Monday, October 29, 2007

Never Too "Blah" Outside To Ride the above photos, you may notice some similarities in the cold weather apparel. Yup, it's the often mentioned fishtail parka. In the top picture that I took of Mod Kevin and JayBee, Mod Kevin is modeling the vintage M51 parka that has become quite difficult to find stateside. To his left, JayBee is wearing the M65 model, and is also sporting the new "Geezer" ball cap. While not as jaunty as Mod Kevin's authentic "pork pie" hat, ol' JayBee still pulls off a striking look. The photo below shows myself standing between my cronies scooters with the Port Angeles harbor as my backdrop.
Although the day was rather gray and "blah" looking outside, it was still not a bad day for a scooter ride. After dicking around most of the morning getting nothing done, I finally shuffled out to the shop and rolled my scooter out. I figured that a quick blast over to JayBee's was in order, so off I went. Upon rolling into my Geezer brother's carefully manicured dirt driveway, I could hear the sound of a two-stroke motor winding out. Turns out that JayBee was on the business end of a weed eater. Maybe someday we'll find the Allstate smoking up the yard instead powered lawn care equipment.
My arrival was reason enough to shut down for the day, so we ambled up to the penthouse digs for some coffee. JayBee gave Mod Kevin a call, and luckily reached him in a corner store parking lot. He was out shaking off boredom, riding his scooter the same as I was. Time to meet-up.
It had been a couple of weeks since I had seen Mod Kevin and in that time he had added a windscreen and a chrome rear rack to his Metropolitan. It looks good. Being a graphic artist, Mod Kevin had done some work for a drummer and took the fishtail parka as payment for his work. I think that he scored big time in this deal. Aside from having to do a little stitching and minor repairs, the M51 is in top shape.
We made a run out to Ediz Hook, then over to Von Zipper's place. Max, the guy we call "Von Zipper," rides an old Honda 450, and fits in quite well with our little band of scooter bums. I'm sure the day will come soon when we see him on a scoot. Anyway, after convincing Von Zip' to come along, we headed over to the fairgrounds, then Lincoln Park to finish out our ride.
What I liked so much about the day was that there was no plan. We just ended up getting together and rode around for a while. We are building our group up with some real cool cats and are starting to form some plans for the future. Without having to work at it, we are actually becoming a "club." Right now, structures, rules and regulations don't mean squat. We're just a bunch of guys that like doing the same thing, at the same time, the same way. And it's all about the love of scootering.
So anyway, as a side note...I'm proud to say that I accomplished a short term goal. Today marks one year for the "Little Billy's Scooter Tales" blog site. I appreciate all the folks that visit this site, and touch base through your comments. I feel like I've made some real friends out there, and look forward to continuing this path, and making new friends as I go. The long-term goal is to continue sharing my little world, and to try to keep you interested and entertained in the process.
You know... you people created the nickname "Scooter Evangelist," and I'm cool with that, because it means that my subtle message is being heard. "Riding a motorbike is good for your soul." That's it in a nutshell, and sharing that feeling with others is what I choose to do. All of you that visit pretty much already know this, but it's the folks that I meet and speak with that I want to inspire. I tell them to visit not only this site, but all of yours as well. Folks can learn a lot about riding, and some about life in this little bloggers community. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
Have fun,

Monday, October 22, 2007

My "Special" Vespa

I liked this photo from last weekend for how the color of 'Ol Blue looked against the color of the sky in the background. This was taken last Sunday before we had the change in weather that brought a series of storms through western Washington that included winds of 60+ mph, thunderstorms with hail, and "cow peeing on a flat rock" rain. In a nutshell, the weather sucked.

Since Port Angeles is tucked nicely in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, storms blowing in from the south generally split around the Olympics, and the wrath is more intensely felt to the east and west of us. This is how it went on Wednesday and Thursday, so we ended up being spared the full brunt of the winds. If the systems roll from the west down the Strait of Juan De Fuca, we usually take it like a punch to the forehead. The forecast for the next week calls for better, "more seasonal conditions."

This junk didn't stop most of the cronies from riding every day though. JayBee wrapped up in the fishtail parka and sloshed his way to work, as did Slim Jim on my old Helix. I was able to get my pant cuffs wet a few times as well on the BR. As long as nobody sends out the message to stop riding, I guess we'll stay the course.

For as long as I've had the Vespa, I hadn't ridden on the highway at any time. I've gotten my fix by riding pretty much in town, and on some close-by country roads with slower speed limits. I really wanted to see what its limitations would be if I were to put it in a commuting situation. So I rode out to work yesterday to find out.

I needed to drop an item off at work, and I would normally ride the Big Ruckus out or drive out, as I do this every Sunday. This trip would be the first for Ol' Blue. It was time to stop worrying about the rain and wet, and how filthy my old scoot would get, and just get out there and ride the darn thing. I've never owned a motorbike that I wouldn't ride in the wet before, so why am I treating the Vespa any different? Riding in the rain is part of the gig around here. So with my old school parka zipped up tight, we headed out.

