Making Old Gear New Again -Update on Luggage Roll

I showed you how my otherwise awesome Prima large luggage roll needed a bit of work to stay on the road and out of the landfill here some time ago and never let you know how it turned out.  I didn’t manage to pick the bag up for three weeks with my busy weekend schedule and was very glad to have it back.  Wearing a backpack full of glass-lock containers for my lunch got a bit tiresome.  My posture was definitely not as good with the bag on, though I did jump off the bike and run into work faster in the mornings.

IMG_3029The repairs came to $30, which was $5 under the quote.  Of course one of the zipper pulls broke in half 2 days after I got it back but I can work with that and haven’t bothered to put in a piece of ribbon or anything to make the pull easier.

The two long straps over the roll were replaced with leather, and the missing buckle was replaced.  I opted to replace only one of the broken fasteners on the underside to keep costs down.  I found this lovely leather waterproofer at the local outdoors store, Alberni Outpost.

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The Granger’s Paste Wax is doing well so far.  I totally ignored the instructions to apply sparingly as I had no issues with potential discolouration and was going for max waterproofing.  I slathered it on twice, making sure to get all into the crevices and the vulnerable underside of the leather.  Two coats at this point, should apply a third.

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It has been fairly damp lately and I get condensation all over the scoot when I leave it parked at work.  I’ve been checking the leather and the water beads off perfectly.  It has definitely stretched a bit, which is to be expected given the tension on it combined with damp conditions and generous amounts of wax.  I’ll take some stretching over cracking for sure.

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Monsoon Season and the Failure of the High Viz Jacket

Was looking a bit dorky and walked to the local coffee shop a half block away from work to procure some hot chocolate for our handbell choir event this week in my brighter-than-the-sun high viz rain jacket.  Two cars almost ran me over.  I could still see my work building and two whole vehicles didn’t see me and could have flattened me.  As a pedestrian.

My high viz jacket makes me feel fairly invincible as a pedestrian.  I’m not stupid.  I look at the cars to make sure they’re stopping and that they appear to see me.  How could they not see this?:

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I thought the first guy in the truck saw me -I even waved- and I didn’t realize until my heels were in jeopardy that there was problem.  He looked apologetic at least.  Within 6 feet another truck turning out of the same spot (with a stop sign) nearly took out my toes.   Another apologetic wave.

I actually wasn’t mad.  It’s easy to forget to look out for pedestrians.  I drive a car, too.  But riding and walking in hostile environments has made me aware of the underlying issues in such interactions.  Also, I like to read books like Straphanger by Taras Grescoe and watch films like Urbananized by Gary Hustwit that challenge the often unquestioned supremacy of the automobile.  Good thing doing yoga has made me a more compassionate person, too.

I hope that nearly running over a person in a cross walk wearing high viz yellow when they were supposed to have stopped was the little jolt each needed to pay better attention while driving.

“Invigorating” or soggy?

It seems like wet coast winters are getting colder the last few years.  That crisp, clear, and dry kind of day with brilliant sunshine.  Not the October to April uninterrupted drudgery of rain and soggy everything that has people in a mood where the only thing they can manage is to complain that IT HASN’T STOPPED RAINING.

I spent two winters in Edmonton, AB while I was going to the U of A for my Master’s in Library and Information Studies.  Unused to the brightness, I sometimes wore sunglasses inside my apartment.  Still, I liked how the snow was dry and roads generally were not slippery (except for that one year that there was a frozen ice sheet and all of the snow landed on top of it all winter with no chance of melting until April or May, of course).  Invigorating!

This relatively new properly cold weather gets me excited about snowshoeing and sunny days and not being sopping wet whenever I try go anywhere.  Dog people walk no matter how horrific the rain.

We are into our second stretch of cold and clear.  Your clothing strategy for getting to work warm is certainly different.  I got quite used to the cold, dry weather and started scheming about hand muffs and ninja turtle gloves to combat the tips of my fingers going numb.  I also schemed about adding more fake fur into the inside of my Tucano Urbano Termoscud around where it meets my lap and the sides of my legs.  (I am seldom too warm in the winter.)

