Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Hiatus

Sandy was mostly a non-event here in southern Quebec.

Some strong gusts rumbling on the house.  A few heavy but short bursts of rainfall.  Some lingering bands of dark clouds, like strands of a distant angry sky littering an otherwise clear blue ceiling.  Mere echoes of the mayhem visited on Manhattan and Atlantic City.

And yet it was enough to keep me off my bike for the Monday and Tuesday commutes.

Better safe than sorry.  I think my wife and daughter appreciated my cautious approach.

Our dear friend in Fort Lee still has no power.  That sucks.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I made it.

There you have it.

It happened yesterday evening, on the Autoroute 40 service road, on my way to meet Susan and Lauren for Chinese food in Dollard.

When I started out I never imagined that I would go this far, this fast.

Yet here I am.

You can tell a story. You can make it interesting, funny, moving, informative. Yet without measurements, it lacks dimension.

Here are the dimensions of my life on two wheels and my scoot commute.

Three years on two wheels.  Fifteen thousand miles.  One long distance ride. Two group rides. Three provinces. Four stickers on my scooter (two MV stickers and two Corazzo stickers).  One MV sticker on my helmet.  Many new friendships. Assorted cosmetic scooter blemishes, scrapes and abrasions from one evening slide.  Three scooter mugs. One helmet lock.  Three new tires.  Nine Vespa gifts (two model Vespas, two Vespa keychains, one of which Lauren bought me in Rome, one cap, one T-shirt, one lanyard, one shoulder bag, one mug). Two hundred and twenty-six blog posts. Ten or more stone chips.  One new helmet visor.  Three sets of RAM mounts.  Thirty-seven thousand one hundred and seventy-one page views.  One rain suit. Seven modifications to my Vespa (one air horn, one extra bag hook, one turn signal beeper, one auxiliary brake and turn signal unit, one battery tender connection, one set of heated grips, and one electronic heat control). Three Modern Vespa forum patches.  One impromptu dismount and slide in the rain.  Two drive belts.  Nine hundred and eighty two posts on the Modern Vespa forum and two-and-a-half rondels of good karma.  One GoPro Hero HD camera plus assorted accessories.  Six hundred and seventy-six blog comments. One Griplock.  More than five hundred commutes. Lots of armor (three helmets, two pairs of gloves, two jackets, one pair of pants, and one pair of boots). And more lessons, memories and experiences to enrich my life than I can possibly hope to count.

And that's my unique perspective on commuting to work daily on a Vespa motor scooter.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help ! I'm trapped in David's Spam Cellar

I don't know how I got here but David won't let me out.   It's dark and cold but I am lucky that he gave me a dish of gruel earlier today so I'm not that hungry.   He told me that if I was a good boy and typed out some words and posted a few photos, that HE would let me out  . . .   It feels like a dungeon down here and it echos.   Oh Oh, I hear footsteps and some rattling keys,   I'd better get started.

It's a lucky thing that I have a box of old photos here with me

Brand new 2003 Yamaha BWS 49cc    Mrs Skoot         May, 2003

I really wanted to buy a motorcycle as I used to ride and I used the idea of buying a scooter so I could proceed with my plan.   We went everywhere looking at scooters that would be suitable and this is what we ended up with.

Mrs Skoot & Yamaha BWS         May, 2003

This was supposed to be HER scooter, so here she is taking a familiarization ride to get used to it.   That is my trusty mountain bike in the background.

Long story, shortened.  The Yamaha BWS was too tall for her so she wanted something a bit smaller and lower that she felt more comfortable with so we scoured the local paper for a used scooter and came up with this one which was brand new but never licensed.   The previous owner bought it for his girlfriend but she was too afraid to ride it in traffic so there it sat, until we came along.   He delivered it all the way from Abbotsford one Sunday afternoon

   Mrs Skoot and her Yamaha Vino        July 2003

On Sundays we would ride around town together.  Here we are in Stanley Park, Prospect point taking a rest break

Mrs Skoot & her Vino  (BWS behind)

So the Yamaha BWS ended up to be my bike and she had the Vino to ride.

  Bobskoot & Mrs Skoot       Prospect Point, Stanley Park            July 2003

Even then I carried my tripod and had a self timer so I could take self photos.   See, shorts, sandals and scooters are a good mix, of course now I always wear riding boots

Third Beach, Stanley Park              July 2003

It was great to have scooters.   They were easy to find a place to park and it was easy to stop for photos

  Canada Day, July 1, 2003   Canada Place,  Vancouver

We wanted to go down to Canada Place on Canada Day so we used our scooters and managed to squeeze into the non-parking spot where we could see the live entertainment/celebrations

One Sunday we decided to take our scooters over to Bowen Island, so here we are waiting for the Ferry.  It is only a 20 minute crossing but it feels like you are going on a cruise to somewhere exotic

 Horseshoe Bay Terminal           July 2003

The Horseshoe Bay terminal back then wasn't built yet so we had to wait outside.  Now you enter the lower level of the new terminal and get to be undercover when it rains

                Horseshoe Bay Terminal       portrait view          July  2003

We finally get loaded aboard the ferry and enjoy the cool ocean breeze

BC Ferries    Yamaha BWS & Yamaha Vino

Scooters and motorcycles get to load first, and then they are first off at the other end

Bowen Island Ferry      July 2003

Here's another view of our scooters, photogenic . . .  eh ?

