In 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.
The 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.
Last 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.
Are you needing to ride about now?