Thursday night was the first time Pauline and I had a chance to ride our bikes together. As a learner rider I am only allowed to ride legally when I’m with someone who has had their bike license over 12 months. My q-ride course had been booked in for Saturday so I wanted to get a bit of freeway riding in before the exam. The original plan was to ride out to the steakhouse at Logan but we decided that we would just go as far as Ikea at Springwood for their swedish meatballs.
About 5.30pm we jacketed up, put on our helmets and headed out in to the street. I went through the gate first and waited for Pauline out on the road. She drove out next to me leaving the gate wide open, so I told her she should close it as she was the last one out. In usual Pauline manner, she slowly backed up and then farted about trying to close the gate, eventually switching the scooter off and putting it up on it’s centre stand. Meanwhile I’m sitting there on my bike waiting. About 5 minutes later I realised she was taking her sweet time so I switched the vespa off and put my left foot down. Forgetting that the road has a camber that goes down on the left my foot wasn’t touching anything but air and next thing I know I’m crawling out from under my bike out of the gutter. My feelings ranged from anger, embarassment and dread as I jumped up. I was afraid of what injuries my poor puppa might have sustained as I raised it and surveyed the damage. At the same time I was irrationally blaming Pauline for causing it and spoke to her in a rather unkind manner. She was concerned about me and the bike while I’m getting mad and abusing her. Thankfully she just ignored me. Luckily puppy only had a few scratches on the chrome hand brake and a few paint scratches on the handlebars and tyre cover. I’d rather there were no scratches but it’s better than a huge dint.
I got back on the bike, Pauline got back on hers and we slowly took off while I tried to calm down. To add to my worries the fuel light came on. The Vespa has two litres of fuel in reserve when the light comes on so I knew I’d be able to get to a petrol station but it was just something else to add to my already fragile state of mind. Not exactly the best start to our first ride together. Luckily it doesn’t take long to forget your worries on a scooter and just concentrate on enjoying your ride. We were heading in to rush hour traffic and going the back way via Logan Road so you’d think that it would suck but it didn’t. There is something about being in the crisp open air, smelling the restaurants and trees as you ride along that makes you not want to be in a hurry. In a car all you are focused on is getting home, but the scooter is all about the getting there so you don’t mind if it takes a while.
I took the lead while Pauline followed at a slower pace as she broke her bike in. It had only done 5kms when we left the house and for the first 1000kms you are supposed to only operate the scooter at 80% it’s capacity. We found a service station at Mt Gravatt where I filled up Puppa for about $6. About 50c of that was spread across the ground and bike as I filled it up a bit too much. This was how I discovered that it doesn’t take as long to fill a scooter’s tank and the click on the bowser doesn’t quite work. Next time I will have to eyeball it around the 5-6 litre mark. While I paid Pauline cleaned up my mess and moved the scooter out of the way. Why she would do something so kind after I had been so mean to her is one of the reasons why she is so special.
Continuing on we reached a bit of traffic build up around some lights at Underwood. At this point Pauline decided to split the cars while I followed. This is when a motorcycle rides between cars parked at the lights. We were moving up beautifully until this annoying guy in a little white hatchback decided that he wasn’t having any of it and as he inched forward he moved over to reduce the space between the cars. Just because he was jealous doesn’t mean he has to be an asshole. We squeezed past him anyway, but didn’t go any further – just sat in front of him. Splitting cars isn’t something either of us plan to do often, but when you are stuck in a jam you need to take advantage of your size.
Reaching Ikea we parked right in front and I had my second experience of little girls staring. It seems that between the ages of 3 -9 they absolutely love my Vespa and will just keep looking as they are dragged along by their parents. Pretty funny. Most people would think we are odd for going to Ikea for dinner but at $7.95 for 20 meatballs (that we shared) and $1.50 medium soft drinks with free refills you can’t get a cheaper meal that is more filling and delicious. Their furniture doesn’t really suit my house but I almost bought this cool owl cushion until I discovered it was $30.
A few turns out of Ikea and we were heading for the freeway. This was where it got a bit hairy. 10 minutes at 100kms while basically sitting on a chair is rather freaky. You don’t really notice you are going fast when you look in front of you, but the minute you peek your knees out from the vespas front scoop you feel the air flow! When you turn your head to change lanes it gets a bit dicy as the wind has a tendency to blow in to the helmet and move your head a bit. I ended up leaning my head down a bit to improve the aerodynamics. What I learnt from the experience is that the Vespa has no problems going at that speed but I don’t enjoy it as much because the fun of the Vespa is looking at the environment around you. Not much room for that when cars are streaming past you at 110kms.
Thankfully we got home in one piece and I got philosophical about how we started the ride. I was kind of glad that it happened at the beginning and not somewhere on the ride where I could have been hurt. I always do something stupid with any of my vehicles but once it’s out of my system it’s over, so I view this crash as a good thing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself when I look at poor Puppa’s scratches. Anyone know how to hide them?