After carefully checking the road in front of the house this morning I decided it was safe to ride — even without the snow tires on the Vespa scooter. That approach is a decidedly small sampling of the roads in central Pennsylvania so I have to engage a bit of imagination for evaluation of roads not seen along with a look at the weather forecast on my iPhone. It is, at best, a guess.
The temperature was hovering at 9F with a light wind. Sunshine has a way of making everything seem ok. Must be why the eye of a hurricane is so deceptively dangerous. With sun in my eyes and joy in my heart off I went for a Saturday morning Vespa ride.
My hands have always been the weak link in my winter riding dreams. They chill quickly despite neoprene guards on the heated grips. If I was just riding and not always stopping to make photographs the problem would be reduced significantly. But I’m driven by the camera, or my eyes, or both and hands be damned. It only takes a few minutes of handling a cold camera for my fingers to start to scream, “Hey Bozo, remember, we all had frostbite!”.
And my cardiologist warned I would not tolerate cold as well. He’s right. Seems my old limit somewhere below zero has moved up to around 20F. Just five miles from home I could sense the cold creeping through my body. More layers may have helped — I wasn’t at my full gear level — but I think the really cold riding might be in danger.
Even without the winter tires the scooter performed well on the constantly changing road surface from bare to snow covered to something in between. Speed is reduced to allow extra time and space to negotiate the unexpected but this morning the extreme cold provided more traction than there would have been twenty degrees warmer.
The engine has always purred like a kitten in the cold and despite my irrational fear that it won’t start when I’m miles from home it jumped to life each time I pressed the starter.
After less than an hour on the road I pushed the scooter back into the garage and moved on to plan B. The dogs were happy to see me home so soon. They’re far more cold tolerant than I am. You won’t find me lying on the deck licking my bare feet or rolling around in the snow just because it’s there.
I’m a reserved Vespa scooter rider.