Show Notes: This episode was done after arriving in Florence Italy, having just come from Ragusa which is in the southern part of the island of Sicily. While there it was a week of family dinners, celebration and of course lots and lots of conversation. Since I am at best, conversational in Italian, it means listening a lot and asking for things to slowly be repeated. But everyone is very patient and truly seem to be happy to see us.
I have been posting on twitter from my iphone since we arrived in Italy. I find it interesting to be in a place where somethings are very modern, yet many other things are ancient. This is especially true the farther your get from the big city. A great example of this is how the iphone seems to work everywhere we go using the cell system, but to find free wi-fi is almost impossible.
For those of you who might be lucky enough to travel to Italy, getting around by train is very easy. It used to be harder because you had to buy tickets at the ticket window. It was common to have the agent throw a ticket at you in frustration and signal you to move away from the window. These days, everything is done at ticket kiosk where you can purchasing tickets in six different languages. The trains are clean, comfortable and even the local trains are surprisingly efficient. The local trains slower, but that is part of the charm of coming here, you are forced to slow down, take in the scenery and enjoy the ride. My observation is that most people fall asleep.
Italians ride modern scooters. But that doesn’t mean you don’t a few 2 strokes or other old vehicles poking along. It is common to come across people broke-down on the side of the road and it is always an adventure to stop and talk with them. If it is a scooter, curse their bikes and love them at the same time, but eventually every conversation turns to â€œwho is your familyâ€, “do you know this person or that person”. It seems to always be about looking for a connection. It has me thinking about how our scooter conversations are similar, what scooter are you riding, who do you know and what rallies have you been too. Did I mention that dinner here usually starts about eight and goes until midnight with lots of drinking? Sounds familiar doesn’t it, kind of like our scooter get-togethers.
SHOW NOTES: One of our friends, a native Sicilian is getting some kind of “Italian made good in the US of A” awards and since most of her family can’t make it back to the old country, Marcel and I “said sure why not, we’ll go.” As you might imagine, this is going to be a festival and italian festivals mean three things, food, drink and music. The town is called Ragusa and in about two weeks we will be hobnobbing with Adriana’s old country folk and making our way around to the sights on the island.
Any of you who have been following the show or watching the web know that Alix Bryan has been traveling around the US this summer talking with people about Peace and answering all kinds of questions about her Buddy 125. I am lucky in that I live here in Richmond, where she started and ended her ride, and it ended in style, with a big scooter party at ScootRichmond. Thanks to Chelsea! Over the course of the evening there were probably 50 or so scooterist, many well-wishers and lots of good food and at the end of it all, Alix sat down with me and reflected on the ride. You’ll need to listen to the podcast to get all the details and make sure you revisit Alix’s website and help her out. She is truly one authentic human being, hopefully something that we all aspire to be, even in the scooter world.
Jeff Culter first emailed me back around the first of the year, talking about getting a scooter, complimenting me on the show and generally kissing up to the host. I guess it didn’t hurt that I was giving away an ipod.Â But it became evident, after he didn’t go away, that Jeff really did have a budding interest in scooters. What was even more interesting to me was that he had a podcast called Bowl of Cheese with a website to match. Being the usual dolt that I am, I couldn’t imagine how someone could write or talk about cheese all the time, but then again I guess you say that about scooters. It wasn’t until several weeks later, after subscribing to his podcast that I realized that Jeff, unlike me, was a real writer and his show was not about cheese, but about life’s many absurdities. This is my endorsement, suggesting that you visit Jeff’s websites. You’ll find the kind of writing that many of us aspire to and besides, he’s a big fan-boy of one of my favorite tech guys, John C Dvorak.
SHOW NOTES: It seems that in just about every part of my life these days I am thinking about scooting. At the same time, I think more and more about how riding and safety go hand in hand. I think about is getting hit, even when I’m doing everything right. Several months ago, we were all confronted with what happens when things go terribly wrong. The news came that Josh Rogers of Scoot magazine had been involved in a serious scooter/car accident. The details were never clear until now as April Whitney has chronicled this tragic event in an article in issue #46 of Scoot Magazine. As she recalls, it was a spring ride in March, up a winding canyon road outside of San Jose, California. In her article, April quotes another scooterist who said that Josh had just passed him and a car coming the other way veered across the line into his lane and hit his scooter head on. Josh flew up, over the hood of the car, hit the windshield and fell to the ground just to the right of the car as his scooter went over a cliff off to the right side of the road. I thought April’s recollection of Josh’s questions about the accident were telling. As he lie waiting for the ambulance, he asked, “Did I F— up?” What is so amazing about this question is that I can imagine saying this myself, “what did I do?
