Monday, November 12, 2007

Quietly taking care of business.

I attended the Veteran's Day parade here Saturday. Around town, and dispersed in the parade, I saw a lot of cruisers with flags on the back. These were roaring around. I use the word roaring on purpose. What a lot of noise from those pipes! I'm not intending to take anything away from the patriotism shown by these riders. In fact, this has nothing to do with them other than the fact that another thought was triggered in my head.

There's basically two kinds of riders I see in my journeys. There's those that I call "Show" and those I call "Go". The latter are those who just quietly take care of business. Which is usually commuting, errands, and the occasional ride for fun. Scooter folks seem to really exemplify this attitude. The "Shifter" riders show it, too, but I think it's mostly the smaller size of the scooters that make it more apparent.

You know what I mean by the "Show" crowd, don't you? This group's trademark is a lot of chrome, loud pipes, and the donning of elaborate "costumes". They want very badly to be noticed. For them riding is a production number, not a utilitarian pursuit. I'm okay with recreational riders. I don't agree with what most of them do or where they're coming from, but they do have that right here in America. My personal vision of why people should ride is more closely aligned to the utilitarian side of things. It's that vision I try to promote here in this blog. Bikes should be able to successfully replace cars for the most part, not just be used as props.

I've been collecting some photos over the past month. Mostly scooter pictures taken with my digital point and shoot or my camera phone. My photos are to me an illustration to accompany my words. Some are good and some not so good. So be it, they serve my purpose. I'd like to share some photos and some comments that drive home my statement regarding quietly taking care of business.

These are pictures of a husband and wife who recently took a class up at our Swan Island site. This is a ship yard. You can see the crane in the background. Here we are in the middle of a huge industrial complex teaching folks to ride bikes. The contrast between the huge ships, trucks, and the small scooters is quite evident. He's on a Honda Ruckus and she's on a Yamaha Vino. They're not going anywhere real fast on the scooters. The husband's got a short commute to work and she can run errands at nearby businesses. I'm please to say they both had fun all weekend and a couple more riders are unleashed upon the world.

You knew Sophie would end up in here somewhere, didn't you? Here's what I often see when I park on an errand. A lone bike in a sea of cars. Wouldn't it be cool someday to see this reversed? Lone cars in a sea of bikes? The point I'm really trying to make is this. Right across the street is a Starbucks. At the other end of the block is another Starbucks. I know, a great block for me, isn't it? The city has graciously provided motorcycle only parking even though it can be tricky to get into these spots.

The "Show" crowd frequents the Starbucks at the opposite end of the block from this. They arrive in a large group and take up three or four regular parking spots along the street. In contrast, those who just quietly take care of business use the motorcyle only parking at this end. We don't put on a big show. We just slip into these spots among the cars. Not that we're meek by any means. Our goal is different. We're conducting life's business, not out for a lot of attention.

Speaking of slipping into places among the cars, check out these pictures.

Looking from inside the parking garage that space looks empty. Going around to the other side we see the People scooter proudly, but quietly, waiting for the rider to come back. On the opposite side of the mall I saw this.

You can just see the scooter parked by the cardboard boxes. Close to the front door and under shelter. Try that with a Hummer!

Here's another example of a bike in a sea of cars. I stopped by the libray ( I'm reading Walden by Thoreau ) and saw this Honda scooter again. I say "again" because it's often here. I believe it belongs to an employee but I haven't verified it, yet.

I had reason to go TEAM OREGON headquarters the other day. It's located on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis. Here's the occupants of the small motorcycle parking area near the administration building.
The scooter and the shifter are coexisting peacefully. Probably a lesson for us all.

By now it might seem like riding a scooter or a shifter for work and errands can easily become a boring thing. Folks might think we're sort of a bland lot. For one, I'd ask them to read posts from this blog's archive. Some of the scooter folks I know are far from a tame lot! Adventure burns a hole in our hearts. The difference between us and the "Show" crowd is that we understand what riding's really about. Bikes are not a fashion accessory to us. They are a part of our life and we use them for their intended purpose. As an extra statement of this fact, check out the sticker on the back of the gray scooter above.

Male or female, the principal applies. Who knew that quietly taking care of business could also be so much fun?

Miles and smiles,



Kano said...

Great Post Dan! Cheers for the practical and utilitarian rider. I too read "Walden" and that book has been one of the biggest influences on my life. Thoreau would have laughed at the "all show" crowd but would have appreciated the pure and simple practicality of riding as opposed to the over the top vehicles modern man sometimes chooses. I wonder if he were alive today, would he trade in his walking stick for a scooter? Maybe he would have both.

Anonymous said...

I'm just getting caught up on your blog....

Thanks a million for your detailed post prior on low speed maneuvering! That is just what I was looking for. Especially as you have a great way of adding analogies to enhance the understanding. Even better, it looks like others have taken something from the post as well.


Steve Williams said...

Like Dan I get caught up here. LIke now, it's nearly midnight and I should go to bed.

I suppose I am a utilitarian rider. I certainly have dreams of being able to depose one of my cages from the driveway. But I also use the Vespa as a prop in a lot of pictures. Or maybe mobile sculpture. Either way I know what you mean.

Scooters definitely seem to fall into the Go category. This past week during the cold wet days the scooters outnumbered the motorcycles in our parking lot 3 to 1.

Taking care of business on a scooter, for me at least, is a continual source of enjoyment.

Great post Dan!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

I wasn't thinking of Thoreau when I wrote this but I can't help but feel he would agree with the post.

You're welcome. Let me know how things turn out if you decide to incorporate some of this into your riding.

I was sitting in front of the computer when your comment came through. Although I'm probably three hours earlier. It was only 9 PM. Vespa as mobile sculpture? Interesting.

Would you take as many photos if you rode a "rat" bike?

Take care,


Joe said...

I'm a "go" rider but not as a replacement for my car, I ride for the spiritual aspect of it. There's not a much freer feeling than cruising the bike (currently a 400 Majesty) and being alone with the universe.

Steve Williams said...

Dan: To be honest I'm not sure if I know the answer to the question. Without doubt I do connect with the look of the Vespa and hence the mobile styling comment. But I also connect with the landscape---or more specifically my being in the landscape. The photos serve to remind me that I don't have to live a life under the wheel which rotates from home to work. Putting the scooter in the picture reminds me that I was there. And that I can be there again. I know people enjoy looking at the pictures but I really make them for me.

So if I had a rat bike I bet it would appear in the pictures but perhaps not so prominently. Does that make sense?

irondad said...

Makes good sense. The bike is a way to get to the places you like. If it's pretty, why not show it off? If it's not so pretty, it remains more a tool.

Bill Sommers said...

This post just makes me happy.

Have fun,

irondad said...

I hear you loud and clear on the spiritual aspect. I've always claimed a bike is a receiver for bigger things in this universe. A rider just needs to tune in.

Glad to bring joy to your life!

Take care,