Mercury’s Descent

Weather: Cloudy and cold, 22°F (-6°C)

Well folks, I think this is it. Looking at our ten-day forecast, I see that our daytime high temps are falling below freezing into the foreseeable future. Winter is finally upon us, as we roll into December.

I’m still suffering headaches and a stiff neck from my get-off last week, but experience tells me that there’s nothing the docs can do about this. The damage will heal in time. Ibuprofen and patience are the indicated prescription.

I plan to be back on two wheels again next week.

This weekend, I will repair the damage to Scarlet O’Baron, as much as I can. The scuffed section of her bodywork will remain, I think, until the end of Winter. It’s a good reminder to always be aware of the road surface, even when the pavement has been warm and dry for awhile.

My Darien should come back from Aerostich next week, and until then I will wear my old Tourmaster over my Aero Kanetsu heated vest. My plain old silver HJC will be pressed into service, after a new hinge plate and visor-swap, because I’ve never crashed in that.

The helmet pictured below will be added to the pile in my garage, just another victim of my periodic hubris.

I should get out for a ride this coming weekend, and I will report back next Monday night. It will be good to get back in the saddle…

20 Responses to “Mercury’s Descent”

  1. seagullplayer Says:

    Sounds like a plan, loaf a little, use the defrost.
    We are to see your snow by this Friday I’m told.
    Broke my trottle cable, new one due in Thursday.
    I don’t plan on getting around to fixing it till at least the weekend.

    I had to pickup and install a new hot water heater for my inlaws this week.
    I’m going to add that to my list of things I can’t/will not haul on my bike.

    1) Live chickens
    2) Potted Fruit trees
    3) 40 gal hot water heaters

    (Yes I’m sure you may have seen pictures of chickens being carriers, but you let that stuff get on your paint and…)

  2. Dan Jones Says:

    So should I expect to see you at First Thursday? Hell, should I expect to see ME at First Thursday????

    Ramblin’ Dan

  3. irondad Says:

    I just got back from the library where I checked out a couple of books. The author? Hunter S. Thompson. One book is The Rube. I forget the name of the other one but it has something to do with Hell in Las Vegas.

    Figured it would help me better understand you whacko scooter pilots! I personally have no clue as to what makes you folks do the things you do!

    Seriously, I’m worried about you. This is the first time you’ve done something other than bounce right back. Is your head ok? When I got hit / high-sided and broke my arm and hand I lost a little traction in the confidence level. The part that made it harder was that I physically couldn’t ride for over a month. The time away wasn’t any help in getting back on top of things. Now you’d never know as you eat my dust.

    Been there, done that, got the bashed up helmet and cast to prove it. I’m also here for you in word and spirit, should it be of use. Keep a lip upper stiff, Bro’!


  4. Gary Charpentier Says:

    SGP: We can call this an unplanned vacation, I suppose, although I consider neither riding or writing a chore. It’s just something that happened, something I risk every time I ride, especially when I ride faster than I can “scan” all the variables.

    It’s a recurring pattern in my riding: Ride fast, then ride faster, and when nothing Bad happens, ride faster still. Crash. Slow down for awhile, and then the cycle begins anew. No pun intended. Maybe Irondad has some kind of remedy for this…?

    Ramblin’ Dan: I can say without a doubt that I will definitely be at First Thursday. Long-range forecast says 31° F and partly cloudy… that’s Easy Street.

    Irondad: Regarding Thompson, hopefully you got “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. That was, by far, his best work ever. If the other one is “Hey Rube”, I’ve never read it. This is because he was in decline by then, and it pains me to say that. But he was making a living writing sports rants for ESPN, and I just couldn’t relate. `Rube is a compilation of the columns he wrote for ESPN’s online magazine-ish website. Good luck with that…

    As far as I know, HST was never a scooterist. He was pure Acid Rocker, if you know what I mean. Take your typical late `50s “Rocker”, or Cafe Racer, and just add LSD. You get the picture.

    These were very rare creatures, for obvious reasons, and I think that now they may be near extinction. Unless I am mistaken, I believe our own local Blind Lizards MC were of this breed. Only Buster Brown can tell us for sure…

    How `bout it, Uncle Buster? Story time?

