We here in Vancouver live on the Wet Coast. This city literally is in a rainforest. There’s around 1,200 mm of rain a year. 45 inches for you Imperialists down south. With 10% of that rain falling in the summer months, you can imagine the fun that is the winter here in Vancouver. Wanna get wet? This is your town.
I, however, am Vancouver-born. That’s a pretty small percentage, true “locals”. Most folks around these parts are imports. Not me. I don’t do umbrellas. They’re for sissies. I even ride my scooter in downpours.
Like on Monday.
I had an appointment to get to as the weather worsened and worsened, torrents coming down, and figured, “Fuck it, I’ve been in worse.” I grabbed my reflective vest, something I never wear but felt strangely drawn to do, and headed.
I raced out past the airport, and was motoring it faster than I had when I worked out there, and was, despite the torrents, enjoying the new, powerful beast my scooter had become with its souped-up new 70cc kit, crankshaft, new seals, and essentially a rebuilt motor that was geared for performance and speed by my speed-geek mechanic.
While my mechanic’s all that, it would seem the civic engineers in Richmond are fucking morons. Turns out, the Number 2 Road Bridge is NOT designed for rain. Because, why would you take rain into consideration in a rainforest? I mean, how much can it really rain after all?
Enough to send veritable rivers — I’m talking nearly three inches deep — rushing down the CENTRE of the bridge deck. You know, where scooters ride?
Chug-chug-chug-chig-chocka-bonk-bog-bog-putt-putt-thud. That’s what my bike sounded like when it got engulfed in the river of water and totally got waterlogged. It lost all power and then completely died. In the inside lane of the bridge. In rush hour packed with fast-moving traffic. In a rainstorm.
There I am, all panicky as I’m suddenly having to motor it, pun intended, to get off the scoot, drag it to the inside of the bridge, all of 3 feet wide, try to start the bitch, as trucks and cars are whizzing by me, splashing through the huge puddles of water, trying their hardest to intensely product-test my Goretex raingear.
Would it start? No. Would kickstarting even register? No. Finally, a break in traffic occurred after three minutes and I was able to rush over to the other side of the bridge, to the bike lane. Where every fucking drainage hole was blocked with dead leaves. (Because why would civic engineering think to clear drainage holes of dead leaves in the middle of autumn in a rainforest on a bridge notorious for hydroplaning funtimes?) Again with the 3-inch thick river of water running down. Again with traffic whizzing past and soaking me.
I was about 1.5 kilometres from a gas stating, so I figured, fuck it, I’ll push it there. Which, as you can guess, is a brilliant thing to do when you’re recovering from a back injury that just put seven weeks of your life into a proverbial blackhole spent lying on the floor watching substandard television.
I made it to the gas station and filled the beast, just in case, since I was red-lining it on my gas gauge anyhow. Then came the sad attempts to fire her up. Fail. She’d sputter out every time
Once I finally did get the bike running, I was able to let it idle for about 10 or 15 minutes, and finally the sputtering stopped, so the water evidently had dried up. Happily, I rode off.
But then I reached speed and opened up the throttle. Poof-sputter-sputter-putt-putt-bonk-thud. Again the engine dies. I called Gayboy, who’s ridden motorbikes and scooters for 15 years now and even led a tour of Honda’s bike line all across Canada, and he explained how it sounded an awful lot like the reed valve to him. We decided I’d try to get home by not opening the throttle the whole way — which, having my bike made uberfast wound up making entirely possible, since less power was needed.
Thus began the most nerve-wracking crossing of a bridge in my life. “Will I make it? It’s a big, big bridge…”
But I was the little Steff that could. And did. The bike made it. And then died literally half a block from my home. But I was home. Home! And so too was Pussycat.
You see, as pissed as I am at the fucking twits who designed that bridge, I figure there’s two ways to look at it: I’m unlucky that my bike broke down, OR… I’m lucky that I didn’t get hurt, had the right gear, was smart enough to figure an out, and incredibly lucky I didn’t have to abandon my bike in another city.
Because, shit, if the glass ain’t half-full of water, honey, at least my scooter is. Needless to say, today I’m bussing. The bike will be healed next week. And then, time for more adventures of Steff. Only four months till spring!