Thursday, December 14, 2006

Midwest Scooter Enthusiast

In the Mirrors

When we ride we check our rearview mirrors to be sure a car isn't tailgating or trying to pass. We may be going the speed limit but there always seems to be a driver who has to move faster than the scooter ahead.

Other times we catch a glimpse of the sun on its decent in the western sky, or the rain clouds we're trying to beat to the safety of the garage.

Checking those mirrors protects us. Its a defensive maneuver that's especially critical to scooterists. We're riding the smallest vehicles on the road.

I've taken the pleasure of glancing in the rearviews just to see where I've been. A stretch of long straight country road will seem like it goes on forever when you're viewing it through a little circle of glass which tells you the "objects in mirror may be closer than they appear". Moments before all I thought about was the next turn which would bring me to the beloved knotted stretch of tarmac that I crave to lean through.

No matter what you do, there seems to be a cost, a toll, before you get to the fun stuff, the thing you're moving toward for the simple sake of selfish pleasure. We pay our dues one way or another.

Sometimes I look back in those mirrors and wonder why I'm willing to ride this far out for the really good roads. The ones which never seem to have any traffic. But up ahead is the clearest reason. Up ahead there are twisted blacktop ribbons that follow the hills instead of cutting flat through them. There are streams passing under ancient bridges, rickety by today's standards. There is the the cleanest air, scented by spring's bloom and the occasional farmstead. In the summer and fall, cut hay and burning leaf piles.

If one were to examine the effort it takes to get on that Vespa and ride to these places, the time getting there compared to the time spent being in those moments, it might appear an imbalanced wager. Not worth the effort.

Once I'm riding through those country hills, up and down the abrupt slopes, leaning hard through those wonderfully sharp corners, it all becomes clear. The deep breaths, the tingling not just on my skin, but rippling through me from my head to my toes is a period of time when I feel most alive. Totally alert and vibrant.

When the rpm's begin to sing out that little exhaust and the bike is being hammered into deep lean angles and I squirt out the exit of the apex, its then that I'm wider awake than I was all week.

After the last set of crown jewel roads unravel into the first long straight I look into those rearview mirrors and just grin. I've been waiting all week for this ride and its been worth every moment spent getting here.

Its winter now and the chances to get back on the Vespa this season are slim to none. And so the scooter sits in the garage, patiently still. I stand beside it and look the bike over. Waiting. The mirrors reflect a memory of last summer's ride. All I can do is look inside those rearviews and remember why I came all that way to begin with.


the Roadbum


Combatscoot said...

I envy you, having twisty blacktop to ride on. I have to ride a ways just to get to some decent country roads, and they are not very twisty. After all, this is Florida. But, I do get to ride them year-round, so I guess there's a tradeoff.

Stacy said...

Hello, I just found your blog and I'm going through the archives. I love this post, it perfectly describes the feeling I've gotten on rides. I live in a St Paul suburb and I bought my first scooter (yamaha vino 125) last summer. My favorite ride so far is the St Croix Trail that goes through Afton, then across the river to Prescott, Wi and down Hwy 35. I wrote about Midwest Scooter Enthusiast in my blog today. Well, I'm off to do some more reading...