Friday, July 24, 2009


As of July 26, Max and I have spent one year together. The bulk of our miles are just commuting back and forth to downtown for work. Even though we take a mostly similar route to work each day, the difference it has made in my life is hard to explain or describe. Ever felt like a kid again? It is not a very long commute, only about 5 miles one way, ten to fifteen minutes depending on how I hit the stoplights. But the commute on 2 wheels has become a very important part of my day.
Riding gives me a chance to get away from the pressures of the office and think about something else besides work and responsibilities. When I commuted in a car, I still thought and worried about work. I can't do that on the scooter because I have to pay a lot more attention to traffic and other potential hazards.
Persig says that through a car window, everything you see is just more TV. On a 2 wheeled vehicle, you are in the scene, not watching it. That is one of my favorite lines from his book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", which I just finished reading for the first time.
It's funny how I have been on a similar route to work for so many years whether in a car or on the scooter. But I have noticed so much more of the surroundings on the scooter.
The smell of the bakery at the intersection of Central and Oliver streets is something I didn't use to notice in a car. The smell can really permeate the intersection, especially noticeable If you have to stop at the light there. I recall how crisp and clear the air looks and feels like on a 20 degree bright sunshiny morning. It is not near as apparent from inside a car. Sure, it is cold, but also incredibly invigorating. When I arrive at work on those cold crisp days, I am awake and ready to tackle the day.
There was one day when storm clouds threatened late one afternoon. I actually left work a little early that day so I could get the scooter home and put it in the garage before it began to storm. As I rode home I noticed it raining off to the east of my location. The sun peeked out from behind some clouds behind me and a glorious rainbow appeared in front of me. A minute later there was a fainter second rainbow paralleling the first one. Yeah, I would have noticed it in a car as well. But I wouldn't have noticed the smell of the moisture in the air nor tasted how clean the air was after the rain had passed through. The guy in the car next to me at a stoplight looked at me like I was crazy when I took a picture of the rainbow with my blackberry. He just didn't get it.
Then there was the day while I was riding out in the county on a hot day just before the wheat harvest was to begin. The wind was blowing the tops of the wheat into waving swirls. It was a simple but beautiful sight. Would have maybe noticed in a car, but wouldn't have appreciated it as much.
This last weekend I took a Sunday afternoon ride to a local county road known as "Thunder Road". It's a road with a reputation for hot rodding and is only about 25 miles in length, but even for Kansas, has a few twisties to it.
I missed the main turn off to the road and in backtracking my steps, I got stopped at a train crossing with a very slow moving coal train. I patiently shut off the engine and waited. A few moments later a lady on a Harley rode up and stopped as well. We struck up a conversation while we waited for the train. I asked her for directions to Thunder Road and she said she was going that way anyway, and If I wanted to, I could follow her. I did, and If I don't mind saying so, my little scooter kept right up with her very well. There is a very enjoyable camraderie among 2 wheeled riders. I enjoy it immensely.
I am also very proud of my cohort in crime, Max, the scooter. He has never failed me. He starts right up every day no matter whether it is 10 degrees or 100. When he sees me come into the garage in the morning, watches me put my belongings in the topcase, gets the key in the ignition, it's like he looks up at me and says:
Come on, Hop on, Let's Go!!
On July 17 I took a couple of pictures as I turned over 4,000 miles.
I have been very impressed with my scooter. When I first purchased it I worried that it might be temperamental and require repairs now and then. I have done nothing to it other than the normal maintenance. It is very versatile in urban driving with very adequate power and maneuverability. While it is not meant for highway cruising, it can reach 75 mph so an out of town trip is very possible.
But I bought Max primarily for the purpose of the commute. He has kept up his end of the bargain very well. In fact he has far exceeded all of my expectations. He's not real fancy, very few electronic bells and whistles and gizmos, just very solid basic transportation.
And commuting is what I bought him for.
One of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
The best decision I ever made was to marry Jayna. Thanks to her my life has been very wonderful for these past 31 years.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed


  1. Happy Scooterversary to you anmd Max....great post

  2. Jim (cpa3485):

    ditto, a very happy Sooterversary to you and Jayna too. You are indeed "blessed", and Max doesn't look bad either

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  3. Bloody hell. I burst into tears and started sobbing like the hopeless sentimentalist I am. I have to find a name for my Bonneville. And my wife.

  4. I too just passed 4000 on my scoot although my one year anniversary is still couple weeks away. Scootering and the smell of the air and the sights are just better than being in a cage.

  5. Jim, congratulations on your first anniversary with Max. 4,000 miles is excellent! You are right, the perspective changes when you are actually part of the scene, rather than just observing it. The Sym is an excellent bike, and it is great that Max is serving you well. You are indeed fortunate to have a lovely wife too!

