Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th of January, 2006 Sunny and 30-some degrees F

I’m not a superstitious man. When a Friday occurs on the 13th day of the month, I don’t panic and assume that something bad is going to happen. But I do ride with extra vigilance, because I realize that some other folks out there are distracted by their superstitions, and may run me over whilst avoiding some specter conjured up by their fevered imagination.

This morning, the Baron and I left early to avoid the heavy traffic of our Twin City rush hour. We rode in darkness, with headlights on high-beam, so we would be quite visible to approaching motorists. We took a route which I have dubbed “The Fast Way”. This bypasses the labyrinthine side streets around the brewery by taking Highway 13 down to the bridge on I-35E, across the Mississippi River, and onto Shephard Road. It’s a bit boring, and I don’t get to smell the coffee and breakfast aromas from the homes along that route. But today I just wanted to get to work, get that over with, and get on with my life.

However, when we arrived at the ramp to I-35E south, we found it packed with cars waiting for the metered signal lights to allow them on to the freeway. There is no HOV/motorcycle bypass on this ramp, but I interpret that as an oversight. I’m sure the city intends to install one, they just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

So, in the spirit of trail-blazing pioneers everywhere, we ventured out onto the snow-covered grass, and scooted right past all those cars, trucks, and SUVs waiting for those infuriating signal lights. The rear wheel spun a bit, but I remained in control. We probably cut three minutes off our commute time by doing this, and didn’t hinder anyone else in the process. When I heard all the honking horns, I waved to acknowledge their admiration. Next year, surely, some of these folks will be riding scooters. Right?

After that, the Baron and I rode along, down the river roads, and under the trees where the number of crows seem to be diminishing. Do they know something we don’t? As I check the Intellicast 10-day forecast, I don’t see anything ominous in our future.

So, Friday the Thirteenth passed without drama. I’m home and safe, and feeling a little guilty about all the hype we started out with. Old Man Winter is not presenting his usual challenge here. Do you think he has gone into retirement? Is he down in Florida with all the rest of the Snowbirds? I just don’t know.

What I do know is that I am out here riding, every single day, and having a wonderful time doing it. I write this blog to let everyone know that this is possible, with the right equipment and skills. I also know that there are certain species of vulture who can’t wait for me to fail and/or die, so they can crow over my defeat and pick over my bones. Well, that’s just not going to happen.

14 Responses to “Friday the 13th”

  1. Randy Brody Says:

    Rode to Work again today, 23 deg. F. My goal is to ride every month of the year in Duluth, MN. Complete breeze this year.

    Riding just once a month changes things greatly. When you have a 4-5 month lapse in riding you start to build up anticipation about getting back in the saddle and pretending your invisible again. The risks of riding seem big in March and April.

    Once monthly riding in the Winter is doable for most riders in the snow belt and doesn’t require the considerable commitment that is needed to do what Gary is doing. It’s a walk in the park in comparison but provides considerable benefit.

  2. Mad Says:

    Heh! The urban guerrilla rides again…

  3. mnscooter Says:

    Oh, Hell Yeah!

    Thanks Randy and Mad. Randy, what you are doing is far beyond what 90% of riders are willing to do, but really is what we ALL should do to keep up our skills.

    Mad, I can’t keep from laughing here… damn. I sure do hope you come over here, because I sure as hell can’t afford to go over there. But at some point, we MUST meet. Of course, if you are a rich bloke, then maybe you can sponsor my ultimate goal of racing on the Isle of Man! Even if I die, it will have been worth it.

    Well, Amy and Emily would object to that…

    No. Just come on over. I’ll take you to dinner…

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  4. Mad Says:

    As it happens Gary I do have plans to visit your fascinating country. You see my Dad has emigrated to Oklahoma and I am going to visit him. But after this firm statement of intent things get a bit foggier. You live on a huge continent and there are so many people and places I want to visit. I want to get a bike and tour around the States and Canada to my hearts content but time and money will limit what I can achieve.
    So how’s this rather nebulous plan? A dear Canadian friend has found dirt-cheap flights to Canada, so I fly to Ontario
    Visit said friend - Vanessa
    Buy a cheap bike (UJM of some kind?)
    Ride south to Minnesota
    Drop in on you and eat all your food
    Head to Maryland to visit my friend Josh
    Then *gulp* ride to Oklahoma
    Spend some time with my Dad
    Finally *gulp* ride back to Ontario for a flight home.
    Get my mate Vanessa to flog the bike for me.

