Saturday, April 4, 2009

It just feels good . . .

to be riding to work again after many weeks of ice and snow. Usually in the mornings when I leave for work around 7am there is still frost on the roads. We get frost even when the temps are 2 or 3C . I don't like to tempt fate so I have established some rules for those times when I wish to ride but road conditions would dictate otherwise. Of course, if we lived in an area of Palm trees and the land of eternal sun it would be a no brainer, just grab your bike keys and ride to work. I would imagine the only thing you would have to decide is whether to take the Bonneville or the ET4. Here, up north along the 49th parallel I have a morning ritual to determine my mode of transport. First, listen carefully to the morning forecast, then I go outside to pickup my morning paper (Yes Jack, we still get printed news) and I scan the roadway for ice crystals and the windshields of parked cars for that tell tale sign of frost. Lastly I look out the back window onto the neighbour's carport roof. If it is white, the I just take the car.

(Parking space at work, from my office window)

Finally, the conditions were right for my commute to work. I live in the heart of the city closer to the water where the temperatures are more moderate than the areas I pass through, so when there is no frost at home, I often encounter worsening conditions during my travels towards the office. About a month ago when conditions were right (or so I thought) I found myself on icy roads and parked cars covered in heavy frost along the way.

(view of Fraser River, Port Mann Bridge in the background)

I took the slow scenic way home. Thank goodness for Daylight savings time, you can actually drive home during daylight.

(SkyTrain bridge, Cambie Street Station, under construction)

Skytrain is our rapid transit system. Subway cars on elevated tracks are being readied for completion in time for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. This particular branch is connecting Vancouver's International Airport with the downtown area, and is not yet operational. A lot of money is being spent to make sure the athletes can travel to their temporary accommodations at light speed.

My Scooter, Kymco Xciting 500Ri is my year 'round commuter vehicle. I insure it for the full year and with the exception of those snowy or icy days it is my usual mode of transport to work. The CVT is especially handy for those slow commutes in heavy traffic where shifting gears can put a strain on your clutch hand. And NO, I do not have an automatic self retracting centre stand which I hear are offered as standard equipment on certain models of BMW. But both my bikes do have tachometers as standard operating equipment.

I also have a motorcycle, Suzuki SV650 which I use during the summer. As insurance is very expensive here in British Columbia it is not practical to insure it other than during the summer months. It does not offer as much weather protection as the scooter but it is more fun to ride on country roads.

Last year near the end of October I parked it for the season. Of course I added fuel stabilizer, went for a final ride, then topped off the tank before parking it in the carport under a bike cover and plugged into a float level battery maintainer. There is not more to do since it is fuel injected, but perhaps it would be a good idea to raise the tires off the cement floor, or park on top of wood so the tires do not touch the ground.

On the first day of spring, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to prep the bike for the season. I took off the bike cover, put in the key, turned on the ignition until the fuel pump stopped making its noise, pulled in the clutch and a second later the engine came to life, just as if it were parked yesterday. Yesterday, I renewed the insurance and went for a little spin


The "spin" was a little more than just around the block. I went to a certain cafe a few miles away where a few friends were meeting for coffee and a snack


I believe the residents know this area as Punjabi Market where there are many restaurants and bakeries of East Indian origin. My friends were devouring some curry delicacies which had a really good aroma. Unfortunately, I had none and had to return home for waiting dinner, but there is always "next time" .

Saturday it was off to breakfast on the bike. My scooter has a recall and I had to bring it to the dealer for a new ECU as it turns out that there was a programming error on the one I have which causes hard starting in cold weather. It was a good time to put them together for a photo op

(Kymco X500Ri - white & Suzuki SV650 - blue

I suppose you will notice that the scooter has much better protection from the elements during times of bad weather. The SV650 has no protection at all and you will be soaked in a shower after a very short time. The scooter is a more substantial machine and is over a 100 lbs heavier than the bike, with much less power, but the additonal weight just adds to its smoothness. As compared to the scoot, the SV is a jackrabbit which just takes off at a slight twist of the throttle. Rumor has it that it can run rings around any Bonneville with aftermarket tachometers, but alas, it does not have an automatic retracting side stand, and nor does it have the famed Russel day-long seat with auxilliary heated seat switch, but I think that it is too wide for our local roads and would require pilot car escort and the cost for the government permits required, would be too costly to consider.


After a few miles of shifting, clutching & twisting it didn't seem to take any time at all to get back into the groove. Soon I was doing 7,000 rpm shifts like a road racer. I think redline is around 12K rpm. It's going to be hard to keep the speed down.