For those of you who have studied rider safety or taken the motorcycle safety course you know that the majority of accidents are caused by another driver’s mistake. That is not to say that we don’t do some stupid things. Just look at all the evidence on you-tube where showing off doing a wheelie down the street or eating while they are riding is common. Three out of four motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, wich is usually a passenger car. Most accidents happen at speeds under 30mph, at an intersection when a motorist fails to see you and turns left in front of your scooter. According to several leading web references in many of these accidents alcohol use is a common factor and the failure to wear a proper helmet and clothing result in many more serious injuries than necessary. No matter the rider’s overall experience, which on the average is close to three years, over half of the accidents occur when the rider has less than five month’s experience on their bike. I mention this is for all you beginners and many of you intermediate riders out there who are returning to scooting. So what should you do?
Always wear a helmet, it is the single best piece of protective equipment you can use.
Always wear gloves, even on a hot day.
Wear over-the-ankle boots, preferably made of strong leather.
Wear a jacket made of something sturdy like denim, nylon or leather.
Last wear long pants made of a thick material that will resist abrasion and provide protection.
Despite all this, consider developing an attitude towards riding. For me some might say I am a defensive rider, I call it having a healthy dose of paranoia. In short, I consider every car a potential threat and I am always trying to anticipate the need to make an evasive maneuver. And whether it is true or not I keep reminding myself, there are a lot of boneheaded drivers out there.
By the way, thanks again to April for the update on Josh in Scoot magazine and you can follow his recover on the forums at the Scoot Magazine website. In addition, you’ll find an active community of scooterists talking about all kinds of scooter topics.
It was a few short months ago that P.E.A.C.E. Scooter left Richmond, VA for points west. One woman following her dream and now, 22,000 miles, 182 days on the road, 29 states, thousands of conversations about Peace and $8k raised, she returns to ScootRichmond where the ride began. Alix has proven that women can safely travel alone, that little scooters can do big things, and that a Patriot’s Exhibition Advancing Community and Environmentalism (P.E.A.C.E.) on a Scooter can successfully focus on promoting peace rather than specifically opposing war.
To celebrate ScootRichmond and Cheslea are sponsoring a scooter reception on Saturday, August 9th starting at 5:00 p.m. Alix assures me there will be the obligatory wet t-shirt contest and much to her chagrin and probably the disgust of other scoot revelers, I will participate. If you are planning to be anywhere in the area, scoot on down to the shop. Audre will appreciate it.
SHOW NOTES:Scooter Club of the Golden Triangle and Christina Chen report that the big shots of Amerivespa decided to hold next yearâ€™s event in sunny San Jose, California. The rally will coincide with the 20th Anniversary of Vespa Club Los Gatos who will play host to the event. So there you go, no excuses that you didn’t have enough warning and had a scheduling conflict, like a wedding to attend. I’m planning on going, hope to see you there.
There are already pictures posted and blogs being written Lets start with Scootin for a Cure. This is someone who really knows how to enjoy scooting. Her first post came early in her ride last Tuesday. They came down throughÂ WV to Middletown, VA and proceed to ride through the great smoky mountains. Bobo, the famous long distance Vespa rider had come down from Maryland and was joined them for the ride into Chattanooga. If you haven’t heard of him, Mark Bobotec is a famous long distance scooterist who has ridden his Vespa on Cannon Ball Runs. He regularly to events all over the US. Last time I spoke with him he was trying to decide how much of the Cannonball Run he is going to do this year.
From what I can tell rain was an nuisance at this year’s event, especially during the organized rides, like to visit Coker Tires. But as usual, the pictures seem to bear out that the rain didn’t dampen the spirit of the event. There was plenty of hobnobbing, eating and drinking. I haven’t been able to locate any scooter fan produced video on the web yet, although there are several local media videos. I understand that Steve Guzman is working on something, so I’ll keep and eye out for that, but in the mean time scoot.net and flicker have plenty of rally pictures to enjoy.
Music for this show is from Enri at the Podsafe music network. ENRI is a project built around the Italian Hammond organ player Enrico Zavalloni. The line-up includes members of Vip200. In 2000, together with Montefiori Cocktail, Vip200 were Italy’s premier 60s lounge scene band.
SHOW NOTES: It’s only been a few days since I returned from visiting Denver, possibly one of the best scooter towns in the US. Although it was a quick trip, I took part of the afternoon on Saturday to visit three of the city’s scooter shops. Each has a distinctly different feel and it has prompted my to pen a few observations on the scooter scene.
The first is Sportique Scooters, a mainstay and one of the first shops I visited back in 1984 when it opened in an old abandoned west side gas station. These days, Sportique is pushing new scooters, although they still do vintage restorations. Last week when I stopped to check-in, I was impressed by the number and variety of people trying out new automatic scooters and I was glad to see Sportique letting everyone test ride and touch everything they had on the lot.
An extreme contrast is Erico Motorsports. Although this is not an exclusively scooter oriented shop, they are an authorized Vespa dealer and their showroom exudes European style and class. They have a collection of vintage scooters and motorcycles on display that you rarely see outside of a museum. They are the Vespa dealer, but I sense that their real passion is for the sport bikes, the 700cc plus rockets that you see all over Denver.
