If there's one season that we can count on to throw the most static (i.e. undesired and unwanted stuff) at us scooter riders, it has to be Spring! Two weeks ago today, technically it was still Winter, but it didn't much matter how close we were to its end because we got the blizzard of blizzards since the dawn of the 21st century only days before Spring arrived. When the snow was done falling, I was convinced that it would be May before the last of the snowpack would be completely melted. Surprise! Here's my shadow surveying the North Forty (my backyard) and the snow is gone!
Now, it would seem that that's a grand thing, and, indeed, it is. On the one hand. Yes, I was able to get the bike to the street and around a few blocks, and while I was riding there were at least a few seconds during which I'm sure I didn't look totally like a grumpy old man. I'd ridden on colder days if one relies on the thermometer alone to gauge the comfort potential of a ride, but that damned wind is a significant factor that should never be underestimated. A ride in the 50s or even the 60s with anything stronger than a gentle breeze can be a force that makes what one thinks ought to be a totally pleasant ride into something entirely different. My mom used to say all the time, "The sun is hot, but the air is cool," and I used to hate hearing it as she made me wear a jacket as I went outdoors. I'm sure this isn't the first time here that I've admitted that she was right. Today's temperature was in the mid 50s, but in spite of my having dressed in a few layers I was cold before I'd gotten to the end of the street and onto the next block.
Another thing that makes riding in the early Spring a hazard is gravel! After a snowpack melts, left in its wake are all the pieces of rock and debris that the plows picked up and moved along with the snow. In places the buildup of these gravel trails can be significant and can impact a safe stop on a bike. When a foot comes down on a bunch of little rock pieces, a rider's purchase on the terra firma is tenuous at best. Gravel piles tend to form at intersections where plows often slow down to leave a bunch of snow at the roadside, and it's precisely at intersections that we often make the most stops. It hasn't happened yet, but when the spring rains hit, flowing water is going to carry many of the pieces of scattered about gravel and redeposit them wherever shallow depressions or other factors slow the water down as it crosses the road. When crossing these bands of gravel one often feels a bit hesitant to keep on the throttle, yet slowing is the last thing one would want to do.
Lots of gravel was left as the snowpack melted along the curb.
And let's not forget the potholes for which Pennsylvania is famous. Throughout the city are significant craters that could easily topple a scooter, especially a small one with a smaller wheel base. If you look at the picture above this paragraph, on the right you can see a dark patch which was a deep pothole until the city's DPW came around with some cold patch to fill it in.
Most of all, though, today's ride was cut short by my oil light flickering again, especially as I came to stops at intersections. I checked the oil some time ago and the level was fine. I added a little then anyway and the problem disappeared only for a little while. It's long overdue for an oil change and I'm sure it needs the filter replaced as well. And I need a new back tire. And I need a new set of transmission rollers. And soon enough I'm going to need a new exhaust pipe. And, worst of all, the authorized Piaggio dealer and shop in the area is no more. While I found a cycle shop that says they can service the scooter, it remains to be seen what kind of job they'll do.
If I'm lucky, maybe by the time it's finally warm enough to ride with hardly a care about temperature I'll have all the necessary work behind me. I'll let you know!