Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Flattery Will Get You Somewhere

I'll start by saying that the quote "Imitation is the highest form of flattery" is true. And folks, I'm feeling pretty darned flattered right now.

A few months back, a retired gentleman named Hal dropped in at work looking for me. He had been sent to meet me by Bill Rowland at P.A. Power Equipment to talk about my Big Ruckus scooter. We ended up in the parking lot with me running the best sales pitch that I could about this style of scooter. Hal seemed interested, but would have to "clear it with the wife" before making a purchase. One of his main questions was about leg room, since he's about 6 inches taller than me. I pointed out that a great feature of this scooter was the adjustable seat. He could simply pull a lever and slide the seat back to where it would best suit him.

Now, I had heard that a BR had been sold with a set-up like mine, but I wasn't positive that it was the same guy that I had spoken with, so when I saw him ride in to the Honda dealership parking lot today, I was pleased.

I had run out this morning to talk with the owner of P.A. Power Equipment about linking them to my blog site, and after talking with the salesman for a while, I saw the scooter turning into the parking lot. Bill said that it was indeed Hal, and that he was coming in for servicing.

Now mind you, I had only met this guy once, and to my surprise, as he got off the scooter, he walked over and called me by name while shaking my hand and told me how much he loved his Big Ruckus. I was impressed that he remembered my name. He had the doggone thing looking just like mine, with the exception of a different tint to the windscreen. I was flattered to say the least.

It seemed funny that I had to work a little trial and error to get Mule set up the way that I like it, and that by using my scoot as an example, someone else was able to add the same components to theirs, and "wha-la" they have something that works well for them. It seems so simple now when I look at it.

I didn't let on though, that I'm going to be adding leg shields, and some mirror mount hand guards soon, because I didn't want to get beaten to the punch. I won't mind the trial and error approach now that I've seen that what I do works. And for sure, when I'm done with my add-on's, I will call Hal to let him check it out. I might even gain a friend while I'm at it.

But first, it's time to get out to the shop and start cutting out leg shield templates.

Have fun,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"If I Have To Explain..."

I'm fairly certain that as riders, we have all had someone question us as to why we ride the brand or type of motorbike that we do. So it is with my switch to riding scooters that I get questioned about why a scooter and not my Harley. One fellow went as far as to question my manhood because I wasn't on a "real bike". He doesn't even own or ride a motorcycle, yet felt that he needed to express his opinion. If they only knew.

I could throw out some stories of adventure and danger and about times that I pushed beyond what was considered acceptable behavior as a biker, but do I really need to? Certainly not to some jamoke that talks out the side of his blow-hole. It's not worth my time to legitimize myself. It reminds me of the quote that is often found on tee-shirts that reads, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand". I do understand, because I was there.

My point is, that if someone is into riding and they genuinely enjoy motorbikes no matter what the style, make or model or whether it's a custom bobber or a Lambretta, then that person, to me, is a rider. Period. It is my personal choice to ride what I enjoy and I happen to feel that I'm open-minded enough to be respectful of what another person chooses to ride. The truth is that I am happy riding anything. My passion happens to be scooters. I dig the crazy things.

When I think about it, I'm just one of those people that enjoys the full spectrum of what the two-wheeled world has to offer. There is so much to watch and learn and read about. I still like watching the two Pauls of OCC and the offerings of Two-Wheel Tuesday on Speed. I like the Biker Build-Off episodes, though I am a little freaked out about the way Hugh King looks with the floor mop hair-do. But for the most part, I'll walk up and look at anything parked on the street. It can be a Trail 90 or a Gold Wing, it doesn't matter to me. It's probably the same for folks that are into antique furniture or hot rod cars. You stop and look because it's what catches your eye, it's what interests you.

Every bike and every rider has a story too. People want to talk about what it is that they like about their steed, or where they've gone with it. And folks, every story is worth hearing, because to the teller, it's worth telling. And being a good listener, or for that matter a good reader, completes the circle.

I realize that I'm preaching to the choir now, but in the end, I still feel like I had to "explain" myself. You folks that visit this site, more than most people that I know, already understand. Sometimes a guy just has to get something off his chest. It was worth it for me.

