Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who Knew?

Who knew we had such law abiding geese here in the State of Missouri?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

He Said His Name Was Joe

Since I've been riding rather than driving to work, I've seen him most mornings. He rides a bicycle. And, it was almost a year from seeing him for the first time that we found ourselves waiting for the traffic light to change. I suspect this would have happened sooner if not for his flexible observance of traffic laws. For example, it appears that in his world red lights are roughly equivalent to yield signs. This day the stars aligned. Not only was he stopped at a red light that apparently he couldn't run, but I was stopped in the lane right next to him.
I lifted my visor, looked at him and said, "I sort of feel like I should know you already." 

He nodded and responded, "Yeah, I know what you mean. My name is Joe." As I told him my name the light changed and off we went. I suspect it will be another year before our conversation can continue.

Actually, it was folks like Joe who spawned the idea of me buying a scooter. I'd seen cyclists commuting in all sorts of weather and admired them for not only their dedication but also for doing their small part to decrease our dependency on oil. My knees and bicycles don't mix. But on my way to and from Grant's Trail I pass a lawn and outdoor equipment store that also sells go-carts and  occasionally scooters. For the longest while, they had this beautiful little blue scooter setting right out in front. It occurred to me that I could ride that scooter to and from work like the cyclists rode their bikes to and from theirs.

Lil' Blue, my first scooter.    

 I suspect I never would have taken action on this idea if my very mature and increasingly tired Ford Windstar van hadn't started showing signs of impending major and very costly repairs. Since I didn't want to buy a car before Spring, why not buy that little blue scooter and divert miles away from the van while saving money on gasoline.
Home after playing in the snow

When I bought the scooter I'd expected to endure the commute. At the very best, I'd hoped to find satisfaction in doing my part to decrease our dependency on oil while saving a buck or two. In no way, shape, or manner did I imagine I might actually enjoy the ride. But,, oh me, oh my, I most certainly have.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Wonder After Him

Nearly every morning I ride past him. He sits on his front steps. I've never noticed a coffee mug or a smoke. He appears to just be watching the neighborhood wake up. He is not an old man, but could be retired. And, he has that look about him, the look of someone not to be messed with.

I've thought about acknowledging that I've noticed him noticing me, but I haven't. Just a slight nod of the head would be all it would take.

He hasn't been out the last couple of mornings. I wonder after him.

The mornings have been cooler. Perhaps he is snoozing next to an open window enjoying the marvelous sleeping-in weather while trusting the early morning will carry on without him. Or, perhaps his perch is not so inviting with the chill in the air. I suspect I will never know.

I do know that unless Life laughs out loud at my plans I will be watching for him tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

At Least.....

"The weather is going to be absolutely gorgeous today," I said to Heather as we were eating breakfast together.

"Yeah, I know," she said. "At least you get to scoot to work. I'm stuck inside all day. No fun for me."

That said, the ride into work this morning was way, way, way too short.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cliff Cave Park on eight wheels

Heather and I decided to go for a He Skates/She Bikes date at Cliff Cave Park just south of St. Louis. She was going to do the mountain bike trail and I was going to do the paved trail down in the park. She's been to the mountain bike trail before, I'd never even walked the paved trail, but had been told it was flat.

I dropped her off near where her trail began and then drove down to the other parking area. She was going to join me later after playing in the dirt.
I really wasn't sure what I was getting myself into here. I was relieved to see these skater just coming in from their skate as I pulled into the parking area.

As I was putting on my skates and gear I was surprised to look up and see Heather. Last night's rains had left the trail she was planning on riding too wet. So she was going to ride the paved trail too. Off she went and I didn't see her again until after we had both finished. The paved trail began behind this shelter.

The trail goes through wetlands. I got a picture of these herons.....

And of these two deer.

Apparently they didn't like me looking at them and took off for the woods.

Whenever the trail went into the woods it was wet, and not only wet but there was a thin layer of  wet clay over the trail. This made for some interesting skating to say the least.

Here you can see the bike tracks in the wet clay.

  This isn't a very good picture. It is of the wet clay that has been scraped off the trail. The trail floods and the clay needs to be cleared off the trail so folks like me can use it. If not for them doing this only hikers and cyclists could use this trail. I'm glad they clear it off.
The trail is in two loops. Total distance is five miles. I skated the lower loop three times. I think it is about four miles.  On my last lap I saw this herd of deer. This is the first this year I've seen any bucks. I was excited.

We will do it again...soon. And hopefully this time it will be dry enough for Heather to ride in the dirt!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"But hey man, the question is....."

