Friday, February 29, 2008

A day from work

It's not often that I manage to slip away from work. It's also not often that the weather is on your side. I remember a time last year when I booked a day to go Scooting. Monsoons were forecast for the whole day, but I went anyway. All the way from the heart of Vancouver to Port Moody, a healthy jaunt. Between the wind trying to blow you over and the hose directly aimed at your face it was merciless. It was winter and my larger scoot was not insured at the time, so off I went on my Wife's little Vino. It has such a small tail light and with the roostertail coming off the rear tire I was constantly watching in the rear view mirrors for fast approaching vehicles, as I was very afraid that they would not be able to see me.

But this day was different, sunny but cold - after all, it's still winter in Vancouver. Did a few errands, hand lunch with a friend then off for a ride around Stanley Park. (it's a 10,000 acre park in the heart of Vancouver, BC)

Brockton Point, Stanley Park:
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There is pay parking everywhere. The Vancouver Parks Board even charges fees for parking on the roadway, every asphalted area has a machine to collect parking fees. Luckily, on the scoot you are able to stop once in a while to stretch your legs

Looking the other direction from the Lighthouse, you can see the Lion's Gate Bridge:
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Yes, that's West Vancouver in the background, a separate municipality within the Greater Vancouver area. Not too many cars going around the Park at this hour. Perhaps since it is a Monday afternoon and it is a working day for many. Imagine having nature so close; the smell of the ocean, the wind in your face, birds chirping (well not yet) . I winded my way around the park, past 3rd beach, then 2nd beach, the English Bay. Since it was a beautiful day the popcorn/hotdog vendors were doing a brisk business.

English Bay, Vancouver, BC (Inukshuk, in the background):
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This is English Bay. Mountains towards the north, Ocean (well, not really ocean) but Georgia Strait and out of view would be Vancouver Island. Deserted now, but during the summer you would be hard pressed to get any beach space along this area. This is one of the major beach areas in downtown Vancouver and adjacent to Denman Street, famous for a lot of eateries and just browsing.

All in all a good day for scooting

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ignorance & a ride

Let me lay the foundation for a scenario.

The motorcycle community has been having a planned buffet brunch for many years on a certain sunday of the month. Recently one of our members, who also has a motorcycle of substance, whom also owns a scooter was invited to attend a brunch and "bring along a few friends" . As it turns out these "friends" are also scooterists and we have been tagging along to these brunches for a few months and through the winter. Most people are aware that scooterists are more hardy than bikers and it is more usual for scooterists to be year round riders, the sportbike crowd only insure during the dry, hot, dusty summer months and park their bikes over the winter. So . . . over the winter the scooterists have dominated the brunch scene with relatively few bikers attending.

Fast forward to last Sunday, which was a sunny, sort of warm, tempting spring-like day. The bikers were out in full force and now the scooterists get blamed for hogging all the seats making so called regular bikers being turned away since there was limited seating in the patio area where we usually congregate. That's what we are "scooter trash" in the minds of many. Makes your blood boil. Many people who prefer to ride scoots also have bikes (motorcycles in their arsenal). So much prejudice in this world that you be judged by what you own and not for who you are. I really thought that we were part of the biking community, everything on 2 wheels and that sort of thing, but I suppose this is not to be. Lucky thing we didn't arrive on electric power, even the scooterists would abandon us.

There, I feel better now . . .

END OF RANT: ----------------------------------------------------------------------


On a happier note:

As it turns out I took a day off work. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a glorious day, sunny but cold and luckily no rain (which is very unusual, as this is the only word that the weatherman seems to know). On a local forum a couple of other members of our scootering community also saw the opportunity to savour a few hours of 2 wheeled bliss transversing the country side -- rolling hills, farmland and a tranquile part of south Langley/Cloverdale, BC. Of course the jealous ones (presumably at work) had a name for us, but not sure if the word "Slackers" would apply to all 3 of us. Perhaps 2 were slackers as they were out riding when they should have been working. I was legitimately on a booked day off work (minus 1 vacation day), but it is always nicer to share the day with friends, rather than just amble aimlessly along by yourself with no set destination, but if it's solitude that you need then perhaps one day we can plan one of those solitude days too.

Let's call this: adventures of Robert, Mike and Bob:

This is the start of our ride:
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Road Construction delay:
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Langley Airport, watching the little planes take off and land:
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The Treehouse, Redwood Park, 20th Avenue, Surrey, BC
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It's always an adventure when you let Robert (the Reverend) lead the pack. To recap:
- we got lost once
- Had to U-turn at a "road closed" road upgrade
- Rode down two gravel roads, one had large pot holes
- ended up at 2 T-intersections trying to find shortcut
- washroom "closed for season" but luckily we are guys and there were trees around

It was a day to remember. Now back to work . . .

