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62°and sunny. Really?

January 18, 2009
GTS instrument readout

Orin O’Neill photos

I couldn’t believe the temperature readout. I think it’s optimistic. The bodywork is black. The sensor must be near something that gets hot.

Philip had announced a ride around Lake Washington. He couldn’t have picked a better day. Seattle has been suffering from the effects of a temperature inversion, air stagnation warnings coming daily. Cold fog overnight stayed until late afternoon. But today the fog was gone, the sky cloudless and intensely blue. But the weather forecast said it would be about 50 degrees, not 62.

The group met up at Tutta Bella in Columbia City. This is the place where dessert is complimentary if you park your scooter on the sidewalk in front. We get to sit in their loft dining area. Food wasn’t free this time, but Tutta Bella serves certified authentic Neapolitan pizza and great desserts.

The sidewalk was already crowded when I got there, about an hour before the scheduled departure. Having just had breakfast, I opted for a mocha. They make it with Nutella.

About 20 scooters departed, right on time. No scooter time here, we have a lot of ground to cover. Lake Washington is not that big, but a ride around it will take most of a day.

It was, for the most part, a basic route. We went south on Rainier Avenue to Renton, where we picked up Lake Washington Boulevard northbound on the lake’s eastern shore. We weren’t the only 2-wheelers, groups of bicyclists and people on Harleys out enjoying the weather as well.

It was really easy to keep track of Doc. His P200 was the only old-skool scooter in the group, and by far the noisiest.

A woman in a gold Honda CR-V looked up from her scribbled directions and grinned as we passed. I must admit, reactions like that are why I do group rides.

Downtown Bellevue

We made a gas stop in (I think) Newcastle and passed through downtown Little Dubai on the way to Kirkland and our halfway stop, the Wilde Rover Pub. I notice I’m sweating. I had dressed for 40° F and it must’ve been above 50. I didn’t look at the GTS’ instrument cluster to confirm this, however. But now that I think of it I should’ve asked our friend Chuck what his GTS’ temperature readout said.

Just as we were leaving, people were saying, “Orin, your back tire’s going down.” What?!

I hopped off and put the GTS on the center stand. Chewy handed me her tire gauge (a cool electronic one) and hand pump. I need to get one of those; Chewy said she got hers at a bicycle shop. Nice thing about scooter tires, being able to inflate them with hand pumps.

The gauge read 8.0 psi. Yikes! The recommended rear tire pressure for a GTS is a bit over 29 psi (solo). I gave the tire a spin, looking for some sharp thing stuck into the tread. There’s nothing obvious.

If there’s a slow leak, it should be possible to make it the rest of the way if I pump the tire up a bit more than normal. The gauge reads 31.5 psi when I’m done. We’ll be stopping at Café Racer at the end of the ride, so I can check it again.

Unlike the PX, where it will be glaringly obvious if your rear tire’s going flat, the GTS felt fine. I got to Tutta Bella by riding 50 mph on the Spokane Street Viaduct to Columbian Way, for gosh sakes! But then, I didn’t check the tire pressures before I left, and at this point still hadn’t determined there was a puncture.

I’m nervous as we ride through Juanita to Kenmore and Lake Forest Park. I keep asking Randito, who’s been riding next to me, how the tire looks. “About the same as before,” he keeps saying. That’s good.

Upon arriving at the Racer, I check the pressure again. The gauge reads 33.0 psi. Remember, tires generate heat when you ride/drive on them, which will increase the air pressure. The maximum pressure on the tire’s sidewall is for when the tire is cold, so a reading above that figure (as long as it’s not way above) is okay. We didn’t go too far, and it is getting colder.

Still, I decide to bid my friends an early adieu so as to make it home while there’s plenty of air in the tire. And I’ll take the surface route—it would not be pleasant waiting for AAA on the high-level West Seattle Bridge.

However, the tire feels full as I pull up to the red light at Chelan Avenue. There’s still not a cloud in the sky, which is pale yellow to the west, fading into pale blue, then pink, then a darker blue. It’s after 5:00 o’clock and still light. Can’t wait for spring.

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