The best thing about the ride to work on Sunday is the lack of traffic. Either folks are at home, or in church, so the streets are pretty much empty till around noon. This made for a much more relaxed ride, and I was able to putt along quite nicely. The exception was the guy in the red Mazda pick-up that stayed next to me for about 3 blocks that kept looking over at me like he couldn't believe what he was seeing. He finally turned into a coffee stand, and I headed down the Baker Street dip. This "dip" is where I would first encounter a real hill to climb.

I tried to build up a head of steam on the downhill so I could blast up the other side. Well, there was no "blasting" up the other side, but I made it without having to shift into third gear, so now I know what to expect. I've never pushed the Vespa this hard before, and I'm happy to know that it will handle the job. I don't want to make a habit out of doing it though. Taking it out in crummy conditions is one thing, flogging the whiz out of it is another. I still look at the GT as a "special" little scooter, and really don't want to abuse it. But at least I know now that it will do the job if called on.

After making my quick visit to work, we retraced the route home with no problems. Mission accomplished. In all the years that I've been riding, and on all of the motorbikes I've ridden, this little jaunt was a new adventure. Most anybody would look and say "So what?" "It's no big deal to ride a scooter through town." But for me it was special. I was reminded of a time when I was about ten years old, and I rode my bicycle across town. It was a big adventure for me, and with my parents approval, I succeeded in making it to my destination. And when I turned to make the long ride back, I realized that I was exhausted, and hadn't planned on having to ride all the way back home. Parked just down the road from me was the family station wagon. My folks had followed me without me even knowing it. I was triumphant though, and they let me know how proud they were that I had made it. After loading the bicycle into the car, we drove over to my grandparents house to share my great story. How ironic that my grandparents house is the same house that we now own, and are raising our kids in. Maybe that is why this simple little ride on my Vespa reminded my of that great day. Both rides took me to the same place, and both rides gave me the same good feelings.

Isn't it something that forty years can pass, and a memory can return so vividly? I pulled my scooter in, in the exact same spot that my parents parked their car all those years ago. And I walked in the same back door to tell my wife about my scooter ride, that I had walked in to tell my grandmother about my bicycle ride. Who says that you "can't go back." I did, and I did it on my Vespa scooter. Did I mention that I think it's "special?"

Have fun,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Here's a photo that gives you the general idea of where my mind is at in relation to my latest post. This shot was taken a few Sunday's back at Altaire campground, and shows Mod Kevin's Metropolitan, JayBee on his 50cc Vino, and my Big Ruckus parked in a campsite by the river.

This campground in the Olympic National Park is about 15 miles west of Port Angeles, and the route that we took to get there is on some beautiful country roads. With speed limits on these roads no more that 35 mph for most of the trip, it's no problem maintaining the speed limit on the smaller scooters. And our area is filled with such roads.

Where my interest lies, and the way my interest has been fueled, is in how these cats have adapted to their individual rides, and how they genuinely feel about their steeds. These scooters give them the same feeling of enjoyment that maybe a crotch rocketeer gets carving canyon corners, or a weekend warrior Harley rider gets in blasting down a long stretch of open highway. It's about the ability to get your face in the wind, and your knee's in the breeze. These guys enjoy riding as much as I do.

Granted, the speeds come nowhere close to what I can achieve on my motorbikes, but it doesn't seem to matter. They shrug this off by simply saying, "we don't need to go fast to get where we're going." Okay, thats true, no argument there. Now I'm looking into the window of their world, and I like what I see.

When I took the above photo, I was sitting at the picnic table, and this is where we sat and had a really nice conversation about scooters, and how they affected how we viewed our personal scooter lifestyles.

Mod Kevin, gets the whole Mod scene, and minus owning a traditional Mod scooter, plays the role full time. JayBee, has ridden the Vino full time since buying it, and has in my opinion become a real scooterist. Bear in mind, these guys ride 50cc scooters.

Part of our conversation was about how if they had 125, or 150cc scoots, they could really stretch their wings and go farther and faster, but what their daily needs call for doesn't require a larger displacement ride. They are quite content being who they are, riding what they have. This attitude made an impression on me that really got me to thinking. They sold me on the point that "bigger isn't always better" when it comes to having fun riding scooters.

So the seed was planted a few Sunday's back, and I am glad that it was. I know that the popular opinion is that I am off my nut for even considering "stepping down" to a little scooter, but there is something about the passion that was shared by these cats that has stuck with me, and it was the sincerity of the way they spoke that struck me so hard. That friends, is where the idea was planted, and it just might be taking root.

Have fun,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How About A Little Scooter For A Change?

I'm always thinking of stuff. I always seem to have a long mental list of things that I want, or want to do. I've been this way for as long as I can remember, and its cool for me because I always have something to reach for. Something to drive my wife crazy is more like it, but I hope by now she is used to it. Once again it has to do with scooters.

