Beware the snow the rider thinks, too fraught with danger and despair. Fresh snow falling, light and dry in the darkness, experience reflects this snow is now the one to fear, for in fact, in great need, this snow is navigable by Vespa, it’s soft depth yields both traction and stability allowing passage, albeit slow, to two-wheeled travel under duress. I’ve made small journeys in such a mess.
Gratefully, no need presents itself and the only journey is to the end of the driveway to make a photo. A few mornings earlier I had the opportunity to explore a far more challenging winter surface.
Sunday morning, the temperature just about freezing, frozen ice and snow beginning to mix with liquid water creating an wintry plasma that defies friction or traction. The driveway was untreated but the roadways were dry with wet patches but clear of ice. Roadway assessments and predictions fall to any rider venturing out with snow on the ground, even if only at the fringes of pavement.
I take opportunities to practice in snow from time to time, usually off the road, in parking lots or farm lanes. Having snow tires helps but only for specific types of snow and ice. If there is traction to be had, the Heidenau K66 LT Snow Tex tires will bite into snow or snow pack and provide stability for forward motion. Obviously leaning is out so turns must be negotiated at a snail’s pace, literally, and a rider must be aware of the changing character of the snow.
Snow pack that offers a chance of traction can instantly become a hardened mass of snow bordering on ice which offers almost no traction. It gets worse when the temperature rises about 32F and a thin film of liquid water enters the equation.
This snow is hard with little traction. The scooter isn’t heavy enough for the tires to chew threw the surface. Still, it’s navigable though I road with my feet down just in case a tire started to give way to gravity. I feel comfortable handling a scooter of this size. I would not want to try a larger one, or a motorcycle.
At the other end of the lot I encountered wet ice pushing through hard snow, frightening in it’s lack of traction giving the feeling that the wheels could break loose of the ground at any moment. My feet offered no help at all. Riding on ice. I has it’s own lessons.
I experiment only to expand the data in my head which helps manage riding on the road — especially when and if I should be out.
The ride into State College for breakfast was uneventful — the roads clear with some moisture and salt, but nothing exciting. Saw a Piaggio Fly 150, have seen it around for awhile, but haven’t seen its rider yet. Another year round rider in town.
The darkroom was pressed into service again and I finally arrived at our Sunday morning photo meeting at Saint’s Cafe with some new gelatin silver prints. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to work in the dark.
It started to snow again while at Saint’s but the temperature held about the freezing mark meaning the ride home might be wet but not dangerous. The biggest challenge faced was transporting my 11×14 prints — too big for the topcase, they had to hang from the purse hook in a plastic back.
Safely home, the scooter in the garage on the Battery Tender, a forecast for more snow, I was happy to be warm and safe. While URALs and other sidecar rigs can play in more serious white stuff, for those on two wheels, the watch words remain, “Beware the snow.”.