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Category: Vespa

Thoughts from the Saddle

Scooter Morning

Before and after each and every ride, I always give my prayers and thanks to the world - first and foremost, for keeping me and my passengers safe. When you choose to travel on two wheels, you subject yourself to many risks that can very easily compound out of your control. So you try to keep hyper-aware of all your surroundings and environment, which is really part of the trance when you hop into the saddle, and ride off into the horizon.

We pulled 420+ miles this weekend, in a long awaited scooter camping exodus that led us to the fringes of Lake Isabella, and up into the Sequioa National Forest. Our buddy Gerry took his 50cc Honda Ruckus for its furthest journey yet, and marks the second time that Kat and I rode quite a distance fully-loaded. Apart from my sore ass and a very very hot ride home, it was a great weekend full of spectacular views and lonely sweeping pavement.

Gassing Up
Did you kiss your passenger yet? All day, every day.

The best part is when you lie down on your mat inside the tent after a long day of riding hard. Through the mesh, you can see countless stars peeking through the branches of the trees, and the fatigue from mental and physical exhaustion sets in. The ground swallows you whole into a deep dreamless slumber.

The road travels fast, without sound, underneath your feet. Your concentration is flush, the past and the future are forgotten. You are in the pocket, and eventually nothing will exist. And soon enough, you quietly sink, into the sunset.

Balls of Steel

SF to PDX to LA

Balls of Steel: SF to Portland
Balls of Steel: Portland to LA

2,613 miles on the 150cc scooter. Can't write without gushing too much about the intensity of pulling something like this out of the hat. There are a few images that stand out, and when you're on the saddle for 10 hours a day pulling 400 mile days, there are quite a few to choose from in the pool. The best pictures are the ones outside the camera - inside the curve, through the fog, down into the view, simmering into the golden sunset, burning in the hours that toughen the soul (and the butt). The best ones present themselves in a split second, but are beautiful enough to last forever.

There were some rough moments related to boring straight-aways, cross-town traffic, soggy weather, nail-busted flat tire, smelly tents, strong winds threatening to blow me out the road. There were times when I thought I'd been pushing the envelope too far. But most of the time, it felt more like I haven't been pushing it far enough. Life goes on, but only when you choose to move forward.

Those who wander far away from home, know it a lot better when they return.

Stay safe, and ride on.


Pismo Beach

I'm so damn tired. I always feel this way after a long trip, but this one is especially exhausting. Put on so many miles and almost reached the Canadian border. This is an almost sure guarantee that I will pursue a cross country trip someday, as I'm probably only a few hundred miles short of actually reaching New York if I went straight east one-way. Will crunch the numbers tomorrow and plot the exact route map we did for the week. And of course, will post some photos. :)

You need to do something drastic if you want change in your life. If you don't do anything, then nothing will change.

Border Crossing

Oregon Border Crossing

Basso and I actually made it all the way to the north western most tip of the lower 48's, and camped around the Olympic National Park. Now, if you look it up on a map, that's pretty damn far from home. We were trying to gun for the Canadian border, but barely had enough time and had to go back down to Portland to meet up with the weekend party.

I don't have the numbers yet, but we rode an upwards of 1,200 miles over 4 days, and basically finished the entire stretch of highway 101 until it looped around in Washington state. Eventually, I will need to ride CA-1 from LA to TJ to lay claim to have ridden the entire mother loving WEST COAST. On a scooter that puts out 11.5 horsepower!!

I've still got more than 1,085 more miles to cover to get home.

What good is life, if you don't push the limits?

Tuesday Morning

I need to catch up on a lot of things, and was hoping to have some time to sit down and write.

Unfortunately, I don't. Except to say I'm taking the scooter on a 1,600++ mile roundtrip shenanigan with Basso in a few hours. Destination is Portland Oregon via motorcycle, camping along the coast on CA-1 and 101. I wanted to have time to map out the exact locations of all gas stations and potential campsites - but like everything else in life, time is in short supply so I'm just going to wing it and hope for the best.

I've finally accepted that these trips are not just 'one-timers' - there is a constant burning desire to push the envelope and scramble over the next horizon of adventure. This is an itch, that once scratched, reveals an even deeper hierarchy of need.

Time to feed the beast!!

Salt of the Earth

I ask from the deities of the earth, the blessings of safety and the strength to overcome obstacles that we have chosen to conquer. That we may find within ourselves all we need to pursue our dreams, and achieve our ambitions. Knowing that we understand the roads we face are strait and fraught with danger. Knowing that the way to a true life is at once being humble, and taking charge.

Each day is a blessing, a gift unraveling without end.

So I'mma cut the shit and see how far 150cc of Vespa can take me, to those wonderful hills far far away. :)
(Actually, I'm just doing ~372 miles. Got brand new tires, and a new back plate for my jacket. Later, fools.)

Safe travels, people.


It's starting to heat up here in the SFV, with temps topping 100F. I've been slathering on sunblock and taking the Vespa out to work the entire week. There are summers that feel like you're going through a blow dryer when you ride, but thankfully it hasn't been as brutal. Yet.

Starting to break in a new helmet, Shoei J-Wing in Anthracite. It's night and day compared to the old piece of junk on my head. Huge difference a well fitted helmet makes, not only with wind noise but also with buffeting.

