Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pushing Asphalt, Pushing Steel

A morning ride several weeks ago -- pushing, pushing through air, through space, pushing, gritting, standing, riding through the chill air, spine straight, neck extended, seeking, reaching, grasping for the day.  Now, then, tomorrow.  The Vespa pushes the asphalt, slicing through space towards a destination.

At 65mph at 35F the air feels cold.  The Vespa provides little protection without a windshield or hand guards.  With heated gloves at home I am having the naked riding experience.  Armored against the cold as best I can it's always waiting, restlessly searching for an opening to make me uncomfortable.

Below an overpass on Interstate 99, boots scratching at frozen gravel, eyes scanning the lines of steel and concrete overhead, making a picture and postponing for a few moments having blood drained from my arm.  That's my first destination -- blood tests at the hospital.

Face raised towards the sun I stood for a long moment on a gravel lane leading from Mount Nittany Medical Center towards Beaver Stadium. An elastic bandage on my squeezed my left arm, holding in place a small square of gauze protecting a hole where a phlebotomist pushed a fine steel needle into a vein.  Thick, dark red liquid filled one glass vial then another as I provided evidence for my doctor to manage my psoriatic arthritis, monitor the chemicals in my body used to counter an aggressive immune system that's declared war on the body it's supposed to protect.

I feel like I'm in the middle.

People gather at the statue of Joe Paterno leaving cards and flowers and other tokens of recognition. His legacy is still unfolding, his grand experiment unique and probably never to be repeated.


Another stop at the library bearing the Paterno name.  Not sure if any other large university had a coach who built a library.  After picking up a book more errands lay ahead.  The Vespa has proven itself over and over as a near perfect vehicle for my eclectic journeys.

Steam rises in small, turbulent swirls as I stare at the Starbucks on the table.  Watching, looking, remembering lazy summer days laying on a grassy field as white, cotton candy clouds passed overhead.  Alone with a cup of tea, a few moments to pause and think and just enjoy the moment.

Towards home, detoured once, twice, three times to extend the ride, expand the sights, and drink in the world.  Even the short trips like these, filled with duty and task, can be exquisite.  Fun.  Free.

For me at least.

One last stop at the Boalsburg Chocolate Company for a few confections to enjoy later with another cup of tea and then across the street to Bella di Vita, a small shop selling soap and other conveyances of fragrances. There's always something there that Kim will love -- this time a new Eau de toilette by Cote Bastides.

Seems an appropriate way to end a ride on an Italian Vespa.  I guess I won't ever graduate to a Harley...


Bryce said...

Blood work; a weakly (sic) ritual for me. Sometimes three vials sometimes 15 or more. No eating for 12-14 hours prior.
When one's body is ill, and not recovering quickly the blood taken often tells stories, that maybe you the patient does not want to hear.
With all my maladies (including not being able to ride anything) trips n a Vespa taken by somebody else are refreshing. Looked a few times at the view from under I-99 and thought "what's the Vespa doing way down there, then realized the beams made me think of something parked way down the hole!

Circle Blue said...

I'm always impressed that you wander off, climb, or stumble to find the angle you want even on cold days. For me it is a challenge to wear gear that keeps me warm while riding, but not too warm if I exert myself. Perspiring can be uncomfortable anytime, but on a cold weather ride it can be hazardous.

Dar said...

It is always good to find joy even in little jaunts. Seems to me that if you had a Harley it probably wouldn't change your journeys too much, they would just be more rumbly. Enjoy your beautiful Vespa, she takes you places that give you joy. My pop has bad arthritis and at one point they thought there was psoriatic arthritis involved. He is holding his own, but some days he can't walk well, but he is happy for the days he can.

Steve Williams said...

Bryce: I've done a couple 8 vial trips -- no fun. I'm hoping I only get good or average stories in the future.

Glad my little trips over some refreshment. I want to take some more involved ones when the weather warms and my riding heart thaws...

Steve Williams said...

Circle Blue: Most times when I stop on a really cold day I am amazed at how warm the world suddenly becomes. It's the air flow that kills me.

So far no serious injuries from getting into position to take a picture. But there have been times...

Steve Williams said...

Dar: I've ridden a couple Harleys and I can't see myself puttering around like I do on the Vespa. A Harley seems like I would be driving a bus around. Or something. At least for little jaunts.

Out on the highway, that would be different.

ToadMama said...

Your photos inspire me. I love how you work to get just the right angles. Methinks I'll be doing some mimicking come Spring...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

I'm sorry to read that your arthritis is either progressing or maintaining a presence that requires the doctor to monitor the impact of the drugs on your liver and kidneys.

Arthritis is one of those things that blows like a summer's breeze.

At 65 miles per hour, a 37º temperature is the equivalent of zero degrees Kelvin, or so I read in a Harley Magazine. While I used to ride in temperatures as low as 27º (without heated gear), it is an acquired taste, like lutefisk.

I most often found myself thinking of riding around in 65º weather when it was that cold. And the the pain in my own joints started calling the shots.

Nicely written blog. It has a psalm-like quality to it, that hints of sincerity and truth. My own writing hints at something too, this month. Some readers claim it is the active ingredient in a cow pasture.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

scooter  said...

Scooter is the best vehicles in the pics.This scooters are riding in the any type of way without any trouble.Grass,road,snow way easily we an drive.