It's still got last years dirt and grime on it. If the wind doesn't take it off, I may have to resort to soap and water soon


  1. Dear BobSkoot:

    What a delightful post! You managed to cover all the elements; 1) ride details, 2) local color, 3) interesting architectural point, 4) strong bike focus, 5) undeserved slam against orthopedic riding aids for fat people, 6) homage for German motorcycles with great design options, and 7) snub of machines whose sedate RPMs do not warrant monitoring devices.

    Nicely done.

    Twisted Roads

  2. BobSkoot:

    Sure would be nice to at least have the option of riding in the winter. But alas, here in snowy Eastern Ontario, that's a sure recipe for disaster.
    Re insurance. You can insure for only a part year in BC? Not an option here - 12 months it is even though the riding season is only about 6 months long.

  3. So, here I stand naked and exposed as one who has an incomplete motorcycle and and an incomplete life. Not a pretty picture I agree, but there's nothing quite so satisfying as whopping a man who's recovering from intestinal explorations.I've never owned a condo or even just a gazebo in an expensive ski resort, I've never sat patiently in a polite Canadian car queue, and a photograph of public transit under construction is a vision we can't even think about affording in the US where all our money goes to bail out banksters and make sure they have proper bonuses for their unregulated employees. I would like to point out,if I may be so bold, that I don't actually prefer my trees looking dead, and a healthy flourish of green leaves in warm sunlight makes an impoverished soul like me feel better on the gloomiest of days here in the land of swollen unemployment lines. Could we at least get to see the occasional Canadian bench dweller or family sleeping in a car? Perhaps someone dragging themselves to the emergency room who can't afford an ambulance ride? Canada looks so boring and neat. Sigh.

  4. Bob,
    A delightful post as my intellectual friend Jack puts it...I'd just say an excellent post..forget about the delight...I only get that from a good cup of coffee... Words are words and if someone is got the gift of gab it makes it delightful...and you certainly do so I must revert and agree with my good friend Jack It was delightful.
    The pics are great man, the story is good... Yesterday Saturday the fourth, we had our first, no nonsense hard core all day ride to Hillsboro/Beaverton OR and back a total of 610 + miles in one day...Hard core was our first and we needed some hard core riding..just like sailors home after an 18 months tour mission at sea ...and boy did we ride...I'm still vibarting to the and picture will be posted next week once my fingers have thawed.
    Cheers mate

  5. Nice post Bob - I agree, it does feel good. The weather in your and my towns has been so poor, I was beginning to think we would just skip spring. It's nice to feel some warmth, and to be able to ride. Great pictures, and it was nice to read your chronicles of the day.

  6. Jack:
    And you didn't even notice the most obvious . . . the fact that I reversed the famous BWM moniker numerous times (on purpose)

    As for riding during the winter it is most usual, on this side of the Rockies, to ride nearly all the time except for a couple of weeks where it dips below/near freezing, and a few days of fog. Somehow this year we got all the COLD that was supposed to be divered to the EAST.
    We have ICBC government insurance here in BC. You can insure either: yearly, or a portion of a year, as many months as you wish, subject to a 3 month minimum. The scoot is insured for the complete year, the M/C is usually 6 or 7 months dependant upon when Spring starts. Any policy of < 12 months are subject to a 10% surcharge

    All of this infrastructure spending is being done in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic committee has deemed it necessary to build a new rapid transit system (Skytrain), new bridges, new Olympic ice skating oval, new Sea-to-Sky highway (Hwy 99), new Olympic Athletes Village, new this, new that. We are in the hole so deep that no one wants to let us know how much. We are $100M in the hole for the Athletes' village alone. The new convention centre on the Waterfront was just opened and it is double the original cost projections. While I haven't seen too many people sleeping on benches (it's too cold up here), but the warmer weather is coming so it is a definite possibility.

    I saw lots of bikes out this weekend too. Many on the Sea-to-Sky highway in full tuck on the corners. I'm not so much into riding marathons preferring to stop and smell the roses and take a few pictures along the way. I would do your Oregon ride split up into 3 days, but it would be nice to see a few pictures. I used to refer to slow riding as "scooter Speed" but I am rethinking that a new phrase be invented, such as: "Jack Riepe Speed", as he likes to ride a mere, 250-300 miles max per day, on his new plush seat, with the heated seat switch.

    We had a beautiful Sunday. Very warm approx 19C (66F). We headed up to Blackcomb-Whistler again, up to the top of the mountain to experience the Peak2Peak which just opened in December. It is the longest span gondola in the world which spans 2 mountains. Pictures soon