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