16 March, 2006 Weather: Snow all morning, mild afternoon.
Well, I didn’t need a briefing to see that there were six inches of snow on my front steps this morning. Opening the screen door, I stuck a yardstick into the snow, and I knew right away that I would be driving today.
My neighborhood was covered in white, including the streets. And those streets were treacherous, because the fresh white blanket covered ice ruts and ridges which would throw the Baron and I to the ground with no warning at all. It wasn’t scooter weather, that’s for sure.
I won’t bore you with my morning commute in the cage through freeway traffic.
But I want to tell you about some lessons I have learned this week, which bring the entire Minnesota Winter Scooter Commuter project into perspective.
First, on the way home this afternoon, I decided to do another reconnaissance of my scooter route. What I found was very revealing. Public Works crews had been busy since last night preparing the roads for the coming snowstorm. They got out ahead of the snow and laid down a nice layer of salt and sand. Apparently, they were fully staffed, because there was nothing but slush on even the worst sections of my favorite roads home.
This started me thinking…
Monday’s storm started on Sunday night. If P.W. is like any other union, members get double-time pay for working on Sundays and Holidays. Could it be that the managers of Public Works decided to save some money on labor by waiting until Monday morning, after the worst of the storm damage was done, to send out the full compliment of crews? Is this why the ice was allowed to build up on the sidestreets to the point where they were dangerous to cars, let alone crazy me on a scooter? I don’t know. I will probably never know. But it is something to keep in mind on Winter Mondays in the future.
The second thing I learned: There is a reason dirt bikes are built with fenders far above the tires. That is so your front wheel doesn’t get clogged and lock up whenever you encounter a slip-sloppery mess like I did on Monday morning.
The third thing: Never try to ride in snow that is deeper than your ground clearance. This should be self-explanatory, but it never occurred to me until Monday morning.
Finally, I learned to take some time to weigh the risks of my actions against the possible rewards. The risks I took on Monday were way out of proportion to what I had intended at the beginning of this project. But I got so carried away with the challenge that I let my brutal jarhead mentality come to the fore, crushing all reason and rationality with it’s implacable, relentless will to win against impossible odds.
Riding to work is a wonderful thing, for so many reasons, but it is not an overpowering mandate. Never risk your life just to get to work. Wait a day, and the misery will still be there, waiting for YOU. Get there safely, so you can live to ride another day.