24 February, 2006 Temperature: 18 degrees F (-8°C)

Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Fatigue has been stalking me lately, as I just can’t seem to sleep through the night. I don’t know if it’s spring fever or what, but my mind races after the lights go out. I keep thinking of the places I want to go and roads I want to ride once I get the KLR back in the wind.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much connected to the Baron. We have reached an almost nerve-level communication over the course of this winter. I can feel what is happening with the tires and suspension in my own skeleton. The drivetrain speaks to me through my ears and my ass; I can tell immediately when something just isn’t right. I am definitely “one with the machine”.

This is why I was going to bring him in to Baron HQ last night. I wanted to check the drive belt and variator for wear. After riding to work in the -6° F weather last Friday, and experiencing a loss of twenty miles per hour off the top end, I was worried that we had flat spotted the roller weights or somehow damaged the drive belt. So every single vibration, lurch, or shudder in the machine took on ominous significance. We have just turned over 8,400 kilometers, and I don’t feel like taking any chances. Crewchief Lorne to the rescue, once again… or so I thought.

At about 1pm yesterday, I received a call from Ivan at Baron. He told me that Lorne had cut his hand, and was on his way to the hospital for stitches. So my scheduled maintenance would have to be put off. I could do this job myself, if I wanted, but it requires special tools that I don’t have yet. I agreed to wait until Monday, when Lorne would be back on the job. It would be no problem for me to do the work under his supervision.

So I revised my route home to ride only on parkways and residential streets, until the unavoidable stretch of Shephard Road. There, I kept my speed down to 40 mph all the way. The Baron seems to smooth out and run just fine in the warmer temperatures. It is only the extreme cold which adversely affects the CVT mechanism.

We made it home with no drama, and I began to worry a bit less. I awoke this morning to weather reports that predicted 35+ degrees under partly cloudy skies. I took the time to eat breakfast, and made sure the camera was charged up and ready for any photo-ops which might arise. Little did I know…

Old Man Winter Hisself...The sunrise this morning was glorious! At least it appeared so in my rearview mirror. However, when I stopped on the Lake Street Bridge to take a photograph, I was stunned to see the furious face of Old Man Winter himself, scowling at me as if to say, “I’m not done with you yet!”.

All of my bravado here on the blog must be coming back to haunt me. Either that, or I am hallucinating. You be the judge. What do you see in that image?

I’m not a superstitious man, normally. But this vision kind of shook me. We are so close to Spring, and the end of this project, that I can’t afford to let my guard down. That, my friends, is when excrement happens.

14 Responses to “Omens”

  1. Dan Jones Says:

    WHEW! Gary… have you ever seen the movie “Fifth Element”? If so, you’ll recall the face on the planet that exploded near the start of the movie. Your photo brought that image to mind the moment I saw it.

    State basketball tournaments time is coming. I think OMW is trying to tell you something. Be afraid… be very afraid.

  2. mnscooter Says:

    Oh, I know exactly the scene you are talking about.

    The winds were blowing fast this morning, about 16 mph, and this cloud formation only lasted about a minute or so. But that was the very minute that I stopped to take the photo. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    FWIW, I took the Baron up to 60 mph this evening on Shephard Road. There were a few minor jerks and lurches, but for the most part, he seemed to be OK. I’ll take it easy again Monday morning, and let you all know what we find Monday night.

    Ride well,

  3. irondad Says:

    It’s bound to spell trouble. Looks just like my mother would like sometimes when I would come home. I knew I was in for it. I saw that look once on Katie when she was having a “conniption fit” over something I had done. ( probably my fifth bike!)

    P.S. I sure hope she doesn’t read this or I will see this again.

    You sound like you are wearing down, Gary. It seems like it has been a long and draining winter. My hard core heart hates to admit it but I could use some fun times in the warm sun. How about you?

    Hang in there. This too, shall pass.

  4. Steve Williams Says:

    Fatigue. Either it’s the time of year, the grey winter, my chocolate and potato chip diet or something but man I can relate. Came home from work today at 5:30 and crawled into bed and slept to 9PM.

