Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Where Not to Ride

I was out for a spin on the GTV the other morning and came upon this large sign. I've seen several with a similar message over the years and thought some of you city-folk would get a kick out of the "rugged individualism" one runs into out here in the Wild West. Note the lowest line on the sign. It makes me wonder if the property owner intends to shoot as I scoot.

The funny thing is that the land this sign is supposedly protecting is a pair of large alfalfa fields on either side of the dirt track. I have a hard time thinking there's anything of value growing there that wouldn't require a day and a half of harvesting with a swather, baler, and several large trucks to carry it all off. I wouldn't think a scooter, or anyone else for that matter, was much of a threat. Perhaps he's looking out for the occasional hay poacher.

The sign only makes me wonder what else is going on up that road. In fact, I'll bet it has the opposite effect on passers-by than what the sign-poster intended. I, for one, want to find out what's so secret. Had there been no sign, I wouldn't have given the property a second thought.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Noggin Cover and Podcasts

I picked up this helmet, a Scorpion EXO-200, last month. I can't say enough good things about it. I find it attractive (for a helmet), well-fitting, and relatively inexpensive at $121.95 from Plaza Cycle, a large motorcycle dealer in Salt Lake City. I quite enjoy the understated graphics. There are no garish letters or logos; it's available in a number of nice solid colors. The large flip-up shield is easy to adjust to the ambient temperature and/or current speed. I can flip it all the way down for high-speed runs or tip it back for slower spins in the mountains.

I realize the three-quarter style does not offer the protection of a full-face helmet, but those can be so uncomfortable in the temperatures we've had lately. Several times I've headed home from work with the thermometer showing well over 100 degrees. I've found the EXO-200 to be a nice compromise between safely and comfort, at least during the warm summer months. I've no doubt that the full-length shield would provide a measure of abrasion protection if called upon, even if impact resistance isn't all that a full-face would be. It is both Snell and DOT certified.

I find this helmet does have more wind noise than a full-face, though not terribly much.

What is rather noticeable, as is alluded to by a commenter below, is the occasional blast of air that sneaks up under the shield. This type of helmet/shield seems particularly sensitive to its orientation in the wind. If I turn my face up and to the side, the wind forces itself up onto the lower portion of my face. It's not a violent, full-force wind, but rather like a breeze, I guess you could say.

This is actually pretty nice when I need additional cooling. I suspect this will be unwanted once the weather cools down--thus my plan to move to a full-face for late fall/winter riding.

This helmet has provisions for fitting small speakers between the outer shell and inner lining. The speakers (I took mine from an old set of headphones) fit perfectly in the space allocated and sound fine, as long as I keep the scooter under 50 mph or so. At higher speeds, the wind noise becomes so great it drowns out the voices.

I find that the podcasts I subscribe to are much less distracting, sound-wise, than music while riding. I can still hear ambient sounds such as traffic noises and can even carry on a conversation while the iPod is on. This isn't always possible with music playing. I'm able to follow the issues of the day through OnPoint, learn about new subjects on SctrCst, and even keep up on my Swedish from Sveriges Radio, all while enjoying the commute.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

First One; Now Seven

Just a few weeks ago, I was the only employee of my company commuting by scooter on a regular basis. This morning, I see six parked directly outside the main office with at least one other down at the south building.

To be fair, several folks here have ridden periodically to work by scooter over the years, but it seems to me that a combination of higher gasoline prices and a decreasing number of available parking stalls during reconstruction of our parking lot (see the equipment in the background) has led to much more regular scooter ridership.

Additionally, I see many scoots all over town, though only a very few on the connector roads between communities here in the valley. The recent influx of cheap Chinese scoots has undoubtedly help fuel the growth, as the vast majority of scooters seem to be these no-name brands. I only hope that when the low-end bikes inevitable fail that the riders won't simply give up on scooters as a whole, but will purchase quality Italian, Japanese, or even Taiwanese replacements.