Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tell Me What You Know

I know something of my reasons for getting a scooter. I suspected, and so far it's proving true, that the scooter would have a different pace than what I experience while walking or riding a bicycle. On the flat land the equation is a simple one, perhaps twice as fast as walking, quite probably twice as fun. The muscles used are different. I am trying to develop rhythm in my kicks, in how I switch off which leg is doing the pushing. I have already learned that it is not the kicking leg that tires, it is the one on the scooter deck that bends, the one that says to the other leg "hey pal, get up here and do some work."

I am beginning to build an ability to glide, to coast, to flex my foot in the kick off, to hold momentum as I switch legs. I am learning something which perhaps someday will be grace. Today it is something less, but I am out and rolling in the world.

Hemingway wrote this about a bicycle, but it is most certainly true of a scooter: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” This truth is sharper on a scooter, the smaller the wheel the greater attention one pays to the lay of the land. I kick up the shallow climbs and if it's too steep then walking is the winning move. With a scooter the transition from rolling slowly to walking is instantaneous and shameless, it is the wisdom of the moment. Similarly, the most subtle dip down is celebrated with a joyful leap onto the deck, both legs resting, the soul free to soar.

When the slope down is greater still, a bargain must be struck. How much control does one have, when does thrill pass to fear, how much faith can we place in the smoothness of the path, the efficacy of a rear fender that is also something of a brake? Like the apocryphal Campy Delta Brake, loved by some and hated by many, "It is not for stopping, it is for modulating velocity." Too much mountain, the mountain I walked up with scooter in hand, can not be safely fed back to the scooter through the wheels. The fender is pressed to the wheel, repeatedly, urgently. Feet drag, speed bleeds. Better to lose speed than skin. I am still learning just how much caution and control I need.

In the level places and the gently sloping ones I'm more apt to stop for moments to gather the gifts of what is noticed more. The green of the moss. The art that is intended and improvised.

The mist hangs on the mountains, the water shines the road. I travel balanced between effort and relaxation, speed and slow study.

There are signs pointing the way home and signs that don't know what to make of me.

Perhaps someday I'll flow more like the creek. Here I'll meander, flowing slowly in the gentle places and learning to speed in the steeper places.

Tell me what you know. I know only that I am learning yet another way of rolling. I have very much left to discover.


Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking,my friend. I have a LITTLE time on a scooter in the last few months myself. Not really for my own self,so much,but before this latest move whn there was a 1/2 mile flat pved trip twice per day with my son to the school bus stop,often he'd ride his (Razor-not bad,not as nice as yours) scooter,leaving me to ride it back home. I'll let you in on a secret too (you have to promise not to tell Nick what his daddy was doing :p ),sometimes during the day when everyone was gone to school or work,and when it was time to take Moonlight (our beloved Austrian Shepard-a dog who believes she is a Husky,and pulls with much more guts and strength than her 45 lbs would suggest possible),I would take it out and let her pull me all over the park,teeheehee! Got some weird looks and head shaking from other house-parents who'd watch. The real fun was jumping speed bumps-a mix between bunny hopping like on a bike,and ollying like on a board...until the frame warped and I had to buy him a new one (insert evil scientist's laughter here).

Scooters is fun,my friend. Just don't tell Nick his Dad told you so ;)

The DC

Olle Nilsson said...

Maybe not the last thing I need, but pretty low on the list. Stop making me want one! ;-)

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Yes I admit it! I've rolled around on my son's Razor. A scooter is a different animal but as you say Kent quite a neat way to move about the world.

Last fall on the rail trail I slowly caught up to an older gentleman kicking along on one of the big wheel performance scooters. It was a great looking machine with normal front and rear rim brakes. It really piqued my interest. He was crusing along too at about 11.5 mph.

Anonymous said...

In my city one may bring a folding bike inside the bus but not a kick scooter. Nor a skateboard. Welcome to Arizona stupid.

tacomee said...

There is no way I'm getting on a scooter! (for a number of reasons, starting with old, bad knees and a healthy fear of crashing). With that said, I like reading about your kick-and-glide adventure. As I see it. most of this Nation is trapped in car, removed from the neighborhoods and landscapes that made us great. Scooter, bike, kayak or just plain old sturdy walking shoes, it's all good.

Unknown said...

A longboard skateboard is my scooter. Fits between distances that are bikeable and distances that are so short walking is the only thing that makes sense.

The longboard also has no brakes so a slight downhill [rail grade] is great, but too much hill means I walk.

I don't have to lock up a skateboard or wear a helmet which makes short jaunts for a coffee less hassle.

Like a folding bike I can meet my GF somewhere that I longboarded to and either throw the board in her car or jump on the bus with her.

I considered getting one of the big wheel kick scooters like that fellow used in PBP. They seem pretty cool. The overlap between that beast and my folding bike has prevented a purchase.

It's good to have transportation options.



Unknown said...

Happens to the best of us. Turning all those pedals all that time. Something's got to give. I've been carless for 12 years and have a garage full of bikes - racing, folders, touring, recumbent. Love them all. But now, having recently found myself unemployed, I'm choosing to hike the A.T. for five months instead of riding cross country which I've been dying to do for a decade. Why? I need a change of pace. I need to be pedal-less for a while. Maybe you do too. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Kent's Scooter Blog?

Al said...

My favorite saying "long time listener, first time caller!" Kent, I'm a big fan of what you do here and your attitude towards transportation. I would suggest finding an "old school" scooter with big inflatable tires, 7" so not really big in the scheme of things, and hand brakes. Some of my best memories were with a scooter like that. I could go nearly everywhere a bike would, just slightly slower. A different effort is involved. Like recumbent conspiracy theorist said, they can really move along.