Repercussions and Routine

10 January, 2006 20 degrees F

It certainly felt colder than 20 degrees this morning. I noticed that there was frost on all the car windshields, and that same frost clung to the road in spots. These are perfect black-ice conditions. I would have to be extra cautious on the way to work. I would have no time to think about distractions, like yesterday’s firestorm of angry feedback from my last blog entry.

Well, I really stirred up a hornet’s (or should I say wasp’s?) nest, with my “Scooter Nazi” comment. For those who didn’t know, “Vespa” means “wasp”, in Italian. Our local “dedicated, traditional scooter community” went ballistic after I included that stereotype in my satirical “brown hole - existential gravity” piece. The truth is, I screwed up. For a crucial moment, I forgot where this blog was located: on the Ride to Work website. RTW advocates commuting to work on motorbikes of all kinds, and discriminates against none. I don’t think they are interested in illustrating the discrimination of one group against another.

That is purely one of my own pet peeves, and I put it out here when I probably shouldn’t have. My only excuse is that it flowed so well with the rest of my satirical rant, it just seemed natural to include it. I was amused by the whole incident, not offended. But there were repercussions… Now I have to moderate all comments coming into this blog to eliminate vicious personal attacks and unproductive bickering. That will take time out of my day, and delay the posting of really worthy comments from reasonable readers. Sorry about that, folks.

But, back to the ride…

The Baron and I are well-practiced at this now. I am wearing down the soles of my snowmobile boots, but we remain upright in some really slippery conditions. Smooth control inputs and weight transfer are key to controlling a scooter in a slide. I hold the throttle steady, because it is difficult to throttle-steer on a CVT bike. The inertia of the variator/clutch/belt arrangement causes the rear wheel to keep turning after you shut the throttle, and that can spin you right out on extended ice patches. But I find that if I hold a steady throttle and concentrate on weight and balance over wheels and feet, I can get us through the worst situations in some semblance of control. My best advice: Practice with a beater bike in an empty, icy parking lot before you take it to the streets.

One thing I noticed this morning was the huge number of crows roosting in the trees along the Mississippi River. As we rode by, they took off and circled above us until the whole sky was black with birds. The cacaphony of their “Caw! Caw! CAWWW!” was deafening as we rode beneath them. I was just waiting for the splatter of white to obscure my visor, but thankfully that didn’t happen. I don’t know much `bout crow biology, but maybe it was too cold, and they were all puckered up? It’s a thought.

By afternoon, when I left work, it was much warmer. There was little ice left on the roads. The sun was shining, and the ride was beautiful. There weren’t as many crows in the trees on my way home. They were probably out foraging for food and dive-bombing college students on the U of M campus across the river.

Wednesday I am taking the day off, to visit with an old friend who is coming to town, and take care of some scooter maintenance. This time, I am removing all the bodywork to see how the Baron is standing up to our winter corrosion. Then I am going to clean everything up, dry it off, and see how this Boeshield T9 Corrosion Preventive Treatment works. I will post photos on the blog if I find anything interesting.

19 Responses to “Repercussions and Routine”

  1. Kurt Layman Says:

    Now I suppose you will claim that you did not know that ‘crow’ means ‘Nazi on black scooter’ in German! Your attempt at depreciating us with your crow comments is unacceptable. Your pre-occupation with or alimentary track is down right disgusting. To this end, please discontinue my subscription to your blog and send me a refund by return mail!

    I truly feel guilty for writing the above but I could not help myself. I am afflicted with a need to laugh when the human race takes itself too seriously. I also suspect that many riders are addicted to adrenaline rushes and get their hits by responding to blogs.
    The appropriate response from you is to laugh and continue writing your wonderful tribute to riding! Thank YOU.

  2. Keith Says:

    Glad to see the blogging back. I was worried that something bad had happened. Regarding the Baron. Have you had any mechanical problems with it or heard of other riders with them? I am considering getting one to complement my Kaw Nomad.

  3. mnscooter Says:

    …and thank you too, Kurt. You made me laugh.

  4. mnscooter Says:

    Hi Keith.

    Besides the early “exploding trunk” incident, (under the heading “Battle Damage”, early in this blog), I haven’t had any mechanical issues yet. But I am very conscientious about maintenance. We replaced the drive belt at 4,500 kms, even though it was hardly worn, just because the manual says to.

    Baron has an excellent bbs which details all customer complaints and solutions that come in. You would be better served to check that out, under “Discussion”, on their website. I do know that Lev and the crew at Baron are very diligent about taking care of these kinds of issues.

    Good luck, whatever you end up buying.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  5. Dan Jones Says:

    WHEW! I was going to respond to the “Sc**t*r N*z*” satire with what I thought might be a witty, humorous, response. Had it all typed up but got called away before I could send it.

    Glad I didn’t… looks like the streets aren’t the only icy spot out there.

    I like what you do. Thanks for the much needed laughs in a very serious world.

