Scoot Commute

Wednesday Night Ride

Posted in Lambretta Series I (Quilty), Pleasure Ride, Vespa P by sbahn on 2009/07/30

Ok, so I’m week late in writing this up; better late than never.

Behind Javaspeed ... getting ready to head out on the Wednesday night ride

Behind Javaspeed ... getting ready to head out on the Wednesday night ride

Every Wednesday night Javaspeed “organizes” a scooter ride. All scooters are welcomed, and the ride is decided upon that evening based on what scoots show up. I moved to Providence in 2002 and have never gone on a ride. I can’t really put my finger on why, except that I don’t like to hang out with a bunch of strangers who share something automotive in common. There is nothing more boring than a vintage VeeDub meet, and I didn’t want to learn that, actually, that’s an untruth because scooter meets are even more boring.

Beth has been talking about going on the ride since spring, but the weather has been such crap and her job has been so busy that she never found the time to go. I told her that I would go with her because she felt a little bit of a pest as she’s on a 50cc (my old, and much beloved, Met). We decided that if the weather was nice, we’d go July 22nd, and it was up to Erik if he wanted to come. I mainly wanted to go to “get Beth’s back” as it were because she’s an inexperienced rider and can often do some, *ahem*, interesting things on the road.

Erik decides that yes, indeed, he will join us. We head off from the ‘hood, me on the Vespa P200, Erik on the ’58 Lammy, and Beth on her Met. As we’re scooting up Broad Street, we pass the Passport Posse, who go into a frenzy of “meep meep” and waves as Beth “meep meep”s back at them. This was her first sighting of the PP; I usually run into them once a week around Reservoir. It’s a group of about 7 to 10 Hispanic guys on old Honda C50s and C70s. None of them wear any type of gear, and they weave in-and-out of traffic. And they crack me up. I cannot help but guffaw out loud and smile when I see them.

We arrive at Javaspeed where there is not a seat to be had. There are a bunch of scoots out back, ranging from a couple of Burgmans, a shiny orange P, a bunch of older Vespas, and a Super9 (at least I think it was). Beth’s immediate reaction was, uh, I don’t know, I’m going to keep everyone back, but then I pointed out that the Super9 was also a 50. There was not one Buddy. Interesting, as Patrick has sold a slew of ’em.

I need a replacement brake lever for the P after “the Incident”, but TomII is busy helping a customer, so we walk around looking at all the stock. Beth declares she wants a manual Vespa.

It’s always an interesting mix at the shop, and people are just downright unfriendly. I don’t get it. But it does remind me why I don’t do these rides. Maybe when it gets colder and only the crazies are still riding, would I enjoy the pre-ride stuff.

Patrick is no where to be seen, and that’s when TomII tells me he’s not coming on the ride. I looked at him and said, “Wait a minute. It’s taken 7 years for me to come on a ride, and Patrick’s not coming?”

When Patrick arrives, I say hello and ask what’s up with no coming on the ride. He had DVR’d the Tour de France and was going to be watching 5 hours of bicycle racing with his wife that night. How could I deny him that joy?

A little while later, Mike gathers everyone outside to talk about where we’re going to go. Upon stepping into the early evening, who should arrive but the Passport Posse! This one guy, an older man, has a 1963 C50 that he had pimped out beyond this universe. It was hot. Not my thing, but I totally got it. Even the wheel spokes were these funky red twisty things. Pimped out.

So imagine the scene. A bunch of white, doofus-y 30 and 40 year olds geared up to the teeth. Burgman guys (need I say more). Scrawny, putt-putting Dominican kids wearing gold chains and sporting slicked back hair. What a sight!

Mike declares that we’re going to head up to Lincoln Woods. It’s not far and the road to get there is a particular favorite of mine as far as roads in and around the city go. Not a lot of stops, slow enough, some bends. Just fun.

I tugged on Mike’s sleeve and said, um, this is the first ride I’m doing with more than the handful I usually ride with…and he immediately understands and says, “I’ll go over the rules with the whole group.” Thank god, as I had heard that there was a crash with one of the Passport Posse the week prior (something about no headlamp, riding in the opposite lane, oops!).

I tell Beth that I’ll ride behind her and Erik will be in front. Poor thing, she has to breathe in all that 2-stroke joy. We start our bikes (I got mine first kick, thank god), except for Erik. Naturally the Lammy doesn’t want to start because, well, it’s a Lambretta. That’s what they do.

After both TomII and Mike push Erik all over the place to bump start him, the engine roars to life! In true anarchic fashion, there’s no line-up. There’s no order. It’s just sorta, ok, we’re heading out.

