Scoot Commute

Why do you have so many scooters?

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute, Vespa P by sbahn on 2009/09/18

People often ask me this question. I always respond the same way: for days when one of them won’t start or is acting up. Days like today.

I’ve been riding the Buddy all week as I’ve been going in early and staying quite late and didn’t want to be bothered with any issues. Plus the Vespa needed gas (on reserve) and that would take 5 extra minutes in the morning.

Today, Friday, was a Vespa day. I knew it needed gas and hadn’t been started in a week, so I knew it’d be interesting. I went over to the garage and pulled the P out. I kicked it and got it going 3rd kick. Lots of blue smoke. The idle is low so I kept on the throttle and waited for it to warm up. It conked out a few times, at which time I opened the side panel and upped the idle. I then let it die, put on my helmet and gloves, and kicked it again. I was just starting to ride off when Erik popped over to see if all was well. I told him it was really acting up but I had to get going.

I pulled onto Broad Street and got through a few lights until it bogged down when giving it throttle. It conked out and I coasted to the shoulder. As I was getting off to kick, I hear a yell out a window. It’s Jason, my neighbor, driving in the opposite direction in his truck. I yelled back “I need gas” and he pulled a U-ey and proceeded to follow me to the station (not far up the street) to protect my back. I filled up the tank and switched back to regular ON.

I pulled out onto Elmwood and the traffic on Broad was crazy so I actually headed back in the direction toward home to take my shortcut that avoids most of Broad Street. There was a detour on Friendship and I made the left and then right to get onto Broad. The Vespa was running pretty good and I thought all the bogging down was gone.

As I rode along Dean Street, it bogged down once but I kept it running. Then, between Broadway and Atwells, it cut out, dead. I coasted to the side, got off, put it up on the stand, and kick-kick-kick. Nothing. What’s been happening is that in third, I give it gas and it goes grrrr and then stops. If I can catch it in time and get it into neutral and then give a big tug on the throttle, then slip it into first, it takes off again. It feels like an air thing, but I’ll take a look tomorrow.

Anyway, there I am at the beauty supply store, halfway between my house and campus. I push the bike up onto the sidewalk, take off my fleece jacket that’s under my jacket because I’m roasting, take off my gloves and helmet, and proceed back toward Broadway. I look in both directions; not a payphone in sight. I walk one block down and still nothing. I think, should I go back and see if thee florist will let me use their phone to call Erik and then I think, aha, Jim’s office is right here. Jim Iacoi has been the closing attorney on two of my house purchases. He’s also a graduate of the college where I work and doing my closing next week. I open the door and step into the foyer. I don’t see the receptionist who was so kind in the past. Actually there’s no one there but there is a bell (it is early). I ring the bell and a woman comes out to help. I say my scoot has broken down (show helmet) and I need to make a phone call. She kindly dials the number and hands me the phone.

Ring. Ring. Ring. At the fourth ring our home phone goes to voicemail. I’m standing there saying to the ringing, “Answer. Answer.” “Hello,” comes to voice over the line. “Umm, I’m on Dean between Broadway and Atwells. Can you come get me.” He then mumbles something about not kicking it hard enough, blah, blah, and I say “I’m in Iacoi’s office. Come meet me now.”

I thank the woman and step back out onto the sidewalk. I walk back to the scoot and give it a few kicks. It grrrrs to life. I pull on my helmet (no gloves as they’re tucked into my bag in the milkcrate) and head back onto Dean toward home. As I pull around near the high schools, it bogs down again. I manage to get it int neutral to blow it out, then back into first. I’m riding down Broad thinking “I bet I’ll miss him because he’s taking the shortcut” but keep heading toward home. I figure if I can get home, I can switch out for the Buddy and get to work.

As I’m nearing my street, I see a Buddy heading towards me with a silver-helmeted person perched atop. He pulls over and sits and wait. I pull over and sit and wait. I eventually turn around and pull up beside him. We switch bikes and I take off to work (forgetting to hand over the fuel tap, which is a separate part of the P…it’s the security system).

As I’m turning onto Broad Street (again), a minivan passes loaded with Buddhist monks in saffron robes.

Rest of the commute is uneventful. I did see a Buddy when I was on the Vespa. Riding on the shoulder. Thanks for that.

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