Monday, October 06, 2008

Getting There Versus Getting There

The ride was scheduled to take us to a place called Little Falls. Birthplace of Charles Lindbergh. Its a little distance from St Cloud. North up highway 15 which becomes highway 10. The speed limit on this state highway is 65 mph. I've done this ride a few times on the LX150.

The funny thing is, you'll come upon cars just toodling along while others are in the fast lane making incredible time. Seems that passing one of the more laid back vehicles driving in the right lane on a scooter incites some sort of indignity. No sooner will I have passed and moved over than I can expect the person I just passed to floor it and "pass me back". Sometimes I can smile at it, knowing these people need to prove something to themselves and other times its annoying. As a general rule I don't have much interest in what others do and I sometimes wonder why it matters to them what I might be doing.

But this ride was going to be different. Better. This ride was planned by a fellow scooterist of the group whose familiar with the area and the better roads for scooterists. We wouldn't be taking the quick way up, designed with only getting there in mind. We would be taking a route where the getting there was as good as arriving. More on that later.

We were to meet at the A&W. Remember those? Root beer floats and bacon double cheeseburgers. You'd drive up under a long metal awning and a waitress on roller skates would coast up to your car to take your order. This is not that type of A&W. The food is the same, but the building our A&W is not what you'd remember. Here in Sartell, the A&W is part of the BP gas station. Not as quaint as it used to be.

As I was getting the last gear [on] Tom called.

"Where you at?"
"Just out the door. Anyone else there yet?"
"Be there in five minutes."
"Sounds good."

I arrived and the others started appearing. Tom on his black Genuine Buddy, Keith riding his red Buddy. Sam came on his black and wild Aprilia two stroke 50cc that does an honest 50mph cruising speed. And a new arrival whose name I can't remember but on the website she goes by PrisonPrincess. (She works at a prison. Getchermindsouttathegutter) She's got a bright red Honda 250 of late vintage. All swoopy and looking ready for crossing the country.

But someone was missing. Lucky, the guy who started the St Cloud Scoots website was nowhere to be seen. We scanned the road in the direction he would be coming, but no sign of his Vespa. Tom grabbed his cell and the next thing I knew I was told to get on my bike.

Tom and I rolled up to the house. The garage door was up and the plumb LX150 was hooked to a battery trickle charger. If I remember right, he got it to spin over initially and then nothing. Not even clicking. I tried the kick start. Nothing there. The lever's return spring had its own problems. You had to lift it back into position with your toe.

Now what?

We searched for jumper cables and I mentioned that there would be enough juice running to the little twelve volt from Lucky's car that starting it wouldn't be necessary. Apparently there are a few bad things which can happen should one try to jump start a scooter battery off a car battery while the car is running. We opted for caution. The bike started and ran. I rode back to the group who followed me back to lucky's.

With Lucky's scooter running we could begin the ride in earnest. Taking the east river road north out of Sartell, we would be tracing the Mississippi's wending through the hinterlands of central Minnesota.

The six of us jogged up and down slopes. Around sweeping bends. Relaxed and enjoying the beautiful views. The grand river was always near, even if it wasn't there every time you looked to your right. A slightly brisk autumn afternoon. Leaves just turning their fall colors. A band of six scooterists passing through, taking it all in.

Suddenly things started looking oddly familiar to me. The Charles Lindebergh museum? I'd only seen the place on other scooter rides and only at night. And coming from the other direction. I'm finding daytime riding more refreshing all the time.

We ate at a recommended place known as The Black and White. A very old restaurant serving up some excellent food. But then when doesn't a meal during a long ride not taste better than any other time?

Keith guided us back via different roads than the way we came. He knows some great riding in this area. We were clear of almost all traffic. For a Saturday afternoon I was surprised how quiet the entire ride actually was.

In the past I'd ridden to Little Falls with the intention of discovering some of the offshoots leading away from its street lamps. I'd had it in my mind that first I had to get there in order to get there. I was wrong.

Sometimes arrival happens before you get there.