The challenge ahead

Monday, 17th June 2013; 10:22 am

The ride I have planned for next month is the most challenging of all. Both for me, and for my steed. And yeah, it has me a little nervous.

It’s a long trip. Not just in miles (which is comparable to the mileage of my first big ride) but in days. Going hiking in the woods for two days actually adds three days to the trip, because of the time it takes to get to Isle Royale and back, turning an 8-day trip into an 11-day trip.

I’ve done long trips before. My high school friend Adam and I went bicycling in Britain under similar conditions for over a month. But I’m not 18 (with no responsibilities) anymore. Several years ago I took a hike on Isle Royale which was also a week and a half. But I’m not 40 anymore either. And as much as I enjoy solitude, and I like being self-reliant, it can get to be a bit much over an extended period of time.

The challenge for my scooter is even greater. With 20,500 miles on it, it’s no longer the just-broken-in, still-under-warranty-and-free-roadside-assistance young buck it was on that first ride. And the territory I’ll be riding is more difficult: higher elevations, and the word “mountain” starts showing up on geographic features. Most of Michigan is pretty flat, but the western UP is the exception, and I seem to be aiming toward all the problem spots: Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and just getting up into the highlands around the Wisconsin border and west of Marquette will necessarily involve going uphill. Which is the biggest weakness of a 50cc scooter.

I’m looking into the possibility of doing an “upgrade” on my scooter. It’s already been derestricted, which removes the artificial power limitations placed on the engine for licensing purposes, and lets me hit 40mph on level ground. But there’s a different exhaust pipe that’s engineered to change the internal dynamics of this two-stroke engine, resulting in the it putting out about 10% more horsepower. That’d mean another 4mph when I’ve got cars behind me, and less speed lost going up hills. The downside (in addition to costing probably $300, installed) is that it’s louder. As if the standard pipe isn’t loud enough. So even if I installed it, I probably wouldn’t leave it when I got back to flatland here.

Comments are closed.