Have fun,

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Although a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture is probably worth somewhat less than ten or twelve. It reminds me of the photo in the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is caught tampering with a broken stereo that Kramer was going to insure and send in to get his money back as a "write off" from being damaged in shipping. Maybe this picture is worth a few words after all.
What we have here is J.B. spending some quality time with his buggered up Allstate motor. The good news is that J.B.'s "money ship" came in with the fact that he sold his RV this week and now has the "dough to throw" toward getting the scooter in running shape. This is great because the lack of fundage was our unhoppable hurdle in this project.
The plot twist comes in the phone calls that Jeff made to certain Vespa shops that he was looking at to get the motor work done. As it turns out, Scooterworks in Chicago looks to be the direction that he'll take. They offered to upgrade the motor with new electrics and basically do more for the money than can be done in our area for a comparable price. So rather than pack up and roll to the Emerald City, we'll build a packing crate and ship the Allstate to the Windy City.
I still intend to find my way to Big People Scooters so they can give Ol' Blue the once-over and bring me up to speed on things that I need to know. Maybe we can combine the trip with a stop at Ducati of Seattle for a speed fix of the good kind.
On another note, the motorbikes have been out in force the past few days. While I toiled at work yesterday, I watched as a group of about 30 sportbikes went by with everyone in full riding gear. It makes me wish that a bike like these was within my budget. But not for awhile I guess. The HD's and lookalike cruisers thundered by in small groups or by themselves. Everyone assuming the "Look" associated with being a leathered-up biker. Lots of loud throttle twisting at the stop light that had me laughing at these weekenders. But there were a lot of them throughout the day nonetheless. And one dude on a scooter.
Although it was a nice day to be out, I won't fool myself into thinking that winter is over and that the springlike weather is here to stay. I know better than that, even though we have flowers pushing through the ground at home. I'd noticed the new snow on the foothills above town this morning, and it would only take a drop of a few degrees to put the white stuff back on my front lawn, and remind us all that it is still winter.
But overall, the combination of having warmer temperatures, and more hours of daylight to enjoy, the daily commute is more enjoyable. Having my Geezer pal Jeff sharing the Ride To Work experience soon will be even better.
But first, we need to build a box, and ship the old girl away to Scooterworks in Chicago to have them put her back on the road, better and stronger than ever.
Have fun,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Scooter Stress Relief

Boy, all of a sudden I feel like I'm busier then I've been in a long time. Could be that the days are getting a little longer, or that I'm pressing more at work, or that there is just more on my plate than before. Whatever the case, I was wound tight this morning, and it's my day off!

After running some errands, and spending time at our new store location, (where I ended up taking a materials order from the electrical contractor, which had me going in to work to set up a delivery) I decided that I was going to take some time for myself to try to rest and relax. I decided to go visit my folks.

My Dad's 74th birthday was on Monday, so I went down to the local seafood store and picked up some fresh smoked salmon to give as a gift. I know the guys at the P.A. Fish Market, and they are always good about hooking me up with the good stuff.

After a nice visit with my parents, it was off to find some Valentine gifts for my wife and little ones. No way was I going to get away with missing this holiday, even though Dena said to not worry about it. The kids would be bringing me me a Valentine and I didn't want to not have something for them.

With all of this resting done, it was time to relax with a ride. So wouldn't you know it, as soon as I pulled the scooter out of the shop to warm it up, here came the rain. No big deal, I was going to ride no matter what and off we went.

The ride was my usual jaunt out to Ediz Hook and around the west side of town where I live. This was probably the best stress relief ride that I've had in a while, since I've been pretty much thinking about work and putting in a big effort to get a lot done lately. The ride was a head clearing, coat soaking moment of two wheeled therapy. If I don't do anything else today, I rode my scooter and that makes me happy.

The weather-people call for a few days of river-swelling rain, followed by some nice days over the weekend. Hopefully this will give me a chance to get in a longer ride on Sunday to stretch Mule's city legs out a bit. Seems like more and more people are taking their battery tenders off their motorcycles and riding them again, so it'll be fun to be out amongst the weekend warriors. The lone scooter dude with the crotch rocketeers and the hardcore biker posers. I can't wait.

Have fun,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Stepping Up

So it is with anybody that has a hobby or a project, that the one thing that will always bring you to a standstill, is the lack of hard earned cash. And we are at a true blue standstill.