Crunchy leaves are a big thing to me:

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Something in glorious full bloom in early November with a perfect blue sky:

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When the rain started it was all about being florescent in the mist, rain pants and rain jackets meeting seamlessly, and hydrophobic coatings on my windshield and face shield.

A change is as good as a rest, but if i had to choose I would choose the cold, clear weather.

I had sole custody of the car last week (a rainy one), and only managed to psych myself up to ride by Wednesday.  On Wednesday I promptly dropped my helmet on the ground and broke my poor face shield, which destroyed the rest of my riding week as driving rain in the eyes is a safety concern.  Face shield is now replaced and has a better hinge so no annoying semi-flapping now.

Are you a wet or cold weather commuter?

Probably not so fixable

Thud, snap!  Helmet falling from eye height shelf in my office to the ground, the visor that I never really cared for much broken on the one side.  Not gonna work.  Oh crapsicles.  I am not so delusional that I will try to glue this back together.  Having it give way on the road seems like a terrible idea.  (Epoxying my rubber boots last month DID teach me something -epoxy cannot fix everything.)

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Not a quick trip to the store after work, this one.  Will have to make replacing a priority this weekend.  Made it home fairly uncomfortably.  The rain was driving in around my glasses.  I hunkered behind my tall windshield, my back and shoulders complaining.  The rain, the different visibility through the windshield, and the 5pm darkness were a bit scary.  I realized that hunching threw my centre of balance way off -we are supposed to be tall in the seat to be well balanced as my parking lot cone test taught me!  I will be taking advantage of the car tomorrow.

Making Old Gear New Again

One of the most aesthetically attractive aspects of my Vespa GT200 when I was purchasing it was the gorgeous Prima luggage roll. (Sonja M so nicely captured it in the Craigslist ad photos as below.)  Top cases seemed pretty mandatory during my research phase -a scooter without a top case seemed akin to a car without a trunk. I did briefly wonder what the heck would fit in one, but was quickly distracted by the fact that it would be lockable.

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Fortunately in addition to the lovely lines it produces on the Vespa, the luggage roll is so functional. Like I can buy a thing of low-sodium vegetable stock at Costco and stick it in there, plus my purse and one other random piece of clothing that I always seem to be carrying. Or I can fit in my monster work bag and a change or shoes.

The strapping over the roll has always been in a bit rough shape since I’ve had it but everything worked and the former owner had judiciously used zap straps to keep the whole apparatus together. This fall it really dawned on me that I need to take action. Being down one main strap was still okay but when your second buckle almost falls off that is sort of it.

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An inspection of the underside of the bag turned up a similarly disturbing state of affairs.

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One of my main motivations in adopting a scooter lifestyle was to tread more lightly from a waste and consumption angle. (2 years of commuting to Squamish on the improved but still deadly Sea-to-Sky highway really did in my interest in commuting by car.) So throwing out a giant plasticized bag with working zippers seemed very counter to that goal. Also, the shipping and duty in ordering another piece of gear were just too much to bear.

A lovely coworker suggested I try take it to a cobbler. Which seems obvious but really isn’t all that self-evident to a child of the 80s. So, I dropped my bag off at Nanaimo Shoe Repair on Saturday and got a quote of about $35. A new bag runs $134.99 USD +shipping +duty… +throwing something out that is still mostly in working order.

It’s going to be done in leather, so that should stand up a bit better than vinyl in the sun. I will be asking for some wet leather tips when I pick it up.

Gear on the horizon

Summer commuting and riding were relatively easy gear-wise.  I already had my GoGo Gear black trench jacket and my First Gear black armoured pants.  Not to mention the gold fleck helmet that actually fit my face with glasses and two pairs of gloves (winter gauntlets and light summer gloves).  The factory windshield that only rose 8″ over the headlight put wind to my neck and chest but I never got very cold.  The little rain there was didn’t have time to soak through my jacket, nor did it impede my vision through my 3/4 helmet’s visor.

