Archive for Everything else

Ducati Moped Restoration Update

Yes it looks pretty good, but it won’t start. You might remember that I began this restoration over a year ago. Tonight I went back and looked at the pictures I took before starting and I wondered how I ever thought it would be possible to bring this thing back to life. I am a persistent twit and haven’t given up and I won’t. The spark is weak, so my next move will be trying to locate a new stator. My repair of the old one was a little dodgy, as it looked salvageable, but may not have been. Enjoy the all the before and after pictures here and in the photo album. I will let you know more about bring it alive as soon as I track down some new electrics.

Returning to Rome

It has been a beautiful week in Florence, with a side trip to Pontedera to see the Piaggio Museum. Today we are taking the train back to Rome and will spend the evening as Le Lanterna, one of our favorite places to have dinner. I took some time yesterday to post more pictures to the website’s Photo Album page. Your can find them by clicking here.

I am working on another podcast on the visit to the museum and the history of the Piaggio company hoping to have that posted shortly after we get back. Thanks for all the emails and for following us as we have traveled the past few weeks. It will be good to be home.

Trip Update

Wireless is hard to come by in the little towns of Sicily. So here is a great experiment, can I blog from my iPhone? Italy is hot in the summer but a good time to visit because everyone goes to the mountains or sea. Rome was empty and we walked up to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and other sites without having to fight any crowds.
Unlike most people think scooters in Italy are utilitarian. But they have caught on that the rest of us have a love for them and there is Vespa crap all over the place. Most scooters are big wheeled Aprilia or the like and it is not uncommon to see bikes from Taiwan. Old scoots are rare as the government started paying to get them off the streets years ago.
But life is as I remember it, people and food first everything else second.
Be sure to check twitted for daily updates ok our travels. Pictures to follow as soon as I get an Internet connection.

Scooter Quest with a Technology Twist – Episode 70


There have been a ton of scooter riders out there this summer cutting across the United States in all different directions. So when I got an email from Sean Blake about his ride, I said to my self “so what?” Later, I went to his website, Scooter Quest, I realized that this was something different. Sean and a friend are going to use streaming video to let you see the ride as it is happening and give you a chance to participate while they are on the road. For those of you who don’t have a geek streak in you, this may not be so fascinating, but to me it was exciting. But I should back track a bit.

In podcasting and “new media” there is a lot of interest in building connections, a community of people who have similar interests, like in scooting. One of the emerging tools for doing this is streaming video, a live video platform that allow for conversations not just between two people, but among many from all over the world. Leo Laporte of TWIT is probably one of the most successful techno-buffs who is into this, but there are many more like Chris Pirillo and Robert Scoble.

Sean has wired his Genuine Stella scooter so he can stream video and chat while they do their Scooter Quest ride. In addition, their website will include real-time GPS mapping and video archiving for when they hit spots with no connectivity. I think this is another example of how some people are pushing the media envelope and they are not alone. If you want to see more of this kind of stuff look at the websites for Qik, Ustream,   Mogulus and other video and streaming platforms.

On another note, my luggage and passport are laid out on the bed and I am starting to dream about all the places we plan to visit in Italy. I hope to have another podcast up before we leave, but who knows. If the wi-fi gods are good to me on the trip, I will blog and post a show from the road. If not then just look for my tweets on twitter. For what it’s worth, I have been assured by AT&T that my Iphone will work in Italy.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe music network and features Reel Big Fish a band from California and The Subcity Dwellers, a nine member band from Canada.

Episode 68 – Scooter Safety Tips

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?

  1. Always wear a helmet, it is the single best piece of protective equipment you can use.
  2. Always wear gloves, even on a hot day.
  3. Wear over-the-ankle boots, preferably made of strong leather.
  4. Wear a jacket made of something sturdy like denim, nylon or leather.
  5. 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.

Music for this show is from the Podsafe Music Network and Ariel’s Publicity, featuring JD and Straight Shot

PEACE Scooter Returns to Richmond, Ginormous Celebration Planned

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.

Scooters in the Jerusalem

Thanks to our reporter abroad, Errol in Toronto for bring this story on scooting in Jerusalem and Tzahi Ziv of IFI Motors, which is importing the American-made Vectrix scooter. Click here for the original article. “Do you realize how many lawyers drive scooters to work in the metropolitan Tel Aviv area?” Ziv asks, potential sales figures gleaming in his eyes. “There is definitely a market in Israel for the Vectrix.”

Episode 66 – Suzuki Burgman Scooters and a PEACE Scooter Update

SHOW NOTES: I have been getting emails from all over, telling me about your local scooter events. Sorry I don’t have time to cover all of them, but I have plans later this summer or early in the fall to recap with links to some of the better videos. Speaking of rallies, for those of you who have asked, I will not be at Amerivespa this year. I had hoped to make it, but another commitment to attend a friend’s wedding in Denver has changed that plan. (that is were I am posting from today) Although I can’t make it, it sounds like a number of other bloggers and regular scooterist are going to be there. Send me your pictures and videos and I will see about posting them on the website or give me a call (206-888-6174) and I will try to get you on the show.