  6. Bill Sommers Says:

    GARY, YOUR BLOG WAS EVERYTHING THAT I WAS LOOKING FOR TO INSPIRE ME TO KEEP PLUGGING ALONG UP HERE IN WESTERN WASHINGTON WHERE WE’VE HAD 24 DAYS OF RAIN WITHOUT LET UP. ONE OF MY FAVORITE WRITERS IS BOB ROLL, WHO HAS WRITTEN FOR VELO-NEWS ABOUT THE WORLD OF BICYCLING AND RACING. THEN, I FOUND THIS BLOG ON CHRISTMAS EVE, AND HAVE BEEN HOOKED SINCE. YOUR WRITING STYLE IS MUCH LIKE ROLL’S, AND I LOVE IT. I’VE GOT A 1966 VESPA 125GT PARKED WITH MY HARLEY, AND NOW I’VE PUT SOME CASH ASIDE TOWARD A COMMUTER SCOOTER BECAUSE THE VESPA IS A TOTAL RESTORATION, AND IN THIS WEATHER, IT’LL BECOME A TOTAL RUSTORATION IN A HURRY. THANKS FOR THE FIX. BILL

  7. Nikodelrey Says:

    Hello Mnscooter,
    I took my rojo flojo motocicleta,(klr650,red one) out today. First time since the I-cycle derby. 2006 has been easy on us, thus far. It’ll change. Yeah I saw those crows earlier today too. I think they were waiting around for someone to crash, easy pickins.
    I’m tempted to ride across the old railroad bridge between franklin and lake street. Never been up there but I’m sure it is quite the view.
    Is the KLR out of commission or just hibernating? I’d think the switch would be nice on ice free days. Ride on buddy.

  8. mnscooter Says:

    Thanks Dan. We have to remember that the overriding purpose of RTW is to bring riders together, get us out there, using our motorbikes for real transportation as well as recreation. When you do it right, you combine the two, and that’s the best you can hope for in a world like this.

    Hey Bill, thanks. I sympathize with your dilemma, and it sounds like a commuter scoot would be just the ticket. Good luck.

    Hi Niko. Did we talk at the ICD? I remember your bike. My KLR is indeed in hibernation. While I ride it in some pretty gnarly terrain during the regular season, I hate to think what prolonged exposure to winter salt would do to it. I am experimenting with corrosion preventive treatments on the scooter. If I find something that works, then maybe I WILL take the KLR some days. About the bridge: just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it isn’t still active. Kind of like me. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a train up there a time or two. Be careful…

  9. Mad Says:

    Have you tried a product called ACF-50? I’m using that on my Zed and it seems (touches wood) to be doing the trick. It was developed in the aeronautics industry.

    Talking of winter hacks I’ve finally got my Bandit 400 back on the road, so it’s finally doing its duty as a salt substitute. Ickle Bandit rides again!

  10. mnscooter Says:

    Hello Mad,

    No, I haven’t tried ACF-50. It seems that Boeshield is the same sort of thing. It was created by Boeing for aircraft corrosion protection.

    I’ve always liked the mini-Bandit. It reminds me of a couple of little Hondas, the early CB400-4 and the later CB-1. None of these was a big seller over here, because of our peculiar “bigger = better” philosophy.

    I hope you post pics on your blog. I’ll check that when I get the time.

    Ride well m8,
    =gc=

  11. Mad Says:

    I learnt to ride on CB400’s and they are very similar. The Suzuki revs quite a bit higher than the Honda and it leads me in more hooligan ways than the CB but they have a similar feel. I don’t need more than 400cc’s just to potter to work and around town. Well I say potter…

  12. Bro Shagg Says:

    Gary-

    I admire the way you apologized for the whole thing in this post- own up and say what needed to be said to those who were offended.

    I never understood why all 2-wheelers don’t wave to each other- I ride a Harley and will wave to anyone that waves to me. We’re all “out there” together.

    Regarding crows: don’t worry about them- avoid riding under flocks of geese at all costs or black ice won’t be the only thing you’ll be sliding on!

    I’m sorry that I can’t join you and other RTW’ers in your daily rides, but I just don’t enjoy riding my bike in the cold. Many of us will just have to ride vicariously through you until the spring thaw.

    Random thought here- I would consider riding my Polaris ATV with the heated suit and all, but New York doesn’t allow them on publc roads, even though they need to be insured and registered with the state. Talk about taxation without representation…

  13. mnscooter Says:

    Bro Shagg… what an interesting name.

    Yes, I think we share the same idealistic philosophy regarding the two, and sometimes three-wheeled brotherhood. (And sisterhood too, alright?)

    Ever notice how political correctness always interrupts the flow? The English language wasn’t set up for this!

    ATV’s on the roads would solve a LOT of problems. I’m right with you on that. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. If everybody who currently drives an SUV switched to an ATV with foul weather gear, think of the gas we could save!

    Of course, that’s not going to happen in America. Those who have, will continue to have more, and those who have-not, will continue to get screwed.

    It’s the American Way, isn’t it?