The place that is becoming my favorite Denver shop is Casa Lambretta USA. What is really funny about this place is that it is the antithesis of Erico Motorsports, yet it is right next door, in the same building. The Denver shop opened about four years ago when Jon moved from Miami to Denver. Jon Kroge is the top dog in the Denver shop (there is another in MIami) and a mechanic that has been wrenching and restoring classic Italian scooters for years. One of things that impressed me, was that several riders were out front wrenching on their vintage bikes with the help of Jon and with tools from the shop. Now how often do you see that. The shop not only restores, but races vintage scooters and has helped organize this summer’s MSRA races in Denver. Next race is July 28th.
One of the great rock anthems of my youth is The Who’s My Generation. I can’t tell you how many bands I have played in where all the songs had this message. Of course we always emphasized the most alienating lyrics like “don’t try to dig what we all say” and “hope I die before I get old”. Now that I have a few years under my belt, as well as a few pounds, I understand that some of that was the usual adolescent angst, but still find myself screaming those same familiar lyrics and living a life of paradoxical intention (look it up).
It may be old news to some, but several years ago the BBC put together a documentary on the isolation and imprisonment experienced by the elderly which included the following video of the Zimmers, featuring a 90 year old lead singer. Think about it…are you ever really too old to ROCK?
SHOW NOTES: As you know, I’m back from after spending a few days in Key West, sun burned yet relaxed and refreshed. Marcel and I celebrated our anniversary and I had yet another birthday. We spent most of the time sitting on the beach, sampling fresh seafood and of course scooting around the island. Last Wednesday Marcel and I met up in Miami, she came out from Denver, I flew down from Richmond, rented a convertible and headed for Key West Florida. For those of you who have never been to southern Florida it is a paradise of palm trees, sand and surf. Key West is an island that is a mile wide and three miles long and has a year round population of about 28,000. This time of the year is low season, as all the tourists have headed back north with the warmer weather. This meant it was a perfect time for us to visit, no crowds, easy to get around and scooting without the worry of hitting anyone except for all the chickens running around the island. Our rental scooter, from the Moped Hospital was a little two year old 50cc Kymco that had seen better days The speedo broke with 7500 miles on it and the variator was on it’s last legs. I did the math and decided that it must have been ridden nonstop on every road on the 3 square miles of the island. This is the first time I have taken a vacation in months and when we get back, I have Pod camp New York to look forward to. Unfortunately, the pod camp is the same weekend as the Dogwood Delirium here in Central Virginia. So, once again I will have to settle for hearing about all the over eating and drinking along with the usual general mayhem and embarrassing moments from other club members. If you happen to be in Central Virginia and weekend of April 25th consider joining the 7hills gang. Check the rally website which has all the detail as to where to go when.
On a note that includes scooter information you â€œcannot live withoutâ€ I have an interview with Iggy Granger from England on this week’s podcast. Now you may say you don’t know Iggy, but if you read Scootering or any of the other scooter magazines, you have probably read one of his reviews. He is a prolific writer who has spent most of his life around scooters and in pursuit of the scooter lifestyle. He has a dream job as an independent scooter test and travels about England and Europe reviewing the newest scooters and organizing some of England’s biggest scooter rallies. Check out his website and his book.
Really only one story to report. Steve Williams of Scooter in the Sticks is closing the book on scooter blogging, but keeping his writing and photography pursuits going around other topics. Check out his blog for more information
SHOWNOTES:ScootRichmond did a fantastic job on the installation of the LML 150 engine in my Vespa Sprint. I have had time to take a closer look at it and the workmanship that including rewiring to a 12 volt system makes a big difference in the lights. Hopefully it will prove to be more reliable. I guess that’s another free plug for ScootRichmond, but I mean it as a plug for building a relationship with your local scooter shop. When you have an established relationship, they are more likely to go above and beyond to give you good scooter information and make sure you are happy with their work.
Before I prattle on too much about the usual scoot stuff, I want to tell you about a unique conversation with Alix from Peace Scooter on this week’s Scootercast. Alix is a person who speaks with amazing clarity and purpose. During our conversation she talked about her upcoming 20,000 mile ride for PEACE. Most people might ask the obvious, â€œare you some kind of fanatic?â€ But for Alix it is much more personal and the ride is a natural extension of her view of life. Since completing the first half of her PEACE ride last year (here is link to the CNN coverage), she has been planning and blogging about this years ride with the kind of enthusiasm a child has in anticipating a birthday. The ride will start in Washington D.C. On May 2nd and the route will circle the USA ending back in D.C. Along the way she plans to blog, post video, volunteer, mingle and generally commune with all kinds of people asking only one question, â€œhow do you define PEACE in your life?â€ Over the course of the next few months I’ll try to check-in with her and get an update on the ride. Go over to the website and throw some support her way. This is a very good interview, not because of me, but because of what Alix has to say. Although a little longer than most shows, it is worth taking the time to listen too.