    The problems I foresee are:
    It’s all so far; can I do it inside a two/three week period?
    My bum may fall off.
    What if the bike falls apart?
    I think the Maryland bit is probably too ambitious but I really want to visit Josh.

    Of course this could all be pie in the sky and I’ll just have to fly out to Oklahoma and behave like a normal tourist (do normal tourists go to Oklahoma?).
    I guess that’s a very long way to say, yes, maybe one day I’ll be able to drop in and say hi!

    As for being rich? Sadly I am a poor fellow but I’ll do you a deal, if I ever win the lottery I shall fly you to the island and we’ll fulfil both our ambitions to see the TT and ride the course. I don’t think your family would thank me if my lottery winnings helped you race there though. This last year was particularly heavy on the fatalities; someone told me there were eleven deaths.

    Oops sorry to hijack your blog…

  5. Bro Shagg Says:

    Amy and Emily? You live with the Indigo Girls? ;)

  6. Bro Shagg Says:

    Gary-

    You commented about my name before- it is what my fellow Harley ridin’ Bro’s call me. I have posted here before under my everyday cager name of “Tom”. Bro Shagg is much more interesting than Tom, don’t you think? Kinda like how riding is infinitely more interesting than driving.

  7. Dick Aal Says:

    I rode on Friday the 13th also. keeping that date in mind. But with a lot of things, nothing happened and had an enjoyable ride.
    Today with the temperature at 34 degrees and frost all over the lawn I am preparing to ride about 200 miles today. Sure wish I had heated gloves!
    You would think this is Minneapolis instead of Sonoma County in Northern California. But this is the second ride of the new year and looking forward to it. Have fun there and will be with you in spirit if not numb hands.

  8. Dan Jones Says:

    Gary, your blog is having a wierd effect on me. I noticed I’m starting to drive my truck with the same attentiveness and caution you describe as you commute to work.

    This is probably not a bad thing but I was wondering if I am being brain-washed by this blog.

    Enjoy the weather and don’t forget about the “other shoe” — it always falls sooner or later.

  9. Keith Says:

    I got pulled over and received an angry lecture once from a cop for riding on the shoulder of an on ramp once. He said that some car driver is going to get pissed about me doing that and open his door into me to spite me. Be careful doing this car drivers can’t do in front of them!

  10. Buster Brown Says:

    “Enjoy the weather and don’t forget about the “other shoe” — it always falls sooner or later.”

    …usually when it’s on the other foot.

  11. mnscooter Says:

    For the record, I wasn’t on the shoulder, I was out in the grass. I try never to pull a stunt like that unless I am well out of door range. My little confrontation during the I-Cycle Derby is a perfect example. Creeping along the side between cars and curbing invites all kinds of nasty retribution.

    Hopefully, as motorcycles and scooters become more accepted as transportation here, these attitudes will change. Lane-splitting, or “filtering”, should be legal everywhere.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  12. Mad Says:

    Oh how you must have laughed at the naive travel plans! I just had a look at Google maps and you live miles from my daydream route, I somehow was labouring under the misconception that you are kinda next to Chicago. Your countries too big! I have friends all over the States and I don’t see how on earth I can visit any of ‘em. :(

  13. mnscooter Says:

    Well, Mad, what can I tell you? I know the roads pretty well, so if you tell me where you want to go, I can help with your travel planning. I could even go meet you someplace like Milwaukee if you like, rather than you taking a major detour to come here. Milwaukee, of course, is famous for Harleys and beer… we could take a couple of brewery tours and then go on over to the HD factory and laugh at all the loud, antique motorcycles! What say you?

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  14. Mad Says:

    Hmmm interesting idea Gary, beer and bikes two of my favourite things in the world. I’ll keep you posted and ask advice as I find questions.

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