    Ride well,

    About my head: I suspect I may have suffered a mild concussion or bruised vertebrae, maybe both. I’ve been through this enough times that I know these symptoms will go away with time. That’s why I’m easing back into it. Of course, after last Winter, some may argue that the (brain) damage has already been done…

  5. Steve Williams Says:

    Bouncing back is relative I guess. I slipped on the ice in the driveway a couple years ago taking out the garbage and the impact of my body on the asphalt seemed as if I had been dropped off the roof. When the kids were little I used to take them ice skating and even then a drop on the ice made me wonder how it got so hard. I remember falling as a kid and it was like a feather landing on a pile of cotton. Had I high-sided over the Vespa I would be in trouble I think.

    Hunter Thompson was always a tough read for me but he has some good moments. I bought Sonny Barger’s book “Freedom- Credos from the Road” this evening but I haven’t been able to pry it from Kim’s hands. She’s been chuckling at some of his wisdom like “It’s not a good idea to mess with another man’s woman.”

  6. Dancing Bob Says:

    I’ve not bounced back yet, and my scooter is still in the shop … the parts took a long time arriving … but will be out on Saturday.

    I’m looking forward to riding it again, but I’ve noticed that I’ve not riden the CB900C I have available here … and I tell myself it’s because I’ve been “spoiled” by the lightness & fun of the scooter, but part of it is, as Irondad so wonderfully put it, I’ve “lost a little traction in the confidence level”.

    This must be the season of the crash … I’ve heard of more friends down in the past two months, now, than I’ve heard of in the past two years. Weird.

    Sneaking slower up to the place where the Bad Things Happen … may we never reach it without mitigating warning and protective gear.

  7. jim Says:

    Gary, I was talking to a young twentyish girl today and I asked her if she rode her scooter to work today. Yes, she said, and that it was her only ride. She rode it every day last year also. Now, today I left work early ’cause of bad weather and I’m thinking this girl is hardcore. I told her about your blog so you may have another reader. She acted as if she was going to check it out.
    Anyhow, I know this is nowhere near as severe as Minn. but still, I gots to give her credit

  8. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Steve: Of course, one part of that equation is weight. We weigh a lot more now than we did then. But combine that with brittle vs. bendy bones and I think we can fully explain that phenomenon.

    Regarding Sonny Barger, all I can say is good luck to him. He was one of the hard core originals, but wasn’t smart enough to get away when the crosshairs of the government gansters settled on him. I’m sure what he has to say is wisdom learned the hard way, but I’m not sure, at this point in my life, that I even want to read it.

    D-Bob: Crashes happen. That’s why we wear all this armor. Unless you are quite young, and have a desperate need to prove something, you shouldn’t ride in conditions you aren’t pretty sure you can master. Wear the gear, and ride YOUR ride. Doesn’t that just make sense?

    jim: Please forgive me, but I have forgotten where you live. Twentyish girls are, more and more, just like twentyish boys, these days. So what you say here does not surprise me. All of them seem to want to be “hardcore”, or “extreme”, in some way or another.

    Blame MTV… but of course, my hat’s off to her. I hope she does visit this humble site, and write something in the comments section.

    It was 5°F this morning, when I left for work. That’s -15°C for you Euros and Canucks out there. Even if I had my gear all ready, it would have been a cold ride to work. Though I am loathe to admit it, I was happy to have the option of driving the truck today.

    Let the flames begin…

    Ride well,

  9. Dan Jones Says:

    While you’re truckin’ around you can always THINK about scooters.

    Here’s a link to a topic on the Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers Forum that has some very interesting scooters pictured in the comments.

    I’m not sure if you have to register to get into this forum.

    Enjoy. Stay warm and safe.

    Ramblin’ Dan

  10. jim Says:

    nw. arkansas. We get bad weather once in awhile, bad enough that I don’t see any bikes on the road when there is sleet, snow, etc. and to have her tell me she rode every day last year and today also, well I just thought that was kind of unusual.

  11. combatscoot Says:

    I certainly see alot more two-wheelers here in Tallahassee, FL, year-round than I have anywhere else besides California, but I still feel like calling folks wusses for not riding in the winter. It’s not like it gets deathly cold here, and I don’t think I’ve seen ice yet. The number of motorcycles I see on my commute goes way-down around October. Strangely, the number of scooters has gone up lately. Maybe scooter people are tougher than they are percieved to be.

