Saturday morning, the alarm clock goes off at 7AM, and I am out on the road before eight to attend the BMW Motorrad Exclusively Female Test Ride Event at the Town and Country Hotel in Delta. The roads are clear and I arrive much earlier than anticipated. With additional time at hand I visit Deas Island Regional Park and enjoy the calm scenic views over the Fraser River.
Meanwhile back at the hotel, bikes are being lined up for keen ladies to test the latest BMW models. I have a reservation for an R1200RT at 9AM, and the naked version, the R1200R an hour later.
the 'fat momma'
The motorcycle looks BIG, but elegant in design, definitely not your standard German engineered but otherwise plain ugly model.
With great anticipation I enter 'the cockpit' of the RT. Like with all beemers today, the bikes are adjusted to the various (vertical) challenges that our kind has to deal with when riding motorcycles, and the seat position is perfect, and my feet hit the ground solid. I take the bike off the side stand, and I maneuver it a little back and forth to get a feel for the balance. It is the biggest bike I have ever ridden, so I was reasonably anxious about both the weight and the power. To my surprise it handles exceptionally well.
The first push of the starter button awakes the boxer motor, another surprise, the vibration are way less than I remember from my R80. Another button adjusts the windshield electronically, and off goes the group on their various test rides. No enervating 'clunk' while shifting gears (sorry Nella!), a smooth and sporty acceleration, and the bike wants to lean by itself in the twisties. A wide grin is stamped on my face while imagining touring thousands of miles across North America on this luxury vehicle.
After breakfast, I am up for the R1200R. Naked (the bike, I am of course in ATGATT), I feel the wind pressure on my chest and shoulders. It was o.k. but I wasn't really enjoying it. I must have gotten spoiled by the comfort and protection of the fairings and the adjustable windshield of the RT.
Later on I sit on some of the other bikes and take a few around in the parking lot, such as the F800ST (as seen in front) and the F800S, but nothing compares to the new feel of riding I got on the R1200RT. I am afraid, now I need a sponsor, because luxury comes with a price tag... starting at 20K.
Lunch arrives while chatting along with other participants of today's 'for women only' event, and after that I am heading home. Nella once again fits like a glove, clonk goes the gear, and gaggle the motor, my reliable precious 650cc single cylinder motorcycle.
At home I swap bikes and grab my better half for a little scoot around town before sunset.
All day on two wheels, under blue skies in reasonably warm temperatures... it doesn't get much better than this!
Only recently I became a member of a lady's only motorcycle group. The name says it all: Free Wheelin'. I went to their meeting, and was impressed by the huge number of members showing up (and on time!). It was well organized, with topics guided by an agenda, and it was truly better than any of the recent business meetings I had attended. I felt very welcome, liked their program and signed up.
After the meeting I had the chance to say hi to some of the ladies, and instantly connected with an(other) all-year-rounder. We exchanged contact information, which consequently and pleasantly lead to an email exchange for a Good Friday ride.
Yvonne is a hardcore dirt-bikeress turned street-rider. This is her on her fairly new Yamaha V-Star 950.
Since she is a local she lead the way and took me on back roads that I haven't explored before (and probably wound have never considered going).
At one of our stops we were wondering which idiot came up with this motorcycle parking 'design'. It is obvious that the planner was not a rider (and probably otherwise challenged as well).
So we conveniently parked our bikes somewhere else, stretched our legs, and enjoyed the view.
We spent about six hours on the road, only interrupted by food intake (sorry no picture of the nevertheless tasty crab sandwich), and a little walk. Thanks, Yvonne for great company and conversation. It was a Good Friday, indeed.
Very well! Today it's Paolo's turn to take me to work. It is a little nippy (5C, 41F), and there is still hoar frost on the roofs, but nothing on the ground.
Once again I am in my favourite lot in front of the office. Methinks it is probably just a matter of time when I get the first complaint about taking up one full parking spot, because we are five employees and only have four spots... first come, first serve ;-)
Our offices are not really equipped to accommodate two-wheeled commuters. The server room has to serve me as a changing room , and our unisex washroom becomes my personal powder room to make myself presentable to the public.
My workspace... since I don't have a locker to store my gear, my bookshelf has to suffice.
