Where Thought and Riding Meet

There's a weird, strange thrill riding in the sticks that's hard to describe. Part visual, part physical, part spiritual. The ride is important, an anthem to living, a meditation on feeling blood and breath course through the body. Problems, opportunities, secrets and answers unfold on the road. Those discoveries fuel my ride.

Video: A Cold Morning Vespa Ride


Damn Leica

Battery cover on Leica M6 cameraSpent the past couple hours fighting with my damn Leica.  The battery died this morning and when I got home the fight began to get the little round cover off.  It’s always been difficult but nothing like this — heat, attempts to turn it open wearing rubber gloves for extra traction, and eventually tapping a jeweler’s screwdriver with a hammer into the soft brass.  My thumb is so sore now from attempting to break the cover free that I can’t use it on the spacebar while typing.

It’s moments like this that I just hate machines.  I want them to work.  Period.  And I don’t want to tinker.  Pretty unrealistic expectations.

With the Leica out of service I’ll have to turn to the view camera or the Zero Image pinhole camera.  Haven’t decided what I’ll do.  In the meantime I’ll share the three prints I made last week as part of my ongoing 3 Prints Project.

My dog Junior at the doorOur Belgian Sheepdog Junior standing at the door waiting to be let inside.  Can’t remember why he’s outside in the driveway or even what he’s looking at.  I know there aren’t any dog biscuits or bacon in that direction.

View from the drivewayView from the driveway as I head into the garage.  When spring arrives and the leaves begin to grow that little shed disappears from view.

Snow on the Honda FitAn abstract look at our Honda Fit during a morning snow flurry.  Not sure what motivated me to make the exposure, just some instinctual reaction to form and texture.  Maybe.

Maybe I’ll give the Leica another go.  Can’t find the WD40.  Seems like a tool that’s inconsistent with a Leica…

Video Blogging Ideas

A recent post on Fuzzygalore.com about the voices of bloggers caught my attention, in part because I wonder who’s behind the blogs and what they sound like, but more importantly it reminded me of thoughts and ideas about video and how I might incorporate that media here.  When I was in graduate school I made a lot of video with little miniDV and point and shoot cameras.  I tried to upload one that gave a bit of insight into what makes me tick but YouTube had pulled it because I was bad and used some music by Brian Eno.

The scooter video above is old, poor quality, and was made not long after I got my Vespa LX 150 in 2006 when I had big ideas about video.  But that medium is a lot more work that shooting still pictures and I wasn’t sure I had anything to say.

I tried the GoPro camera and while the capability was astounding I didn’t see anyone having much interest in watching the road ahead, at least not if I wasn’t running into something or some similar misfortune.

Perhaps the winter doldrums are pushing my thoughts towards other things.  If I could draw I might be considering a comic strip.  Video seems to be on my mind now and maybe there’s a role for video and blogging on Scooter in the Sticks.

Maybe something different might surface.

Fighting Winter

Vespa scooter on snow-covered drivewayIn bed, dog still asleep, a glow of pre-dawn light illuminating the curtains, I sneak a look at the iPhone to look at the temperature — five degrees below zero.  Winter has relentlessly chewed on souls and psyches, turning even the most positive outlooks into jagged personas.  Fighting winter has become a full-time job to keep depression at bay and not feel like life has become a massive landscape of failure.

Call me gray cloud.

And like the Peter Finch’s character in the motion picture Network, I got out of bed saying to myself, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’

And the decision was made and a methodical undertaking of steps led me to be standing in the driveway with the Vespa scooter idling, ready to head to work in spite of the frigid temperature.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the roads were mostly clear.

I should add that winter riding is a game of relativity.  My cold weather concerns are nothing compared to the weather that Dom Chang and Richard Machida endure in Colorado and Alaska respectively.  My cold weather is their balmy weather.  Richard doesn’t seem to worry about the temperature until it nears -40F and then only because “things” don’t sound right on the machine.

So maybe call me wimpy as well.

Vespa parked next to a big snowpileThe ride to work was almost uneventful save for two unexpected stops.  The first was to put air in the tires.  In the cold I guess the pressure decreases, in this case by seven pounds per square inch.  Nothing like fiddling with tire valves with your bare hands in sub-zero weather.  On the heals of the tire maintenance was a need for fuel.  Best to keep the tank full in cold weather.

On the bright side, the heated grips are fantastic.  They get so hot that I can feel them almost burning my hands through heavy winter gloves.  The Tucano Urbano muffs keep the wind off my hands with only some minor impairment of access to the brakes.  Not so much impairment but a need to adjust how you manipulate your hands — you need to use exaggerated movements.

And another unexpected surprise was with the First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket.  I usually ride in cold weather with several layers underneath the jacket but was distracted this morning and left without them.  Didn’t want to turn back to make adjustments thinking I would be fine for the short trip and it turned out I didn’t need them at all.  I was toasty warm with just a sweater on.  First Gear considers the Kilimanjaro a three-season jacket but unless they are excluding summer I would think you could wear this year round.

Vespa scooter and Mount NittanyLast time I rode to work in sub-zero weather I had a fuel line freeze by the end of the day and I was fearing the same this time.  But the day warmed and there were no problems.  Since having the fuel pump replaced the scooter has run like a champ again and I’m thinking of bigger trips.  The ride home was pleasant and I was able to be on the road before sunset when it becomes harder to spot stray ice spots.  Generally the road is clear but you can never be sure which requires major adjustments in riding style.  After dark is an even bigger challenge.

Vespa GTS scooter with a winter sunsetI’m not mad as hell anymore.  Life is good.  A few miles on a scooter can serve multiple roles — an attitude adjustor, or an interventionist.

Are you needing to ride about now?