Sunday, September 30, 2012

Too @#%^# busy to post...

... but not too busy to read.

That means I've been following current events on the Modern Vespa Forum and putting my two cents in from time to time.

There is one subject that really needs a post here, but I'm just not ready for it.

In the meantime, I continue to commute daily, though with time always an issue, what with 12 and more hours spent in the office, most of my commuting has been on the highway, bombing along as fast as my 150cc's will carry me.

What's happening on MV you ask?  Well you could follow along there, as I know some of you do from time to time.  You may not be so inclined, but even if crash reports and trouble shooting and bull shooting aren't your thing, there is still fascinating reading there.

I know there are a bunch of you screaming eagles and Beemer Boomers out there who are hard core tourists... make that tourers, and you folks may be interested in following the latest trans-continental adventures of the MV resident known as Lostboater.

Having done the last Scooter Cannonball in the spring from Savannah to San Diego, and then tacked on a couple of more thousand miles on top of that treck to do a northern loop on his way back to Florida, he's at it again, but this time in Africa (yes Africa!).

Lostboater (Ken Wilson) has entered the cross-Egypt rally.  2,400 kilometers from Cairo, across the desert, down and around to Luxor.  He stopped by South Africa on his way to meet up with a trio of Afrikanners and another Floridian and who plan to ride from Capetown to Dublin in 2013.  They'll be riding sponsored LNLs (we know them as Stellas) and raising money for worthy causes along the way.

Meanwhile, Ken's Cross Egypt adventure promises to be very much worth following.

As I did for his other adventures, I've linked to it here, and on the right side below.  I know that I'll be following right along.  I won't be able to resist.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It only takes a few minutes

I can't help it.

Early morning light plays with the lake and the sky in ways that compel me to stop and take pictures.
No harm done, since it barely takes any time at all.

Here I made a U-turn, rode up a sidewalk access ramp, onto a green space path, put the bike on the stand, took in the scene, snapped some pictures, and went on my way.
Five minutes, tops.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alternatives: not all black and white

Alternative. Is that not one of the nice words in the English language? Or in any language for that matter?

Having alternatives means that you have a choice.  And it's not just black and white.  It means more than that.

An alternative is generally a better choice.  The least that can be said is that an alternative is an equally good choice.

Riding a motor scooter to work is an alternative commuting solution.  For those who have never tried it, it is difficult to describe just how much better this alternative is.

Take this morning's commute for instance.

Traffic has been brutal for the past little while.  All clogged up and crawling.

This morning the slow route was the weapon of choice.

Predictably, when traffic is at its worst, even my slow route along the lake and the Lachine Canal gets its share of congestion.  Making matters worse is that for a good section of St-Patrick street along the south side of the canal, the powers that be dedicated the right lane in each direction as a reserved lane for buses and taxis.  That means that there is just no way for me to filter without running the risk of a ticket for using the bus lane.

This morning my Vespa allowed me to bend the rules another way, and avoid 95% of the problem.

You see, just about where the traffic backs up on St-Patrick, there is a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the canal.
All I needed to do was to take the Vespa on a little off-roading jaunt up a little grassy hill, across the south side bike path, across more grass, over the bridge, over to St-Ambroise street on the north side of the canal, and presto! Empty streets through the now-trendy side streets of lofts and condos west of the Atwater Market, and a congestion-free zip along George Vanier boulevard, through a delightful winding tunnel, right into the heart of downtown.

That left me with a self-satisfied smug grin, and time to spare to pick up my morning java.

And that's why my life is not by any means black and white.  Commuting on a Vespa means that there are many alternatives.  Even though it means you have to indulge your inner bad-ass scooter commuter.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Too late for Martha... too early for Martha

Martha posted a blog challenge.

It's an easy one, but one I can't seem to get right.

Martha wanted a picture of my neck of the woods at 7:00 a.m.

I got 8:00 a.m.
and I got 6:00 a.m.
but 7:00 a.m. has so far eluded me.

Sorry Martha.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Windshield - Take three

September is here.

 It's still summer, and I'm still riding wearing my mesh jacket and summer gloves

The liner for my riding pants is... (actually, I'm not sure where it is).

Before I left for Vancouver a few weeks ago, I dropped off my windshield at the local glass and mirror shop for a second round of surgery.  I have struggled to get the windshield formula right.  My earlier experiments are documented here.

I'd been determined to do it for some time.

I knew I wanted it done before the fall chill came to visit.

Yesterday I picked it up and promptly installed it.
As you can see it's now cut down as low as it can be. My daughter who thought it was embarassingly dorky at its original height (you can see a photo by clicking here, man was it huge), and found it only borderline acceptable at mid height, now thinks it looks pretty good. I think so too.

Here is a video I shot when I cut the screen to mid height.

But that's not why I cut it down to fly screen height.

It got chopped because, at mid height, as esthetically pleasing as it may have been, it directed the air flow to my neck. This made riding uncomfortable, but not for the obvious reasons you might think.

It wasn't the pressure or force of the wind hitting my neck or helmet and causing a strain in my neck. Not at all. That is most noticeable riding without the screen at highway speeds. At mid height the screen still did a good job of eliminating upper body strain from the wind.

And it wasn't because the airblast of cold air was chilling me in colder weather. Not one bit. My cold weather gear prevents that effect.

The really serious culprit was noise.

The screen caused turbulence just below my helmet that was shocking the first time I experienced it. If you don't understand what I mean, try this (depending on the car you drive): get up to highway speed and open one rear window. That loud deep bass throbbing sound you get? That's what the mid height screen did for me, allbeit at a smaller scale.

It sent me straight to the hardware department at Sears to buy earplugs. Now earplugs are a topic for another post all by themselves, and, having gotten used to them, I never commute without them anymore,  windscreen or no windscreen.

No sooner than I installed the shorty windscreen, I just had to take a test run.  I wouldn't say I was dreading it, because anything would be an improvement. I was just really curious. You see it's at fly screen height now, and I never got what flyscreens were about. What's the point of having a ridiculously tiny windshield?

Here are my first impressions. 

Still no airblast on my hands.

Fantastic! After all, that's why I got the large Cuppini screen to begin with.

The screen now directs the air to the middle of my chest. Gone is the noisy turbulence. Now there is a faint whistling that I actually find interesting. The screen does a good job of smoothing the airflow and eliminating the tiring blast of air you get on the highway riding without a screen.

It's early still, but I'm now quite pleased. Let's see how it handles as fall chill settles in. The timing for this experiment couldn't be better. The forecast is for 30C early this week. So there's still summer weather to test in.

I'll let you know how it works out.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.