Sunday, September 18, 2011

And Heaven Knows

It rained today and I rode to Church anyway.

After Church a number of folk came up to me and said something akin to: At least it stop raining for you to ride home. Truth was because of the rain I'd stretched my usual forty minute ride to Church into an hour and a half.

Billie waiting patiently for my return.

Today was a perfect day to ride in the rain. There was no wind. There was no thunder or lightning. And, it was a warm steady and persistent rain.

After Church, I went for even a longer ride. I hadn't planned to, but you see it began to rain again. It had warmed up enough that I stopped and replaced my Aerostich lobster claws with a pair of old leather mesh gloves. I've found that this helps keep me from melting inside my rain gear. So, I rode for another two and a half  hours . . . in the rain.

Since Billie and I take the streets little traveled there aren't ever a lot of crazies out in the rain and even fewer on Sunday.

What is it I like so much about riding in the rain? I think for me it is the silence. There is a stillness that settles in around me on days like today. It has its own character. It isn't like the silence that seems to gobble and mute noise that comes with snow. No, the rain silence is more of an including silence, a symphonic silence. It is like a rest in the midst of a measure. There is an anticipation in the rain silence. It is a fragile and elusive silence.

I admit to having a little envy of those folks with sidecar rigs who can ride into the snow silence. I've ridden in the snow when conditions have been right, but those moments are very rare. I'd like to explore this silence of the snow more, but for now I will be happy mapping the silence resting in the midst of the rain.

There is a going with the flow when it rains. And, possibly because traction is a little compromised an increase in my sense of alertness.

Oh well, then again, perhaps my love of riding in the rain goes back to being raised on a farm. When it rained we didn't work. I liked rainy days then, and heaven knows I still do.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Wednesday after work Billie, my Symba, wouldn't start. It sounded like the battery was low, but this seemed unlikely since the battery was less than a year old and I use a battery tender. Be that as it may, It certainly sounded like the battery was weak. Fortunately kickstarting was an option and Billie started right up on the first pump and away we went.

When I got home I hooked it up to the tender. When I came out the next morning I had a nice green light indicating a nice fully charged and healthy battery. When I hit the starter she started right up. After my morning bagel, no such luck. Back to the telltale low battery sound and then nothing. Again the Symba started right up with one kick. After work? Another kickstart. When I got home I didn't even bother plugging Billie into the tender.

Awhile back I was having starting problems with Billie. I even had to kickstart it once, but when I took it into the shop the battery checked out fine. We checked all the connections, scratched our heads, and decided we'd just have to wait and see what happened. What happened was, Billie started up on the first try each and every time until last Wednesday.

Friday brought non-starts followed by kickstarts and a phone call to Mike my wonder working wizard at Maplewood Scooter Company. He told me to come in Saturday.

Saturday saw me kickstarting Billie and heading over to Maplewood. I know you know what happened when Mike tried to start the bike. Yep, he pushed the starter button and the engine purred to life. He shut it off and tried again. Again it started right up. He tried a third time and this time it made the noise that I had dreaded for the last three days, but now was music to my ears.

Out came the battery and it was deemed to be dead.

This was a high quality battery and it shouldn't have died such an early death. Definitely a warranty issue.
Mike didn't happen to have a battery in Billie's size in stock. If he had he would have changed it out under warranty. But, what he did have were these new batteries. He offered to sell me one at cost. This way I'd get a great battery and he'd have a great guinea pig. The battery comes with a three year warranty. I've never heard of suc a thing for a motorcycle battery. So, now I can add being a guinea pig for a new technology battery to my resume.

Because the battery was much smaller than the old battery some padding was needed. The Ballistic battery was not only smaller, but it was two pounds lighter. Mike figures with the weight reduction I should be able to hit seventy Symba miles per hour now. I think he was pulling my leg.

While I was there I took a Genuine Blur 220i for a test ride. It is a nice bike, but the seating position is wrong for me. Many folks have complained about the height of the bike. The height was fine for me. What wasn't fine for me was where my knees came in relation to the handlebars. There just was no room. When attempting slow speed maneuvers I kept bumping into my knees when turning. Not fun. The bike was very quick, felt quite stable on the road, and is reasonably priced. Overall I liked the bike, but not enough to go through the trouble of modifying the seat.

Also, I have an announcement of sorts. As an experiment I've started another blog. It is a diary of my daily commute. Ever since I've been commuting to work I've used my facebook status to give the weather conditions, whether I rode that morning or not, and often a comment or two about the ride. I've decided to expand this format a bit and start a blog around it. I'm doing this for two reasons: Some of my friends who aren't on facebook have mentioned a desire to keep up with my daily commute; and, I was increasingly finding the status line too confining. 

And to close . . .

This apparently is a rare short legged species of flamingo. The one in the background I think is stoned.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Over the River

It is divided highway and limited access with a speed limit of 60mph and a minimum speed of 40mph. It has at least four lanes each way. It is the Page Extension. It is the route I need ride my Symba to cross the Missouri River when traveling out to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter. It, also, has a really wide shoulder and is nearly deserted on the weekends. It was quite the adventure to ride this route before I got my chain replaced. Now it is not so bad. This time I touched 55smph (Symba miles per hour) a couple times over the bridge. Cars still whizzed by me, but they had lots of lanes to do it in.

The usual drill is I get there and we spend some time together and then go out for lunch. We are always going to go somewhere else, but always seem to end up at Chili's.

The kids.

Is that a black bean patty hiding in there? Maybe. Maybe not.
Next we head back to their place and I gear up and then head for home. Did I mention the temperature was 95F when I left for the kid's place? It was. And, it was 100F when I left their place. I had recharged my Glacier Tech Cool Vest while we were at lunch and put that on under my mesh Tourmaster jacket. The vest does keep my core cool and it holds its charge for over two hours in +100F heat. My only concern about it is how hard the "frozen" packets would be to fall on.

I was feeling so good about how well the bike was running and how well my hot weather gear was working that I decided not to go straight home. Creve Coeur Lake is one of my favorite destinations and it was on the way so I decided to stop by. Besides I was curious as to how many folks would be out in this kind of heat. Usually on a hot day you can't find a place to park, but that wasn't the case today.

The place was nearly abandoned.
And, there were only a couple sail boats on the water.
There appeared to be a couple of reunions going on and if not for them I'd have had the place to myself.

Some guys were playing with a four-wheeled people powered vehicle. These and kayaks are for rent to the public. 
An educational moment.
Dripping Springs.
I was going to take the long way home but it started to look like one of those late afternoon pop-up storms was brewing. Since the weather forecast hadn't mentioned rain I'd not brought my rain gear, but with it being over 100F I wasn't concerned about getting wet. So, I put my wallet and cellphone in the top case and away I went. But, the further I got the darker it got and then it began to thunder and lightning. I saw a McDonald's and decided that a lemonade would taste real good.

By the time I'd finished my lemonade the storm had passed and and blue skies had returned.

I'd left the house around 1030hr and returned at 1700hr. I put approximately 75mi on the bike.

It was a very good day.