She’s back!

It’s been three weeks since I dropped Lucrezia off to have the coolant hose repaired (again), and one thing after another went wrong with the repairs. Some ceramic gasket cracked, and it’s a part they had to order special from Italy. And I guess it had to be blessed by the Pope or something because it took forever to get here. Then, when it arrived and the last of the repairs were nearly done, my previously-beloved mechanic stripped the threads from the impeller in the water pump. To his credit, he ordered me a whole new pump and overnighted it so he could get everything done and tested in time for me to get some riding in this weekend.

I finally got to try the new Cheeky Seats cover on her, and I have to say, I am really pleased with that purchase. It changes the whole look of the bike, fits perfectly, and the addition of the memory foam made a noticeable difference in comfort. I’ll do a proper writeup later.

Being three weeks without the scoot was frustrating because of all the delays and the fact that it all tied back to those stupid crash bars (which Nick saved so I could personally have the pleasure of throwing them in the dumpster with a satisfying clang), but there was more to it than frustration. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was really about more than missing the fun of riding.

I’m at something of a crossroads in my life these days, a lot of things are changing. I have a lot more time to myself than I used to, the kind of time I could spend thinking and dwelling on everything that’s gone wrong and the what-ifs of the future. I bought the scoot and started riding this spring to give my brain something else to focus on, and it helped tremendously. Riding, especially as a newbie, is a full-brain activity. And I was thinking today as I buzzed along that riding that scooter is one of the least-lonely ways to spend some of that newfound alone time.

(I don’t talk to the bike or anything. Yeah, I gave her a name but I don’t pretend she’s actually keeping me company. Chill.)

I crossed the Eads Bridge into Illinois this afternoon – my first ride across the Mississippi River, my scoot’s first trip to another state – and I felt like a little kid riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. I was excited and jittery and confident and felt so, so strong. Just me and the bike, navigating the unfamiliar gusting wind off the river and doing exactly what needed to be done to stay safe and in control. That’s the feeling I missed so much these last few weeks – not just the fun but the strength and the confidence that a ride like that can inspire. You just don’t get those feelings from successfully driving a commuter car wherever you need to go. The exposure and vulnerability of being on two wheels force a sort of tenacity and self-trust that a Mazda full of carseats just can’t evoke. It’s a not-lonely alone time because it’s a place I can find those feelings and be completely happy with just myself.

So I rode out to visit a friend, spent a pleasant afternoon grilling out and gossiping, and headed home earlier than I would have liked in order to beat the traffic coming to the city for fireworks. The route home took me over a different bridge, and it was a little nervewracking because the angle of the sun made it a lot harder for me to get a good look at the road surface more than a few dozen yards ahead. But I managed. I more than managed – I did just fine, and landed back in my own state with a satisfied smile.

This was also my first ride with my new GoPro. I’m not especially keen on the helmet mount and of course I had the thing sideways for the first half of the ride, but I clipped a few pieces of the footage and some stupid titles together in iMovie anyway.