Monday, December 18, 2006

Midwest Scooter Enthusiast

A gift

There are few experiences in life which inspire me to write. The lure of the open road is one of them. I can talk about bikes and scooters as long as a listener is willing to put up with me. I can tell you about the ride I took last week with a gleam in my eye. I can relate how I wound the throttle up all the way while negotiating a banked turn just so I could spit the Vespa up the small rise at the end of the sweeping bend and crest the hill with butterflies in my stomach. The little machine doing its level best to scream around that turn. Looking for enough momentum to shoot up the small hill and open up the suspension to its fullest before flying down the other side.

The feeling of throttling back as I descend down the back slope of the hill just to pull hard at the base as the Vespa transitions from decline to level surface. There's a rush there too. The engine sings delight in a high pitched yowl. A wild mechanical sound. Its that kind of ride which makes ordinary men pick human names for inanimate objects like scooters. You make the connection.

Its those moments when the sweat is trickling down my back, when I'm wondering what possessed me to ride so hard, so close to the edge of my comfort zone. Hey, let's be honest here; I left my comfort zone about a mile and a half back!

I know it now. It isn't me and the bike anymore. Its just me. The bike has become an extension of me. I swear I can feel the stickyness of the contact patch of each tire.

Palms are sweaty inside my gauntlets. I notice how warm my body is as I set the scooter's lane position for the next twist in the road ahead. The vents on my Shoei are gulping air and the coolness of the draft tingles my scalp.

I start wide and drift tight toward the inside of the lane as I open up the draft of air on the carburator. The Vespa gains momentum and pushes itself down on its wheels. More grip. Look ahead, lean and let the Vespa become a natural extension of you is all I'm thinking. Look ahead. Lane placement. The shoulder of the road, the ditch and the cat watching me go by are all ancillary documentation. In an instant so finite I cannot register it as an actual thought, my mind has relegated the safety value of the the cat's position as I zoom past it.

Hill and dale, I know where these roads are. Just as the locals know that midnight blue Vespa will someday return. I many not be blindingly fast but as anyone whose ridden long enough knows, its better to take a slower bike to its limit than to ride a fast bike beyond your own limits.

So how does the title of this blog fit in? When I've had a long day with the kids, or my dear wife takes them to visit some of her girlfriends, she will say to me...

"Hon, you've had a busy day. Why don't you go for a ride? It'll do you good..."

That my friends is a gift.

the Roadbum


Combatscoot said...

Roadbum, you make me want to find some twisty bits to ride... I miss them so much. The only thing I really don't like about living in Florida is the lack of twisty, hilly roads. I need to take a road trip.

American Scooterist Blog said...

But you live in FLORIDA. I wish I could ride as often as you can. I've essentially put the Vespa away due to the amount of salt they've poured on our roads for a total of.. get this... 6/10ths of an inch of snow so far this season.

You have some beautiful country just north of you. And you have the ocean. I would love to ride by the ocean just once someday. I dunno John, I think I'd like to ride where you are too.


CodyandMichelle said...

Quite the writer you are Roadbum, I can't even think of any smartass thing to say. Damn near brought a tear to my eye.
And like combatscoot, i live in Florida. And yes it is nice to ride by the ocean, but I'd rather go the twisty routes and hills. Guess that's why we are moving to NC in a few years. Ahh, the grass is always greener on the other side my friend. True the cold and snow prevents you from riding, trust me, the salt air plays havoc on our precious metal Wasps.
Keep up the good work
Cody\BTW, why can't you post photos?

American Scooterist Blog said...

Cody, thanks. I appreciate what you said.

I've got to say that some of the very best riding roads have to be in Wisconsin. You wouldn't think so, eh? But they're there, and all it takes is getting away from any city, any small town and you're almost within sight of some new haven of two wheeled happiness. A scooterist's dream.