Sunday, February 27, 2011

56 Days Later

Finally! Fixty-six days since I parked the BV under the deck I was able to take it out today. For as long as it had been since I had last ridden, it almost felt like I'd scored some kind of victory in being able to ride this afternoon. I do believe that this break of nearly two months had been my longest riding hiatus since I became a scooter rider nearly four years ago.

I've always been a chicken when it comes to ice and snow. I don't like walking on it. I don't like driving with even four wheels on it. Although we didn't have any storms of monstrous proportion (yet) this winter, since shortly after Christmas we've been nailed with snow often enough to keep questionable patches of frozen junk on the roads with bad plowing and then melting and refreezing. Even today I wasn't certain that I'd not encounter something that might make the front tire skate across it, but I took the calculated risk because I was just about stir crazy from not riding.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go even before I left the house, and if we were to look back in this journal to a year or two ago from right around this time of year, I wouldn't be surprised if I were to find that I'd written an entry similar to this one from the very same place. I went to the county park that closes in late fall, complete with big gates that block the roadway so well that even a scooter can't get around them or the posts that support them. Somehow that spot is like the official portal to spring to me, and until those gates open, regardless of what the calendar or thermometer might suggest, riding season isn't quite here. And, somewhat pathetically, until those gates are moved back, I'll return to that very spot time and time again and mutter to myself a big, ol', "Aw, shucks!" through a disappointed grin each time I discover that they haven't been.

I don't know that I've ever quite measured the passage of my life before in rituals of sorts as I do with the scooter and its "seasons." Ecclesiastes, the third chapter, comes to mind. "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven." And, although I'm no great fan of the tune by The Byrds set to that set of the Lord's lyrics, the front tire certainly does "turn, turn, turn" as the somewhat distinct seasons of scootering come and go again each year and carry me to many familiar places and now and then to some new ones when I'm feeling particularly daring.

I was out this afternoon for, perhaps, only an hour or so. It was still cold as the wind whisked under the helmet, even with the visor down, and up the legs of my pants that my mom hemmed just a little too short at the beginning of the school year. But, it was a good kind of cold. The kind that invigorates and reminds one at the same time that its proper season isn't here to stay forever.

It was an odd feeling to be back in the saddle. For just the littlest while it almost felt like I'd never ridden a bike before. There was the slightest wobble to my grip. A trace of hesitation in my leans and turns. It all came back to me before I rode the mile or so to the downtown, but there was enough of a cautious reminder in there to keep me on my toes with the realization that riding, like anything else worth doing, takes some degree of practice and that the associated skills can get rusty from disuse.

Signs of spring are there if you know where to look for them. For me, it isn't usually farther than the garden along the walkway that leads from the backyard to the front sidewalk. Soon enough some tiny crocus heads will emerge from these greens and when I spy them for the first time I'll likely look like the Grinch in that famous scene where his heart grows a number of sizes larger than it had been and his face lights up with a beatific smile.

The best parts of life are simple and don't cost a thing. Having a scooter is a blessed bonus.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Briefly Thought About Riding

It was sometime right before the weekend, before the one just past, when I actually thought about the possibility of taking the scooter out for a quick run just for the sake of being able to say I did it for the first time in over a month.  The temperatures were going to get warmer for a day or two, into the mid 40's!  Unfortunately, my not having cleaned the alleyway between my house and the neighbor's of snow from the past few storms left an icy mess between the tires of the BV and the street, and on the day when I thought I might get the best chance to get the cycle out,  the ice was still holding up like forged steel to the blade of the chopper.

I sprinkled the ice pack generously with calcium chloride that Saturday morning, thinking that after getting back from visiting my little girl at college I'd hop on the BV and take that long awaited spin.  When I got back late that afternoon, the salt had done its trick, but I was pooped.  A nap won out over the ride and then it was too cold and dark to make the effort worth whatever small, freezing joy I might possibly have gotten out of a quick jaunt.

This past weekend might have been even better, but I was away from Friday afternoon till just today.  Two days ago I was shooting trains in Cresson, Pennsylvania, and in spite of a howling, bigger wind, there was much joy to be found in seeing that most of the moderate snow piles made by local plows were nearly melted completely.

Because I planned to come back today, Monday, I watched the weather forecasts carefully to make sure that I'd not have to cut my trip short.  The forecasts for today were bad, for tonight, but not for the daytime.  Imagine my horror when I awoke this morning, 240 miles away from here, to learn that nine inches of snow had fallen here, while where I was everything was merely wet from some rain.  I can't remember a time when the meteorologists, at every major service, were so completely off the mark!

I did trim my time away by a few hours and headed back earlier than I had planned in order to do most of my traveling during what was supposed to have been a lull in the storm.  My calculations were excellent and I encountered no bad driving conditions except for a few small areas of fog.  In spite of the jokes and complaints about PennDOT, my hat was off the whole time to the crews that clean the highways and byways.  Of course in the summer I'll curse them to high heaven when they close down 20 miles of roadway to work on 50 feet, but today they were in terrific form in keeping the roads cleared!

So, here I am again, not much thinking of getting the scooter out any time soon.  The snow pile right here where I need to turn the front wheel of the bike to get from the yard to the street looks like this.  

Back to hibernating, I guess.  Call me when it's really spring!