21 November, 2005 Temperature: 38 degrees
Nate Miller is a scooter guy. He has two vintage Vespas in his garage, and rides one of them daily in good weather. I met him this weekend, when I accepted his offer to lend me his Garmin emap GPS. He lives at the top of a hill overlooking West Saint Paul, only a mile from my home.
In return for his generosity, I let him take the Baron for a ride around his neighborhood. I’m not going to say he was impressed, but he WAS intrigued. The Baron, being a twist-and-go type, automatic scooter, is a completely different animal from Nate’s Vespas. He liked the disc front brake on the Baron, which is much more effective than the drums on his vintage machines.
I have never operated a GPS, but after about ten minutes of instruction, he had taught me enough to use it for my intended purposes. After making the commute this morning, I can tell you the following with full confidence:
• My commute is actually 26.3 miles, each way.
• Top speed achieved on Shephard Road this morning, slightly uphill, was 57.4 mph.
• The odometer on the scooter reads 19.9 kilometers for a 16 kilometer (10 mile) trip. This is an error factor of 24%.
The speedometer calibration is hard to do while moving. The GPS is strapped to my left sleeve, so I have to look at it sideways while trying to stabilize the scooter’s speed at an indicated number. There is also a bit of lag in the GPS as the signal travels from the satellites, so you have to hold a steady indicated speed for several seconds in order to get a good read. I will work on that this afternoon, when I ride home in daylight.
I can see where people get addicted to these gadgets. I have only scratched the surface of it’s capabilities.
On my way around West Saint Paul yesterday, during our initial ten-mile calibration loop, I encountered another aggressive buck. We were on Butler Street, up the hill from Concord, near Kaposia Park. This was a smaller, younger buck, with tines broken on the right side of his four-point rack. On hearing the Baron and I snorting up the hill, he charged out of the brush and stood, stock-still and challenging, right in the middle of the road. I twisted the throttle and we crept towards him, and he backed up a couple of feet and tossed his head. Then I hit the high-pitched horn, and he sauntered slowly across the road, and only a few feet into somebody’s yard. There, he stood staring at us. He wouldn’t run. We left him standing there, and a theory began to form.
I researched buck calls on the internet, and sure enough; the Baron 150 SX scooter, under throttle at lower rpms, sounds exactly like a buck call. No wonder we elicit such aggressive behavior from these animals! To test my theory, when we were passing Wirth Park in North Minneapolis this morning, I blipped the throttle slowly and repeatedly, trying to draw Homey the Deer out of the underbrush. He didn’t show, but I still think I am on to something. I have never had deer act this way towards my KLR, or any other motorbike, for that matter.
Maybe Cabella’s and Fleet Farm should market these scooters to deer hunters. A camoflage paint job, rifle scabbard, and a sturdy luggage rack in place of the trunk would make for an interesting hunting rig. Or not…