Two wheels, zero brains

I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

It’s been a couple weeks since Herself’s Subaru was towed away to its 永眠の地 (eimin no chi), or final resting place, and so far we seem to be getting by OK with only the one motor vehicle, El Rancho Pendejo being fairly well stocked with two-wheelers.

We had a bit of alternative-transportation fun around here yesterday, however. Or I did, anyway.

While we decide what, if anything, to do about the one-car situation, I decided it might be smart to have my Vespa LX50 shipped down from Bibleburg, a process that has more than a few hoops to hop through.

Since I didn’t ride it throughout the winter and early spring, it being there and me being here, the battery died. So I couldn’t drive it to Sportique for spring maintenance when last I was there instead of here. Thus, Sportique needs to fetch the thing, charge it up, and give it a wash and brushup before another fellow handles transport later this month or early next.

Toward that end, I planned to FedEx the keys to the garage and Vespa to a friend who lives in our old ‘hood. He’d open the garage, hand off the keys, and that would be that. Easy sleazy.

Uh huh.

So I hop on the Voodoo townie and pedal over to the FedEx shop yesterday only to find my wallet bereft of credit card. Seems some eejit wearing my face left the card at El Bruno’s after enjoying a plate of chicken enchiladas in a nuclear green chile the night before.

Well, fuck me running, I think. Check the wallet again. Twenty-eight smacks in Dead President Trading Cards. And these keys need to go overnight because my friend and his wife are leaving on vacation Saturday, the delivery guy is expecting to pick up my scoot directly, and Sportique needs some time to put it in proper working order.

“How close to overnight can I get this package to Colorado Springs for with $28 to spend?” I ask the FedEx person.

Phew. Made it with two bucks to spare.

Then all I had to do was cycle on down to El Bruno’s to collect the credit card. That only took about an hour and 45 minutes, with 800-plus feet of vertical gain for the homebound leg.

That’s one way to sweat out a combo plate.

• Editor’s note: This looks like an interesting rig. A buddy at The New York Times tipped me off to it.

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43 Responses to “Two wheels, zero brains”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    That Honda HR-V looks very interesting. I like the split hatch on the back.
    We have done well on one vehicle for 8 years or so. But, we are retired, and don’t own rental properties in a different town like you do.
    Glad you found your credit card. You keep this bike commuting up and you will be rocking 4% body fat in a few weeks. You’ll have to mainline a stick of butter in the morning just to keep from falling over.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It does, doesn’t it? I thought the CR-V had gotten a bit big since I last saw it — as has the once-tiny RAV 4, the Forester and just about every other smallish AWD vehicle sold on this side of the Big Ditch.

      But this looks to be a workable size, especially with that “magic seat” setup.

      I don’t see one in Garcia Honda’s online inventory, but they weren’t expected to arrive at dealers until this month. I’d like to take one for a spin.

      But the longer we stick to one auto, the longer we (a) don’t have a car payment, and (2) don’t have two insurance payments. Both of the Subies were paid off. I hate car payments the way Louie Gohmert hates smart people.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        On closer inspection, I noticed it has a regular hatchback, which is still way cool. The really hid the back door handles, ingenious. We hate payments too. Haven’t had one for 10 years

      • Larry T. Says:

        I still suggest living with ONE car if you can. I’ve never understood the appeal of these “crossover” contraptions anyway. Why do people buy ’em? To me they’re one of those “let’s jack up our current compact car chassis, stick some fatter tires on it, throw on some fender flares and boom…something new to sell!” ideas.
        Our 1993 car was bought with cash and insured to the minimum required by law. When you buy insurance you’re betting something bad will happen, while the insurance company is betting it won’t. You know who wins most of the time.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Assuming the Tacoma gets a clutch and back on the road, a road trip to fetch the Vespa is an option. One of these days I have to start shedding vehicles. The WRX seems excessive, but so much fun to drive and knock on wood, has not broken since I bought it in Dec., 2006.

  3. Weaksides Says:

    Another car? Meh. (Says the guy with three dinojuice drinkers) That Honda looks nice, 35mpg doesn’t seem like much to get excited over- never mind the car payment/insurance burden. My 13 year old protege5 still gets 31mpg every tank. I should mention I’m about ready to trade the gmc Sonoma to someone for a decent mtb. Any takers?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The mileage is slightly better than what we’re getting now (30 on the highway in the Forester, with no load and a brisk tailwind). The payment/insurance combo is what I don’t like. Double ick.

      How many miles on the Sonoma again? I have a GMC-crazed pal who may be over-biked himself.

