Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Staying warm on the scooter is something I ought to be an expert at by now, having been riding for a dozen years now since the spring of 2007, but every year I'm dumb enough to leave the house at least a few times with less than adequate padding to freeze my ass off in no time flat.  Today marked my first such stupid move for the year!

My home is well Googlized and Alexafied with multiple units placed throughout the house to pick up and execute whatever I command them to do, but if I lower a volume and forget to raise it back up later I’m often too lazy to ask it to repeat something if I’m not certain I heard a response clearly.  So it was that I asked the kitchen Google Mini for the outside temperature and misheard what was apparently 59 degrees spoken very quietly as 69.  Did I bother then to look at the thermometer on the deck before suiting up for my ride to the bank?  Nah!  After all it was only about a mile to town and another back.  How cold could I get?

“Okay, Google, what’s the temperature?”

“The temperature in Wilkes-Barre is too cold for you to go out on your scooter,” is what I wish it might say.

Not confirming the actual temperature outdoors was only my first boneheaded move.  The second was to put on a fleece jacket that I thought would be just right for nearly 70 degrees of warmth that I’d expected it to be outside.  After too many years of proving it to myself multiple times, fleece is fantastic for keeping warm when one is on the couch with a fleece blankie draped over himself; the fleece holds the heat of one’s body beautifully and makes a toasty warm environment that’s perfect for watching TV.

 Fleece made into a throw is perfect for when Jeopardy is coming on.

On the scooter, however, fleece is absolutely worthless!  The wind (or ambient breeze created by the scooter moving through the air) blasts right through the fabric of a fleece jacket.  I might as well have been riding downtown bare chested through the chilly air and couldn’t get down there and back fast enough.  Of course part of that problem is that going faster just makes it feel all that much colder than a slower speed would.  To be certain when I got outside the door with the fleece jacket on and walked right into a bright enough sunbeam it felt much warmer it was.  But again, I should know much better after riding through a dozen Aprils and probably freezing my butt in every one of them.

Fleece is NOT what an experienced rider should reach for when contemplating a ride.

I don’t really know what it is.  Is it just wishful thinking for warmer temperatures on my part that makes me ignore the signs of what’s going to end up being a cold ride?  Or am I really getting that much dumber as I get older?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

First Ride of 2019 - Later Than Usual for Spring

It’s almost mid April and I took my inaugural ride of 2019 just this morning not only because of the weather but with street “destruction" tossed in for good measure as well.  In early December a contractor for the water company began digging up our street to install a new water main and by mid month they were in front of my house.  Things were okay until a few days later when I was awakened at 3 AM by a call from the water company asking me to move my car because the old main which was still in use had burst beneath the street.  Crews worked until halfway through the next day but when they’d capped the leak they filled in their dirty work (literally) with just dirt and golf ball sized rocks.  A few days later it snowed and when the plows came, the street looked like a war zone in their wake.  For weeks I’d feared that my car was going to be hit by people driving up the street and not seeing the huge craters in the road next to my car until the last minute.  I called the water company and they sent more dirt and rocks to fill the holes, but again it snowed, again the plows came, and again the street looked as if it had been bombed.

 In mid December the digging began to put in a new water main on our street.

A few days later the old main (still in use) blew right in front of the house.

After their excavation, the water company left the road like this.

And this.

And when it was wet from rain and snow, the road was just a bed of mud leaving the car splattered all the time.
January was damned cold and I’d not have taken the scooter out if I could have, but when February arrived with a few nice days I longed to get it out just for the hell of it but wouldn't dare because of the condition of the street.  There was no way I’d have been able to ride over the loose dirt and rocks to get back to the house without dropping the bike and myself as well.

With nothing but dirt and rocks, the scooter's front tire would have had no safe purchase for me to get back home.

With March came the thaw, though to me it seemed that the month was much, much colder than in years past; I have to admit that it might just have been my old bones perceiving it that way but either way I wasn’t taking the scooter out of the yard.  It was rainy as often as snowy and the street was a sea of mud.  I had to wash my car every few days and when there were a few days of dry weather the mud would dry out and every car that went by kicked up a dust cloud that then settled on the car and on the front of the house.  My repeated calls to the water company from December through April got me some really sincere sounding lip service that accomplished nothing.  It wasn’t until Friday just past (April 12th) that a crew finally arrived to clean up the dirt and large chunks of rock and to put some asphalt patch down.  That made today, the 13th with temperatures in the mid 70s my very first viable day for a ride and I certainly took advantage of it!

 The contractors finally came back yesterday after my talking to the water company and them repeatedly while the daily mess went on.

When my front wheel rolled out of the alleyway and toward the street, as usual, I had no idea at all where I was going to end up.  My rides are always more about going than being so when I’m off for a ride for the sake of a ride, it doesn't much matter in which direction I turn at any particular intersection.  As it turned out I rode about 14 miles today going nowhere special, yet every rotation of the tires was special because I was finally out and about for the first time since November and I was enjoying every single second of being out there.

 One of the selfies I'd been dying to take for months

Because my left hip and right knee are both in need of replacement and I’m too stubborn to book the surgeries, mounting the scooter isn't as easy as it was some years back.  I could really use a bike with a true step through design at this point but having retired early because of my increasingly poor health it wouldn’t be practical to go shopping for another one so I’ll get by for as long as the Piaggio lasts me and after that it’ll probably be the end of my two wheeling days.

 Here's hoping for days that keep getting warmer one after another!

Wondering what the numbers will look like when November rolls around again.