Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Sunshine Day"

Do you remember that really horrible song, "Sunshine Day" that the Brady Bunch kids sang on the "Silver Platter" episode a few decades ago? Well, that tune could have been played as background music today as Mother Nature painted the sky with brilliant blue, and held the clouds back far enough to have one believe that it really is spring, with summer not far away.

These tasty conditions brought every fair-weather rider out in force, and the newbie scooterists tried their hand at playing in the streets as well. I was amazed at some of the awesome custom iron that I had never seen before, and also some of the rolling junk that folks had stored over the winter without bothering to attempt at least a bit of cleaning. Maybe they were rat bikes? At least they were riding, I was stuck at work trying to earn a buck.

It was great to see new-found friends, Nick and Talitha riding today, and that Nick has customized his C3 with some vinyl graphics that he found on the net. Talitha has a C3PO graphic next to the C3 logo, and it actually looks like it could be a stock decal. Jeff has also added a sweet Bettie Paige sticker to his Vino that has me staring at his scooter for more than one reason now.

The good weather also brought out a long time friend that just returned home from his snowbird residence in Arizona. "Red Sucker Ralph" is probably the one guy that I patterned myself after the most in my years of living in the "biker" lifestyle. In my earliest years of climbing the lifestyle ladder, Ralph was a big influence. How he carried himself, how he endured the elements, how he fought the legal system and won, and how he came back from a broken neck to be able to continue living the way that he chooses, still resonate with me today. And the fact that he still, to this day, treats me well means a great deal to me. Even when he asked me if the rumor was true that I "stepped backwards", and am now riding a scooter. I told him that "Yeah, I'm riding a scooter today, but I still own a Harley Davidson". I went on to tell him of my blogging adventures, and explained that the scooter allows me to ride everyday, and that it is the direction that I'm moving in now as a rider. I didn't want to go into the details of why I moved from that world to where I am now, other than my definition of being a "scooter bum" has changed.

Just like the weather has changed for the better now. As the days get longer, my opportunities to spend time with my Vespa increase. Tomorrow I will try to get my timing adjusted so I won't have to feather the throttle at low rpm. I intend to use the Vespa on occasion as a commuter, and want it to be as trouble-free as I can get it. At some point I want to post a comparison between Mule and Ol' Blue, so I need to have the saddle time to do it right. This should be a fun exercise.

So I'm hoping to hear that "Sunshine Day" tune in my head again tomorrow as I poke around on my "Day of rest". Then friends, I'm going for a ride!

Have fun,

Monday, April 23, 2007

"It's All About Priorities"

Ahh... yet another convert to the world of scooter commuting. The above photo is of my pal and co-worker Brian, aka, "Dreamcrusher". He is standing by his Madami Skybreeze 125cc scooter, which has been known up till now as my former "Kung Pow". Along with Jeff and myself, 'Crusher has been commuting to work on the saddle of a motor scooter, foregoing the comfort of his pickup.

As our current business location is in remodel mode, we now have a big covered area to park our scooters under the awning that will be the new entrance. This remodel will not be complete until after we've moved to our new store, so we have the best parking on the lot. It's a bonus having the scooters out front, in that customers will ask about them, and other riders will park their motorbikes by them, creating a nice "biker friendly" atmosphere.

On the subject of work, I've been guilty in the past couple of months of posting a little heavily on what's going on with work and less on how I commute to and from by scooter. I am, after all, on the "Ride to" blogroll, and not the "I'm Too Involved With Work to Ride" site, if there is such a thing. So I took some time to change my focus and have made daily riding a priority. I can't be the guy speaking encouraging words to others about what is so great about riding, then be "too busy" to strap on a helmet and lead by example. No sirree bub, ain't gonna happen. I'll ride.

I actually found the wisdom in my decision to make a change in priorities in some words from my boss, Doug. I had told him that I was trying to keep on top of some issues that I was involved in with our sub-contractors by anticipating the schedule of material deliveries, and by acting as a go-between with the general contractor and some of the "subs". Doug is as involved as anyone, but has made it a point to remember to take time for himself and his family. It lessens the risk of "burnout" and keeps you fresh. This is sound advice and it has worked.

So now, even as the chaos of moving our business is just about at the boiling point, I'm at home on my off-day, drawing up some local ride routes for our little scooter club, and making plans for a summer barbecue ride event. The Geezers Moto-Scooter Club has grown steadily, and folks want to know when to meet and where to ride. So until someone steps up to handle the details, I'll try to keep up with these issues. Who knows what kind of club we will become? Whether it's loose knit, or a tight organized ship remains to be seen. As long as the focus is on having fun, and being safe, we should be okay. That should be our priority.

Have fun,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spreading The Good Word

To receive the full effect of how happy this goofball in the photo above is...go ahead and click on the picture. Yep, that's my pal Jeff as we were getting ready to roll out on our first group ride. And believe me friends, this was the look that he wore for the entire afternoon.