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ride to work

Spring is definitely in the air. After acclimatizing ourselves to accepting the cold grip of winter during the past few months there is a sign of better things to come when that bright orb high in the sky decides to make an appearance. Today I rode my scoot to work. The light was blinding. I was heading eastbound on Kingsway into Burnaby when the low angle of the rising sun made it extremely difficult to see. The sun was right on the horizon. I had to squint and be very cautious of my placement between all the vehicles around me. I was mere inches (or is that centimeters) from the opposing traffic, as there is abundantly more traffic rolling into town, than in my direction which is against the flow of traffic. Also you have to be more aware of the cars around you, and lane placement. I wanted to move over to the outside lane to increase the safety margin from the westbound flow but it was impossible as I was coming up to my left turn at Edmunds. I just slowed it down a bit and hoped for the best.

When I left home the temp was about 2-3 c and the roads were dry and frost-free. By the time I got to Burnaby / New Westminster border all the parked cars had ice packed windshields. I knew to be more careful, take the corners at a lesser angle and accelerate more evenly and slowly. By the time I arrived at work it was showing 6c, but it felt colder than that, probably the wind chill factor, even though I had layers of fleece, riding jacket and riding pants. So much preparation goes into riding, sometimes it just feels easier to hop into a car for the commute, but then you would miss the joys of riding.

Well, I made it to work:
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Reflection from my office window:
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One thing about riding a scooter, you have to take into consideration many factors on your trip into work. Construction zones, road repairs, snow, sleet, ice rain . . . many factors have to be analyzed before you can make your decision to ride or not and also which route to take under a multitude of conditions. Ice, is a no brainer. You don’t ride while there is a chance that ice (black ice they call it) is on the road which means basically, you don’t ride until the temps are at least 3c (preferable higher) . Road repairs influence the route you take. Sometimes they sneak in a road repair without you knowing and you come upon it by chance. Then you have to make a mental note to take a different direction next time. For others there may only be one route; they may not be able to take an alternate. So I am lucky.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Free as a bird

Why do we ride ? Why do we prefer motorized 2 wheeled transportation ? It's hard to explain the feeling that you get and the assault on your senses . . . the wind in your face, your hair blowing in the wind, the exhilaration of man and machine against the elements - man & machine as one. It is an extensions of one's self, listening to your engine purr away like a heart sustaining life, the sounds of your exhaust as you forge your merry way experiencing new found vistas, the colours, the voices of nature as you continue to roll on ever closer to your final destination .

I've always had a passion for anything with an engine; muscle cars, sports cars, motorcycles, scooters, you name it: I like it . And while I would prefer to scoot around on 2 wheels the majority of the time, sometimes life's obligations get in the way. As it was this weekend when we went for a ride to the country. We frequently have brunch at a little greasy spoon at a local airfield.

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It was a beautiful sunny but cold day. You know the kind, warm in the sun but cold in the shade. I was admiring all the planes parked out in the field and was imagining the feeling that you must feel as you leave the world behind, as you find yourself floating in space looking at the world below. Sort of the same feeling as riding a scooter. The feeling of being as free as a bird.

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The flying club was out in full force. All their members in a line all waiting for their turn to launch. It reminded me of the scooter rally not so long ago where we were all riding together as a group on a ride somewhere. The comaraderie of similar people with the same passions getting together once in a while to share stories and experiences.

Then off to our grandson's 2nd birthday party. Children, parents, noise, food and grandparents all in the same place at the same time. I leave you with this short remembrance of the event. There will be plenty of time to scoot as time and conditions warrant, but not today . Today is family day.


video

Saturday, February 16, 2008

taking it easy

Today is a regular Saturday. Well, it feels like a regular Saturday but today something is different. It's not raining, nor snowing, nor is there ice on the roads. It's always refreshing to take the scoot out for a change. While it is my usual mode of transport it hasn't been easy the past few weeks. There has just been too much ice on the roads. The ice usually hangs around until mid morning which makes it impossible to commute to work. If only I could start work a couple of hours later. At the office around mid morning I look out my window and see good road conditions, but before 7am there is just too much ice around, as evidenced by the frosty windshields.

After breakfast I decided to play tourist and just skoot around town.

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Gastown is a tourist area within Vancouver near the waterfront. Lots of shops and restaurants. you just have to be careful not to stray too far from the beaten path. I wasn't keeping track of time, but when I got to the main area it was noon and the steam clock shouted out " OH Canada " I was just in time to see the steam hissing away.

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I continued my ride around the waterfront and turned down to the lower road where they are working on the new convention centre. Lots of construction and debris and signs warning pedestrians and those on Bikes to not enter. Yikes, Bikes, does this mean MOI ? However, I continued on in the darkness (no daylight down here) and finally I came to the ramp which takes you back up to street level.