A weird thing happened yesterday. I noticed a small droplet on my left shoe, and thought nothing of it until this morning when I saw that it burned a hole right through my sneakers. Only then that I realized it's battery acid! I replaced the scooter battery a few months ago, which comes 'dry', and a bottle of sulphuric acid that you mix in with some distilled water. It was over the fill line when we installed it, so it must've leaked out from the vent hose, and ate through my shoe. Nice.


Took the Vespa to work today. Just my luck, that it started pouring as soon as I got out of dinner. I was still a ways off, and had to ride the entire stretch in a pour. I'm happy with my jacket, which rolled off all the water. It wasn't too bad except that I wish I had some RainX on my face shield and my butt was super cold and wet by the time I got home. Felt like wearing an old soggy diaper.

I've only ridden in the rain once before, when Ms. Kat brushed off the thunderstorm and lightning and insisted we ride up to SF from the Easy Bay to meet up with other scooterists (SFSG) for a rally. What a gangsta.

Anyway, not the first time that the lack of weather knowledge has gotten me into a wet situation. :)

I left the house with the Vespa this morning, and the gas warning light came on. Based from experience, I can squeeze roughly 30 miles from the onset of the yellow warning light. I usually like getting gas from a specific station by the corner of my house, since putting gas into a 2 gallon tank is a finicky matter - depending on the build of the fuel dispenser, some pumps tend to shutoff the gas too late, resulting in spillage outside of the tank. No bueno! So for the reasons just described, I opt to get gas by my house when I come back home because of its consistency in shutting off at the right moment.

Fast forward to after lunch, when I'm powering down on the 5 superhighway southbound, half a mile from my exit, when the power starts to cut out. Then the power goes out completely. I pull over to the shoulder, and try to start the engine again. Engine turns, but does not start completely. I do this a few more times, hoping that I can squeeze in a little more just enough to reach the freeway exit because standing right next to trucks and SUVs driven by coked up soccer moms pulling at least 70mph is by no means entertaining. AAA says it'll take 30 minutes for a service call, so I say screw it, and walk the bike 1/2 mile down to the gas station.

So I start noticing that the idiot lights on the console have dimmed, probably indicative of a dying battery. Lo and behold, with a full gas tank, I depress the brake and push the ignition - dead silence. Great, battery is dead.

Vespa and I during happier days.

Phone call to Vespa Sherman Oaks, and I get some instructions from Drew how to do the kick start mechanism. Basically tells me that it's really a worst case scenario option. Well, the situation is that I have a flight to catch in a few hours for Manila, which doesn't give me the luxury of having several hours to charge up the battery. Sounds like worst case for me. So I try the kick start a few times, and figure there's nothing to lose (except if I bust the transmission case which I heard has happened before). Push a little bit on the lever, and kick down to the floor. I can feel the engine turn over the first time, and the second. Push a bit, and kick.

Third try, is the charm. :) I love the Vespa. I really do.

Took a flight to the bay area last weekend, and caught Helio Sequence at the Independent as part of the Noisepop Festival. Pleasantly surprised with the gig, in a really intimate setting, and great acts to boot. HS was pretty impressive live, and just sounded gigantic onstage despite being a two-piece. I was on antibiotics for the past few days to combat the stubborn cough, and therefore couldn't imbibe wonderful nectar of beer lest I destroy my liver, but still had a lot of fun nevertheless.

I rode the Vespa to catch my flight, and cut through rush hour traffic like a hot knife through butter. Got to the airport, and scored front-row parking right in front of the terminal for FREE. So let's see, saved an hour and a half on the commute, $30++ on parking fees, plus the time it takes to shuttle to/from outlier pay parking robbery structures. Wind on my face, the excitement of a throttle in hand, and mind engaged over subtleties of the experience (versus grappling with parking-lot-AKA-the-four-oh-five road rage). Vespa, I love you.

I'm up unnaturally early, since I passed out at the unheard of 2130 hours last night. I thoroughly wore myself out by completing the Vespa leg yesterday, and taking back the scooter from Fremont to Tarzana in one fell swoop - 400 miles in a straight shot running 9 hours. The route I took was straightforward along the 101, with a small bisection of CA-25 around Hollister and back on the 101 around San Miguel. All back in one piece!

The rear wheel is starting to square off again. I got the Continental Zippy 1's after reading all the fanfare on the forums of Modern Vespa, but am not quite impressed how it handles the rain grooves on highways while carrying a load. It seems very skippy and squirrelly, but it could be that maybe I shouldn't be on rain grooves in the first place ;)

Tempted to get a vintage small frame. Ride it coast to coast? Pan-America? This is getting too crazy in my head. Crazy, crazy, where the rabbit hole may lead.

The total cost of gasoline to traverse a little under 1,700 miles on a 150cc Vespa?

Under 100 dollars. :)

It's been 1,692 miles on the Vespa since I left my house more than a week ago. I want to blog about the specifics (routes taken, mileage between points, camping outtakes), but I need to go to bed. In a few hours, I hitch a ride via car with my brother and sister-in-law back to SoCal.

In the meantime, I've posted links to the photo albums below. I'll probably include more detail of the trips in the following days. Until then, "tcheuss out!"

Yosemite National Park. Photo set is here.

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