Sunday, April 10, 2011

WOT to the Bridge

It's Friday and I'm stuck in the office waiting for a meeting with VIPs that never actually happens.  My wife and I are invited to dinner at the home of close friends who live just off the western tip of the island in Vaudreuil.  

It's 6:15 and I'm still downtown. If I take my usual scenic southern route that hugs the lake, I estimate that I won't be able to make it to our friend's house until 7:45. 

I roll out of the underground garage at 6:20 and decide to swing north, straight up the mountain on Peel to Pine, then west over to Cote des Neiges, over the mountain and down to Jean Talon, west to Lucerne, and north to highway 40. 

Highway 40 is Montreal's major east-west expressway. Late last season I chanced riding the 40 for a couple of exits, and that's my only experience so far. 

Traffic has been light and I've made really good time.  Heading through the D├ęcarie traffic circle, I'm debating whether to stick to the service road or hop on the expressway. 

The Vespa's clock on the dash is indicating 6:40, but I know it's running five minutes fast and I make a mental note to adjust it. I don't want to hold up dinner, so I take the first on-ramp and open the throttle wide.

The Vespa LX150's speedometer reads a steady 65 miles per hour. I know i'm doing more like 57 or so based on past experience with GPS comparisons, but I'm pacing traffic in the right hand lane, and even need to roll off the throttle from time to time to keep my distance.  So I decide to stay put on the expressway. 

I'm really eating up the miles at this pace. A few eighteen wheelers slowly pass in the middle lane. I brace for buffeting each time. While there is some, once the truck is about 100 feet ahead, it's not dramatic. The Vespa cruises along like a champ. 

As the western tip of the island looms, so does one of my milestone challenges: the long six lane bridge that spans the Lake of Two Mountains. 

I'm getting set for the adrenaline rush of crossing that bridge at wide open throttle. Last season the Ile aux Tourtes Bridge seemed like a challenge I might never dare to take.

As I cruise down the long slope on the far side of the span, I'm sufficiently comfortable to take in the spectacular view of the lake far into the distance to my left and right. The  Vespa is doing an indicated 68 mph. 

 I take the next exit.  There is a good crease in the road where the concrete expressway lane transitions to the asphalt of the exit ramp. There is a momentary squirm as the Vespa negotiates the crease. I'm alert, and very focused, but not intimidated.  As I cruise along the ramp gradually decelerating to the speeds I normally ride at, I realise how far my riding skills have progressed. 

The weather for this ride is great. Clear skies and a comfortable 11 Celsius. Before leaving the office I had removed the liner from my Tourmaster Caliber pants and I'm glad I did. The windshield makes the ride very comfortable. I've had my visor up and my collar open the whole time without the least discomfort. 

When I ring the doorbell at 7:05, everyone is shocked to see me so soon. My wife had only arrived minutes before me and figured she would have to wait another 45 minutes or an hour for my arrival. 

If you're concerned that you won't get to see the end of my new Admore light unit installation, no worries.  I'll return to that project just as soon as I can and post all the details. 

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.