Scarlet Rides To Work

Weather: Sunny and Hot, 92°F (33°C)

Scarlet by the Stone Arch Bridge
Time out to enjoy the river view, down by the Stone Arch Bridge.

Scarlet O’Baron’s odometer reads 528 miles as I type this. We have been commuting together for almost two weeks now. I have definitely become One with this machine. The extra power afforded by the 250cc engine makes Scarlet the perfect vehicle for the urban commuter.

Lithe and agile, she gets around traffic very well, without having to resort to tactical off-road maneuvering like Frogwing. With this extra power, she really is like having a little sportbike again. Of course, the riding position is a good bit more comfortable than on my old Ducati.

Handling is tight, and now that I have the quicker rhythm down, we really have fun with the sweepers and the Ford Chicane over on Mississippi River Boulevard. We are able to keep up with, and even pass, traffic on Highway 55 and Shephard Road. Both of these have 50-55mph speed limits, and traffic on them typically travels at 60. This is so much nicer than feeling like a road hazard on the slower Red Baron.

Tonight, I am going to change her oil, and mount the new passenger footrests for Emily. Tomorrow, I will go and hunt down the proper size metal tube for her intake, so she will be “derestricted” in time for our ride on Saturday with reader Dan Jones. We are planning an expedition which he will lead, but I do not yet know where.

I never thought scooters could be so much fun. To paraphrase Tim Allen: All you need is More Power!

5:30pm… Late Breaking News

I’ve just arrived at my house, after a bit of an ordeal. Scarlet and I were riding home, and we ran out of gas. I had been ignoring her gas gauge, assuming that it was as inaccurate as others I have seen on scooters. The needle had dropped to E shortly after I left work, but I figured that I had enough to get to the cheap(er) station near my home.

Well, let me tell you right here, that gauge means what it says. I will be watching it more closely in the future.

What followed was a nice walk in the sun, pushing Scarlet along, in the 92° heat. We had gone about a quarter mile, when a motorcycle coming up behind us slowed to a stop alongside.

The rider looked like an old-school biker, and he was riding a Honda Shadow. No shirt, and of course, no helmet. But he held true to the real biker ethic of always helping a fellow rider, and for that I was very thankful.

Introducing himself simply as Wade, he offered to ride home and come back with a gas can. I could park on the side of the road, in a residential neighborhood across from the park, and wait for him in the shade. He said he would be back in ten minutes. This seemed like a sound plan.

So I pulled the book I am currently reading out from under Scarlet’s seat, and adjourned to the park, where I sat in the shade of a maple tree. I could see Scarlet across the street, and watch for Wade to return. It was a pleasant interlude.

After fifteen minutes had gone by, however, I began to get fidgety. I also noticed that a professional landscaping crew was operating at a house down the block from where I had parked Scarlet.

I waited another minute or so, then went back and pushed Scarlet down the block to the house where the guys were mowing the lawn. I knew they would have gas. The only question was whether they would share with a guy who was riding a sporty red scooter.

These were younger fellows, probably still in their teens. I explained my predicament once again, and after giving me an amateur ration of sh…, er, crap, they agreed to let me have about a cupful of gas. That was all Scarlet needed to get me to the nearest station.

About the time I was putting her gas cap back on, Wade rode up. He had his gas can ready, but now we wouldn’t need it. Still, I owed him. So I offered to buy him a beer, if he would follow me.

When we got to the gas station and I filled Scarlet up, Wade said, “Hey, it looks like I need gas too. Do you mind…?”

Has gasoline become more precious to bikers than beer? It would appear so. I handed the nozzle over to him, my debt was paid, and I was spared the humiliation of riding a scooter to a biker bar. That works for me.

9 Responses to “Scarlet Rides To Work”

  1. Tom Says:

    Good to see you back on a scooter.


  2. Dan Jones Says:

    I can sympathize about the gas thing. When I was stationed in Germany, I had a beat up ‘53 VW bug. No gas gauge at all. Instead a “reserve” system that consisted of a cup in the gas tank with a handle under the dash that you turned to tip the cup of gas into the tank when it ran dry. The hard part was remembering to tilt the cup back up to the fill position at the next fill-up.

    I ran out of gas quite a few times before I learned to carry a tin of gas around for emergencies.

    My old BMW 600 “sedan” had the same sort of setup. The 600 had the door that opened in the front like a refridgerator or an Isetta but, being as how it was a sedan, it also had a door on the side to let passengers into the back seat. That was a sweet little car with a BMW 600cc horizontally opposed motorcycle engine that no one in town would work on.

    I loved that car. The main porblem was that the kids on campus liked to turn it upside down after a bit of partying so the acid from the battery under the back seat would run out and eat up the interior. It’s in a car museum now. Best four-wheeled motorcycle I ever saw.

    I’ll get to you before three on Friday with a plan.

  3. phil Says:

    Dan -

    I always wondered how that ‘reserve’ system worked…

  4. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Tom: It’s kind of nice to be able to go out in the garage and choose which style of ride to take every day. The scooter makes sense economically, and is the easiest option most days. But when I have to get to work and back in a hurry, due to other obligations, then Frogwing gets the nod.

    Dan: Sounds like we will have lots to talk about on Saturday.

    phil: Oh, you were talking to Dan. Sorry…

    Ride well,

  5. jim Says:

    The first month I had my Valkyrie I was using the fuel petcock backwards so when I switched to reserve there was none. I was in the boondocks and yep out of gas. Can anyone say dumba$$? Anyhow I got some real skanky lookin gas from a good samaratin that I strained through a paper towel. Was not a good time.

  6. Steve Williams Says:

    You meet the nicest people on a scooter.

    Sounds as if the 250 Baron is going to provide you with a lot more handling and performance options than the 150. And it looks good too. The ride to work and rambling through rush hour is going to be fun. Road hazard? If you were able to manage through the winter on a smaller scooter dry roads and more power will allow you to become one with the chaos.


  7. seagullplayer Says:

    How did Wade carry his gas can?
    My money is on Bungee cord in some fashion.

    BTW, that milk crate almost matches your new baron’s color.

    I added two ammo cans to my sporty about a month ago, they work great. I think you would have trouble mounting them on the Baron, but for frogwing…

    Rubber Down.

  8. Gary Charpentier Says:

    jim: We all have our moments like that, I’m afraid. It’s called being human…

    Steve: “Become one with the chaos…” Oh, I LIKE that! Thank you, Zen Master Steve.

    SGP: You strike me as coming from the same old biker school as Wade, and it just happens to be one of my alma maters as well. Yes, bungee cords.

    I tried to mount ammo cans on Frogwing, but the 20mm versions were too big and the sides were too flimsy to mount without serious rework. When I got the opportunity to test Dirtbagz soft saddlebags for the magazine, I just left them on there. They are a great product.

    What size ammo cans did you mount?

    Ride well,

  9. seagullplayer Says:

    Gary, I think they where 40’s, but there is nothing written on them.
    Less that $5 each. That larger set are called “saw cans”? They are an inch bigger in every direction. Plan to mount them before the year is done.
    If you have some junk E-mail address you use, I could send you a picture.

    Rubber Down