This next shot was taken at Lincoln Park at the end of our ride. I had made a phone call to Jeff and sent out an e-mail to Nick and his bride Talitha last evening to have a "meet-up" at the courthouse parking lot at 2:00 p.m. Sunday to see if we could get in a little riding. And I'll be darned, it worked! Jeff, Nick and Talitha were waiting as I rolled in at 1:55 and Nick told me that another rider would be joining us soon.

Nick and his bride Talitha are nursing students at the college in town and had just purchased new Yamaha C3 scooters as their daily commuters. The rider coming to join us is one of their instuctors. Cheryl rides a Honda Reflex 250 and I'm told that she really knows her stuff.

As a group, we rode out to Ediz Hook to watch the halibut boats coming and going, then took a run out to the Elwha River across the ancient "one way" bridge. This bridge was old when my Dad was a kid, and although off the beaten track, still gets used quite a bit.

After getting to know each other and the new scooters a little more, we headed back into town with a last stop at one of my favorite places to ride, Lincoln Park. This city park on the outskirts of town is a great family getaway as it has large, stocked fishing ponds, 6 Little League ballfields, forested picnicing areas, and an area devoted to an Indian longhouse and original pioneer log cabins.

My hope is to continue to build on this little foundation. It would be nice to see folks that have an interest in scooters get together now and again to kick tires, swap stories and above all...ride.

I have no idea why I feel the need to "Spread the Good Word" of scootering. I just do it. It's funny that Gary Charpentier called me "Bill the Scooter Evangelist". This caught on with a couple of my friends and the name started to get around pretty quick. I'm good with it.

Really, all of our reasons to ride are good. I don't think that I can really list all of the "Vespanomic" points, or how scooters fit into our "Green" friendly thinking without sounding like a complete dolt. I KNOW that I'm saving fuel and thus saving money. I also know that I'm not pumping huge amounts of harmful gasses into the atmosphere. But I ride simply because I really like to.

How basic is that? I like to ride because of how it makes me feel inside. Maybe this then, is the "Good Word" that I have to share. It has positive emotional value. Yeah, I can share this message. Look again at how it made Jeff feel.

Have fun,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bugged Eyed Goggles, And A Shiny New Vino

My last post was purely focused on my thoughts in relation to how a friend perceives my encouragement to either move forward on restoring his scooter, or looking at option "B", which would be to purchase a new scooter from a dealership. My question was answered the very next day.

The shop that houses the '63 Allstate now has an '06 Yamaha Vino to share space with. And as I had predicted, this was all done within the time frame of a lunch hour.

I could tell by Jeff's jacked up mood that he was excited about the prospect of going to the dealership on Monday. He had done his homework, and was prepared to look at both the Honda Metropolitan, and the Vino when he went to lunch. As Port Angeles Power Equipment is very close to our new store's location, I swung into their lot on a trip out to our store, and sure enough, Jeff's truck was parked there during his lunch break. As I walked onto their sales floor, I saw Jeff in the far corner trying on helmets. I spoke to him when I got up close, and he spun around with the happiest look on his face that I've ever seen. He said, "I got it!, I got the Vino, it's awsome"! I'll tell you what people, this was one happy moment, with one very happy guy. He felt that the Vino was a better deal, and that the silver color worked just right compared to the bright two-tone Metro's. And this little scoot does look nice dressed in silver.

After settling on a helmet, he asked about getting the "goofiest goggles that you've got", and low and behold, Carolyn came through with an aviator style goggle that would fit over Jeff's eyeglasses. They looked so stinkin' wild on him, that I ordered a pair for myself. At this point, I had to get back to work, and Jeff was going into their business office to finalize paperwork. As I was leaving, I had a moment with their head salesman, Bill, and he told me that he had taken care of my friend. Bill and I go way back, and he knew that this sale was special, and I thanked him for that.

Long story short, Jeff has been riding to work in both rain and shine, and it looks great seeing two scooters parked out front. We've picked up some walk-in interest with folks asking about who owns the "mopeds". We even had a guy stop by last night wanting to go for a ride. So after work, the three of us rode out to Ediz Hook to hang for a bit by the water and yak about scooters. Nick, the new rider, told of a group of ladies that have formed a local scooter group that we should contact. Seems that local interest is more far reaching than I had imagined.

The best part about all of this to ME, is that after all the discussions, all the planning, and all of Jeff's efforts, that he finally gets to do what we all live and write about. He gets to suit up and ride his very own scooter wherever he pleases, and whenever he wants. His time is NOW, and by the look of the grin on his mug, especially with those goggles, he's pretty doggone pleased.

To add to this story, I had finally gotten my Chinese 125cc scooter, "Kung Pow" back on the road this weekend after being stored since the big wind damage incident this past winter. I had been riding it to work this week, and the thought came to me that my other Geezer pal "Dreamcrusher" might be interested in something newer than his '80 something Honda Aero 80 that he is getting ready to tear down and rebuild. After running the plan to sell the scooter to "Crusher" by my wife first, I proposed the idea of selling it to him, and was met with a hand shake, and "You got yourself a deal"! Three scooters in the parking lot.

It's not exactly Elvis giving away Cadillac's, but I know that it will be ridden a great deal, and it felt right to make him a great deal.