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I was just skooting aimlessly around, taking it easy, looking at all the people as I went by, more or less just killing a little time so I could go to Vespa Vancouver to partake in their charity cappucinos. All in all it was a good day for getting around on 2 wheels.

When I got to Vespa. I parked with all the other skoots. Looks like I am the last one here.

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Hey guys, save me a Cappucino . One of the members of our scooter club just purchased a new Boulevard (Red goes faster), and he was grinning from ear to ear.

skyway6 james

Nice scoot you have there James. Enjoy . (it's only got 124 kms) He picked it up yesterday.

All in all it was a great day today. Any day without rain is a good day this time of year. Believe me, we've had our share of bad weather and I hope that this is an omen of good things to come

Saturday, February 9, 2008

bad oil changed

Yaaaa hooooo, it's Saturday and breakfast with the guys at our favourite motorcycle cafe then off to do my errands. The forecast was for torrential rains so I thought it was time to do the oil change on the GS. I have been neglecting it for the past few years as I prefer the joy and ease of riding my scoot, but it was just one of those unfinished things that was in the back of my mind. The last time I actually rode it was back in August. Then my friend JohnB came over and we adjusted the chain, checked everything over and topped up the oil. THAT was the problem, we topped up the oil. Recently I was thinking about this and I realized that I didn't have the right kind of oil that was needed in order to top up the oil. I only had oil for CARS, NO oil for motorcycles. Motorcycles need different oil as it also lubricates the transmission and has a wet clutch, and the stator is also immersed in the oil, so you have to be careful to put in the correct oil in there or there could possibly be a very substantial future problem. Luckily, no damage done as I have not used the bike, but I had in the back of my mind to do the oil change before the Spring. Yesterday on the way home from work, I rushed to the local Suzuki Dealer to get the correct oil. Got there just in time and purchased a 4 ltr container. Oh oh, problem-o, I had to return to the dealer today to get a couple of crush washers, and Aaron said to me "I was going to ask you about those" but he didn't, and I told him it was his fault that I had to make this extra trip. Anyway, got those crush washer(s) {saving one for spare} and got the oil changed.

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Everything is working to plan. And where is the Rain ? Hasn't started yet. I was hoping to get some scoot time in

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We are still in the midst of Winter and there hasn't been much time for scooting. As mentioned before there is still ice on the roads when I leave for work (before 7am) and I just won't risk it. But the weekends are different as I start out later. It feels so good to be able to get the scoot out for a ride, plus you don't have to ride in the dark. There is still lots of sand on the roads so you have to take it easy on the turns.

On Saturdays, Barista, Reverend Robert hones his skills at the local Vespa Dealer (I wouldn't normally mention names, BUT as they have agreed to match the amounts donated, I think that a big thank you is in order for Vespa Vancouver and Bob Hillman). During the riding season we usually have group rides arranged on Saturdays, but during the non-riding season Robert, the Reverend thought that it would be a good idea to have a place to congregate, socialize and just talk about scooters, and other topics of the day. Since we meet up in the showroom, there are also lots of scoots to drool over. Need I also say that Robert is also a chef extrordinaire as he usually brings along some of his creations for dessert, and he makes a mean; latte or Cappucino too .

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Did I also mention that Vespa Vancouver also supplies all the ingredients as well as the expresso machine. If you have time next Saturday, why don't you come by, we'd like to meet you.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Turn the clock back

Since we are still in the midst of Winter's Grip riding anything 2 wheeled is really not possible. Over the years I have made rules which really can't be broken. Better to err on the side of safety than to cave in to impulse. The temperatures right now in Vancouver are hovering around the freezing mark. Minus during the evenings and single digits during the day. The ice just doesn't burn off until mid morning so I have decided that it would be too risky to take my commuter scooter to work as I leave for work early, around 7am. At this early hour there is still ice on the roads. The first thing I notice when I bring in the morning paper is to check the status of the cars parked outside and how much frost has accumulated on their windshields during the night. Lately riding my scoot has been a no go, it's just too risky.

As I cannot post "fresh" information about current rides, I have decided to let you know how I got into this addictive malady of accumulating self powered 2 wheeled vehicles (ie: motorcycles and scooters -- and a car or two).

My first real motorcycle was a Yamaha 80cc 2-stroke powerhouse. I cannot remember the actual model designation. I traded a reel to reel tape recorder for it. this was around the mid 60's. I learned how to ride and also obtained my motorcycle licence, of course the test was not as stringent as it is today. But being a cash strapped student at that time, I had to sell the Yamaha to finance the tune up on my MGB sports car.

