Friday, November 10, 2006

The Dragon's own humble adventure.

Well, this morning I had to put up or shut up.
I rode Jes's scoot to work last night, fun, but relatively uneventful, aside from some reminders of how to deal with a clutch and gears at stop lights. After a solid week of rain, the stars aligned, I was legal, Jes's 1976 Vespa Sprint Veloce was legal, and running, and I had to get to work. It wasn't raining, and I'd taken a few spins around Mud Bay, the Southernmost tip of Puget Sound (seriously look at a map of the Sound, put your finger on that Southern point, and you'll be at most, 5 miles from our little love-shack) whilst tuning the idle and fuel mix. It was time to face my commute on a classic geared scoot.

Like I said, the ride to work was fairly uneventful, besides killing it at stoplights a couple times. But when quitting time came this morning, and the sun wasn't shining through the trees and windows at work, I knew it would be interesting.
Sure enough, when I stepped outside, a blistering wind was tossing leaves around, and condensing our normal Washington misty drizzle into large drops, which though spaced far apart, cut like icy X-acto blades on impact. Like I said, time to put up or shut up. I've ridden two different automatic scoots year round in the past, and like to style myself a "foul-weather scooterist" on the scooter message boards. Still I didn't relish this ride on a geared scoot, I was still familarizing myself with, in the rain, with no windshield. I'd called Jes on break during the night, and she'd given me the concerned warning, that the rain and wind had covered many of the roads with a slippery carpet of leaves.
Just riding a scooter in posted 35 to 40 mph zones (where the AVERAGE speed seems to be 45-50) would scare most folks. I'm past that. I can concentrate on that. What I worry about is having to concetrate on other things as well. I felt confident on adding one other thing to the mix. Rain, sure. Manual transmission, OK. Both... um... well the main roads I can't avoid have bicycle lanes, I can seek refuge in, if I don't feel safe doing the speed limit I guess... and I'll just stick to the backroads when I can...
Oh wait, the bicycle lanes and backroads are full of wet, slimy, slick, slippery, slide-inducing leaves...
I fought little waves of panic as I pulled out of the VeriSign parking lot, and shifted into second.

When I got home, soaked and shivering, I responded to Jes's inquisitive greetings with a hearty, "I'm cold, soaked, and miserable... and the ride was a BLAST!!"

Yes, there were many moments where I found myself wishing I'd opted, (or conned Jes into opting) for a modern, automatic scooter. In the same price range, and even engine size, we could have vehicles with more power, better braking, and "twist n' go" operation. In short, easier more brainless vehicles.

But I don't think brainless, is what I want in a vehicle... It's so easy in this convenient modern world to go through every moment in a hazy trance... So rarely are we called upon to use all our faculities, forced to live in the "now," and strangely, I find I need it. It is one of the big draws to scooters in general for me.

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