashing some clothing at the office to change into but that is a pain in the butt also. When I bought the scooter, we sold one of our cars, so the scooter became my primary means of transportation. Yeah, there were some hassles with weather, but I would take the city bus in really bad weather. I rode in some rain at times, very cold weather at times, but all in all, the hassles were few and far between. I only missed about ten days of riding all of last winter due to snow or ice. This winter has been much different. Much colder. Not a lot of snow so far this year, but with the cold, the snow stayed around a lot longer and severely limited the opportunities to ride. We bought another car last summer so that I didn't have to totally rely on the scooter and the city bus to get around. That has been great and I don't regret buying the car even with my determination to be an almost full time 2 wheel commuter. That said, please know that my determination to be a 2 wheel commuter is still as strong as ever. The accident I had last summer gave me a few misgivings, but now I am almost more determined than ever in spite of that mishap. Maybe it is partially my desire to be different. Maybe it is because I want the economy. Maybe it is because I feel less dependent on foreign oil. Whatever the reason, 2 wheeled commuting has been a life changing experience for me. I also didn't anticipate that it would be this much fun. This winter, though, has caused me to reflect again. I have already missed more days of riding this winter than all of last winter and it is now only mid January. Very frustrating. Yeah, there were a few days when I felt a bit lazy and took the car, even though I could have ridden to work. But not many, and given the choice, believe me, I would much rather ride. I had ridden to work on December 21. It wasn't until last Sunday, January 10 that I was able to ride again. It was a Sunday morning, cold with a 25 degree temperature, but I really needed to wake Max up and get him going again. Max fired up reliably upon the first push of the starter key and we went for a short ride 1) to get me a fix for riding withdrawel symptoms and 2) to insure that Max's battery was okay. It was Mini Max's first ride as well and he seemed to enjoy it very much. I was very excited about the weather forecasts because it looked like there would be no precipitation for at least a week or so. The forecasts were for high temperatures in the 40's (maybe 50's) and lows in the 20's, not exactly warm, but not bad. Enough of the snow had been cleared off the streets to make it possible for riding. Caution was needed to watch for ice and sand patches, but the conditions were much better than they had been for the last 2 weeks. So, it was with great exitement that I was looking forward to an entire week of riding rather than driving. Alas, Murphy's Law was going to get me a bit. I had forgotten that we had a veterinary appointment for our newest cat on Monday. Oh well, the cat was more important than riding, wasn't it? I had very briefly considered bungeeing the cat carrier to Max, but wisdom took hold and I reconsidered that option. So I took the car. Again! I am thinking tomorrow will be the day. As I was waking up on Tuesday morning, lying in bed, trying to get the cobwebs out of my head, my thoughts turned to riding. I lazily wandered downstairs in my robe and slippers and proceeded out the front door to get the newspaper. Dense Fog! What the hell?! That wasn't in the forecast! Or was it, and I just blindly didn't see it, (or didn't want to see it). I surveyed the scene. One quarter mile visibility. Lots of moisture in the air. About 22 degrees (temperature wasn't going to stop me from riding). Driveway and streets looked clear, but damp. At this temperature, not a good sign. Still dark out, difficult to see whether it was slick or not. There was still snow (now compacted to mostly ice) on the sides of the streets. A little melting had occurred yesterday, but some of what melted yesterday just became water on the roadways, and of course had frozen again in small, thin and unpredictable patches of ice on the streets. I proceeded back indoors and turned on the TV to check the weather. A freezing fog advisory had been issued. Damn! The daredevil accountant in me said NTW! (not to worry) But then again, the voice of reason took over. I decided to take the car. I was glad I did as soon as I got out on the streets. There were interesting little ice patches everywhere. What really tucked me off was the knowledge that the fog would soon burn off and the ride home in the afternoon would have been glorious. Oh well, the forecast for tomorrow looks fantastic!