I took Billie to Spencer's new shop so he could have a look see. We knew were going to adjust the chain, but more importantly hoped to figure out why the chain was loosening so quickly and so much.
We think we found the problem. Of course, it was something very simple and yet unexpected. But, this post isn't about Billie's mechanical issues.
The plan had been for me to bring Billie in after work and hang around to help Spencer as he worked. When things were finished I was going to ride her home. That's not how things worked out. I had to leave her there for the night. We arranged a ride home for me. It was only then I found out Spencer had a migraine. He hadn't let on as we'd worked on my bike.
There was a time in my life when migraines were all too common of an occurrence and even though those times seem to be past, I still remember them vividly. I wouldn't wish a migraine on my worse enemy. Well, maybe I would on my very worse enemy, but I would at least hesitate a moment before I did it.
Spencer assured me he'd have my bike back on the road the next day and so home I went.
We left it that I'd call Spencer around noon the next day and check on his progress. Of course when I called him my first question was, "How's your head doing?" He said it was much better and that the headache had broken. He immediately said, "But hey man! the question is: How's your bike?" He seemed genuinely surprised I asked how he was feeling.
Later, I mentioned the conversation to my sweetie. She said she wasn't surprised at Spencer's reaction. She told me she thought most people wouldn't have asked at all about how he was feeling. And, if they did ask, it would have been after finding out the status of their bike. She figured they would begin the question with this phrase: "Oh, by the way..." She added that she wasn't surprised I asked. She said I was special like that.
Being special is most often a good thing, but in this case I'm not pleased. Actually, I am sad. I didn't like finding out what I thought was common courtesy is uncommon.
I did pick Billie up after work. Here is some pictures:
Here's Spencer and Billie. Spencer has just moved into this new location. It is on the grounds of the old Lemp Brewery  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemp_Brewery

Here's the entrance to his new shop. The ramp is hidden by the car. This is one of the oldest buildings in the complex and dates to before the Civil War.

It is a marvelous old place. It had a nice feel. I hope he's happy and successful there.

After I left Spencer I still had time to head over to the St. Louis Scooter Club Wednesday Night Meet Up at the Bottleworks. The plan for the evening had been to go for a ride down and around Jefferson Barracks and then to Benton Park Cafe. I thought this would give me a nice opportunity to check out how Billie was doing. When I got there I found out there had been a change in plans. Apparently people were hungry and wanted to go straight to the restaurant. Oh well, I decided to go my own way. It was a nice night and it was wonderful to have my Billie back.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of school. It was a coincidence and not by plan that I found myself in my car rather than on Billie. That said, I'm grateful for the heads up it gave me.

My usual commute takes me past a high school. In the past during the school year it has been the scene of some interesting incidents, but it has never been quite the mess I found yesterday.There was a line of buses dropping off students. The line seemed to go on forever. There were teenagers seemingly more intent on getting to the other side of the road than paying any attention to traffic. Cars in my lane were cheating into the oncoming traffic lane, and all traffic slowed to a crawl.

Today I was back on Billie. I wasn't looking forward to riding past the high school, but being forewarned I decided to go my normal way. As I crested the small rise before the school I covered my brakes and readied myself. What I found was a bigger surprise than what I found yesterday. Nothing. Well, not nothing, but in comparison to yesterday it sure seemed like it. There was one bus letting off students. There was some activity in front of the school and some parents were dropping cautious kids off on the other side of the street.

Now I find myself wondering. Did I leave a little later today than yesterday? Or, perhaps a tad earlier? Or, was what I experienced yesterday just first day of school chaos? Only the future knows.

No matter what tomorrow may reveal I'm making a note to self: Next year when the first day of school comes stay away from the high school.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Edge

This morning I was driving not riding. I had the tanpoura with me, so Billie wouldn't have been an option even if she were sound. And since I wasn't riding Billie, the interstate became an option.

As I got on the the interstate I was relieved to see there were no new paving operations going on. It looked like it did the last time I was on it. MODOT is in the process of returning I-44 to four lanes. During the I-64 construction the lanes had been narrowed and the shoulders made nearly non-existant in order to create a fifth lane.

Now they are repaving and re-stripping I-44. As I exited I felt the car go up and over the lip created by fresh asphalt. Apparently they had paved this exit first. I hadn't expected it and in the car it was no big deal, but if I'd been on a bike....it could have been a very big deal--my front tire captured by the edge and control of the bike kidnapped and compromised.

I wondered if the different alertness, the different kind of seeing that riding triggers in me would have let me see the trap? Or, would I have been lulled by my perceptions that there was nothing new here, nothing to worry about? I can never know. This moment is gone and I'm left to wonder.....and to hopefully learn.

Later today I went back and took a few of pictures:

This is what I saw as I drove. It looks just as it did last week when I was on this stretch of road.

I took this picture from a nearby overpass. This is my exit. 

And this is where the edge begins. The darker paved area with the pink writing has been there for a couple of weeks and is flush with the older pavement. But the newer pavement making up the exit is raised and begins just beyond the area with the pink writing.  A gotcha' waiting to happen.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Beginning

And, so it begins. I know I will write about my adventures on my SYM Symba named Billie. I suspect my adventures with skateboard and Big Stick will also find a place here.

It has been just over a year since I purchased a 49cc scooter. I had no idea the impact this would have on my life. I now have a slightly bigger bike, a 101cc SYM Symba. I call her Billie.When I ride I seem to access a part of my brain that is unavailable to me at other times. It is more like the brain that was available to me at all times before my head injury. I'm not complaining about my "new normal", but it is a delight to visit something akin to my "old normal." This weekend Billie is parked. She has some small mechanical issues that can't be addressed until the beginning of the week. I'm antsy. I don't like being without a bike. Ironically, I often don't ride much on the weekends anyway. I ride more during the week. My weekends bring time to land paddle, inline skate, and be with my sweetie. But there is something about not having the option that makes me want to scoot, scoot.

Oh well, it gave me time to make a humble beginning on creating a blog. I have little idea where this is going to lead but the first step has been made.