  12. Buster Brown Says:

    I don’t know that I am qualified to recite any Blind Lizard history. I knew most of the principals, but that was in the days when I was preoccupied with rehabbing a condo, going to law school and starting a family. They managed to have a couple of picnics on the Island that I just couldn’t get to. Had I known that 30 years later it would be a legendary event, I guess I would have made a point of being there. The first time, my brother went and told me later “hey, I saw a bunch of your buddies over on Nicollet Island the other day.”

    There was some consumption of herbs and pharmaceuticals involved, but it wasn’t really a drug using crowd; decidedly counterculturish however. Motorbikes were always the drug of choice. It used to be said that to qualify as a Blind Lizard, you had to own at least one bike that didn’t run. Paul Massnick’s mansard house on Maple Place was the focal point (the current owner of the gingerbread restoration still puts out a keg of beer). You used to be able to park all the bikes in that one block. There was still a donkey grazing in the open area across the street.

    Mel Hamel was still alive, and always rode his ‘48 Panhead. Steve Arhelger, before he died in a “gun accident”, could be counted on to show up running some manic riff like his plan to go rescue a pristine Benz from a sandy impound lot on the outskirts of Tehran. (Some of these guys had no need for psychotropic drugs).

    The selection algorithm was simple: “No Four Wheelers”. That left room for lots of bicycles, and the Lizard may still be the best place to see a Dursley-Pedersen or a whole lot of rod-braked Raliegh DL1s all in one place. You will still see a few scooters there, but the Vesparadoes used to be a regular presence, a stylish phalanx of customized Italian 2-strokes. One of their more prominent representatives was Sunny Bach, a solidly-made gal with a taste for cargo pants and skinny young men in horn-rimmed glasses: “There was this scooter club out in St. Louis Park, a bunch of lawyers with black satin jackets. We rumbled ‘em and took their name”. Sunny could ride, too, the only person I ever saw wheelie on a MK I Le Mans. I sometimes wondered if her basement didn’t feature a sound-proofed room with manacles hanging from the ceiling, but perhaps I am doing a disservice to her memory.

    Other memorable appearances included David Brown’s Allis tractor (notwithstanding the proscription on quad scum), the Johnson Sea Horse chopper, and the Zort, a latter-day faux replica of a generic 1906 motorcycle. Of course, the presence of all this interesting stuff will always attract a lot of Evo Harleys and Gold Wings and Gixxers, the kind of crap that nobody wants to look at, that just dilutes the signal-to-noise ratio, and takes up scarce and valuable parking spots. The result has been a continuing conversation about whether and how to refine the selection algorithm. For a long time, I have been an advocate of “No Harleys, No Jap bikes with bodywork, and no disc-braked BMWs.” (You should hear the Beemer guys whine about that one, but isn’t the LT one of those bikes that you can’t gaze upon fully, lest you be turned to stone? BMW has come out with a lot of bikes like that in recent years (unless you are the kind of guy who thinks the R1200C is a cool bike). Peter Martin has proposed weeding out the belt-drive Ducatis as well, and I find it hard to disagree.

  13. Aaron Says:

    Hmm… maybe you ought to go visit a doc and get looked at? It sounds like you probably got a mild concussion in the highside as well as lots of bruises.

    Here in Florida it never gets so cold you couldn’t ride… but I guess some people wuss out at 40 degrees.

    Some of the roads here in Florida aren’t so great. Lots of pothole wear from trucks/SUV’s. Knowing where they are is the key, which is why I always try to ride slower down roads I haven’t recently visited. I’m less worried though by road surfaces than other drivers, who are unpredictable.

    One day all bikes are going to have ABS and traction control… until then… watch out and keep the rubber side down!

  14. irondad Says:

    Here’s some advice on breaking your cycle from an instructor:

    Skip the crash part.

    Thanks for the input on Hunter. Yeah, the book was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ll skip reading Hey Rube. Reading time is limited but now that classes are over I can read more. I’ve been reading books by Stephen Covey. I’m in the middle of “Jack: Straight from the Gut”. Jack Welch was a former CEO of GE. So I do read, just not much for recreation anymore. Although, thanks to you, I went back and read some Marlowe stories again. Can we go back to those days?

    I left a note on my blog in answer to your wanting to steal a modified version of my blog title.

