Scoot Commute

I-95 in the pissing down rain in the pitch black

Posted in Daily Commute, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2011/11/10

Tonight’s commute was not my usual commute. I was in Nohrwud Massachusetts (aka Norwood) at a SIG which ran later than expected. I also stayed after to chat with some of the folks in attendance because, well, that’s my nature. Then I realized, oh, it’s 4:30pm, it’s raining out, and you’re 35 miles from home with a ride on I-95 before you.

The Groundwork

I don’t ride on interstates very often because, well, yeah, my “big” bike is an unfaired, 400cc thumper. Not conducive to pissing away the miles at 80 mph.

It was predicted to be a dreary, rainy November day. When I got up, the sun was barely peeking out as the clouds enveloped it to suck the orange out of the sky. But no rain, yet.

I got dressed in complete kit with rainwear because I didn’t want to have to stop mid-ride to deal with it. I rolled Miss Elsa out of the garage and warmed her up as I pulled on my gloves and arranged my waterproof messenger bag.

Surprisingly, the traffic through Providence on I-95 was decent…no stop-and-go. I arrived at my destination with 20 minutes to spare, and that includes a stop for gas (which I did in the morning to avoid the rain in the afternoon).

At check-in, there is a woman who always says to me “You rode today?”. Now today, yeah, I get it, the weather is predicted to be crap. My response: “I can’t have you thinking I’m a wimp.”

After lunch one of the participants comes up to me and asks what I ride. “Today? The DRZ. On my usual commute? A scooter.” He said he rides a Vulcan 1500. “A 1500? Sheesh, I took the big bike today…the 400!” So that got a bunch of people talking. Apparently there’s something wrong with me.

At the end of the event, I was hanging out chit-chatting and catching up with folks. When I geared up to get going, one of the participants came up to me and said how she’d seen me present before and would like to have me do so at the next event. Then she said that she had no idea that I ride a bike, let alone in this crappy weather, so I must be some kind of bad-ass.

I’m not sure this is the image I should be projecting. Hi-viz? Pink bag? I guess being the only one in the room to stow her helmet on the table in the back of the room is part of it? But it’s going to rain!

Walking out around 4:30pm, a guy wearing a black bookbag covered in hi-viz stickers held the door. “A motorcycle? And I was just bitching about how bad my commute is going to be.” I laughed and replied, “I absolutely love riding in the rain. But I forgot about the getting-dark-early thing. [I have terrible night vision in the best of scenarios.] You must be a bicyclist with all those stickers?” He laughed and said he is but always tries to get off the road before the sun sets as he just cannot see with his meager headlamp.

The Ride Home

It was pouring. Dark. And I had to ride on I-95 South from Exit 11 to Providence. I don’t do this type of riding.

Wow! Stop-and-go as soon as I got on the highway. Finally got a groove on at about 35 mph in the center lane. I decided I didn’t like the center as there was no real escape route. The slow lane had to deal with lots of merging traffic so I picked the leftmost “fast” lane. I would up feeling safer, even though I was pushing the speed for the blackness, the wetness, and the angry worker bee commute homeness. I figured, my out was the grassy median.

At one point I said to myself: Enjoy this. You are dry. You are manipulating the traffic. And you’re going to get home in one piece.

By manipulating traffic, I found that those behind me kept an insanely big distance. A very nice change.

The traffic finally freed up around exit 4 in Massachusetts so I moved over to the slow lane as there was no way I was going to go over 60mph in this crazy rain. And then I crossed the little Rhody border.

My clutch hand still hurts.

I was in the “fast” lane in first gear, minute after minute ticking. I watched the commuter rail head up to Boston. And then I saw the streams of red taillights; the blood being transported into Providence. The traffic on the other side was almost non-existent. I’m sure a lot of people see this every day…hundreds of taillights in the rain and the dark, slowly moving into downtown. But I don’t see it. I have an “easy” in-town commute that avoids most traffic because I have it “down”.

While I didn’t enjoy the aching clutch hand and the anxiety over some prick pulling a quick jolt into my lane, I did enjoy the camaraderie of traffic jam. And then I wondered about lane splitting. I don’t think I could do it. Or at the very least, I’d have to lose my current saddlebag rack.

All in all, the drivers were fantastic. Except that prick who turned in front of me, when I had the green light, from Westminster onto the Service Road. Really? You little shit.

So in the end, the only car of all the traffic I had to contend with (and there was a lot of it) was a bahstahd on the surface streets in Probbydense.

I love my DRZ400SM. Fantastic bike.

Advertisements

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. circleblue said, on 2011/11/11 at 6:52 am

    I get the “Questions” all the time. Yes, I rode today. Why? Because I can. With my Symba Interstate travel isn’t even a temptation. I certainly don’t miss it. When I drove Downtown I’d take the interstate. I like my commute now much better.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: