Weather: Gorgeous on the weekend, and rainy on Monday.
…as it should be, I guess.
I have spent the last week getting acquainted with my new scooter: Scarlet O’Baron.
She has a 250cc engine, shoehorned into a little 150cc chassis like the one that I rode last winter. She is quick, she is fast, and now, she is all mine.
Yes, I know I said earlier that I shouldn’t own one of these, as it would only get me in trouble… but you do only live once, after all.
Scarlet had some carburation issues in development, and I have placed a sort of venturi-tube in the intake plenum, upstream of the carburetor, to limit performance during break-in.
This is sort of like the “restrictor plate” they use in NASCAR. I want to make sure that she is getting a slightly rich mixture, to keep the heat down and limit the stresses on critical engine components during her first five-hundred miles on the road.
Still, the early numbers look promising: I’m calling them 70/70 right now.
This means that on a section of freeway with a 65mph speed limit, at full throttle, we were passing cages with about 5mph overtake. This reflects at least a 70mph restricted top speed.
With 263 miles on the odometer, and not trusting the gas gauge yet, we went 112 miles since her last fill-up. She took 1.6 gallons, which calculates to a nice, round 70 mpg fuel mileage.
The Red “Baron in Winter” did 63 mph and got 80 mpg with a 150cc engine, so these numbers are right in line with my expectations for Scarlet. Once we hit 500 miles, I am going to remove the restrictor and see what she’ll do then. If we don’t hit 80mph, I am going to start shopping for another carburetor and a pipe.
Alright, enough with the numbers… This past weekend, we did some testing of another kind altogether.
You see, Scarlet isn’t as plush and comfy as the Black Baron or Old Yeller were. Those two were built on the PM, or “People Mover” platform, and they were quite luxurious compared to the taut and sporty SX chassis. So I wanted to see if Scarlet would still work well two-up with my daughter Emily.
We planned a Saturday visit to the Como Zoo, followed by an ice-cream run up Grand Avenue to the Grand Ole Creamery.
The weather cooperated, so Emily and I set out with Scarlet at ten-thirty in the morning.
It is a bit more of a stretch for Emily’s legs to reach the passenger “pegs” on Scarlet. She let me know about that right away. Of course, I told her what her mother and I always tell her in these situations: “You’ll grow into it…”. But it would definitely limit our endurance in the saddle together, compared to the Baron PMs.
That’s OK at this point, however. At her age, a short ride is a good ride. Longer rides become more challenging, and ultimately less fun.
We were able to sneak a parking spot close to the entrance at the zoo. Then we waited in a long line of people to get in. Once inside, we noticed that at least 40% of the exhibits were closed for maintenance. So it was a short visit.
But of course, Emily had to visit the gift shop, and once there, found a “stuffed-aminal” she just had to have. So I ponied up the ten bucks for “Saphire the Dolphin”; yet another plush critter with which to litter her bedroom floor.
Why is it that a fiscally conservative fellow (cheap bastard) like me, loses all sense of economic responsibility around his cute little red-haired daughter? Oh, don’t answer that. It seems as though I’ve been asking a lot of rhetorical questions lately. This is probably just a precursor to the geezerly habit of muttering to myself.
Anyway, riding down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, we stopped at the Grand Ole Creamery to enjoy an ice cream cone the same way our grandparents used to have them. They offer many flavors, all of them made on-site, and they dish them into old-fashioned waffle cones, if you like, or the more modern cake and sugar cones for the less adventurous.
We sat outside while we enjoyed our `cones, and discussed the issues that occupy her six-year-old mind. They are a good bit more complex than what I was thinking about at that age.
We rode home by a roundabout path, through the park and along the river. She gave me a big hug as she dismounted, and I couldn’t help but sigh. This little girl has me wrapped around her little finger, and I’m not even sure she knows that. Well, that’s fine, for now. We’ll worry about adolescence when it gets here…
This morning, I rode Scarlet O’Baron to work. We had to use the old milk-crate, because we haven’t been able to find a suitable trunk for her. That was fine by me, however, because me and this old milk crate have History.
We rode home in one of the biggest rainstorms of the year, and it caught me with my (Aerostich) pants down. I had left my Darien pants in the garage at home, believing the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild when they said that we had a 30% chance of Isolated Thunderstorms.
Well, that forecast changed throughout the day. By the time I left, we were certain to get hammered by heavy rains, if not large hail.
Scarlet O’Baron and I got totally drenched on the way home, but she never missed a beat. This gives me great confidence in our future together. I’m not sure if I am going to ride her this winter, but at this point it is a definite possibility. For now, however, we are going to concentrate on being the coolest, fastest, bestest commuter scooter in the Twin Cities.
It’s going to be a fun ride…