I have a few experiences now since I got my scooter in May 2014 of riding in the rain (or at least the threat of having to do so). In the three specific instances I was not necessarily caught off guard, but was unsure about the certainty of the weather. I’m fairly new to scooter riding, so other than a full-face helmet I don’t really have any appropriate riding gear. At night I wear my cotton winter gloves and if it’s cool I just layer up. So getting caught on my scooter in the rain is not really something I’m prepared for. Knowing that you’d think I’d take better care to look at the weather before I head out. But addictions are what they are, and I’m head over heels addicted to scooter riding.
A few weeks ago I was riding home from State College to Bellefonte and got caught in an unexpected downpour. It was intense. The rain was blowing across the road in sheets and I could see lightning in the distance. Luckily I hadn’t traveled far and I was able to take refuge at a friend’s place. But even the 1/2 mile ride there left me dripping wet. I laughed the entire ride there — from the baseball stadium down Park Avenue towards Atherton. There was nothing else to do but laugh at the situation. Here I was on a tiny 50cc scooter riding along a university road at 30 miles an hour (actually probably much slower than that because of the rain) in the pouring rain. I knew that cars passing by must have thought I was crazy. Indeed, I am. I think the incontrollable laughter might confirm that. But I just loved it. It was one of those “firsts” for me. Even getting caught walking in rainstorms has never left me that drenched. When I arrived at my friend’s place I left a big puddle of water on his carpet. I took off some clothes and rung them out in the sink and put them back on. (Unfortunately, my friend was not there to laugh with/at me.) But having a place to go to was lucky, otherwise I would have been riding 35 minutes in that pouring rain. We should all be so lucky to have a nice warm place to take refuge during a storm.
Yesterday I was itching to get out on my scooter. I hadn’t been on a ride since the previous Saturday with the Fluffy Bunnies, and three days is way too long to not be doing something you are in love with. Despite the abundance of low gray clouds I decided to take my scooter into State College for my tattoo appointment. My first tattoo! The appointment was scheduled for 5pm and the rain wasn’t slated to come until later in the evening, so I figured I had time. I parked at Webster’s and went inside to meet up with my friend, Ellen. (In addition to being a great friend, Ellen is also a badass musician – you should check her Facebook page and her Soundcloud page.) I had asked her earlier in the week if she would come with me to get my tattoo. While we were in Webster’s Kelsey was just getting off work so she came up to Tattoo Marks as well. It was such a great experience. I was super excited and in no way nervous or scared. I had always wanted to get a tattoo, but struggled with what to get. I always wanted it to be really deeply meaningful or symbolic. I think that’s still nice, but I don’t necessarily feel that way anymore. I knew I wanted to get an elephant because they are my favorite animal. But the design isn’t anything that’s particularly “special”. In fact, I found it on Pinterest while searching “elephant tattoos.” But what was meaningful for me was the timing of the tattoo. I’m going through such a deeply profound transitional period in my life and in that sense, the elephant will always remind me of this time. (And as my friend Kate pointed out, since she’s the book nerd always looking for symbolism, “the elephant never forgets, but it’s also walking away.” Exactly, Kate. I’ll take it.)
Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It was great to have two really wonderful women there with me to cheer me on and be genuinely happy and excited for me. (Although I think I made Ellen a bit jealous. There are now plans for a group tattoo session!) Afterward the three of us went to The Deli to get a drink. It was such a blast to spend time with Ellen and Kelsey and get to know them a bit more. They are such fabulous women and I feel lucky to have them as friends.
I digress. Scooter riding in the rain. Well, while we were at The Deli (sitting outside, which is the only reason to go to The Deli) a storm rolled in pretty quickly. I knew when I agreed to get a drink I was taking my chances with the rain, but it was more important to me to hang out with friends than to worry about the weather. So it rained. But it didn’t just rain, it poured. It seems Central Pennsylvania has been getting a lot of deluge lately. So we moved inside, ordered dessert, and waited out the rain. We had lovely chats and we didn’t kill Ellen with bananas. I decided then that even after the rain subsided I didn’t really want to ride my scooter home on the wet roads. Ellen graciously offered to drive me home, so I left my scooter parked at Webster’s (thanks for understanding!) overnight at let Ellen drive me to Bellefonte.