  6. Love the photos! So glad you read Pirsig. I first read it in the late 70s. Reading it again (about a year ago) gave me insights I don't recall from the first reading. It is interesting to learn all the changes that have transpired in Pirsig's life since the publication of Zen...

    Being out there, in the elements, with nature, riding on rather than in a vehicle, gives us a different perspetive, a viewpoint that one doesn't have in exactly the same way when riding in a car.

    Congrats to you and Max for being great travel pals.

    If you enjoyed Pirsig, might be interested in reading _Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew B. Crawford. Greatly compliments and extends Pirsig.

  7. Baron,
    Thanks for the compliment,
    and thanks for stopping by

    Yeah, I can guess what you are thinking, LOL
    Max is definately a looker!

    You crack me up! Let mke know what you finally name your wife. Wasn't meant as a sentimental post, but did turn out that way a bit.

    Bryan Edwards,
    That's very cool we are so close in mileage. I ended up at 4,144 for the first year. Let me know where you end up.
    Thanks for stopping by

    thanks for the comliments. There have been many unexpected joys to scootering

    Thanks for the tips on the books. It may take me sone time to fully digest Pirsig. I keep the book at the bedside and get it out occasionally and re-read parts of it.

    All of you,
    Thanks for stopping by


  8. Dear CPA3485:

    You have had an awakening... So many people go through life not even aware they are sleepwalking. They bump into things and each other. Those who have learned to swerve always have the advantage. I regard a scooter as the hidden elevator stop between floors. Far from a bicycle but not quite a motorcycle, it seems to me like the first level of personal escape, and probably purer than the bike option.

    Look at how far you've gone on this scooter! Not in miles, but in terms of finding personal release, in helping to define who you are, and in creatimg a new social vehicle that revolves around these remarkable machines.

    I hope to have the pleasure of riding with you.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack "reep" Toad
    Twisted Roads

    PS: I too was touched by the innocence of this post, and pissed myself reading Conch's reply.

  9. Jack,
    Somehow I have always known that behind the personae you portray lies a big puppy dog just enjoying life for all it's worth. You are right on about finding personal release. After so many years of working at a desk and pounding numbers in and out of a computer, riding has opened up an entirely new worls to me.

    I have it all figured out. After Bobskoot's supposed financial windfall from the internet, and after he buys both you and Sharon new bikes, and after Sharon lets me have her old one (with visitation priveleges), then Bobskoot will host us all at his house in Canada (yes I have a passport) and we will all travel together to next year's BMW MOA rally (which if I heard right will be in Oregon). We will all have a glorious and raucous time together.

    Take Care and hope that arthritis abates a bit for you.


  10. I'll second the insightful comments of Mr. Riepe. Congratulations on your anniversary and journey on the scooter. Your experience echoes my own. Adding writing and photography to the experience shines a pretty bright light on living.

    Bravo and keep noticing things!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  11. Steve,

    The change in lifestyle due to riding has been marvelous. I have taken more pictures in the last 3 months than I probably did in the two years before that. My goal for photography is to get a little better all the time, not that I ever expect to reach your level of competence. The ability to photograph and engage in a little more creative type of writing about the passion I heve developed for riding has just added to the fun.

    Thanks for stopping by,


  12. cpa3485:

    Jim: I have found that it is easier to photograph while on a 2 wheeled machine, be it; scooter or motorcycle (they are really both the same) on the scoot I stop, pull out the camera and snap. If it is narrow roadway, I pull to the shoulder, stop and snap. It is much more difficult in a vehicle. often you are not able to get off the roadway and have to park further along and walk back.

    Unlike Steve who meticulously places his GTS in the exact spot based on lighting angles and comes up with the perfect shot every time. He is the master, we can only keep trying.

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  13. I share your fondness for Persig's description.

    You still have a ways to go in your progression to the Dark Side, Luke. You will know you are there when your 15 minute trip home takes an hour and a half!

  14. Bobskoot,
    Your excellent movies of late have given me some ideas about trying to mount my camera (which actually takes pretty good movies) on my scooter. Based on all the plastic there is around the handlebars I thought I would have some trouble, but have a new idea now that may work. More Farkle as well, LOL
    I just have really enjoyed taking more pictures. Had been pretty burnt out on it for awhile.

    Thanks for stopping by again


  15. Irondad,
    I really have not taken many of those longer trips home, but am always looking for an excuse to make the ride longer. Such as picking up dinner, stopping by the hardware store, or something like that. And yes, I know my journey to the dark side is not yet complete. Still have many things to learn, but with assistance from Jedi masters like yourself, ..... well you know.

    Thanks for stopping by


  16. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    Noyhing is going to stop me from riding to Key West before I go anywhere else... Nothing!

    Fondest regards,
    Jack "reep" Toad