You see, most of the hipsters that I know in this area that ride scooters have 50cc models, and they ride them pretty hardcore. JayBee, Mod Kevin, Nick, Talitha, my neighbors Robert and Janet and their group all ride either Honda or Yamaha scooters. And there seems to be even more scoots popping up all the time that I hadn't seen before. This is the beginning of a little scooter culture in our little city, and as usual it has me excited.

I don't mean to leave anyone out of this list of names, but these are just a few of the folks that I see all the time that are out experiencing the joys of scootering, and saving on fuel costs on little rigs. Hmm...I might need to look into this a bit.

So here I sit on a Sunday morning, the owner of a sweet vintage Vespa 125, and my workhorse Big Ruckus, not even including my rat Harley Davidson among a few other rides, trying to form some line of thought that will justify my newest need for of all things...a little scooter.

Yeah, I can sink my teeth into this one for sure. I know for a fact that these little scoots have built in fun factor. Not to say that what I have isn't fun, but I've never had one of the little one's, and there lies the challenge and adventure. What can I do with one of these things? Where, and how far can I go? How much will I learn about them, and how much will I be able to pass on to others? And the big one for far into winter, and in what weather conditions will I ride it in? My immediate thought is that I would put the little scooter through much more than anyone listed above, with maybe the exception of JayBee. This personal challenge would be great.

I've batted the thought around a million times about using the Vespa for the same reasons, but in the end I would hate to beat the whiz out of such a cherry little classic. I care too much for my rolling showpiece to put it through these conditions. In the end, it will always be a sunny day rider. I won't beat up on 'Ol Blue.

So what will I want, and how will I afford it? Ahh...the root of my subject. This is where the excitement and thinking starts. This becomes the challenge and the beginning of a whole new process of learning. Who knows, maybe this will wither on the vine as do many of my great plans, but on this Sunday morning, I have a new plan...and I'm really thinking about it.

Have fun,

Monday, October 08, 2007

It's Fishtail Parka Season

I'm convinced that the seasons want to zoom right past Fall and get Winter started NOW! As I looked at the weather map to see that pretty much everyone in our little blog neighborhood, with the exception of Orin, is enjoying temperatures anywhere from the 60's through the 80's, our day started out at 37 degrees. This is a tad bit cold for early October friends, but not too cold to keep old Billy Boy from a nice putt on Ol' Blue.

Even though this is my day off, I had to make an appearance at work this morning. So I rode my Big Ruckus out early, and after getting home again, I still wanted to ride. I had been looking at some rally photo's on last night, and was jonesin' to get out on the Vespa. Today I got my fix. I'll tell you what too, this type of day was made for wearing a fishtail parka. I know some of you cats know what I'm talking about, but for those of you who don' some research on this piece of scooter history, and look into why this article of clothing is not only very warm and functional, but also how it ranks on the scale of scooter cool. My parka is the M65 model with the detachable wool hood with the synthetic fur ruff. The M51 has the attached hood that came with real wolf's fur ruff. I hope that Santa wears one to my house this Christmas and leaves it under the tree for me.

The photo above shows the jacket on the seat. I know that everyone isn't into military surplus clothing, and prefer body armor with their riding wear, but there is something about owning a vintage scooter that keeps me wanting to follow tradition, and the Mod's were pretty good about figuring what worked best for poor riding conditions back in "the day."

Another thing about riding my Vespa had me thinking of Orin O'Neill over at Scootin' Old Skool. When Orin travels, he has to deal with traffic moving at speeds much faster than his PX150, so that pretty much keeps him toward the fogline. As I rode today at speeds even slower than what Orin can do, I too had to stay to the far right of my lane to allow cars to pass. I'm used to rolling at the speed of traffic on my Sportster and my BR, so when you're not used to having cars pass you in your own lane, it feels a little funky at first. But every time I take the GT125 out, I think of how cool it would be to test its limits and go on some kind of road trip. Maybe this Winter my Geezer cronies and I will come up with some kind of plan to do something this Spring. We will definitely find our way to some rallies for sure. Our plans of hitting the rally scene this past Summer went down the turd hopper since we had just moved into a new store, and our level of business went from busy to really, really busy. Now hopefully the bugs have been worked out and we can find our stride again. When you miss out on your leisure time in the name of "work," you end up feeling like you are giving up a bit too much. And for a scooter bum that wants to get out and do more than just commute, giving up too much ain't gonna work.

I'm hoping that this goofy speed trip into Winter will bring continued dedicated riding and planning for next season. JayBee is moving forward with his plan to get the Allstate shipped off to Scooterworks in Chicago, and I'm going to haul my scoot to the Emerald City to get a once over before the real crap weather sets in. Then I'll start pondering if I want to keep it in its pristine condition, or if I want to ride it the way it was intended to be ridden...all the time, and in every condition. With my fishtail parka on.

Have fun,

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