Saturday, 24 February 2007

Steep Ride, Cold Ride

New Westminster is a community between Maple Ridge and Vancouver that is perched on the water of the Fraser River. The land slopes down to the water throughout most of this small city and, as a result there are many steep hills throughout.

I had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week after school but I didn’t know if my Vespa could make it up the hills so I drove the horrid Ford Taurus. Today, when I woke up, I decided that I needed to find out whether my LX50 was up to the challenge.

It was cold for this time of year, 3 or 4° C., a vicious mix of sleet and rain was falling from the sky, and it was quite windy. I thought about going on a shorter ride but decided I had enough layers to survive the snow and rain.

After crossing the Pitt River (mentioned in a previous blog) I went on what is called the Mary Hill Bypass. I hadn’t been on this road since the day I bought the Vespa. At that time, on a nice sunny day, I found it was a scary road with lots of curves and fast, roaring traffic. A few months and 2500 kms later, even on a wet, cold morning, the road was just fine to ride. I think this is because of the experience that I have gained so far - I am more confident on the curves and have a better idea when I should slow down, how much I should lean, and how much I should turn. I’m still pretty slow when turning 90 degrees, but better safe....

After around 40 minutes I was at the ‘bottom’ of New Westminster. I found a route that was still hilly but not crazy-steep like some of the other roads. I had no problems going uphill and pulled over a couple of times when my speed was slow and there were a few vehicles behind me.

By this time, my hands, even though I was wearing my 'lobster' gloves, were pretty cold and I thought I’d stop for coffee at Starbuck’s in downtown New Westminster - but in this area of this city there are parking meters everywhere and I didn’t have any change. I’m not sure what New Westminster’s policy on parking on the sidewalk is, so I decided to head back rather than get towed or ticketed.

I went back with no problems except that my hands were slowly turning to sticks of ice. I thought that I’d stop at the Starbuck’s just past the Pitt River Bridge in our neighbouring community of Pitt Meadows. The Starbuck’s is beside an empty movie theatre and is usually pretty quiet. The thought of having a big mug of latte and a scone while I warmed up kept me going the last km or two.

Alas, when I arrived, I walked through the door and not a seat, not one seat, was empty. After lining up for my coffee, I went outside with the lone smoker and the other unfortunate people who couldn’t get a seat and slurped back my coffee, shivering. Five minutes later, I was on my Vespa and headed for home.

As feeling slowly returned to my hands as I warmed them over the heat register, I took heart that, overall, the trip had been a success.


Steve Williams said...

Congratulations on this ride. Sounds as if it was a challenge on many levels. The more I ride the more comforatable I become estimating my skills and limitations and how I might manage the risks involved in a trip.

I cringed though when you said you couldn't stop in at Starbucks. Not that I am a coffee lover but I know how nice it is to stop to get warm on a cold wet day.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Combatscoot said...

Glad you are gaining confidence on your scoot. Sounds like a nice adventure. Perhaps, you could bring hot beverage in a thermos if you won't be able to stop long?

Elsercattus said...

Another big guy (6' 8", 280 lbs). Once upon a time, I had a Vespa P200E, and buzzed all over south Texas and NJ. Now I ride a Burgman 650 maxi-scooter, mainly 'cause it's the only step-thru machine that will accomodate my legs, without banging the handlebars. I buzz around Philadelphia, PA USA.

Eldercattus said...

My wifew got me some silk/wool mix under-gloves, made by WINTER SILKS. These kept my hands pretty warm. I also keep some chemical heat packs in my scoot. Gonna order some under-socks from that same company, and for the same reason.

Dave Dixon said...

There is definitely a learning curve to all this scooter stuff. I am the kind of person who never gets cold but have found that since I have started scooting, I can find myself in very cold, wet situations even though I had taken what I thought were the appropriate precautions.

And, yes, that full coffee shop was a bit disheartening...

I have thought of getting one of those suction cup beverage holders - not to drink while I'm riding, but to store hot tea or coffee an a thermal mug. I'm just not sure how reliable those things are!

Wow, 6'8"! You'd be like me on the Honda Jazz! I've never heard of Burgman before - have to look that one up!

My feet stayed nice and warm with the gortex overbooties I wore (from cycling). Under gloves sound good, though.

Anonymous said...

I like my suction cup holder ( lick the cup before applying...for added security). You also need to look into stuff that scooter in the sticks eschews if you are going to ride a lot in the cold. You can get handlebar mufflers and scooter aprons to help keep you warm.
I respect your choice of a 50cc, in a town with steep hills.

Bill Sommers said...

What a great ride! Nothing boring at all about going for a ride in challenging conditions.

Have fun,

Dave Dixon said...

Got to get me one of those - do you reapply each time or does it just stay there semi-permanently? The weather here is a bit cold at times but wet is a year-round occurrence that I also have to deal with - especially in finding wet weather gloves.

Life is rarely boring, buzzing around on the scooter!

Gardner said...

heres my question...i have a 4km undulating climb to my town and wondered is my scoot could do it.....its a new honda elite 125cc. i have done some very very steep and short hills and she pulls me and my girlfriend up without complaining...any ideas or advice befori try this venture...dont want to kill Scootie lol

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