These days are gone, but I feel ready for the change.  I have recently added quite a few weapons to my cold/wet weather arsenal already.

One of my peeves about safety gear is that I look like a Transformer when I wear both the pants and the jacket.  Sometimes I revel in this totally butch look and the enjoy tension between the toughness and my blonde librarian appearance, but sometimes I just want to be a regular person in a store and less like Optimus Prime.

Hence, my weakness for GoGoGear.  I got my jacket from the now closed Urban Wasp in Vancouver, on-sale (since they were closing…boo!).  It was actually rather flattering!  And it didn’t end at my belly button like the other jackets I’d tried on.  They just got in a new product: kevlar leggings with optional knee pads.  And updated another with actual colours: armoured kevlar hoodies.

Special Edition GoGo Gear Armored Kevlar Hoodies - LIMITED TIME ONLY - SPECIAL ORDER ONLY

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy a good “adult ladies pink” garment.  The leggings and the pink hoodie are pre-ordered and possibly arriving in Canada for Christmas.  Score!  (Please let the duty charges be small, Santa.)

On a less exciting note, some ass-hat stole the Vespa logo off my leg shields.  This probably happened at work.  And I doubt it was one of the seniors from the care home next door -they can’t piss me off or I won’t help them with their iPads!  Am investigating whether ScooterworksUSA will ship it for less than the $36 that their website says it will charge me (you know, for a $12 part that fits in an envelope).

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It looks like the logo is there, but trust me that is just the under sticky stuff.

An aspiring all-season scooter commuter

I moved to Nanaimo almost 2 years ago.  While I loved many things about growing up in North Vancouver, I am definitely appreciating some of the features of (Vancouver) Island Life.  Like the ability to use roadways without people trying to kill you.

Every time I talk to my parents they talk about something craptastic that happened to them on the way home from work in Metro Van or (my dad) how much the traffic has increased in volume. Though this gets tiring to listen to and genuinely stresses me out, I believe that the traffic has worsened in the last 2 years since I’ve moved.  I don’t know that I would have survived learning to ride over there.

My commute is a fairly pleasant 20-25 minute affair, entirely composed of Old Island Highway traffic lights with some faster travel of up to 80-90 km/hr (wheeeee…!).  It was relatively unintimidating to build my skills on and is predictable and steady.  In 4 months I’ve only sounded my very loud after-market horn once and boy, did it work!  (Wolo, installed by previous owner.)

Since I’m not as worried about being mowed down I have been focusing my energies on getting warm and dry gear.  I am generally a cold person and cling to the Persian saying of “cold hands, warm heart” to feel less reptilian.  My wife wears a polar fleece with the underarm vents open, and I wear a merino wool shirt under a polar fleece with a down jacket on top to not freeze my butt off.New Termoscud

Items purchased this Fall:

  • Highlighter yellow rain jacket that fits over my armoured jacket, Scott’s, 3 way stretch from Tuff City Powersports here in town (about $95)
  • Black rain pants that fit over my armoured pants, same as jacket (about $85)
  • Tucano Urbano Termoscud lap blanket/”pensioner blanket” from SIP Scootershop online (97 Euros + shipping and duty)
  • Prima Windscreen (Tall, Clear) for Vespa LX/GT from ScooterworksUSA online ($114 + shipping and duty)

Service and install done this Fall:

  • Oil and filter
  • Installed windscreen
  • Installed heated grips (from Tuff City, a Christmas gift from the year before that never quite got installed)
  • Tire pressure adjustment

It felt awesome to have the cash to actually get some good gear.  I was previously precariously employed for 4.5 years (on-call casual hours, contracts with no benefits -don’t get me started…).  Now I can invest in my comfort and safety to have a lighter environmental footprint and save a bunch of money by not having another car in our family.