Sunday, November 19, 2006

Foul-Weather Rider Roundup

Foul-Weather Rider Roundup

Well, last week, the South Sound was blessed with clear golden sunny Autumn days, though it was cold at night. I've definitely been putting some miles on the Sprint V. But, today on the ride home I got pelted. I was actually kind of excited though, when the morning shift came in and said the rain had started. It was a chance to try out my new rain coat. The Corazzo does alright in the misty drizzle we usually see around here, but after 15 to 20 miles cruisin' at 35 in driving rain, water starts to seep into the under layers. But the tourmaster elite performed admirably, and I have a much clearer idea of what I want to keep my legs dry and cozy.
You see since I got the rain jacket, I've been debating about what to do about my legs. The rain pants that match the jacket are only like $20 to $26 on the internet, and look like they would be very dry and the set packs into a small bag, which I believe will just fit under the P200's seat. I'm sure there would be some significant warmth gained due to blockage of wind and rain. There are also unorthodox solutions such as lap aprons, and scooterskirts. There are times when I really drool over TermoScuds. As for skooterskirts, I guess I'd consider one if I could get it in Armstrong Tartan.
There is also the issue of having two scooters... The P should running soon, do I really want to switch a lap apron back and forth? Hmm... maybe chaps or riding pants. I had chaps on fifteen years ago, when I laid my 400cc Honda down in the rain. I slid about 25 or 30 feet, got up brushed my self off, turned the bike off and wheeled it out of traffic. Very nice. I also had several earnestly friendly, well-groomed men engage me it what was supposed to be stimulating conversation, whilst they stole glances at my crotch... Not exactly the look I was going for, though you are free to do what you will with the information...
The problem with pants and chaps, is the problem most scooterists have dealt with at some time or the other: Gear made for motorcyclists, is made for motorcyclists. It will work for scooterists, but it's rarely ideal. I mean my boots (which I love) have a patch on the left toe for shifting gears... And in motorcyclist gear, there are two flavors, Hell's Angels and Power Ranger. Please bear with me while I make some gross generalizations... Motorcylcists whether they ride cruisers or sport-bikes, think of motorcycling as a sport. While there are year round daily riders in both camps, you find far more year round daily riders proportionately amongist the scooterists. Scooterists regard their rides with more pragmatism, and utilitarianism. Sure they fun, but that's gravy. Or rather it's just one part of the whole package.
But leg protection for motorcyclists is easier to find than weird scooter specific solutions, and has one other thing going for it as well. A much higher degree of protection.
So I've been doing a lot of research, trying to get a feel for what's out there. Because sure enough, I was scooterless all Summer, but once the nasty weather starts, I'm back on the road. And this year I want to get to work without the tips of my fingers being numb. And the tops of my thighs and lap looking like I wet myself...
In other words it's undeniably time to winterize the scoot and myself.
And figurin' others could benefit as well, I've rounded up some of my favorite inspirational (and informational) articles about the best way to convince everyone you are crazy, while in actuality make yourself more sane...
Becoming a four-seasons scooterist.

The Baron in Winter (Archive)
An experiment in commuting with an modern automatic scooter in Minnesota during winter

Finally, I learned to take some time to weigh the risks of my actions against the possible rewards. The risks I took on Monday were way out of proportion to what I had intended at the beginning of this project. But I got so carried away with the challenge that I let my brutal jarhead mentality come to the fore, crushing all reason and rationality with it’s implacable, relentless will to win against impossible odds.
Riding to work is a wonderful thing, for so many reasons, but it is not an overpowering mandate. Never risk your life just to get to work. Wait a day, and the misery will still be there, waiting for YOU. Get there safely, so you can live to ride another day.

This is now archived at Gary Charpentier's other rider's blog, Rush Hour Rambling .

Scooters are hot, even when it's cold
Columbia News Services Journal

“If you love riding and if you want to ride, then you’ll overcome just about anything,” said Grant, 37, who’s been riding a scooter for the last six years. “You’ll overcome being wet, and you’ll overcome being cold. Once you do it and you’re out there, it’s about 80 to 90 percent mental.”
“With more and more cars on the road, people are seeing this as a viable transportation model,” said Mount, who suggested that riders use their best judgment when deciding whether to brave harsh weather.
For an emerging scooter subculture that includes hipsters, Mods and purely practical riders, piercing temperatures translate into different types of riding gear that vary in price and style.
Grant, who admits the “coolness factor” was a big part of his decision to buy a scooter, defies cold weather with an electric riding jacket that connects to the battery of his bright red Vespa. At upscale Vespa Soho in Manhattan, “scooterists,” as they call themselves, can buy a $160 vinyl and wool lap blanket that is popular in Europe and $100 handlebar mitts.
“You can’t just put on your snow gear,” said Mary Anne Powers, general manager of the store. “You have to wind-proof yourself.”
New York delivery drivers, who scoot around the city every day for work, often make cold-weather gear from items found at local drugstores. Surgical gloves worn under mitts trap moisture and heat, and shields made from plastic bottles affixed to handle bars block frosty wind.
But even hard-core riders have limits for winter traveling. Most find an alternative when roads are covered with ice.

Scooter in the Sticks on rain
It seems like most of my daily commutes to and from work for the past week have been done in the rain. I find a quiet calm riding in the rain. It requires me to be prepared physically and mentally and the normal focus that occurs during riding is turned up a notch. Riding home today I could not help think of the times I have been sailing in bad weather. The feeling is the world has been reduced to basic elements---weather, the boat (or scooter), the water (road), and me. Everything else falls away. It is a good place to be.

and snow
I don't have any formal winter riding gear. I put on long underwear, shirt, pile shirt, windstopper jacket and on top of it all my Triumph armored jacket (vented). I have a Mountain Hardware skimask and full face helmet. That is plenty as long as I stay dry and the temperture doesn't drop below 15. Someday maybe I'll get a one-piece riding suit.The main roads into town were mostly clear and I could ride along with the traffic. Once in town on secondary streets I found some to be covered with a frosting of worn snow. I stopped and put my feet down to check the slickness and decided to slow down a bit more. Down the hill to the first stop sign I used the rear brake and was fine. Got to my free parking and walked on to work. I took this photograph from the library across the street.I have to say it was just fun riding in cold and all. When I ride the bus or drive my car I am just putting up with the commute. This is a much better use of my life.

Winter Riding Tips
orKeeping Your Cool When It's Cold

Those of us who live in the northern portions of the so-called "temperate zone" — upstate New York, for example — are blessed with several months of wonderful riding weather. However, in return for that blessing we're forced to endure The Curse of Winter. When the first freeze hits, some riders (and in this in stance we use the term loosely) take it as a sign to add fuel stabilizer to the tank, haul the battery inside, and act cranky for a few months. This syndrome is called POS, for Post (or, come February, Pre) Motorcycle Season.
Other riders — real riders — simply take the beginning of winter as a sign that it's time to adapt the pre-ride preparation to account for the change in the environment. To them we say bravo, or brava as the case may be. They know that motorcycling is far too much fun to let a little cold weather put a stop to it. In fact, it's possible that the satisfaction of coping with the challenge of cold weather riding makes it even more fun than the comparatively easy warm-weather sport.
With a view towards increasing the number of intrepid souls who venture forth when the temperature dips below T-shirt levels, we're pleased to present the following tips. Some relate to rider comfort, which is to say, keeping the cold at bay; others address the motorcycle itself, for machines behave differently when the mercury falls; and a few are concerned with the road and other external factors that can have a significant impact (if you'll pardon the expression) on the ride.

So as long as you are prepared, and careful, you too can be scootin' in a winter wonderland... or at least to work.

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