Monday, August 20, 2012

Four Banger

A month or so ago I got a new 4-stroke Stella.  I need to get it broken in properly before the blister run.  So I've been riding a lot.  Initially it was a "yee-haw let's go explore!" but after a couple trips it was more like "ho hum, been here ten times before."  Lately I've been modifying my tactics.  I think of a fairly distant location and meander toward it.  If, along the way, I think of an area I've never been, I check it out.  That's usually a neighborhood ringed by highways that has no through-way potential.  Another favorite is the "dead end" or "no outlet" signs in areas that either don't look right, or that I think might have some interesting angles.  Did you know that sometimes the "no outlet" sign is a lie?  Yup.  Don't know if the neighborhood conned someone into putting the sign up, or if there was a street change and nobody thought to remove the sign.

Tonight I went out for a hopeful fifty mile ride.  Turns out I made 48, which is pretty good for two hours.  Generally I count 25 miles for an hour of city riding.  I did some simple stuff like Lilydale, both downtowns, and a little bit of Saint Paul.  I wandered up near Roseville and needed to get back west and south as it was getting dark and I was nearing the end of my riding window.  I ended up on a road that used to connect to 280, but was now labeled as a dead end.  There were "dead end" signs everywhere.  It just looked like they were trying too hard.  As it turns out, they had indeed closed off the road at the very end, but leading up to it was a nice, large neighborhood with a couple side streets and some really nice unused road.

By this time it was past sunset and I wandered the streets in the dark.  No outlet means no cars except the residents, so it felt like three in the morning.  That deep thrum of the new engine and the flash of the headlamp on smooth blacktop was like something I could eat.  And never get full.

So for all of the pressure of getting "enough miles" in I've really found a few moments, and more importantly, remembered a few concepts of the ride that I think I forgot.  Explore, defy, never be afraid to have to turn around.  After all, it's a scooter.  I can turn around in five feet.  Somewhere in East Saint Paul I followed the bluff on side streets and found a nice park.  In fact, I found another one up near Saint Anthony.  And I passed a parkway with a view of downtown Minneapolis that almost made me stop and take a picture.

I have a lot of miles to put on the bike before the long ride in a couple weeks, but I'm getting excited about checking out old roads and finding new hidden treasures.  And as I type this I can still smell the rubber of the hand grips on my hands.

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