Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Great Blogger Ride - Part 2 - To Buntzen Lake

Gearing up before the ride

After a tasty White Spot Breakfast, the five of us headed out from the restaurant and approached our bikes. Sonja, Roland and I started up our Vespa GTS 250s, Bobskoot his big V-Strom, and David a 200cc scoot (maybe an Aprilla?). After a discussion about places to go to, we decided to head off for Buntzen Lake.

We did talk a bit about safety before starting off. Since I was riding with new people, I thought I would be mostly safe - proper jacket with armour, jeans, good gloves. I was, however, wearing running shoes instead of my ├╝ber safe hiking shoes. On the other hand, the shorts I had stowed in the pet carrier was, in fact, in the pet carrier and not on me. Thanks goodness I was cautious as, first, it makes sense to have a reasonable amount of protection for the ride we ended up doing and, second, I would have looked rather silly in shorts and a t-shirt with this well equipped group. I still felt kind of unsafe, though, as everyone else wore armoured pants and riding boots. I'm safer than I used to be but if I plan to do more of these group rides (and I sure do!) then I am going to need to get some safer gear. Even if it is smoking' hot.....

Now, as I said before, I hadn't been on a group ride since motorcycle school so I was a bit cautious, not wanting to make a huge faux pas that would, in turn, be blogged about by all the members of the group! Bobskoot gave me some group riding advice and the group seemed pretty supportive so, with growing confidence, I started up my Vespa and started off.

Roland was the leader - and he did an excellent job. He did not go too fast or slow and made sure that the group stayed together. Second was David, then Sonja, me, and sweeping, Bobskoot. We slowly made our way through parking lots and side streets until we ended up on the Lougheed Highway. Riding in our staggered formation seemed pretty easy and I was working hard to not creep up on Sonja nor to go too slow.

I was careful to ride following all the rules and laws of the ride, like I'd been taught in motorcycle school. I don't want to be a rat, but I did notice the some of the group took the law into their own hands, slowing down for stop signs but didn't exactly, well, stop! I certainly don't want to embarrass anyone by identifying them but I must say that she did it quite a few times!

On the way up to Buntzen Lake, we encountered 'twisties'.  If you don't know what twisties are, they basically consist of lots of curves on the road that make you twist and turn. They are extremely appealing to me because they are both fun and dangerous. They are fun because I love the feeling of turning at a speed that I never could have done on the LX50; they are dangerous because there's the need to really focus on what you are doing, to look where you are going, and to lean properly while you turn. Come to think of it, that's all kind of fun as well!

After lots of twisties, although not seriously curvy, we arrived at our first destination, Buntzen Lake. I had scooter there before about three years ago on my LX50 and chronicled my ride here. This ride had a different feel because I had spent it with people who shared a passion for riding.

At Bunzten Lake

We stopped in a 5 minute zone and had a quick break and then proceeded to the lake to take some photos. Bobskoot guided us through a number of great photos and his sense of humour showed through as he had us try different poses.

As we were ready to leave, a park employee came over to us and told us we should have parked in another area 20 metres away from where we were parked because the area was 'reserved for motorcycles.' We looked over there and read the sign by where she was pointing. The sign said, "Emergency Vehicles Only'.  Go figure!

Enjoying the sun at the lake

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Great Blogger RIde - Part One - The Meeting

A few weeks ago, I got a message from David Masse, the blogger who writes Life on Two Wheels, The Scoot Commute, asking if I wanted to join him and a few other bloggers for breakfast when he was visiting in Vancouver. I responded that I thought it was a great idea and wouldn't it be nice if we could all get together for a ride as well as I hadn't been on a group ride since motorcycle school.

Last week, a bunch of us exchanged emails about what we were doing and we finally set up something this past weekend. Rather than tell you the whole story, I thought I'd spread this over a few entries to try and build a little excitement. Mind you, if you're really interested, each person has blogged about this themselves, no doubt!

Our meeting place was at the White Spot in Coquitlam. Not wanting to make a bad impression, I arrived 25 minutes early so I decided to whip out my iPhone and play with the apps. It was tricky as the day was wonderful with warm temperatures and brilliant sunshine that reflected glaringly off the iPhone screen.

A few minutes before our appointed meeting time of 8:45 am, a woman and man rode up, both on Vespa GTS 250s. That was great except for the man, whose Vespa was the same as mine, including the colour, except he had the audacity to have a shiny, beautiful well maintained GTS while mine is scratched, has some mis-matched paint and is generally a bit rough looking. Luckily the woman's Vespa looked a bit more used, although not as rough as mine.

The Heart
The woman, of course, was Sonja, blogger of Find Me on the Road, and her husband, Roland. So, what were they like?

Sonja was marvellous. She carried the conversation when there was just the three of us in the restaurant - the coffee hadn't kicked in yet - and we all chatted of a variety of topics, including several that had nothing to do with scooters! Hmmn! She's a genuinely friendly person and has a lot of heart. I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous about this whole endeavour but Sonja really helped make me feel at home with the group. She also let me know when I was riding well which I really liked.

The Strong Silent Guy
Roland, her husband, and the only non-blogger (as far as I can tell) is more the strong, silent type. Well, not silent but a bit quieter than most of the others. I found him very interesting to talk to and the only barrier was, as mentioned before, that his Vespa looked so darned good! I really was happy to have him along as he has only been riding his Vespa for about a year so his riding skill, although better than mine, was still within reach. As you can see by his photo, he is a friendly guy.