      • Weaksides Says:

        It’s a 96 two wheel drive with extended cab and manual tranny. I believe it has around 160k and the clutch was just replaced. It won’t win any purty truck contests, but it’s solid truck-type transportation.

  4. doug moore Says:

    Sounds like the time I cycled to the market to pick up wife’s specially requested dinner for later that night. Made it there just before closing. Reaching for my ULock, I realized that the key was sitting on my desk at work. What dumbass does that? Me, that’s who.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hah. Could be worse. A buddy once drove from Colorado Springs to Wetmore to meet me for a climb of Hardscrabble Cañon. Forgot to bring his cycling shoes. Rode the whole thing in his Birkenstocks.

  5. David R Says:

    Honda’s been getting a ton of mileage out of this HRV platform for some time. It’s been in Europe and the UK as 3-door for years now and even without the two extra doors – something I like better – it’s amazingly spacious for both passengers and cargo. I’ve had use of one in the UK since 2007 or so – again, the 3 door version – and while I wasn’t hauling bikes in it, it could swallow up a ton o’ stuff with ease. Very useful little vehicle.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Too bad we don’t see more of the Euro versions of vehicles on this side of the pond, David. I keep seeing interesting autos online that will never make it to Duke City.

      Where’s my damn’ Westfalia-Subaru AWD pop-up camper?

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        WORD! How about a Sienna Westfalia. We had a ’93 VW Eurovan Westfalia. Spent many pleasant nights in that bad boy camping all over AZ.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        One of the Adventure Cycling guys on that Southern Arizona Road Adventure supported tour I did back in 2010 had an Element tricked out with an aftermarket pop-top. That sucker was nice.

  6. Debby, south of Longtucky Says:

    I would have rented a truck or van, driven to Bibleburg, loaded the scooter up and brought it back home. Then get a Battery Tender or equivalent, charge the battery or replace it, done. Oh, and you might need to drain the fuel and possibly clean the carb. Ethanol-blended fuel goes bad in a few months. It can really do a job on carbs. Something else to have Sportique look at if they’re taking it in for service anyway.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Debby, you’re talking to the bozo who just mounted a rear rack atop his rear derailleur cable and left his credit card at a restaurant. Clearly I can’t be trusted with any chore more critical than placing words in a row.

      Also, I scored the delivery, by a dude who knows what he’s doing, for $200. Duke City happened to be on his way to Texas, so I got it cheap.

      Renting a truck, driving both ways, and staying overnight would cost me more than $200 in outlay and lost income. And I’d probably bounce the Vespa out of the bed and through the windshield of a Ford Focus full of nuns coming down Raton Pass.

      Believe me, we’re all safer this way. And everybody makes money, including me.

      • Debby, south of Longtucky Says:

        You do have a way with words, Patrick!

        $200 is a great deal for the delivery. Definitely the way to go.

  7. md anderson Says:

    One way bus ticket to Bibleburg, then drive the scooter down. Couldn’t be any more of an adventure than riding a non-motorized bicycle. Imagine the possibilities.

  8. Pat O'Brien Says:

    So, 379 miles on a 50cc scooter capable of a steady speed of about 35 mph? And that would require riding on the shoulder of any interstate, and enough to bring “The Fear” on state roads with speed limits above 45 mph. I guess it would be an adventure. One I would take a pass on. Now a 150cc or above scooter, or a bicycle, now you’re talking.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Riding a 50cc scooter on those roads in Albuquerque sounds like a death wish to me. Might as well be on a bicycle and die while physically fit….

      • Larry T. Says:

        Not sure what 50 cc’s does these days but back in my moto daze there was the flimsy, plastic, two-stroke Honda Spree. We “raced” ’em around the parking lot but wouldn’t go much further than around the block to fetch lunch on one!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The Vespa has been kitted up with aftermarket goodies to 78cc (don’t tell the DMV), so it’s not quite your standard sluggard. But then neither is it a Vincent Black Shadow. Running the little bugger on the interstate is slightly illegal, and backdooring it through Taos would be slightly suicidal. I’m not sure which would be worse, going up La Veta Pass or going down.

      It’s a shame there are so few learner-motorcycle options for noobs. Smallest brand-name rig you can find these days is a 250, which is quite a step up from a 50cc twist-and-go.

      Sportique, where I bought my Vespa, has begun carrying the Taiwanese SYM Wolf Classic 150cc for $3,000. SYM makes Asian product under license for Honda. Little sucker only weighs 266 pounds, gets 85 mpg and tops out around 65 mph, which is faster than I’ll ever need to go.

