Dawn Patrol

14 November, 2005 Temperature at takeoff: 31 degrees

It was zero-dark-thirty when I rolled the Red Baron out of the garage this morning. The streets were dark and quiet again. I plugged in my Kanetsu electric vest for the first time, and within four blocks it was already uncomfortably warm, so I switched it off for the rest of the trip. This is only for use in ‘real’ cold weather.

The windshields were frosted on all the cars we passed, sparkling in our headlight beams. I could also see frost on the road in places where no cars had yet driven. I realized that I would have to pay close attention when braking or turning. It was eerie being the only thing moving on the roads. The scooter seems to trip the traffic signals better than my big, tall KLR. I think this is because the engine is so much closer to the sensors buried in the pavement. But sometimes the lights still don’t change, and we have to take advantage of Minnesota’s new stoplight law. You can research that on the DOT website, but basically it says that you can ride through a red light after waiting a “reasonable” amount of time, if there is no cross traffic coming.

Crossing the High Bridge into Saint Paul, my nose was greeted by breakfast smells of coffee and bacon emanating from the houses along the river. If I were in a car, I wouldn’t have noticed. This scooter is so quiet and unobtrusive, we pass through these neighborhoods like a ghost.

The Baron seems to like this colder weather. He accelerates faster and will pull an indicated 70 mph going up the hills on Shepard Road. Subtracting the 30% error factor established by my experiment with the squad car, this figures out to 49 mph in the 50 zone. As the road flattens out, I actually have to back out of the throttle or risk a speeding ticket. Yeee-Haaahhhhhh!

The sky was beginning to brighten as we turned onto West River Road. There was a thin patch of ice all across the road from runoff coming down the bluffs. The tires didn’t even slip this time, as I held our course and speed steady. By the time we ‘landed’ in the parking lot at work, I could see where the sun would rise in just a few more minutes. Another Dawn Patrol successfully completed.

The forecast for tomorrow is intimidating, however. A winter storm warning is in effect, starting tonight and running through Wednesday morning. They predict between 4 and 8 inches of snow accumulation, with high winds. Since I don’t have the Kenda knobbies mounted yet, I’m not going to chance it. If the storm develops as they predict by tomorrow morning, we are officially socked-in, and I will have to drive the cage to work, and to school afterwards. Depressing, huh?

Leave a Reply