Just a few minutes after our scheduled breakfast time, Bob and David showed up. Our full complement had arrived. Unfortunately Dar from Princess Scooterpie and Orin from Scootin Old School couldn't make the ride - sorry, but you missed an awesome day!

The Organizer, the Photographer and the Comedian
Next up was Bobskoot, blogger of Riding the West Coast. He was the only person that I had actually met before. A few years ago, while I was paying my bill at Urban Wasp, he walked up to me and said, "Big Guy, Small Scooter!" He then took some photos of me and we had a little chat. At that time, he mentioned going on some group rides but I had my LX50 then and I never did go, worried that I just couldn't keep up on a 50, being a big guy on a small scooter...

Bobskoot is a very personable guy. He has got a great sense of humour and was sort of like the host for the whole ride. He did a great job in organizing everything and is a very good photographer to boot. Like the others, he was very encouraging about my riding and I appreciated it very much. He had lots of quips and anecdotes that he shared with us throughout the day - and a wonderful day it was!

The Guest and the Storyteller
David, the guest of honour, lives in Montreal and came out here for business reasons and also to scoot with us! My introduction to him was that he walked into the restaurant and promptly gave presents to everyone, including yours truly. He gave me two LED lights from MEC, good to carry around for emergencies. Not only did this generous man give us all prezzies, he paid for breakfast! I swear I'm gonna read his blog every day!

David is a great storyteller. He weaved story after story about a variety of topics and I found myself hanging on every word. He's had a very interesting life as he shared in  a couple stories of when he was a kid and had some outright hilarious yarns as well. He was so positive and almost giddy with pleasure as he loved getting together to talk and to scoot. Thanks to David, our ride happened and I was very happy to meet him.

So, if Sonja was the Heart, Roland, the Strong, Silent guy, Bobskoot the Organizer, the Photographer, and Comedian and David the Guest and the Storyteller - what was my role? This time, it was the Rookie. Up until this ride, I had only gone for relatively short rides with groups and on motorcycles. This time, most of us were on scooters and we were on our way for a great day. I hoped to learn a lot and not get myself in trouble with this fine group of people. Face it, I didn't want to embarrass myself!

White Spot Parking just before the ride
We finished our breakfasts. strode purposefully out of the White Spot, and, after a few photos in the parking lot, headed out for a ride....

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bye bye, Small Scooter!

It finally happened.

After less than a week and a couple of casual viewings, my first Vespa, my baby LX50, is finally mine no more.

But I don't think it could have gone to a nicer home.....

Over the weekend, I had a few enquiries, one looked promising, especially after he finished his test drive and had that goofy 'I just rode a Vespa' look on his face. But that particular customer opted to go for a larger scooter.

Over the past couple of days, I have been emailing a person called Sofia who was interested in my Vespa.   She finally appeared tonight, on a motorcycle, with a friend.

She's a very nice person (OK, she's pretty as well) and had ridden an LX50 before ("It was a work Vespa." How cool is that?). She looked at it, admiringly, and then zipped off for a test drive while I talked to her friend. The friend (sorry, didn't catch his name) was a bit of a motorcycle aficionado, having a couple of his own and also owned a fairly new LX50 that he had bought for his wife (she didn't like it because it went too fast!!!). He knew lots about Vespas (more than me, actually) and seemed impressed by the shape it was in.

Sofia came back from her test drive looking, frankly, pretty pleased. I knew that smile and I thought that I would be happy to sell it to her if she enjoyed the scoot as much as I had. The friend then took it for a ride and Sofia and I talked about the scoot, including how I had driven it to Seattle, Powell River and many times to Vancouver. She seemed pretty well sold at that point....

Sofia: "So, I don't want to lowball you but is there room for negotiation?"
Me: "There's always room for negotiation."
Sofia: 'Well, what's your bottom line (or something like that)"
Me: "$1300?"
Sofia: "OK"

Not exactly the hard boiled school of negotiation for either of us, but I think we both got what we wanted. I had originally asked for $1500 so $1300 was well within range. She save a couple hundred dollars off the asking price. I probably could have pushed for the $1500 - I could tell she really liked it - but I was really pleased that someone who was going to have fun with it, got it. Everyone won, even the LX50 because it's going to be ridden regularly again!

I rode the scoot for the last time as we went from my apartment building to the local mall. It rode great, actually, and I felt a bit wistful as I zipped along. Not fast like my GTS250, but still elegantly.

We did the insurance transfer at the local London Drugs and then, as my wife met me and we had a celebratory coffee at Starbucks, I saw the two of them in the parking lot, fiddling with the new license plate and getting ready for the long ride into Vancouver.

After I coffee, I looked over to where they were in the parking lot, and they were gone.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Love for sale

Finally put up the LX50 for sale. The weather has turned for the better, for a change, and promises to be good all weekend so I've put the scoot on craigslist. Last night, after not touching the LX50 for possible 4 months, it started after only giving it a couple turns on the throttle. Beauty!

Will need to rinse it off and check the tires but otherwise, it's ready to go! Kind of sad, though, as there are a lot of memories in that little scoot.

Rather than wait around, I will probably take my GTS for a smaller ride today as I want to enjoy the sun on my scooter.

Here's hoping for a quick sale this weekend!