This evening I had plans to go to the Spikes game with my bestie Megg and her brood plus their friends + offspring. So Megg dropped me off at Webster’s to get the scooter right around six. The game didn’t start until 7, so that left a good amount of time for a scooter ride. I took off down West College Avenue and turned right onto Science Park, unsure exactly where I was headed. It was on Science Park that I realized I had time to meet up with my friend, Kate, who I had regrettably cancelled on because I had already committed to the Spikes game. We were going to go together to an art reception at Millbrook March Nature Center and grab drinks after. As soon as I realized (a bit late in the game) that I could do both I headed back toward the other side of town. It’s always pleasant riding around State College. It’s definitely unlike a city where there is major traffic most of the day. And it’s small enough that it’s relatively easy to get from one side of town to the other without taking up too much of your time – even on a 50cc scooter!
I had a great time hanging out with Kate at the reception. My decision to meet her there also held an extra, unintentional bonus. While we were inside chatting over lemonade and choking hazardous pepperoni it started to (can you guess?) downpour. Another deluge. Sheets of heavy rain. It lasted just long enough that, had I been out riding on my scooter, I would have been soaked through. And no friend’s house to seek refuge. I was so happy I had made the decision to meet up with Kate, not just because I truly adore her, but also because I didn’t have to go to a double-header baseball game in soaking wet clothes.
When I left the Millbrook Marsh I was a bit hesitant. I realized that this was the first time I would be riding my scooter on wet roads. The day before I had avoided such a hazard. Even though the commute from the nature center to the baseball stadium is less than 2 miles, I was unsure how it would go. I took it slower than usual and made sure to be careful around turns. It ended up being a beautiful ride, albeit short. It was a little after 7pm and the sun had that beautiful evening, post-rain glow.
Of course I didn’t know the baseball game was a double-header until the end of the 7th inning when the other team tagged our runner out on first, apparently un unfair call, prompting the end of the game and a boo hiss from the crowd. I looked around at my friends and said, “What the hell is going on? What just happened? Is the game over already?” We were all very confused until a few minutes later we caught wind of the double-header because last night’s game was cancelled due to (wait for it)…. rain. (If you haven’t caught on by now, it’s been raining a lot lately in Central Pa.) Apparently when there is a double-header in baseball you play two 7-inning games. Whowuddathought? I’ve always loved going to baseball games, but haven’t been to many over the years because I didn’t really have anyone to go with. I decided that this was mostly because I just never asked. So that has all changed and now going to the Spikes games are one of new my favorite things. Of course, I do have certain favorites of friends I’d like to go with. My favorite part about baseball games is sitting there, looking out at the view beyond the field, with the players doing their thing below. State College has a beautiful view of Mount Nittany. I’m partial to this view myself.
I stayed until shortly after ten and decided it was time to get myself back to Bellefonte for a restless night of sleep. Even though I had enjoyed being there with some of my favorite people, the experience had left me a bit despondent and missing a particular friend. I have to admit I was looking forward to the solitude that the ride home would afford me. That’s generally how I feel these days. Despite having just blogged about how glorious it is to ride with other people, I also desperately love the solo riding. It’s really the only time when I can truly be alone and with my own thoughts. And I am craving that a lot lately. It had cooled down after the rainstorm so I layered up and prepared for my journey home. It is such a peaceful, meditative ride. Most of the route passes through farm fields of corn and cows. The other part meanders along the stream. It’s an easy 11 mile ride that takes me about 30 minutes on Vroomfondel. And while I was riding it occurred to me just how much I enjoy riding the in the dark. I love that there is nothing in your vision to distract you and the only thing to focus on is the small beam of light shinning the road in front of you. I let myself get lost in my thoughts. I let myself feel all of the emotions that I have been repressing (and not repressing) lately. I mourned the loss of a beautiful friendship. I opened my visor and filled my nostrils with the smell of fresh rain. I let the wind (and bugs) hit my cheeks so I could feel alive. I closed my eyes (metaphorically speaking) and pretended I was motoring across the country. I smiled and laughed, thinking of the beautiful memories I have made in the past six months. And my heart quickened at thoughts of the future — the excitement and anxiety of the uncertainty of it all. It’s these scooter rides when I feel most connected to my inner self and when I allow myself to be honest. I feel alive and powerful and beautiful on my scooter. It’s a love I never intended to have and one I never intend to leave.