Weather: 46Â°F (8Â°C) With low-lying fog under clear skies.
Road Conditions: Beautiful. See for yourself…
The Ride to Work yesterday was the best I’ve had in a long, long time.
You know how it feels when the stars align just right, and Fate smiles down on you for a few precious moments in your hectic life? You have to be alert to these things, because they happen so rarely and it would be a shame to miss them.
I had thought about riding Frogwing yesterday, to give my readers some variety and keep the oil circulated `round his violent parts. But had I done so, I probably would have opted for the fast ride in, along the I-94 Tunnel of Hate. This is usually the default decision for me on a Friday, because I want to get to work quickly and get it over with. Especially heading into a holiday weekend.
However, when I was standing outside the garage door, watching it rise slowly in it’s tracks, a strange thing happened…
Rose’s left rear fender became visible first, and the predawn glow of the southeastern sky reflected off of her shapely flank. As the door creaked higher, I glanced over at the sleeping Frogwing. Nothing reflected off of him. The pull of the scooter was just irresistable, and my plans were completely changed in that instant.
Frogwing and I would ride this weekend, I reasoned, and the Vespa is always best on the parkways along the river. Quieter, no mucking about with clutch and shift lever, Rose rides like a magic carpet sometimes. She truly is a wonder…
How quiet is this Vespa? -you ask.
Well, by the time we reach about 25 miles per hour, the soft rush of the wind past my helmet has already overcome the engine’s sound. When you are riding through a world as beautiful as my Twin Cities were that morning, silence is utterly essential, if you want to truly feel the magic. Blasting through on a loud machine would wreck the whole experience.
Consider the local animals, for instance. Riding Rose, I get to see all sorts of surprised critters that would have fled well in advance of Frogwing’s approach. Not that Frogwing is loud by modern motorbike standards, but with his well-worn stock exhaust, he is more than twice as loud as a new Vespa.
On East River Parkway, Rose and I startled a racoon, rooting through someone’s garbage. He jumped two feet in the air at our approach, and shambled across the yard towards the trees, muttering to himself all the way. Caught in the Act! -as it were.
But of course, racoons have no shame…
Now that I don’t stop for coffee in the mornings (one of those luxuries I gave up in order to make my Vespa payments), Rose and I cross the river at the Ford Bridge, rather than Lake Street. This takes us through Minnehaha Park, which is one of the nicest sections of our Mississippi River parkways.
The road passes through a cathedral of trees, the sunbeams filtering through and speckling the pavement with their brilliance. A few cars appear, here and there, but nothing that could be called “traffic” yet.
We caught up to a fellow scooterist, riding something called a “Yup 50″. After a quarter-mile of breathing his two-stroke exhaust, I twisted Rose’s throttle, gave a quick wave as we passed, and he was gone from our mirrors after the next corner.
Then we were alone for awhile after that. Just floating along, under the trees, in that early morning light. Banking through the curves and rolling on the power, we enjoyed several miles of solitude, just us and the road. This was one of those short loops of memory-film that you clip off of your daily reel and save in a special mind-vault for posterity.
But of course, it couldn’t last. As we neared the monoliths of downtown Minneapolis, the box-people filtered groggily onto the parkways. Latte in one hand, cellphone in the other, this thing they do with their fat SUVs can hardly be called “driving”. At least, on the parkways, they are doing it slowly. They present easy obstacles for Rose and I to negotiate. The box-people don’t become dangerous until the caffiene kicks in…
So now we are on a slalom course, swooping past somnolent motorists. Although the speed limit hasn’t changed, our velocity has increased, in order to present a more elusive target. We encounter our first stoplight at the end of West River Parkway, and now it’s time for Survival Mode through the heart of the city.
Traffic is thick but still fast on Highway 55, as we head west on the last leg of our commute. We no longer bother with Wirth Parkway in the mornings, because traffic there has increased, and the highway gets us to work ten minutes faster. It’s one of those “Lesser of two evils” kind of things.
Out on the highway, I’m delighted by Rose’s acceleration and cruising speed. At the stoplights, we out-accelerate everyone, and make a healthy gap between us.
Approaching a suit in a Lincoln pickup-truck from the rear, we zoomed past him with startling results. The next thing I knew, he came roaring up to us, edging over into our lane, with a manic look on his face – eyes bugged out, white knuckles on the wheel. Then he floored that sucker and blasted off over the horizon, at what had to be ninety-plus.
Maybe being passed by a Vespa negates the effects of his Viagra?
How many of you have seen the “Man Law” beer commercials?
“Man Law # XXX: If you are driving your full-size pickup or SUV, and you are passed by a Vespa, you MUST pass them back immediately. Failure to do so will result in shrinkage!”
That could explain his reaction. He looked scared… like a dinosaur contemplating extinction.
Arriving at work, we toured the entire parking lot before finally stopping in our assigned space. Shutting off Rose’s engine, I lingered a moment in the saddle. Lifting the visor on my Arai Renegade, I breathed deep of the aromas emanating from my new scooter: Hot metal and rubber with a hint of gasoline.
Does anybody make a candle or incense with the scent of Modern Vespa?