Bowen Island            July  2003

and here's what it looks like on the other side.   We did a bit of exploring when we were there and there are several good restaurants where you can have a meal.   It was a good day to be out on our scoots

I've run out of words and I hope David opens the dungeon and lets me out.  I'm getting hungry

Now you know how our scooting adventures began . . .

thank you for reading,     bobskoot

End of season ritual

The end of the riding season is a let down.  It's not depressing by any means, but it's an unwelcome shift in my habits.

Rituals help to navigate transitions.

It was one of those end of season rituals that took me to the Jean Talon Market at lunchtime today.  I parked in my usual spot.  A Vespa at an outdoor market in Little Italy is a welcome addition to the scenery. 
The market, so swarmed during the summer and early fall, is marking its own end of season rituals.  There is construction going on that I imagine is only possible when activity at the market turns down.

The market never really closes, but it does go into quasi hibernation when commerce is only possible in heated premises behind closed doors.  The market is not there yet, but it's on its way, there's no denying it.

I sat down and enjoyed a long espresso and a croissant.
The stall owners, sporting layer upon layer selected for warmth and comfort rather than fashion, served the few hardy customers picking over the late fall produce.  There was a relaxed feel to the market.  There was none of the summer urgency.  Gone was the throng of patrons eagerly jostling before mountains of fresh local produce, vying for the attention of the harried stall attendants.

Today the shoppers were strolling, chatting, taking their time.  The stall attendants were patiently waiting for the slow selection process to reach its casual conclusion.  Overall it was subdued, almost indolent.  A nice counterpoint to the feverish activity in my professional life over the past few months.

I had what I was after.  A bite to eat.  A moment to pause and take in a restful scene.  A purchase of Fuente Baena olive oil to be tucked away in the pantry and enjoyed over the coming winter.
I feel better now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another milestone looms

It's late October.

Susan and I got a reprieve from fall weather last weekend: Thursday through Sunday in the Big Apple.  Compared to Montreal it was balmy.  70F on a few occasions.

I did a semi-unscientific survey while we were there.

%  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %
Vespas as a percentage of all PTWs in NYC:   a significant majority, maybe two thirds
%  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %
Times we spotted Jerry Seinfeld having breakfast at the Brooklyn Diner on West 57th: one
%  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %  %

Meanwhile, back in Montreal, the scoot commute continues, but the season's end is definitely counted in days, not weeks.  Though time is running out, the miles on the odometer roll along, and that means another milestone looms:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Million Mile Monday

I am used to seeing ride-related challenges on moto blogs.

Million Mile Monday is a ride challenge for October 8, 2012 that was recently posted on the Modern Vespa forum.

I enthusiastically signed on for the effort and started planning a timelapse video of my commute to work.

Then it dawned on me.  It's Thanksgiving and Monday, October 8, 2012 is day three of a long weekend.

Instead of my weekday commute, I would have to post my much shorter weekend jaunt.

Barely a weekend goes by that I don't take this little ride.

I head west along the lakeshore at a leisurely pace and enjoy the ride.

Today I stopped here and there to snap some pictures to share.

I stopped along Old Lakeshore but my iPhone was misbehaving and the pictures I took without noticing the little time lag I was having ruined those shots.

I stopped at the Baie d'Urfée city hall.  It's a pretty little jewel of a building sitting by itself on the lakeshore.
Just past the town hall, there is a beautiful section of Lakeshore Road that winds around the bay that gives the municipality its name.
The next stop was the Baie d'Urfée yacht club where the Canadian flag was begging to be photographed.
The next stop was Ste-Anne de Bellevue.

The main street is home to restaurants, small shops, and Daoust, a nineteenth century department store that it still going strong.  The blue awning belongs to the department store.
When I have a little time on my hands, I keep going past Ste-Anne de Bellevue and head out to Senneville.  The further you follow the water, the more rural the surroundings.
I made it out to L'anse à l'orme, then made a bee-line for home on a straight diagonal country road that eventually meets up with Autoroute 40.

I hopped on the highway and got off at the next exit and made my way home.

I had traveled in a circle.  17.2 miles of happiness on a beautiful sunny and cool fall day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall colors

Fall colors are here, and that means that the end of another wonderful season commuting to work on my dragon-red Vespa motor scooter is slowly drawing to a close.

The foliage in all its splendor is not nearly enough to compensate for the winter blahs to come.

My inspiration for this morning's post is two-fold.

First the weather: I had my Corazzo hoody on under my riding jacket but it wasn't really needed.  I got away with summer gloves, and I had a little extra time to follow the lake shore for a bit and snap these pictures.

Second: Sonja asked for fall foliage.
So there you have it.  That's what commuting to work on a Vespa looks like on the last work day before Thanksgiving here in the great (soon to be) white north.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.