Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Sides of the Same Coin, Vespa's the Edge

Tails (part one)

Like the distance the east is from the west, the only separation lies in the perspective of the individual staring at the sky. Its only the human element, standing on terra firma, who can look to the horizons and say one direction is east and one direction is west. Then it can only be what we ourselves call something which determines its value.

Plans that had gone awry as they sometimes do, gave me a reason to become creative with the use of my time. The LX has a small issue which could potentially become a large one. I've been thinking about when I would be able to get the bike down to Motoprimo to have it looked at and evaluated. I thought about riding to the twin cities from the sleepy little town I live in.

The direct route is I94. An hour and a half by car. I wasn't going by car, I was taking the bike. Mapquest for a start, then on to the good old fashioned Atlas of Enormous Size. This thing equates in size to an adult the way laying the family Bible on the lap of a two year old for that oh so cute photo to go in the family album. Huge.

I found a circuitous route and told my wife my plans. I hugged and kissed the family and headed out. A chilly morning but bright and inviting. It felt good to know I'd be riding some distance for a change.

I crossed a few small towns along the way. The freeway always beside me, never straying from view for very long. Finally the path bent south. Highway 101 at last. A long stretch but from what I'd remembered, a higher speed loping along kind of road.

Not so this time. 101 was under construction. Miles and miles of switchback arrow signs. More traffic than I ever remembered. To top it off, twenty to thirty mph winds were from the east and they were raising this country main thoroughfare higher than the rest of the landscape. The speed limit signs said 50 mph and were summarily disregarded by everyone. Mack trucks hauled stuff and the wind whipped some of it over everyone behind them. This leg of the trip couldn't be over soon enough.

A left on highway 81 made things much better. About a fifth of the mount of road construction here and very little traffic. Here again they seemed to be raising the roadway on places for some reason.

In Robbinsdale I found a little solace. I lived in north Minneapolis not that long ago. The Vespa followed the parkway to the little home I had on 44Th and Morgan. The area looks the same. Quieter than the reputation this side of town carries. Briefly onto Lyndale, a swoop over the River and the freeway, through the industrial area and into the city proper. I caught another parkway to the heart of Minneapolis and dodged my way south and east until I hit my destination.

I love the folks at Motoprimo. They'll remember you even if you've only been there once. And they'll do what they can to take care of you. The guys took pics of the transmission (CVT belt) cover and told me they'd do their best. I know they will.

I made one more stop at an old friend's store. He just laughed when he saw how I'd come down from St. Cloud. I turned Kythera toward home.

I've lived in or on the edge of metropolitan areas all my life but the street pattern of the twin cities befuddles me. I grew up riding Milwaukee and a bit of south Chicago (Calumet Park area). These are no small towns but I could navigate them even with a few wrong turns and still get back with a smile on my face. I have never been able to relax on Minneapolis streets.

The way out of town was nothing but stop and go traffic. I caught rush hour. More traffic, more people jockeying for lane position and more of everything that gets on the nerves of every commuter. By the time I made it out to 101, the five o'clock surge was pressing everyone even tighter together. Two lanes in both directions stuffed to the gills with people racing to get anywhere but here.

I was tense. Not that the actual riding conditions presented any issues, but I'm not fond of riding in so much blessed traffic.

I hit 39 and things eased a little. Once I was back on 75, things were almost quiet again. The tension released a little but not enough. I had to finish this ride in order to refresh my senses. A cooling down period.

When you don't do it often, riding through a city the size of Minneapolis and its western suburbs during rush hour can feel like some demented autobahn wannabe blitzkrieg. You would think by watching the cars that everyone hits the gas and brakes with the same voracity.

I would have been a wreck had I been in a car for that trip. For as much of a nerve wracking ride the return became, I was glad to be riding that Vespa. The coin may flip tails, but you still have to play the game to win.



Steve Williams said...

Whenever I read of challenging circumstances whether in riding, sailing, backpacking, whatever, I think of Friedrich Nietzsche saying "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

It sounds trite these days but rding under adversity is one of a decreasing number of opportunities to stretch physically and mentally.

My own riding challenges makes me a better man.

Hope the Vespa is running fine now.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

American Scooterist Blog said...

You're right Steve, as you always are. My ability to ride in city traffic conditions is pretty good. Its the Minneapolis/St Paul road system which I don't like. Put me on the home roads of Milwaukee and Chicago and I'll still be grinning during and after the ride. And maybe that's it right there; that the twin cities never really felt like a home riding area to me. Even though I lived there for four years and still regularly travel through there. Compared to other cities I've ridden in the midwest, from Little Rock to here, the twin cities' roadway system makes the least sense. They've just now started addressing travel patterns which were obsolete forty to fifty years ago.


American Scooterist Blog said...

I have to edit something a little clearer. I've ridden as far south east St. Louis. I've driven cars further south so what I'm getting at is that I think the roads in other cities are better layed out than the twin cities. Sure not all, but my own experience is all I can go by.


Bryce said...

My least pleasant scooter ride is usually more exciting than my most pleasant drive in a car.

Combatscoot said...

Good to see you taking the scoot a distance most folks would take a car for.

irondad said...

The first paragraph of your post is pretty profound. Would you be offended if I offer a post on my site that expands on that and a couple of the other things you said?


American Scooterist Blog said...

Bryce, I agree haha ;)

Thanks John, I try to whenever possible. Most often though, my four year olds have to go wherever I do.

Irondad, absolutely you can. I can always learn from what people take from my writing. Although I often seem to come across in a slightly different way than I intended to... I'm working on that.