Monday, July 6, 2009

Outlaw Biker

Seven months is a long time. I was surprised that I hadn't posted since November of last year, but time flies. I guess I can reimmerse by telling you about being pulled over twice during the interim, once officially and once informally.

The first time, I turned left on a red light around 5:30 AM on the way into work. This was after sitting through three cycles without a left-turn arrow. The officer followed me down the block, but didn't light 'em up until I was inside the parking garage, behind a gate. I park on the third floor, and probably could have feigned ignorance, but I turned around and faced the music. He asked the usual questions, ran my papers, and told me I should be more careful. He acknowledged that I had 'gotten away' and didn't have to come back outside the garage to face him, so he let the incident drop without a citation. Since I can't afford to wait half an hour at an intersection for a queue of heavier vehicles to trip the left turn light, I just take another route into work now.

The other time was less formal, and I wasn't really pulled over, but given a stern 'talking to' by a motorcycle cop. As we waited for the red light to change at a busy intersection, he instructed me to flip up my visor. He then proceeded to tell me to keep one foot on the bike, and one on the pavement when coming to a stop. I understand the need for this on a motorcycle, but your left foot (or right for that matter) has no function on a scooter with an automatic transmission. Of course, I didn't point this out. Officer Friendly wasn't looking for a spirited discussion on the topic. He also pointed out that with two feet on the pavement, I was more likely to step in motor oil. Again, I found that argument to have little weight behind it but I wasn't about to get into a back and forth. He ended the discussion with a comment about "ride if you are going to ride," which I still don't fully understand - unless he meant I should enjoy my commute into work a hell of a lot less. If that's the case, then mission accomplished. At least for that day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

San Juan Capistrano

The City of the Swallows - San Juan Capistrano, California. Dubbed the 'Equestrian Capitol of the West Coast' and Orange County's Oldest City, San Juan Capistrano was incorporated in 1961 with just over 1,100 residents. The Mission bearing the city's namesake, however, was founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra
I didn't start the day thinking I would visit a Mission. I was just on a mission to ride, without an agenda. It's been a little chilly lately and the weather has finally started to break. In the upper sixties now, it should reach the 90s by the end of the week. Yeah, I know. I like living in Southern California. Trust me. 
I found a nice, little taco stand on Camino Capistrano, which seemed to be the main drag in SJC. For $1.89, I was treated to a nice bean and cheese burrito at Senor Pedro's. With all outdoor dining, it was a good place to take in the the city. From Mr. Pete's place, there was a nice view of the Mission to the North and the eclectic mix of local businesses to the south. Antique shops seem to be what SJC is known for. Always makes for interesting browsing, whether that is your thing or not. One thing I can say in favor of SJC, there was plenty of on-the-street free parking. For anyone that lives in California, especially within shouting distance of the Ocean, that isn't always easy to find. Seems to make sense to me. You want people to come to your town and spend their money at local businesses, right? One thing I noticed, however. I had a hard time finding a place on the street that I felt confident parking the scooter, as the streets are all convex. I had to experiment with several angles before I felt comfortable leaving it on the stand. Seemed like it would tip with a strong enough wind. 
I didn't spend all day there, but it was definitely an enjoyable hour or so of wandering. I will definitely return to explore a little deeper another day. Lots of culture, charm and interesting architectural elements make San Juan Capistrano a great place to scoot through.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dollars and Caffeine

You get the 'miles per gallon' question with a certain amount of regularity when people ask about the benefit of riding a scooter. I prefer the 'actual dollars spent' variable, for a few reasons. You can quote the 60-70 mpg number, and it earns a lot of thumbs up, but quote dollars spent and it drops jaws. Why? Well, we all have a decent idea what the mpg number for our car is, but we remember the $90 or $120 fill-up far better. Yeah, I know the cost of gasoline is volatile, but dollars spent is a more tangible reality. I drive far more on two wheels than I did on four. It costs less. I can tell you that my 600 mile/month commute to work was costing $200-$250/month. Since taking delivery of the scooter August 13, I've put over 1,400 miles on her for a grand total of $89.66. Well over double the miles for well under half the cost.

And that's not all...

Commuting with coffee is a pretty easy habit to fall into. Not that I still don't have a coffee habit, but I don't have the $3 or $4/day habit of a latte on the way to work any longer. Where would I put it? Cold ass air in the face seems to be my morning pick-me-up. Not overpaying for coffee on the way to work more than keeps my tank full.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dogs Love...Scooters?

Let me start by saying that I didn't take the photograph above. This was courtesy of I did see something similar today, however, and it cracked me up. A woman on a Vino had her chihuahua in a front-loading baby harness. The little fella had his own goggles, which seemed to fit his chi-chi head pretty well. One of those times I wish I had the camera bag on the seat hook! I guess I was on the fence about whether that was a good idea or not, carrying the dog while riding. Sorta like people that let their dogs run loose (or worse, chained at the neck) in the bed of their pickup trucks. On one hand, the dog loves it. On the other, I can't imagine it is very safe for the dog. Agree? Disagree? And what's the weirdest thing you've seen on two wheels?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Scooter News

Check out for continually updated Scooter News.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Imperfect Stranger

A sunset makes everything better, eh?

So what is the deal with people -perfect strangers- compelled to inform me of the dangers of riding? I am not completely without empathy when a person approaches me unbid, drawn by the site of a helmet or a riding jacket, to relate a story about a friend or loved one that died on a motorcycle. However, I get less than a warm fuzzy when thirty seconds into my first conversation with someone ever, someone I will likely never see again, is about so-and-so who was too young when he or she died. I can't imagine sparking up a conversation on line at the supermarket with a guy buying a case of beer. "Like that beer, eh? Yeah. My uncle Lefty liked the beer, too. Became an alcoholic. Heart disease. He's gone now. Hey, enjoy your weekend." I guess my point is, I know there are inherent risks with this mode of transportation. And those risks, for various reasons, are greater than those involved with others modes. I accept it. I do what I can to minimize it. I don't think that I am doomed to being scraped off the pavement one day. If I did, I wouldn't ride. Believe me. That would have factored into my cost/benefit decision. I hesitated to even post this semi-rant, but in just over a month of riding, I have encountered this situation on more than one occasion. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Monday, September 22, 2008

deviantART / Fuel-Sipping Cage

Check out deviantART for some pretty cool scooter-based artwork. The art above is by deviantARTist loish.

And, on an unrelated note, check out Ford's new Fiesta, which gets 'scooter mileage,' but will only be sold in Europe. The linked article gives a lot of reasons why it can't be sold in the US, mostly due to American consumer's aversion to using diesel fuel.