SEE ME, HEAR ME...

SEE ME, HEAR ME...

3/8/16 - Today was my turn to take ‘charge’ of the Zero again and I was more than happy to leave the car parked and jump on the FX for the ride home. After a nice warm-up (40ºF) over the last few days, the roads are mostly dry and it is really starting to feel like Spring is nearly here. Conditions certainly fit into what we would define as a ’Rideable Day’, 4162_ridable_days_mapand instead of driving my car to work today, I really should have ridden my Kawasaki Versys...except there are still some maintenance issues and a not-normal clunking sound that I haven’t made time over the Winter (or wanted to deal with in my cold, un-heated garage) to diagnose and repair yet. Until I can get may hands greasy and get the engine running smoothly again, I sure am grateful for the seat time on the Zero! The low/no maintenance aspect of the Zero sure is an appealing factor too. Just unplug, hop on and ride. No oil, no gas, no warming up an engine...no noise.

Gearing up and walking out to unplug the Zero this evening, I notice that the warmer air is reacting with the remaining snow-packed ground to create a thick, grey fog, limiting visibility to only about a block or block and a half. The fog continues as I make my way uphill and toward my house. The smooth, nearly silent whir of the zero combined with the swirling fog provides a surreal sensation of flying and a feeling of being alone on the road...until the sound of a passing car brings me back to the reality of the commute. Brake lights up ahead indicate the stoplight must be red, so with a quick check behind me, I change into the right turn lane and continue on the road less-traveled to enjoy a bit more vehicle free sections of road before landing back in my driveway.

3/9/16 - The morning weather for the ride to work offers a similar foggy mix as the trip home last night. Twisting throttle down the neighborhood street, I am once again enveloped in the swirling grey and immediately focus on the fact that the only sound I hear is the soothing buzz of the tires rolling on the pavement. All too soon I enter the mix of the morning traffic and remain ultra alert of the traffic around me, unconfident that my Hi-Viz Roadcrafter is enough to make the easily distracted cagers take notice of me sharing the road with them. Every time I am on two-wheels I ride with a heightened sense of alertness and presume that cars do not see me, but the quiet, stealthy movements of the Zero definitely reinforce this spacial awareness. Hearing the traffic around me, instead of the engine beneath me, sure seems to p2016-03-08 16.17.56lay a role in this additional cognizance. I know that the stealth-like quiet of the Zero has startled a few pedestrians walking on the sidewalk who didn’t hear me rolling past them on the street. With all of the soundproofing, radios, phone calls and other distractions going on inside of most cars and trucks these days, I’m not convinced that either loud pipes or loud suits save lives anymore. For me, the Zero offers something akin to hearing battle-drums or air-raid sirens, providing just enough advance warning of an approaching ‘attack’ of an oncoming minivan or encroaching semi-truck to remain aware, alert and plan a safer route based on a heightened sense of awareness of the surrounding traffic. Thankfully, this morning, there were no calls for alarm, but just another morning ride through the fog to work.

2016-03-09 13.11.36The afternoon brings an opportunity for another ride to run some errands before turning over the keys to Randy this evening. It has rained since I first arrived here this morning, making the streets wet and covering the Zero with lingering droplets of water. Buzzing toward downtown Duluth in the mid-dry traffic, again I am aware of the surrounding sounds of traffic, construction equipment, pedestrians calling to each other across the street...and underneath it all, the quiet (and even soothing) buzz and click of the FX’s tires rolling along the pavement. The errands don’t take long to complete, so I begin the ride back toward work, this time taking a little slower, longer and scenic route...because I can. Looking down I notice how the tires are spraying a mist of water and road-grime onto my boots and shins. 2016-01-28 10.54.01My Roadcrafter is 7 years old and to date, I have not washed it. Maybe this season it will get it’s first bath. Maybe. More than likely though I’ll just make sure to wear it for a ride in the next heavy rainfall we get. Nothing better than a natural shower of fresh raindrops to rinse off a Winter’s worth of grime. After that, I think it is also time to award my trusty old hi-viz one piece with a Road Grimed Astronaut Patch. With a few scuffs from an unplanned get-off several years ago, and a well-earned patina now permanently ingrained in the fabric, it has earned the designation of such a recognition. Bring on those Spring showers!


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