Weather: Sunny this morning, above freezing. Rain tonight.
All the ice is gone from the roads now. In itâ€™s place are patches of salty sand which, if youâ€™re not paying attention, can still put you on the ground. Itâ€™s kind of like riding over tiny ball bearings. But if you stay in the wheel tracks of the endless parade of cages, itâ€™s usually not a problem.
Iâ€™ve been riding the Black Baron 250PM for the past five days. It is quite a change from the Red Baron. The extra 100ccâ€™s mean that I can keep up with traffic on the highways within the city.
60 – 65 mph is sustainable, and actually quite pleasant. Since he is still under break-in restrictions, we are not doing any top-speed or sustained full-throttle runs yet. But I like the way he accelerates, and I donâ€™t have to watch the rearview mirrors with the same intensity anymore. Now I am scanning forward for cops, hidden in radar traps. Standard operating procedure…
Which probably saved me some money tonight, on the way home from work. The Black Baron and I crested a hill on West River Road, and came upon a Minneapolis squad car parked on the grass, facing traffic in the right lane. This is a new â€œhideâ€ for them. Normally, they donâ€™t drive on the grass, as this is city parkland.
Nevertheless, there he was.
As soon as I saw the lightbar over there on the right, I was grabbing brakes. We werenâ€™t speeding a lot, but we were a bit above the limit. The Black Baron has hydraulic disc brakes front and rear, and we were legal by the time Johnny Law could draw a bead on us. Yup, Spring is here, and the games have begun.
East River Road, on the Saint Paul side of the river, has many interesting curves. I quickly found the limits of the Black Baronâ€™s lean angle there. The centerstand is the first thing to touch down on either side, and it doesnâ€™t take much. I heard the sound of metal-on-tarmac several times as we hustled through my favorite sections. I was feeling kind of sporty tonight.
But the Black Baron isnâ€™t really a sporty scooter. He is more of a Gentlemanâ€™s Express. If you do some research on that term, you will find that there have been several motorcycles and some other vehicles throughout history that have worn that sobriquet.
Fast in a straight line, with civilized handling, but not well suited for hooligan antics. This is more of a dignified, comfortable ride. When operated in that fashion, the Black Baron shines. Iâ€™m thinking we might have looked a bit silly tonight, throwing sparks from the centerstand as we negotiated the Ford chicane. No matter. Inside my helmet I was wearing an ear-to-ear grin. Just another night, having fun on a motorbike. What a tough life…
It is supposed to rain most of the day tomorrow. Iâ€™m struggling with whether or not to ride. This is not my scooter. It is a development mule. Does that mean Iâ€™m supposed to knowingly subject it to a saltwater bath, to see which parts corrode overnight? That wasnâ€™t covered in my mission briefing. The cage is running alright, and I can certainly use that. But I have developed a serious aversion to driving, especially since proving that I can ride in almost any weather.
The soothing tones of Comcastâ€™s Weatherscan channel are playing in my ear as I type this. I see a strong storm system heading our way on the radar, but it has quite a few gaps in it. Maybe weâ€™ll get lucky, and enjoy a dry commute in the morning. It doesnâ€™t matter if it rains on the way home. Man, I sure donâ€™t want to drive…
Guess Iâ€™d better sleep on it.