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  14. Buster Brown Says:

    ATVs (fondly known in some circles as “quad scum”) can be licensed and driven on the road in South Dakota. I applaud this practice for a number of reasons, not least that it may keep some of them off the trails.

  15. nate Says:

    Ok, here’s a scooter nazi’s perspective.

    As a scooterist, you kind of have to have a thick skin while riding. Some people will “Get it”. Riding down a road in the summer is fun because kids immediately stop, smile, and wave. Other bikes on the road (Crotch rockets, weekend warriors, Boss Hoss Riders) don’t bother to acknowledge you, because you’re obviously not macho enough to exist. However, old school bikers will almost always swarm a group of vintage bikes and say stuff like, “Hey, I had one just like that!” and from there bike talk flows back and forth, and the two-wheel brotherhood is in full force.

    Some folks just really don’t feel the kinship, though. For example, three of us were riding back to the Twin Cities from Osceola after Wings and Wheels. (My Bike had just taken “Best Bike” in the coveted “Other” class.) As I got my plaque, I apologized to everybody that would have to go back to the twin cities behind us- a gasp kind of swept over the crowd as they realized that we actually rode these clunkers up. On the way home, we’d pull over wherever we could to let traffic by. As we were approaching Somerset, a group of Harley Riders pulled up behind us, and were obviously frustrated that we were doing 35 (hey, it was uphill!) in a 55. Rather than wait for a turnoff, or even just sit back and enjoy the ride on a beautiful summer day, the leaders broke off from the pack, surrounded us, told us to “Get those **(#!!n things off the road! NOW!” acompanied by some fist and digit shaking- and then forced us off of the road to the dirt shoulder. As they then blared by, some glared at us, some gave us sheepish shrugs, and others waved heartily. Now _there’s_ a blatantly obvious source for satire.

    (Idiots riding 40 year old 125 cc bikes on a highway is a good start. Meathead toughguys might be another subtle angle.)

    The only scooterists that have never responded to a wave or a beep are those that are brand new to the scene, and inexperienced riders to boot. I have yet to run into any full scale elitism coming out of a scooter rider on the road. (I mean come on- we’re riding a SCOOTER.) Perhaps you need to consider the fact that _you_ are a newbie to the scene, and you haven’t picked up on all the etiquette of the road, Gary. (point one: Assume that those not familiar with the “rules of the road” don’t KNOW the rules of the road. The scooter population has exploded greatly in the past few years. ) As a result, I think you were awfully excited to make a bunch of ado about nothing. Maybe some people think it made a great story, but it just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

  16. Tom Lindsay Says:

    Nikodelrey,

    I live right next to the railroad bridge across the Mississippi between Franklin and Lake - I can assure you that there is a *lot* of train traffic on those tracks, and despite anywhere from one to three trains a day on the tracks, people are always walking on the tracks. I’ve seen a fair number of people running to get off that bridge when the whistles are blowing. To the best of my knowledge, the trains haven’t hit anybody there in the time I’ve lived here (five years) - but it’d suck to be the first. Stay off the bridge!

    Gary, in contrast with other public attempts to own up to the other day’s snafu, what you’ve written here is elegantly done. Whatever you may think of the MPLS scooter scene, please make sure you post this message so Niko sees what I have written above.

  17. mnscooter Says:

    I have met Nate, and he is a decent guy. He’s the last one I would describe as a scooter nazi. Tom and I have had a few interesting email exchanges, and he also seems to be quite decent.

    But MAN, do these guys and their friends know how to push my buttons!

    I have lost sleep over this flap. It has impaired my ability to write my blog with my usual level of quality. I’ve stopped looking at their forum where I am probably still being drawn, quartered, and burned at the stake all at once, because I was getting sucked into it, and each reply got more and more outrageous.

    This is the last time I will address this: There is no such thing as a “Scooter Nazi”. That was my own invention, done in the spirit of satire.

    I really don’t care whether someone waves at me or not, although I do appreciate it when it happens. And I wasn’t all upset because the media are no longer paying attention. I was satirizing myself there, and some people took that seriously as well.

    Are we clear on that?

    Good.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled program…

  18. Mad Says:

    C’mon guys, can’t we all just get together as one happy family and hate BMW riders huh?

    *runs for the door before the beemer boys get him*

  19. Buster Brown Says:

    Nate writes:

    “As we were approaching Somerset, a group of Harley Riders pulled up behind us, and were obviously frustrated that we were doing 35 (hey, it was uphill!) in a 55. Rather than wait for a turnoff, or even just sit back and enjoy the ride on a beautiful summer day, the leaders broke off from the pack, surrounded us, told us to “Get those **(#!!n things off the road! NOW!” acompanied by some fist and digit shaking- and then forced us off of the road to the dirt shoulder. As they then blared by, some glared at us, some gave us sheepish shrugs, and others waved heartily. Now _there’s_ a blatantly obvious source for satire.”

    It’s been done: a short film called “Vicious Cycles”.

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