Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do I Dare?

Once again my total ignorance of the internal combustion engine finds me posting a question that I hope somebody in the know can answer for me. I have no qualms about washing the car at a place like this with the high pressure gun, but other than the possibility of knocking the scooter over would there be any "danger" in washing it here?

I fear giving it a good bath and then going to fire it up only to find that I got something wet that I shouldn't have and that I won't be able to get myself home. Yeah, I know cycles get wet in the rain and work just fine, but if I'm shooting water at high pressure up under the plastic, well? What are the odds that I'm going to have a spiffy, shiny bike that won't go anywhere when I'm done?

Thank you in advance for whatever helpful comments you might leave. Lord knows I need 'em!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fallen Soldier

"...any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind..."
-John Donne, Meditation XVII

Every now and then, in my travels, I come upon one of these...

[Name graphically obscured.]

...and my heart fills with anger. I don't know if you have these testimonials, generally to human stupidity, out your way, but here one usually stands in tribute to a drunk driver who killed himself or who took some innocent soul out of mortal existence. It's hard for me to exude any genuine sympathy for somebody who drives inebriated and as a result screws up his life or ends it, but even so I find myself sharing Donne's sentiment in feeling sadness because we're short one comrade on this pilgrimage of life, even if he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box.

That same kind of shake my head and wonder why anger and melancholy came upon me last year when a young soldier crashed his ATV into a legally parked trailer and ended his life. That's his "shrine" pictured above, only a few blocks from where I hang my hat at night. I happened to be driving around the corner nearby there that evening and saw all the flashing lights, but it wasn't until the evening news came on at 11 that I realized what had happened.

Everybody around here (except the police who don't seem to bother enforcing many local traffic and parking ordinances) knows that ATVs aren't allowed on city streets. This guy simply shouldn't have been joy riding here. I'm sure he didn't set out on his ride that evening thinking, "Here I go!" Yet, there he went into that good night, in spite of having worn a helmet while he was illegally touring the city. If you don't have the resources to get yourself a trailer to transport your fun, street illegal, little riding toy out into the woods so you can ride it there, don't buy the toy in the first place, and when you ride around the city and skin your knee or take your head off, don't come crying to me because I won't give you any public sympathy though I'll bow my head respectfully at your untimely passing quietly and in private, and whisper the age old words of the Requiem - "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord..."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crisis? No, Sir!

It was suggested by somebody who ought to know me a whole lot better that my getting a scooter was part of a mid life crisis. Nope. I'd say second childhood is more like it. I loved riding my bicycle when I was a kid and a teen and I often rode my ten speed to relatively distant places just for the fun of the ride. I might have pulled the old bike out of my parents' basement when my daughters were learning to ride, but my cousin's husband dropping dead in his early 40s while taking an after dinner bike ride scared that idea right out of me.

Although I've had to squelch a lot of my favorite childlike qualities for the sake of being a responsible, functioning adult, they're still right under the surface and I like letting them out when I can get away with doing so. Yes, perhaps riding a scooter is an expression of that part of me that longs to be 10 again, and if it is, I make no apologies for that. I've done a fairly decent job at adulthood, and if my bike is a little bit of a reward that lets me feel young again, good for me! I'll take it!

The air was cold today, not out of the 30s, but while the sun was blazing I managed to get out for a ride that lasted a few hours, and I loved every turn of the wheels. Since winter kicked into high gear I missed the unique kind of introspection that I only seem capable of doing while I'm riding, and I was long overdue for some quality cranial cobweb cleaning. I didn't finish figuring myself out while I was on the bike today, but I made some progress. Um, I think.

When I'm on the cycle I often pull over for a view that I'd not bother stopping to enjoy if I were in the car. This was a peek I got of the Susquehanna River this afternoon that almost made the dirty old thing look inviting. Well, inviting to look at it, at least. I'd still not dip so much as a single toe into it.

There was some switching action at the train yard which made stopping there it a worthwhile pause. Although the yard is about 15 miles from home, many of the trains which pass through it are the very same ones that I can watch from the back window of my house. Add a cup of hot coffee to watching a long freight roll through on a winter's night, and it's one of those moments that make life's simple pleasures the best.