      But I think I’m a wee bit old for learning how to wrangle a motorcycle. Shoulda done that when I was young and dumb instead of herding a damn’ Japanese pickup truck from newspaper to newspaper.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        There is just something about a red Vespa that grabs me. It has STYLE, besides being well made. But, if not a Vespa, then probably one of these. Local dealer who I have known for many years.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Here in Rome i have a hate/hate relationship with scooters of all types. Just like a really strong bicycle rider with no bike-handling skills, they are an accident waiting to happen. The worst is the “super-scooters” like Yamaha’s T-Max. These gawdawful contraptions have huge engines but are still piloted by people who aren’t manly enough to pull up their skirt and straddle a real moto, but they can go anywhere, including the autostrada. I’m tempted to apply their front brake for them when they get too close to me on my bicycle.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Those prices for scoots and small MCs are amazing. To think my 1969 Honda CB450 retailed for $995. I got it used in 1973 for about half that. It was quick and easily maneuvered around town (I took my MC license endorsement test on it) and good on the highway (used to ride it from Rochester to Buffalo, Rochester to Boston, or from Stony Brook, LI to Boston via the Orient Point Ferry, where it was far cheaper to stow than a car.

        I suppose starting late is not the greatest idea. I had close to 100k in my hind end from my misspent youth on motos, and was still scared shitless the first few months on the BMW K bike. I suppose being scared is better than being overconfident/dead.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Khal, 1973 is in galaxy far, far, away. My fave back then was the Yamaha DT series. One of those, plus a Bultaco Pursang.

        Going to Illinois end of June for a wedding. Maybe I’ll take the ‘Busa for a spin to end my motorcycle/scooter lust for another 3 or 4 years. I hope I can get my skirt up far enough to clear the Yoshimura pipe.

      • khal spencer Says:

        So Pat, have you ever had it over 190 mph? Inquiring minds want to know….

        I’ve been a very reluctant and extremely infrequent member of the Ton Up Club over the decades, having watched a college buddy hit gravel on his Gold Wing while slowing down from 100 mph in a curve.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Oh, hell no! Not even a ton. Did over 100 mph on a Triumph Bonneville in high school. And in 1982 on my Yamaha 550 Seca. But the ‘Busa has put “The Fear” in me. I have never had the skill to ride something that strong. I always worry about wheelies or breaking the rear tire loose. I took it real easy the last, also the first, time I rode it.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Same here with the Flying Brick. I have a lot more respect for its ability than for mine. Maybe if I were Larry it would be different, but I am not Larry. Don’t even play him on TV…

  9. Pat O'Brien Says:

    How about 143 mph? Seriously, I thought about a 50cc Vespa, and for roads with speed limits 40 and below around town, I think it would be just fine. But, in AZ any scooter requires a motorcycle endorsement on a license, and that has stopped me so far.

    • khal spencer Says:

      • Larry T. Says:

        Uh, I’m not sure that’s what PO’G has in mind to fetch groceries from Whole Paycheck.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        At least they used an Italian made engine. I’m surprised they still use 2 stroke engines in some of the Aprilia scooters and motorcycles. Must be hard to meet emission standards.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Maybe not groceries, but it sure would be fun to lower the gear ratio and use it to get back and forth to BibleBurg.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Here in New Mexico and back in Colorado, you can rock 50cc and under without the motorcycle endorsement, which is nice. The Vespa is a lot of laughs to ride, once you get used to them itty-bitty wheels.

      The trick here in Duke City will be finding low-traffic streets to keep the Fear Factor to a minimum while fetching groceries and the like. In fact, it’s not unlike riding a bicycle.

      • md anderson Says:

        I’d recommend consulting the Albuquerque bike map and defaulting to recognized “bike route” streets. Less traffic and a bike lane to bail to just in case.

        You still thinking you’re up to a ride to Taos once the Giro is finished?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        MD, I’m gonna have to back out of that one. Logging too many kilometers in the office chair lately, and June is looking nearly as evil as July in terms of workload. Another trip to Bibleburg for property maintenance may be in the works, too.

        I have the city trails map, and have scoped out plenty of scooter-friendly routes. Here’s hoping Larry doesn’t make a brake-squeezing appearance on any of ’em, hey?

      • Jim G. Says:

        Meh…I’m just going to get one of those motorized road bikecycles that they are riding in the Giro.

      • Larry T. Says:
        Might have to get me one too in order to keep up with our clients! They say you can get ’em with the battery hidden in the downtube so it looks like a normal bike in every way.

  10. John ONeill Says:

    Who would do a bike ride in Birks? What a dumbass!

  11. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Gee, Khal, I guess I should have made the Rte, 66 ride in Albuquerque. Your picture is in Adventure Cycling magazine this month.

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