Frosty Dog, Cold Weather State of Mind
The dogs seem invigorated by the cold; running, prancing, tearing through the garden more excitedly than they do in warmer weather. Lily plays so hard that her breath freezes on her thick coat. Maybe they’re just trying to stay warm. But I see the phenomenon in myself.
Acclimating to the cold always took time. As a youth, just the time it took to pull on hat, boots and gloves. Now it takes months of slow mental bargaining and physical adaptation. But it does happen.
This morning it was -1F as I briskly moved through the garden with the dogs. A good thing. Especially for someone suffering from anklyosing spondylitis — psoriatic arthritis in my case — where movement helps. Unlike those with rheumatoid arthritis who generally wake feeling better after a good night’s sleep, spondylitis gets worse.
Morning is a chorus of screaming joints and muscle aches. Choosing to get up and move, exercise, is a tough conversation. When it’s cold — even worse.
But, it does happen. And this morning I felt I’ve fully acclimated to the cold. I was like the dogs. Walking, running in places, unfazed by the cold, excited to be outside.
It’s in this frame of mind that taking the Vespa out for a ride in cold weather is a joy.
Yesterday morning I had some errands to run and decided to take the Vespa for another check of my current cold weather limits. Stopping in town I could see the temperature display matched the 1F reading at home. Didn’t see any other riders. So few invigorated by cold weather.
Some quick mental calculations put the total miles I would be traveling at around 15. And the time on the road, give or take, would be just shy of an hour accounting for stops, traffic, and general picture taking.
The Termoscud apron has changed my choices of gear. Especially in terms of the insulated overpants I normally wear in winter. They weren’t necessary at 20F. So I figured I would test the need at 1F.
I also decided to wear my Gerbing Electric gloves. Far too cold for just the heated grips.
Pennsylvania in winter is a paved landscape of salt, grit, grime and dirt. It’s on the road and it gets all over the scooter, the apron, riding jacket and helmet visor. As I tell anyone who asks about winter riding — the salt will age machine and gear rapidly. For those riders proudly maintaining their motorcycle or scooter in pristine condition — winter is not for you.
The Vespa has done surprisingly well in the face of the corrosive onslaught considering the cosmetic neglect on my part. After ten winters I had to have the underside of the scooter repainted. Otherwise it’s held up physically well.
Just don’t look too close at the details.
The choice of gear was perfect. Always warm and suspect I could ride for hours without a stop. The only concerns were the fogging that happens with the visor when it’s fully closed. I find myself mitigating that situation by careful breathing. Seems almost like breath meditation. The other issue is when I stop to make pictures. In the past I would pull off the gloves and expose my hands to the elements. When it’s really cold the electric gloves can’t rewarm the hands. On this ride I was determined to use the camera with the heavy gloves. Took some practice but possible. If astronauts can do things with giant gloves in space I should be able to handle a camera.
The ride was bracing. I was as excited as the dogs in the garden to be on the road. I can tell when I find myself stretching upwards in the seat and tilting my head to the sky to acknowledge once again that I’m flying.
Flying. That’s the height of riding.