Until Jeff's ship comes in, we only have some cosmetic work that we can do on the Allstate project. The motor needs to be sent off to Seattle for it's makeover, and the funds aren't available for that. Same with the painter man that will have his dusty hand out. It's all about the bucks right now.

Jeff has been trying to sell off a motorhome to fund this project and pay off some debts, but camping and travelling isn't a big fad this time of year, so nobody wants to buy an RV. He's had a few nibbles, but can't seem to get anyone hooked. I feel kind of bad for him because I know that he really wants to be up and running on this old Vespa. Maybe the IRS will be kind to him this year.

We are beginning to ramp up our efforts at work to prepare for our move to our store's new location in the next couple of months. This will be a pretty big deal, as we will continue to do business as usual as we make the transition. Imagine moving your company down the road a few miles and still trying to maintain your daily flow of activities. This should be fun.

The building that we are in now is in the beginning stages of an exterior facelift, so we have a crew tearing things apart, and machinery running all day making lots of racket and basically making things ugly to the eye.

On the inside of the store, we've been pushing the effort to start consolidating inventory, and trying to free up space on the sales floor. I spoke at a meeting last week that six months ago, I had said that the two months prior to the move, we would need to begin this moving process, and I wanted everyone at 100 percent throughout this time, and through the transition. I raised some eyebrows because my overall message wasn't what some wanted to hear. One person wanted to hear "good things, with a positive message". I was told that it was "wrong" to have a negative message. I said that "On the contrary, I am positive that if you took it personally, that you got the message that you needed to hear". I finally let the harder side of my personality out, and it felt good.

Leadership can be a tricky thing, and I basically chose to throw out a challenge to see who was willing to step up to the pace that I need to keep to get this job done. Our general manager had told me in an after-hours talk that he wanted someone to "step up" and that I understood what needed to be done. So I'll run with it.

Anyway, I'll jump off my soapbox now. I just see that there will be a shift in my regular routine coming up, and there will be some limitations to my daily activities. Work will take a front burner position, and I just hope that during this time that I can settle into a routine that will allow me a chance to ride as much as possible. We'll have to see.

But it's an exciting time, and I'm up for the challenge, and with Spring peeking around the corner, and the gloom of Winter slowly moving away, the true riding season is almost at our doorstep, and this is my favorite season of the year.

Have fun,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hurry Up And Wait

Here she sits, waiting for someone to come and pay attention to her. Jeff had some out-of-state company for a few days, and with the Superbowl on Sunday, the Allstate wrenching crew hasn't been active with the restoration project. This should change in a few days.

I spoke with the service manager at Port Angeles Power Equipment and he said that their head mechanic suggested Big People Scooters as the best shop for engine work. Paul, at Olympic Powersports said the same, so it looks like the roadtrip is a go. Personally, this trip will be a great chance to get a good look at not only the vintage rides, but the new models that I only read about.

I've had Vespa on my mind for a while now and am looking for a chance to get out and play on Ol' Blue. The weatherman should have just said that today's forecast calls for "dismal, wet and dreary" because that is what we've got. It's ridable, and I've been commuting on the Big Ruckus, but I don't want the Vespa out in it. I realize that some of you are dealing with some nasty cold weather, so I can't really complain. I read this morning that Minneapolis will have a low of -9 today, so 51 degrees and rain is not too darn bad.

I commented on a blog site the other day about the Yamaha C3 that Gary had posted a photo of. I mentioned to my wife that it would make a great grocery getter with it's 9 gallon cargo capacity. I received an intense stare. I then ran the same thought past a co-worker, and had a much more positive reaction than I got from my wife.

I'm going to go check it out today at the dealership, and get some literature on it. I should hit these guys up for some type of perk, because I basically sold a Big Ruckus for them, based on a guy stopping by my workplace and getting all excited about mine, then going back and buying one with "Everything that Bill has on his". Same windshield, and same tour pack. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

If all goes as planned, I should have some fresh Allstate info to share soon, along with the sophomoric hi-jinx action that takes place in the process of hanging with these hooligans. For now though, I'm going to see if I can cop a "test ride" on that new little Yamaha.

Have fun,

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