Winter Wonderland

03 December, 2005 Temperature: 15 degrees F

A beautiful snowfall is coming down as I type this. I have just come in from running errands on the Baron, and I am absolutely elated. I wish I had a photographer working with me this morning. This is one of those snow-globe moments, where the trees and ground are covered in blankets of fluffy white. Everything looks so soft, fresh, and clean out there. The roads are quite slippery, but the plows are out spreading salt and sand at the critical spots, so it really is quite manageable. There were no close-calls, no obnoxious drivers, because it is a Saturday morning, and people are not in such a hurry. These were the best twenty-some miles we have ridden so far.

Bob’s Cycle Supply was my first stop today, to pick up a nice warm pair of HJC snowmobile boots with Thinsulate® liners. The cheapo boots I had bought at the local big-box store were not getting the job done, and my feet were freezing on any trip longer than five miles. BCS are doing a booming business this holiday season, but they still took time out to ask me how everything’s going. We chatted for awhile, and then I headed back out into the snow. Riding away, I marvelled at how well the Baron is running and handling winter riding so far.

Let’s review the advantages of a scooter over a motorcycle for this mission:

1) Light weight, means less inertia if we get out of control, and easier to stop.

2) Low ride height, means that I can put my feet down with knees bent, to help maintain control.

3) Low power, so the rear wheel has less tendency to spin.

4) All controls are on the handlebars, so I can wear big, warm boots and use my feet as outriggers without compromising braking.

5) Lots of plastic covering critical components, so corrosion isn’t as bad.

6) Small motor, which is easy to kickstart and runs off a magneto, so keeping the battery charged isn’t so important.

That’s quite a list, isn’t it? The only downside is that we really aren’t freeway-capable. I mean, we ARE freeway-legal, but that is a meaningless distinction when the traffic around you out there would be flying by twenty-plus mph faster, and spraying you with all sorts of dirty slush when they do. That would be no fun at all. No, this is strictly an urban exercise, best limited to what they call “surface streets”.

Even on a full-size motorcycle, the freeways are a very unfriendly place in winter. That road spray covers your visor or windscreen so fast on some days that you want to pull over every few miles to clean it off. We have no “bug juice” dispensers and windshield wipers on motorcycles yet; at least none that I am aware of. I’m sure somebody will respond to this entry and let me know if I’m misinformed.

But yeah, it was a beautiful day, and a most excellent ride. Yesterday, I was actually feeling guilty for having so much fun with this. Must have something to do with my Catholic upbringing. Well, I’m over that now.

A Quick Note:
I will be heading out to Aberdeen, South Dakota on Sunday to do a quality audit at Banner’s plant there on Monday. So there won’t be a blog update for December 5th. Hopefully, we will be back here on the 6th, and I will be scootering to work and school as usual. Have a great weekend, everybody.

5 Responses to “Winter Wonderland”

  1. Mad Says:

    My daily commute takes in a 15 mile stretch of dual and triple carriageway and you’re quite right the traffic covers your visor in muck very quickly. There is however a solution which you may not have seen. My winter gloves have a wiper blade on the left thumb and I find it invaluable. Rain, condensation and road muck are rapidly wiped away. I know there is also a product called “V-wipes” here which are basically a rubber wiper blade that slides over a gloved finger. I haven’t found a practical equivalent of the windscreen wash spray but I have seen a guy in a magazine who’d rigged up a squeezy bottle to spray himself in the face! A step too far perhaps…

  2. mnscooter Says:

    Hey Mad,

    I’m sitting at the Ram-Kota Hotel in Aberdeen, South Dakota right now. It is -22 degrees F here at the moment. This would be a nice challenge for the Baron and I.

    Yes, I have seen the wiper blades which go on the gloves, but I have never used them. I don’t like the idea that it may scratch up the visor by smearing muddy gunk all over it. But that is an option if you absolutely MUST take the dual-triple carriageway. (You brits and your quaint phrases… CARRIAGEWAY! Hah hah…) Watch out for flying horse dung, mate. Can’t see throught that at all.

    Ride well,

  3. Convict Says:

    Hi Gary

    I must say that I admire you, not so much for riding a scooter in the winter but for the excellent way in which you are honestly and effectively trying to get a valid point across. Motorcycles are fun, can be ridden as much and in whatever conditions you want to and provide you with a greater sense of the world than driving round in a tin can all the time. I ride a Yamaha R1 which I have owned for the last 5 years. I ride it all year until the weather prevents me from doing so; in my case anything more than a light dusting of snow. Although I’ve had slides from the back and front ends I have never crashed a motorcycle through misinterpretation of the road conditions. The only thing that I would prefer at the moment is a smaller trail bike, like the KLR, for the snowy conditions so that I can ride all year.

    I liked your analogy with the boxes in your previous post and also your comments about the use of fuel, etc. Here’s a thought which I like to expound as frequently as possible: How much better would car drivers be if they were required by law to ride a motorcycle up to, say, 250cc for a minimum of a year (I’d also put a minimum mileage on that too) prior to owning a car. Just sit back for a minute or two and think of the myriad advantages to this scenario ….

  4. Mad Says:

    -22!? Man that’s crazy cold. I’d be huddled by a fire if it was that cold here…
    My wiper blade has never scratched my visor but it’s important to only use it when the muck on your visor is wet or you just smear the dirt.
    As for our carriageways? Do you not have horse and carriages in the States? How quaint; these automobile horseless conveyances are just a passing phase you know. ;)
    In our defence if the roads get any bigger they stop being dual carriageways and metamorphesise into motorways.

  5. mnscooter Says:

    We actually have an advanced society over here, called the Amish, who use the venerable horse and carriage for transport. They are either behind or ahead-of their time, depending on who you ask. Personally, I think they are both.

    Sensible folk they are, too. You can tell, because they never do anything which would require a helmet.

    Ride well,

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