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.

Autumn in the Air

Vespa scooter and autumn leavesEverything is moving quickly now — the days, the color change in the leaves, my perception of the passing of time.  I feel autumn in the air but it’s passing fast like clouds in a storm. This morning on the way to work I could not account for the time.  Seems like just yesterday I was sweltering in summer heat and today the leaves are jumping off the trees.  I swear time would slow down if I just rode more often.

Vespa scooter at the Pennsylvania Military MuseumMornings of late have had a strange yellow-orange glow which gives the world a pumpkin colored feeling.  The fragrance of crisp, dead leaves fills the air and stirs memories of family outings and picnics with my parents. Autumn triggers heavy melancholy feelings as my body must know that things are dying, that the process with the leaves is the same for every living thing.

Must be careful not to dwell long in that place.

Vespa scooter and Mt. Nittany

I love the mornings when I get out of bed early enough to ride a lazy course to work, one that allows many stops for thought and pictures.  Mount Nittany hasn’t changed but I have.  Change isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Ag Administration Building at Penn State

The trees outside my office windows (the two on the ground floor-left) are almost finished.  The leaves have moved from verdant green to yellow, orange and red and soon they’ll all succumb to gravity and leaf blowers. The crane lifting new heating and ventilation units onto the roof will be gone soon as well allowing all the scooter and motorcycle riders back to the now cordoned off parking spaces.

Man, I hope this dismal feeling goes away soon.  If I weren’t so tired right now I’d get on the Vespa and try to sweat it out.



Sunlight and Shadows

Vespa scooter in early morning sun

On the road at the right time of say and the sun has a powerful influence on visibility.  I hate it when I’m blinded by a direct beam from the sun or when it’s suddenly reflected from shiny bumpers, windshields or mirrors, and love it when it sweeps low across the world with a hot power that makes me feel everything is as it should be.  Sunlight and shadows provide details and clues about the world.

The sun also helps mitigate the feeling of cold at this time of year.  Fifty degrees in the sun feels balmy compared to how it works on you under a heavy sky.  And as much as I love the look of the light brought on by harsher weather a bit of sunlight is always welcome.

Vespa scooter at a limestone quarry

Autumn is rushing past and I’ve not attended to any winter riding preparations either for the machine or myself.  A good cleaning and waxing is in order for the Vespa and I need to replace the zipper on my riding jacket if I hope to keep Jack Frost at bay.  Shadows have life in the fall; in the summer there’s just shade but now as the leaves drop the form and structure appear.  Visual cues that the days are growing shorter and winter is approaching.

Vespa scooter and fall leaves

This morning I had decided to make a stop at the local coffee house and get home to take care of a growing list of chores but not before I made a little meandering ride through the valley to watch the greenery give way to the falling of leaves.

Vespa scooter in rural landscape

Standing in this field I found myself wishing I had the view camera with me.  I’ve been feeling the tug to expose sheets of film again, perhaps because I was going through boxes of gelatin silver prints.  I wonder if I always get confused in the fall?

Early morning view of Saint's Cafe in State College, PAEventually I get to Saint’s Cafe in State College, Pennsylvania where a cup of tea will take the chill from by fingers. The same long, articulated shadows are everywhere in the morning, whispering of the decline in sunlight and cold days ahead.  Right now I don’t care at all but the older I get the rougher the winter is to take.  I wonder how long it will be before I don’t want to venture out on two wheels to experience the world first hand…

Into the Night

Getting fuel for the Vespa at Sheetz

Saturday night and at home cooking dinner utilizing my limited culinary skills when I realize I need a can of mushroom soup.  For non-riders I imagine a nighttime trip to the grocery store a nuisance at best and more likely a major frustration.  For a rider like me a trip into the night is a welcome chance to ride.

I feel comfortable riding the Vespa for 125 miles before worrying about fuel.  At each fill-up I reset the trip odometer and refuel when the counter shows 70 miles.  The added trip to the gas station provided a little more riding.

Vespa scooter at Weis Market grocery store at night

Riding to pick up mushroom soup is about as mundane a ride as you can get in the United States.  I’ve spoken to three riders in the past week — one rode across country again, another had just returned from a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the third from Colorado.  I rode to the grocery store for a can of mushroom soup.  But it was at night…

Vespa scooter and Mt. Nittany at night

On the way home I stopped for a picture of Mt. Nittany.  It was black and I could barely see so I decided to try a high ISO setting on my little Canon G15 — ISO 12800.  I was able to make a hand held exposure at 1/4 sec. at F2.8 of the Vespa idling in a field with the mountain in the distance. Definitely a lot of luminance noise in the picture but it does a decent job of depicting the night time world of a Vespa ride.

Home now, dinner finished, dishes done and ready to move on towards dreamland.  Glad I had an opportunity for a little ride, if only to fetch a can of soup.

Insane Motorcycle Ride

I watched this video again and just shake my head as what people do on the road.  Guts, skill or insanity?

What do you think of a superbike riding through and against traffic like Trinity did in the second Matrix movie?  Whatever it is it’s one insane motorcycle ride.

Life on the Vespa just seems pretty boring in comparison…