Mission Oriented

01 December, 2005 Temperature: 17 degrees F

Sometimes it’s better to get a lot of snow than just a little bit. This morning was one of those times. We got what they call a “dusting” of something less than one inch. This is just enough to cover all the icy patches on an unplowed road, so you never know what kind of traction you have underneath your tires, and you have to remain on-guard all the time.

Today I rode like a motocrosser on a muddy track. The inside foot went out on every turn, just in case the front end lost grip under that deceptive layer of fluffy white stuff. It was a tense, physical ride, and something different from what I have experienced so far. Fortunately, we left early enough that we encountered very little traffic. The Baron and I had these challenging roads pretty much all to ourselves. It only took us an hour and fifteen minutes to make the commute. But that is a long time to maintain such an intense level of concentration, without a break.

I suppose I could have stopped for coffee. What keeps me from doing that is all of this gear I am wearing. It is a major production to remove enough layers to comfortably sit indoors and enjoy a brief respite from the road. Or at least it seems that way when I am peering out of my helmet visor and focused on the mission at hand. I’m going to have to force myself to do this one of these mornings. Mickey’s Diner is calling me.

Now, I want to talk about driver reactions for a moment. We are not getting the kind of response I expected. The only time people seem to acknowledge our presence is when we are using the scooter’s natural advantages to sneak past them in a traffic jam. Then they honk their horns and who knows what else. I don’t even look anymore, I just wave and ride on by.

It has occurred to me that these are City People. They are jaded and sophisticated. They can’t admit to being impressed by anything, unless it involves lots of money and power. I have neither, of course. So they glance quickly at us, sidelong and fleeting, and then it’s eyes front again, and on with their own mission. To acknowledge anything different is Wrong. It just isn’t done. You may attack it, but don’t you dare try to understand it. That would be a waste of time. Is this what we have come to, our insular nation? Think about it.

Boxes within boxes…

We sit in a big box we call “home”, and we watch other people act out pretend lives on another box called television. Then we get into a box with wheels, to transport us to another box called a “cube”, or “office”. There, we interact with yet another box called a computer, which we use to make sure that all the boxes of stuff our company makes are accounted for. Or something like that. It’s a boring, boxy world… until you get on a motorbike.

Suddenly you are out of the box, and in the world. You are not watching the movie, you are making it. This is unscripted and uncompromising. This is reality. It is heady stuff indeed.

10 Responses to “Mission Oriented”

  1. Tony Canadario Says:

    Nice job on the blog. I am surprised your local papers haven’t started publishing it. Nice job.

  2. mnscooter Says:

    Thanks Tony. I’m working on that.

    Ride well,

  3. Dick Aal Says:

    I like your metafore on boxes. Bikers have long called auto drivers “cagers” or people who drive in cages. Your analogy is very good. Good luck and be safe.

  4. Eric Says:

    Wow, great entry Gary. I love the analogy of boxes. Makes me really miss summer, because unlike you, I don’t have the guts to take the bike out in the Minnesota winter. But I’m very jealous!

    Ride safe, and keep up the great writing.

  5. Ridenagain Says:

    Loved the last three paragraphs.

    Reinforces the meaning of “Thinking outside the box”.

  6. mnscooter Says:

    Thanks guys. This really makes my day. The blog is a new experience for me. I usually have to save up stuff for a monthly column, and some of my inspiration gets lost along the way. But the blog is pounded out daily, when all the impressions are still fresh in my mind. That seems to make a difference. I think I like this.

    Ride well,

  7. Ron in St. Cloud Says:

    Gary, you are fast becoming my hero. In fact, I thought of looking at a scooter myself and doing this, but my commute in St. Cloud isn’t even a warm up for what you’re doing. May do it anyway..

    I do have to ask you… is the 150cc enough for the traffic, in all honesty? We both know what the KLR will do, but tell me how you feel about the power of the Baron.

    And keep it up, I’m really enjoying reading this every day.

  8. John Hall Says:

    Nice analogy with the boxes. I’m going to use that when I try to convert a cager over to motorcycling. I’m feeling down right guilty with our weather down here. It is showing 70 now on my desktop weather station. Hell I almost started to sweat on the way to work today. I’ll snuff out that guilt tonight with some beer. ;^)

  9. mnscooter Says:

    Hey Ron, nice to hear from you again.

    I’m not sure about your traffic conditions up there, but the Baron takes his own sweet time getting up to 55-60 mph. If that’s the predominant traffic speed, you will need something faster.

    If you can ride on roads with 25 - 45 mph speed limits, then the Baron 150 SX is perfect for your commute.

    However, Baron is coming out with 250cc scooters and small motorcycles this year, and they are freeway legal. These might be the perfect commuter bike for all conditions. You can find out about them at: www.baronmotorcycles.com

    Thanks so much for your kind words, Ron. It’s nice to know my work is appreciated.

    Ride well,

  10. Chris Roy Says:


    Still watching from the warm confines of south OC near the old El Toro MCNAS. The boxes was particularly interesting. I’ve been thinking lately that many of today’s rude behaviors, lack of empathy, undo stress, etc. stem from simply not getting outside enough.

    It doesn’t have to be an extreme outsideness such has your riding through the winter in the Twin Cities, just walk to lunch, go out in the rain now and then, or ride your motorcycle or bicycle when most others wouldn’t and you’ll notice a decrease in stress and an appreciation for things we all take for granted like indoor heat. To my mind gratitude is key.

    I’ve been sick this week and the lack of motorcycling or bicycling has been noticable.

    Keep Going!


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