Some of you have written asking about why I talk so much about Italian scooters. Well, I am Italian, but mostly, it’s like a lot of things, you talk about what you know. Then the other day I noticed that someone had linked to the scootercast website from The Burgman Riders Forum. It a was pleasant surprised to find an active scooter community talking about Suzuki Burgmans. These big machines are made for the open road and I understand that they are very comfortable for touring. The forum has a lot of threads going into modifications and accessories and there are  numerous links to spare parts, technical references and people who can mentor you.

I got an email from Alix last week. You know, PEACE scooter ride. She is planning to be in Washington, DC on August 8th and then will head back to Richmond on the August 9th where we hope to have a big scoot-in at ScootRichmond to welcome her back. If you haven’t checked her blog lately it’s worth a few minutes of your time. If you want a reminder that the whole world doesn’t think alike, and there are some pretty incogitant people out there, it’s post you must read to believe.

To digress from scootering for a minute, while I was about reading this I was keenly aware that in Virginia, a moment in history was being created. On Monday, a Statue and Civil Rights Memorial was unveiled on the state Capital grounds honoring Barbara Johns and other African-Americans who were part of the fight to end segregation of schools in Virginia. It seems a  wry irony that the monument sits on the same ground were the politicians of Virginia actively resisted desegregation into the 1970s. I think Alix would have been proud to see this, it was one kind of PEACE and along some reconciliation, yet acknowledged that we do not have equality, but things are more equal, and somethings are worth fighting for.

Podsafe music for this show came from Ariel Publicity out of New York and the Stilentreatment. Their music can be found at the Podsafe music network or their website.

P.S. Here is a link to the webpage on sidecars.

Weekend Scooter Cleanup

Weather here in Richmond has been uncomfortably hot. This means getting out early to take care of all those chores. Since selling our 2002  Mini Cooper, I have been meaning to organize my tinkering space, the garage, and this weekend I finally got to it. The problem with cleaning up is that I always run into more projects and in this case I was reminded when I ran across the neatly organized parts from my Ducati Falcon. I am pleased to say that I am back on track with the project and the frame is at the powder coater. Next comes chrome and paint. It has only been a year since I started, not bad for amateur restorer.

Episode 65 – Iphone Envy and a New Lambretta Scooter Bible

SHOW NOTES: I am sitting here with a beautiful hand crafted premium leather case for my new 3g iphone. It’s that soft Italian leather, you know, the kind that feels like a well worn shoe, already broken in and it has a wonderful new car leather smell to it. I am talking so much about this case, because my stupid AT&T store ran out of iphones and I had to order one “to be delivered in the next few days.” Now as much as I like smelling the leather case, I find myself a little pissed that all I have is a case. How can I show-off? Maybe what also gets me is that I ordered the case last week, thinking, I bet if I do this I won’t be able to get the phone. As I pressed the buy button, I thought “this will be a self fulfilling prophecy”. So now I check the AT&T website everyday to see the if the phone has shipped. So far all I get is, “your phone is on back-order.” Damn that Steve Jobs, he sucker me in again.

So as our English friends might say, lets get to this week’s scooter shite. Pete Davies is one of those English fellows, like Nigel Cox whose name is synonymous with scooter history in Europe. Pete was around way back in the late 70’s and heyday of the huge Scarborough rallies in England and has stayed true to the Lambretta badge since. Today he remains immersed in Lambrettas running the British Lambretta archives.

Being an admitted Lambretta neophyte, I am no expert, but I will go out on a limb and say that both the beginner and experienced Lambretta fans are going to love Pete’s new book, The Lambretta Bible. The book outlines in great detail the production run of every Lambretta model from 1948 until 1971 and the book also includes extra details on non production scooters including those modified by English dealers. This is one of those books that sucks you into the brand, even if you have had only a passing interest in the Lambretta scooters. Of course, now I find myself wondering if I am missing out not having a Series 2 Li in my stable. Pete has included model by model frame numbers, paint schemes, Lambretta’s Central Office notes on model by model changes with carburetor specs and gear ratios for every Lambretta model made.

The Lambretta Bible is published by Veloce Publishing in England, but as you might expect, it is available from all the major book outlets. For a direct link to the Veloce website click here. With all the detail and hundreds of glossy color pictures, of some of the best Lambrettas ever made, you won’t be disappointed.

Music for this show is from native New Yorker, long time studio musician and session guitarist Chris Juergensen and Todd Sharpeville both on the podsafe music network.

Sadness and more sadness

In general my life is or has been very good. Some days are sad, but this has been a really sad day. I have had Bella and Courtney as constant companions for more than twelve years. They were my company on that long strange diversion through Texas and then very patient travelers when we moved out here to Richmond. Maybe more importantly, they have been my family and were a part of many memories Marcel and I have created together.

Courtney died four weeks ago and after a week of suffering, today I took Bella to the veterinarian as her kidneys failed and she drifted away. Now I am left with Danny, the stepchild and once “the dog from hell” we rescued when we lived in Central Texas. I hope I can continue to treat him with the kindness he deserves.

My honest thoughts? I have not been this tearful in years. Some days are just plain sh*t.