    Take care,

    PS Don’t sweat the truck. You have to do what you have to do. That’s why we’re warriors, right? We do our own thing.

  15. Bro Shagg Says:

    Buster Brown-

    Not qualified? I’d like to know what you’d write if you were qualified. That was an interesting read… Sounds like quite the gathering- unfortunately (?) I ride an Evo Harley, though not for show or attention-getting. I know that there are a lot of “look-at-me” types out there, but I know plenty of hog riders that would fit in just fine on Nicollet Island…

    I guess most groups feel the need to have limits, and that’s why I don’t belong to any group, and yet I get along with most of them…


  16. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Ramblin’ Dan: I’ve seen enough. I can’t imagine ever dragging a trailer behind a motorbike. Sorry. It’s either a tent or a motel for me.

    jim: I think this is going to become more “usual” as we progress into the era of post-peak-oil. Good for her! I hope she checks in here with a comment.

    Combatscoot: I think you are right about scooter people. Especially the vintage scooter buffs, which I call “Scooterati”. They may look and act like dorks, but they have a serious ego about their own little niche in life.

    For instance, they have something called the Cold Weather Challenge, which I would have won last year, if I would have entered. But after looking at all the entries, I realized that I would have been the only one who had actual sponsorship, and I figured this might disqualify me from fair competition.

    The winning entry rode over 10 miles at -6.5°F.

    I rode to work, 26.3 miles, at -8°F during my “The Baron in Winter” project. That would have won, had I entered. But…

    I think I am going to enter this year, however. Why not? I’ll leave it to the judges or organizers to decide whether or not I qualify. After all, they haven’t laid out any classes.

    Uncle Buster: Oh, I am so disappointed. You didn’t take my gonzo-bait, and tell us all the myths and legends from the Twin Cities motorcycle past.

    But I’ll bet that what you did tell us was probably closer to the truth than other stories that I have heard.


    Reality is always so much more mundane than legend.

    Aaron: I don’t need a doctor to tell me that I have hurt my head. Short of brain surgery, there is nothing they can do for that, except expose me to even more X-ray radiation. No thanks. And I don’t need ABS to regulate my braking. Sometimes, maybe I WANT to skid.

    Irondad: You read some really icky stuff. Try Vonnegut…

    Bro Shagg: If all Harley owners wore helmets, we would take them more seriously as Riders.

    Ride well,

  17. Buster Brown Says:

    Shagg: there is no doubt that many Harley riders would be right at home at the Lizard. And they are still welcome. But there was a time when the event was getting too big for the venue. The island was being overrun every Father’s Day. It seemed a shame to make a nice 160 Dream park up around the corner when some metallic brown AMF shovelhead or K1100LT was taking up a prime spot. What they did instead ten years ago was to announce that the 20th would be the last picnic. Then they just kept on having it. The next few years were nice, laid-back, intimate gatherings.

    Here are a couple of links for you to pursue. One is just a page of links. The other is a collection of much of the artwork generated over the years. It would be nice to see all the T-shirt art in one place, too, but that hasn’t happened yet.

  18. Bro Shagg Says:

    Buster Brown- thanks for the links- will check ‘em out. And I do agree with what you say about too many commonplace scoots squeezing out the unusual… It’s why I’ve stopped going to many local car shows every year- it’s always the same 50 or so cars in pretty much the same condition I saw them in the previous year. Now I rotate things so I go to shows each year, but leave a couple years between seeing the same show twice. Either some of the cars have changed, or my brain can’t remember them that long!

    Gary- Read Vonnegut? I just finished “Slaughterhouse Five” and my head feels like I just hit the pavement without a helmet! As for Harley riders and helmets- freedom of choice and Darwinism (natural selection) can be tightly intertwined. Me, I’m not so “proud” that I won’t wear a DOT approved helmet. I like my brains inside my skull, thank you!

    Bro Shagg

  19. Lyle Says:

    I would agree that the Blind lizards is the best “motorcycle happening” on the planet. I missed going from around the mid 80’s to just a few years ago due to moving but I make sure I ride down to Minneapolis now every Father’s day.

  20. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Lyle: That’s an awesome enterprise you have going there! I checked out the website, and I’m very impressed. I’ll definitely add you to my list of contacts for future projects. Thank You!

    Ride well,