  1. Yep, been there, done that, and came to the same conclusion. Nothing to prove anymore.

  2. Chuck,
    "Nothing to prove anymore" is a good way to put it. I just wanted to write it down and express my frustration.
    (Wed morning)
    I rode to work today. There was frost on the streets and a bunch of black ice accidents on of of the slabs. I had to be a bit careful, but wasn't bad. It felt good to be riding again. Many people might appreciate the fact that I had to be real attentive, 1) watching for road hazards coupled with 2) watching for cagers and 3) being careful with the brakes.
    Thanks for stiopping by,


  3. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    I noted one reason you wanted to get the bike out was to size up the state of the battery. Have you considered the advantages of a battery tender? A decent one signals you as to the state of the battery and the nature of the charge. I use an Accumate. I think I paid $60 for it. A buddy of mine wire the connecting pigtail to the battery, then replaced the connectors (tender to the bike) with the John Deere variety. These are tight on and tight off. The unit can't be easily unplugged at the bike by mistake. There is a tiny cap that covers the connection on the bike when the tender is removed, as this connection is live 100% of the time as it would not benefit from getting damp.

    I switched on the ignition yesterday, and the voltmeter showed the battery at full-strength. The bike had not been started in 6 weeks. There is an on-board computer on my bike and a clock that are running all the time, so some current drain is always evident.

    Have a good ride whenever you get out.Remember to hose the salt and salt dust from the machine.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad

  4. riepe always has one more gadget he needs to foist on an unsuspecting public. I rode the Bonneville today, venturing out for a ten mile trip in 65 degrees (full face helmet weather) and Cheyenne behaved herself in the crate (no barking when I left or when I came home- I listened!) so I too am looking forward to more rides when the weather gets better.
    I tell you: when I was young I only rode and I suffered horrible weather. It isn't worth doing it to suffer. I enjoyed riding immensely today because after my recent hiatus it was fresh and new and wonderful again!

  5. Jack,
    Have considered a battery tender, but since I ride so often, haven't found it to be absolutely necessary.
    I just worry needlessly sometimes knowing that at least there is a clock on the scoot that can use juice all the time. It apparently uses very little juice, after 2 1/2 weeks, Max started right up just like normal.
    Thanks for stopping by.


  6. Conch,
    I found that riding after a break today was wonderful in spite of having to be a little more careful. Full Face Helmet Weather? LOL
    Thanks for visiting


  7. PS,
    The ride home today will be awesome!

  8. I still enjoy the challenge of nasty conditions. Most people don't. Either way is ok. I would ask people not to call me reckless. In turn, I won't call them timid. We consider our circumstances, skill levels, comfort levels, weather conditions, whatever. Then we make the appropriate decision.

    For what it's worth, my respect stays the same for you regardless of how often you ride versus drive this Winter.

    Of course, you know that daredevil inside you does need to be fed once in a while, don't you?

  9. Winter is always so tricky. Still, I desire to get through a year on two wheels. Alas it didnt happen this year. My coldest ride was around 24 degrees and I recently instituted hibernation for the bike. I was comfortable the whole way. But like you've mentioned, life seemed to interfer a lot. Yes, taking the kitty in is more important. So is, doing all those tasks I avoid during the summer, like orgainzing closets, catching up on correspondence, and mapping out trips for the ride season.

    This weekend will be warm (upper 30s, perhaps even 40)--definitely ride worthy weather.

    I really wish I had a Ural!

  10. Dan,
    You have a way of putting things so eloquently. There is still a bit of a daredevil in me yet, and I do like a challenge. I am still learning what the limits are, or what they should be. In youger days I was maybe a little less careful than now. To me, taking a challenge on is part of the thrill of riding. I'm not crazy, just maybe a little adventurous.
    Thanks for stopping by

  11. Sharon,
    Have to laugh about your comment about the Ural. That really would be nice. Just that additional wheel could make a lot of difference in a lot of conditions. It will be spring soon!
    Take Care,