I took off early (for my that is 4PM) and roamed through the city. Traffic was dense because of a heavy accident, but eventually eased up in the outskirts, where I enjoyed the mild temperatures sitting by the river.
I noted a few little differences between Paolo and Bella, almost like they are indeed different characters. The GTS250 hums, while the GT200 has a throaty voice. The additional 50cc can be felt while accelerating.
I tiptoe on Bella, while I flatfoot on Paolo. The red one feels more nimble, but the plum bike seem to keep better balance.
It is really hard to determine which one is the better bike. The GTS250 certainly has the technical advantage through its additional cc's, fuel injection and upgraded lighting, and probably has the better braking system, too. However, I might have developed a little crush on Paolo.
My daily commute is an ordeal: 32 (yes, thirty-two!) traffic lights within a distance of 17km (10mi). I probably spend in average about ten to fifteen minutes waiting in front of red lights every day, and I seem to get lots of them. Only once I dared to take the Beemer to work, but the repeat shifting up and down in creeping traffic didn't do me any good. By the end of the ride I was a nerve wreck, and my left hand was sore from grabbing the clutch too many times. Not the best condition to begin a work day.
Now, scootering to work? No problemo.
True April weather... that's hail! Fortunately it's warm enough, so the white stuff doesn't stick on the ground.
Later the day I had to run an errand at the shopping mall. Little Bella looked a bit lost between all those cages. She was the only two-wheeler in the lot.
I arrived at home quite relaxed. Never would have guessed that commuting could be so therapeutic. Let's do that again. Hasta la vista, baby!
... says Mr M after breakfast, and we are up and ready for the road by 10AM. Sunday morning traffic is light, although we travel on some major roads. To get to our destination we need to pass over Pitt River Bridge to Pitt Meadows, and as expected the Vespa's do a little dance in the cross winds. No fun, but we can cope. In the meadows the wind suddenly dies and we meander peacefully along the dykes towards Pitt Lake.
The bikes are so photogenic, and so easy to maneuver that we often turn around, stop, pose the bikes and take pictures, or just admire the beauty of the Italian design.
This lane is definitely going to be shortlisted for the center line challenge, since traffic is manageable (no car in the last 5 minutes).
At Pitt Lake we are greeted with a quick shower, but it doesn't last long enough to get us wet.
The road is in bad shape, with loose gravel, potholes and leftovers from farm vehicles, not an easy commute for a beginner rider, but Mr M manages well, and he wants more (YAY!)
Meet, Paolo. He's a wee bit smaller in cc's than Bella, hence the name: Paolo, the little one.
The lady-ridden 2006 Vespa Granturismo 200 has 5,000k on the clock, and a few battle scars, but otherwise been kept in shipshape through regular maintenance at the other neighbourhood dealer.
Due to the cosmetic damage obtained by a reckless driver backing into the two-wheeler, kicking it over and fleeing the scene, the bike was very reasonably priced, and bonus: it came with a Givi top case (not cheap!).
Paolo was supposed to be hubby's training wheels but now it rather looks like I am getting it as a commuter (and winter) bike.
Traditionally the first ride (with any bike so far) would take us out to Buntzen Lake.
Alas, the lake is barricaded. BC Hydro is obviously still conducting repairs to the turbines of the hydro power station, leading to unusually high and dangerous water levels, flooding the beach and parts of the forest. This is as close as we get.
Next stop: Belcarra Regional Park, where we stroll along the shore and enjoy the view.
And every so often we think, it can't get better than this. Life is good!
Now with the stable growing my fellow traveler rented a second parking spot. And through my crystal ball I can see the potential to fill up the lot in the not so far away future.
Hello, beautiful! are the first words that come to mind when looking at this svelte Italian lady. The original plan had foreseen to pick up the 2008 Vespa GTS 250 from the friendly neighbourhood dealer the day before. But then THIS happened:
So all we could do is wait another day...
Finally taking Bella home: Since I was the chosen one to ride her home during rush hour, I took the bike on a little detour, something that always seem to happen naturally when on a two-wheeler. Bella and I bonded instantly.
Pose: inspired by bobskoot
and the train never leaves...
Later the day it was finally hubby's turn. It was already getting dark, but we wanted the traffic to die before he hits the road. I followed him in the car protecting his (and Bella's) backside.
This is a quick shot taken through the windshield with deer on the side of the road watching him ride by.