I stared wistfully for a while on the other side of the fence from Interstate 81 and wanted to go out to play with the big dogs. I've ridden between one exit and the next on the interstate now and then, each time scaring myself more than I'd like to admit. I don't know if it's just that the scooter feels so lightweight or if I'm that bothered by feeling so utterly vulnerable, but when I'm out there I feel totally edgy and can't wait to get off the highway. I wonder if a heavy motorcycle would feel more safe?

Come to think of it, and I'll bet one of you guys can answer this for me, what is it about the design of the scooter that makes it feel like a fly weight? I can see all of the shiny, awesome looking parts on a "real motorcycle," and they all give it so much substance. I'm half afraid that if I were to peel the plastic off the BV250 I'd see something that looks more like my lawnmower engine than a motorcycle engine. Is that what's under there?

Anyway, it was a nice day for riding, I took advantage of it, and I'm even more looking forward to spring popping up all over!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It's here! The February thaw that I'd hoped for so earnestly in my last post, and just in time to keep me from climbing the walls. Here's the formerly icy alley just this afternoon. Yes, I helped what was left of the ice and snow along with some salting, chopping, and shoveling over the course of the past few days, but it was all effort well spent because I was able to get the scooter out today!

Admittedly, I didn't venture terribly far. I went to the mall because I needed to get a new fan for the processor chip in my '98 machine. Perhaps my grin appears to be too wide for the occasion, but yeah, it felt THAT good to be out again. And I needed to hit the supermarket around the corner to get garbage bags. (I will curse Lee Namey to my grave for having, in his tenure as mayor here, instituted the pay per bag form of garbage collection.)

I was still wary of coming upon a stray patch of ice unexpectedly so I kept close to the house. It wasn't freezing, but it was chilly enough to temper my wanting to go farther. I was able to ride without the visor and gloves, though it felt darned good whenever I'd come to a stop sign or red light and get a short respite from the wind chill of forward motion.

I was thrilled to discover that one of my latest attempts at finding the perfect cell phone headset resulted in having found one that's tolerable on the bike, both to me and to whomever is on the other end. I prefer wired headsets to Blue-tooth types because the clarity and noise reduction seem superior, and because I've yet to find a Blue-tooth headset that doesn't feel like it's about to fall out all the time. I'm sure it's debatable as to whether or not I should be talking on the phone while riding, but I don't feel like I'm compromising my safety. Until somebody can offer a reasonable explanation of how talking on a phone is different from talking to a passenger I refuse to give in to the "common sense" belief that cell phone use results in more accidents while motoring. Talking is talking. I'm proud of Pennsylvania for not giving into every special interest group that wants its own agenda written into the motor vehicle code unlike New York, for example, that needs a half dozen signs at the border telling you specifically what's outlawed there.

Keep your fingers crossed for warmer days ahead!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Welcome February!

I'm starting to get a burning itch to be back out on the scooter and temperatures don't stop me. It's this bloomin' snow that keeps falling every time what's on the ground seems like it's going to melt away. We're in that vicious pattern where the sun's warmth starts to melt the snow by daylight but then the night's freeze works its nefarious magic to remake the thaw into sheets of ice while I'm asleep.

The streets themselves are passable in most areas within a day or two of new wintery precipitation. The alley alongside the house which I need to travel to get the bike to the street is the problem with the repetition of thaw and freeze. Because of the angles of the concrete sidewalk panels it's impossible to clear the snow down to bare surface with the snow blower, and there's no way I'm going to shovel it all. So, I'm stuck under the deck where the scooter's safe from the worst of what winter usually dishes out, but stuck is the operative word there.

I'm hoping and praying for one of those February thaws when we get about a week or so of spring temperatures before the rest of winter comes back to play out what remains of its fury. Even a few days of being able to ride will satisfy the urge and help to ease the cabin fever.

It's Super Bowl Sunday and I'm posting this from a place that's about an hour's drive from Pittsburgh. I'm in Steelers' country but I'll be making the four hour drive back in time for the game. (Steve, if you feel a wave when I'm passing through, that'll be yours truly!) Since the Eagles didn't make it, yeah - I'll root for the "other Pennsylvania team." I'll just have to make sure that all of the die hard Eagles' fans don't find out. I was at a Chinese New Year's party last night. They were serving "Cardinal" instead of cat. That's those Steeler's fans for you!

Go Steelers!