We’re about mid-pack with the vintage bikes (and new Vespa) ahead of us (Mike leading) and the Passport Posse and Burgmans behind us (Luigi as tailgunner). We head out and up along Smithfield Avenue (I think that’s the name of the road) and we’re cruising about 30mph. Cars are honking, people are waving, it’s fun.

As we get out of town and more sparsely developed, we pick up speed. I’m going about 35-38mph, keeping a pillow around Beth. We take some nice curves. I’m enjoying the cool air on my skin (gotta love mesh). We enter into Lincoln Woods via a wooden bridge and follow Mike down a dirt path to the water. It would’ve been A LOT of fun if there was more space ahead of me :)

At Lincoln Woods ... notice the Passports / bikes in front belong to our leader and tailgunner

At Lincoln Woods ... notice the Passports / bikes in front belong to our leader and tailgunner

We all park, the Passport Posse making their crazy buzzing sound, swarming around the cars in the clearing. I start to take my helmet off and look over at Beth and she’s beaming. She comes over and says “That’s the fastest I’ve ever ridden in my life! It was scary.” I told her that at any point she can get out and that she needs to ride her own ride. She said she knew that, but kept going because she felt it was all good.

At the lakefront we chit-chatted for a while with everyone. Luigi admonished me for getting a motorbike. I protested that riding a scooter to Unadilla with Tommy in the lead on his Triumph Thunderbird would be impossible. I can’t imagine Tommy agreeing to keep it to 50mph for 8 hours.

The Burgmans announced they were going to dinner and all were welcome to join them at the New York System in North Providence. Beth commented that she can still taste the wieners she ate in high school so we begged off. They headed out, and we were waiting on a member of the Passport Posse whose tube had punctured. Thrifty folks that scooterists are, one took to wrapping electrical tape around the puncture. Luigi had a pump (gotta love Italian men…always ready) and the rest of us headed back to Javaspeed. Where Smithfield Ave splits into Silver Spring Ave, the Posse *meep meep* to all of us and head back to their ‘hood.

What is Beth thinking?

What is Beth thinking?

At Javaspeed we’re invited to join the gear-clad few to dinner at Gregg‘s, but we had already decided we were going to Sicilia‘s on the Hill. I’d read that they do deep-dish (Lou Malnati’s it is not), and I wanted to check it out.

As we head through downtown and up the hill near the Hilton (formerly the Holiday Inn for any Rhode Islanders reading this), Erik rides the Lammy up the sidewalk. What the hell is he doing?, I think to myself. Beth and I pull over and Erik yells out that the engine has died. Ahhh, Lammy fun. Luckily we’re on a hill so he rolls it down to try to bump start it. Down, down, down he rolls. Beth and I wait, starving (it’s after 9pm and neither of us had even had a snack since lunchtime) and knowing just how long it takes to make a deep-dish pie.

After about 5 minutes, I say to Beth, “I’m going to go find him.” She says she’ll come along, too, so we turn around and head back into downtown. We find him over on Fountain Street, pushing and jumping onto the bike. Beth gives him a big shove, but still nothing. Luckily Beth had brought her chain, so Erik pushes the scoot back to Trinity and locks it up. He then takes the Vespa from me (grrrrrr! every time he breaks down, I wind up on the back) and we ride up to Atwells.

The pizza was good. The wine was good. We were all tired. After dinner, I told Beth to just head home and Erik and I would deal with the dead Lammy. I rode him back (‘cos I bitched, it’s my bike, why am I on the back?!) to Trinity. He decided it was best to lock the bike up for the night and deal with it tomorrow, so he pushed it to the friendly garage that allows MTWV to park. He paid the guy 10 bucks and rolled the bike into the special motorcycle-only section. He left it next to a Harley.

I rode him back home, pizza strapped to the top of the milkcrate. I think he thought I was crazy as I honked at a few vehicles, but by now it was 11:00pm and neither of us had any of our reflective clothing. My mesh doesn’t have 3M striping and Erik was wearing his black “summer leather” jacket. I wanted to make sure people saw us because once we cross into our neighborhood, it’s all men, women and children for themselves.

We did arrive home safely, but I had to sit a spell before I could go to bed because I was overstimulated (and stuffed with pizza). Overall it was a lot of fun. Would I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe when there are less people. Or if there’s more riding. I liked the riding part because there were so many of us, I could relax about the cars. But I didn’t like the constant looking in my mirror or turning my head to figure out where the Posse was behind me. And the more I think about it, I prefer riding alone. I had so much fun in Connecticut the few days I went out for a ride when I was off from work and Erik wasn’t. I set the pace. I didn’t even know where I was going or where I was most of the time.

I will say Kudos! to Mike and Luigi for reigning in the chaos and keeping us all safe. Maybe in October I’ll join a ride that’ll visit Aidan’s in Bristol.

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