The wind factor

06.01.07 | Comment?

Riding a Vespa is a pure joy! Now when I say pure, I mean genuine. You ride around and you feel this sense of freedom and ease.

But to get there, there’s a few things to make sure you got under control.

Driving: are you in control of your 2 wheels? Do you feel like you can react in case of an emergency with confidence and control? (Boy I sound like an infomercial!) My answer: YES (at 90%)…10% being somebody throwing themselves under the wheels or a major oil puddle or a completely unexpected strong gust of wind while turning….what can you do?

Warmth: wearing the appropriate clothing is definitely key! Man it can get cold!!! So if you stick your hand out the window and say “Hmm, I would wear a jacket”, then on a Vespa, you need your warm motorcycle jacket with an extra core layer, heavy gloves that are able to tuck in your jacket sleeves, a scarf around your neck, but also chin/mouth (possibly nose) and socks! Yes, socks. I have a pair of shoes which don’t require socks,well, I’ve learned. Bonus: wind/waterproof pants. Yep, jeans don’t always cut it.

Weather: Ok, the obvious would be rain = dangerous. Yes, it is, as we all know especially after a long period of sunshine, things get slippery. But around here (SF), the beast to look after is the WIND.
Wind in the city is OK. It can make you cold, with occasional gusts, but definitely handleable. But when you start crossing bridges, that’s when it gets tricky. There’s nothing to protect you from the wind coming from the great open air. Only a few bridge polls where, after getting some experience, you know that right before and right after the poll are bigger than normal gusts.

After some heavy wind analysis, I have decided that riding with winds more than 25 knots becomes stressful and dangerous. Under that, it’s just annoying. What are knots? Well, I’m not sure I want to elaborate too much, but in relationship with mph, 1 knots = 1.15077945 mph. So, a 25 KT wind is actually air traveling at 28.8 mph, which is strong enough. According to the disaster center wind scale, 25-31 mph winds are a “strong breeze [where] large branches [are] in motion; telephone wires whistle; umbrellas [are] used with difficulty”. Yeah. Strong enough by me! Comfort zone? Probably 0-20 KT (0-23 mph).

I discovered a few tools to know what’s going on, weather wise.
The National Weather website has some pretty cool stuff like these 2 pages:
The coastal water forecast
And their environmental buoy and coastal report (updated every 3 hours)… I like this one because it shows the Golgen Gate Bridge wind strength.

And I just discovered another cool tool, which is a motorcycle chill calculator. It basically compiles the wind strength with the air temperature, and give you the temperature you’ll really feel! For example, on a 65 F day with a 25 mph wind, you’ll really feel 52 F. Now am I supposed to add the speed I’m riding at? I wonder…

Alright, enough analyzing. THIS is why you should learn how to ride a scooter before you go in the street!


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