    That photograph is powerful and unsettling. I’m not superstitious either but every now and then something happens that unnerves me. Images in the sky is one of them. I see an angry face. Not sure if its pissed at you thumbing your nose at winter or at the fact that you are making a picture of it. Either way, watch yourself.

    Glad you are keeping the camera charged.


  5. Mad Says:

    Woah! That’s quite an image you caught Gary, I love it. I think the guys are right we all need some sun and dry roads where we can get the hoops up to temperature.

    I woke on Friday to find it had snowed! I grabbed the camera to get a “Bandit in Winter” shot to show on my blog but it turns out it hadn’t settled on tarmac or pavement which foiled my plans to look rufti-tufti too…

  6. jim Says:

    oh, oh

  7. Dick Aal Says:

    Keep on top of it. So often it is when you think you are home free that the mistake happens. Try and keep thinking winter. That will keep your instincts sharp and you out of trouble. I know it is hard when spring seems right around the corner but be pessimistic about the weather at all times.

  8. mnscooter Says:

    Thanks for the support, guys.

    I got caught up on my sleep today, and I feel like a new man. Had to take a little green pill last night, and ask the girls to be quiet when they got up this morning, but I was able to sleep in until nine. That was pure luxury!

    Worked on the magazine article a little bit, had breakfast, and then I noticed the sun was shining. So I took the milk crate off the Baron, and treated him to a bath down at the DIY carwash.

    After that, we went for a nice, easy cruise around my home stomping grounds. The CVT seems to be just fine in these milder temps. It was 26°F when we left today, that’s -3°C, Mad and Tiff… and I didn’t feel any jerking or lurching. I’m still going to visit Baron HQ tomorrow, just to be safe. But the ride today was pure tonic!

    I took the camera along, of course, and got a few shots that I will use in future blog entries.

    Tell me, Steve, do you hand-hold all your photographs? They are so crisp that I suspect you use a tripod all the time, but I can’t be sure. I should use a tripod, but I never think to bring it along.

    Anyway, I’m rambling here, when I should be writing the Scoot! Quarterly piece. Monday’s blog entry should be better. Until then…

    Ride well,

  9. Bro Shagg Says:


    OMG, what an incredible pic! I was fortunate enough to see an incredible sunset over Lake Erie as I was driving home from work this evening, but I didn’t have a camera with me. My loss… The sun was hovering by its own width above the lake, and it was shining through some lake-effect snow. This had the effect of a sky of fuzzy orange-red fire, with the dark blue of the lake water below and the gray-blue of the clouds above. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, then sun broke out between two snow bands into the clear. It was as if the curtains parted and old Sol stepped out on stage to take a bow dressed in a yellow orange suit and framed on either side by the fiery orange curtains of snow.

    I knew I moved by the lake for a reason- it was, and is still one of my favorite places to ride.

    Steve may not use a tripod- there are ways you can stand with your arms against your side to steady the shot. Hold you breath and shoot. Even better, rest your elbows on a wall or fence or other similar object.

  10. Steve Williams Says:

    The only scooter pictures I use a tripod for are the self’portraits. I carry a small table-top tripod under the seat. Everything else is handheld. I’m pretty steady down to about 1/8 of a second—hold my breath, jam my elbows into my sides for stability and squeeze the trigger.


  11. Lev Says:

    Hey, Gary! I think you should send this picture to the channel 4 news. They show these during weather reports.

  12. TK Says:

    Bah! It’s a cloud formation! Random bits of cloud formed at just the wrong moment for you. Yes, I realize I sound like Mr. Scrooge when he claims the apparition is a bit of undigested stew.

  13. mnscooter Says:

    Hey TK, thanks for the comment. That’s a fascinating blog you have over at Katie’s Beer. Quite eclectic.

    Sure, it’s all just random clouds. I realize that now, after catching up on my sleep. But an image like that kind of helps one understand the roots of Native American religions, doesn’t it? Add in the delirium of insomnia and you can see how my perception was skewed somewhat.

    Ride well,

  14. TK Says:

    I’m joking with you! I would have had the same thoughts, except I can’t watch scary movies because then I have weird thoughts like that. Good defense mechanism for me! Thanks for checking out my blog. Yes, it is eclectic, like me, like life. I ride in a minvan, but my heart is on a motorcycle!

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