So my stable is a little smaller, but the ridership has grown. This isn't just a story with a happy ending, but more like a story that's starting with a happy beginning.

Have fun,

Monday, April 09, 2007

Riding The Fence

It's been some time since I made any mention of Jeff's '63 Allstate restoration project, so since I've been thinking about that situation the past few days, I figured that I would put these thoughts into this post.

The old quote "Money changes everything" is true in relation to the progress of this wonderful old scooter that needs lots of financial TLC. Surely Jeff would dearly love to be out riding his scooter than having it sit in scattered pieces in his meat locker of a shop, but the available funds are still a tad bit out of his reach. This isn't to say that the project is doomed to die on the vine, but time ticks away, and the time to ride is NOW.

Where my thoughts come into play, is how I might come across to Jeff in my effort to keep the motivation level high. Will he hear me as an angel on one shoulder, or the little devil on the other, whispering sweet inspirations into his ear. "C'mon man, you're missing out on the good weather, you need to get a scooter". We even have a parking area at our new store just for our scooters. "Sorry dude, you can't park your pick-up here".

Jeff is a guy that really wants to ride, but can't. I picture him as an old west cowboy, dressed to ride the open range...jogging after the stray doggie because he doesn't have a horse. That is not a cowboy folks, that is a running calf chaser. No matter how the picture is drawn, if you don't have a mount, you cannot ride.

So there we were at work on Saturday, and a brother of a co-worker rides in with his wife on two brand new Yamaha C3 50cc scooters. After impressing them both with what I knew about their rides, I called Jeff out to the lot to have him look, and to hear about how easy it was for them to purchase these scooters at the local dealership. With a big Yamaha promotion going on now, that is much the same as what Honda is offering, I told my pal that he could literally be riding to work, and enjoying the fun of scootering in the time that it takes for him to go home for lunch. With 15 minute approval, the offer of a free helmet, and being a 50cc scooter that will do close to 40mph, and not require an endorsement, he will be good to go. And...he wouldn't be scratching for the roughly $3400.00 that he will need to put his Allstate back on the road.

So who am I, the cheerleader, or the pain in the ass for trying to map out a plan that I think would work best for HIM? I've done enough selling on all the great reasons to ride, and like a good salesman, I should just back off and see if the seed that I planted will take root. The bottom line is that Jeff will eventually find his way to putting himself in the saddle, and I need to climb off his shoulder and quit whispering to him. I totally respect this friend of mine, and I guess if he wants to park his Toyota in our reserved scooter parking area, we can make room.

Have fun,

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Work, I Ride, I Hit Grounders And Fly Balls

I'll start by using the same quote that I had used in responding to a comment from a reader yesterday, "I'm up to my George Castanza hairline in work, and haven't visited blogville lately".

And boy-howdy, is that ever the truth. To some degree, I've worked every day for the past three weeks. I will not complain one bit though. Since we are sneeking up on completion of our new store, I have accepted the responsibility of handling some "above and beyond" types of tasks, and am enjoying the success of my efforts, and the efforts of the crew that I work with.

So finally taking some time off, I grabbed ahold of today as the day that I would spend with my boys teaching them the wonderful fundementals of baseball. As a coach in years past, I had some experience with "wild boys", so I've got a chance to work with my wild boys. Billy and Kevin really want to learn, and I enjoy teaching the game, so we'll give the back yard a workout. I'll use wiffle balls to spare having to buy a new kitchen window.

Our day included a trip to the ballpark to watch the "big boys" take batting practice, and shagging fly balls. To me, there is no place like a ballpark to escape the stress, and mental junk that a day of work provides. Other than a putt on a motorbike that is. But first... I needed to field a few phone calls, and make a couple of trips to the jobsite. Once things were rolling smoothly, I got back to the business of having fun.

Getting an early start today allowed me some time with my scooters. The Honda Express 50 hadn't been out for some time, so while I charged the battery on it, I pulled out Ol' Blue and took a nice ride just to say that I did. I needed a Vespa fix like a junkie needs smack. After that, I took the Express for a spin and had a construction crew at the end of the block pointing and laughing at me as I flew by at 20mph acting like I was flat tracking the corner. I threw them a thumbs-up and blasted for home.

I took some pictures of the scooter action around here today to share, but couldn't find the cord to transfer the photo's from the camera to the computer. The hard target search was on till it started getting late in the day, so I will share my pictures when the cord reappears.

I suited up my young-un, Kevin for a ride on Mule, the Big Ruckus. We went by his Papa's house to see if either he, or Grandma were home, but with no luck there, we just tooled around a bit. Kevin will be a rider for sure. If it comes to being in the shop with the "murtercycles", he's there. Of my two boys, he's the one that mimics the way I dress, and works at being like Daddy. I get a bang out of watching this little goofy version of me.

Overall, it was just a real nice day. My focus was with my family, and I put my energy into just being Daddy for awhile. Tomorrow I'll be starting my day at the new store for a while, then back to our current location for the rest of the day. And so the cycle begins again.

Have fun,

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