Fast forward to the late 70's --> I purchased a brand new Suzuki GS400 from Ernies Suzuki Centre on Dunbar/29th, and in no time at all I traded up to the GS550L, GS1000L and before the ashtray was full, I was the proud owner of a GS1100L, all this happened so quickly within a span of around a year. I knew this would be a hard thing to explain on the home front, so I told Ernie that I'd be able to 'go for it' as long as each subsequent bike was of the same colour. We had a young family and responsibilities so after a few years I did the right thing and sold my bike. So I was bikeless for quite a few years until . . . this showed up

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

No Air

There was a break in the Weather on Saturday. The forecast was for morning snow flurries, but instead the sun came out. I took the opportunity to start up my bike and Scooter.

I know everyone has their own theory regarding bike storage, but I have been doing it this way for "years" without any problems. Make sure you park it with fresh oil, put in fuel stabilizer and run for a few minutes to make sure the stabilizer has mixed throughout your fuel system, then attach your battery maintainer. I usually start it once every 4-6 weeks, but do NOT bring it to operating temperature. That way there will be no condensation forming anywhere. Also remember to keep your gas tank full. The insurance on my GS ran out late September and I have only started it once since then.
My scooter is my commuter vehicle thus, it does not need to be 'stored', but it has been just sitting there for the past month due to Snow and Ice. I only attach a battery maintainer to keep the battery in top shape. While it is a carbureted model it doesn't sit long enough to create any starting problems

As usual, since I am at work all week, Saturday is the time for me to do all my chores. I find that it is easier to scoot because it is easier to find parking. While the forecast was for rain, the clouds disappeared and it was warm in the sun (and cold in the shade). I decided to check the tire pressure on the GS and found that both tires were around 20 PSI. I have a small capacity compressor so I topped off both tires to around 30 PSI. Then, while I had everything out, I decided to also check the tire pressures of my scoot and the tires were also around 20 PSI which was too low so I also topped them both up to approx 30PSI as well. The tire label was in metric so I wasn't sure exactly how much air to put in.

I purchased these tire sensors a while ago:

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They come in a set of 4 (four), complete with a tire pressure gauge from an automotive store. You are able to purchase these in different PSI ranges. The air pressure applies force to the green plunger. (This set is for 30 PSI, low limit 28 PSI) . While the PSI exceeds 30 PSI the plunger shows Green (for good), when the PSI falls below 28 PSI, then the green retracts to reveal a Red Insert (for bad). They are very handy to be able to monitor your tire pressures by just glancing at your tire stems. Whenever I fill up at the gas station, I usually glance down to see what colour they are, and most of the time they are green. I have them installed on my GS, but now I know that I will have to "find" the other two and install them on my scooter.

When I took my Scooter out the air temp was around +3c , and I found that the ride was very firm, much firmer than I had been used to. I could feel every imperfection on the road. I got to thinking that my tires were probably low on pressure all summer which definitely effects speed and fuel economy. I'm glad I had a chance to check the tires. Now if only I knew where those other two . . .

Monday, February 4, 2008

Winter Blues

Well, we’ve had a terrible summer. 2007 was mostly a rainy washout. I believe the weather office reported some time back that we only had 3 weekends of summer sunshine. Ohhh, if only we had some summer heat right now. The winter hasn’t been all that kind either. It’s hard to scoot when there’s ice and snow on the roads. This is a rarity for Vancouver when it normally just rains all the time. If only the rain came back, then we could go back to our normal activities, which is enjoying the freedom of 2-wheeled transportation. My scooter commuter vehicle has been sitting idle safely tucked away just crying out for attention. If only the ice would go away. I can hear my scooter whimpering every time I get into my car. “please take me”, but not until the temps go above freezing. I miss my daily commute to work on the Scoot

I’m new to actually blogging, but I have read a few and thanks to Robert, the Reverend, I’m giving it another chance. I’m still trying to navigate here and there, and there’s still the matter of actually posting a pix now and again. As a Chinese fortune cookie philosopher once said, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

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Here a snap of some of our scooter gang on a day trip to Gibsons/Sechelt on a cool October 8th, 2007 Thanksgiving Monday. Ahh, the memories of a good fall ride, combined with 2 ferry crossings. Look ! No Snow. Only 6 more weeks until Spring. (Group: L-R; Yvonne, Mark, Bob, Emilie, Robert)

For now content to bring back the memories of last seasons past. The reality is that Winter has settled in and is not going away fast.

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And to the prospect of a better riding season to come. 2008 is destined to be another great year of renewed friendships and life in the slow lane. A time to conquer new adventures, explore new roads and to breathe in new scenery.

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This S-curve is just east of Washington Pass, Cascades Hwy 20 between Diablo and Winthrop, Wa.

Thanks for reading,

bob