Riding a scooter or motorcycle, by nature, leans toward a solitary experience. A passenger can be included or machines can congregate in groups and technology can be added to provide communication but rider and machine make up the critical whole. People, and riders, like many forms of animal life, tend to congregate in flocks, herds, swarms and packs. My riding tilts toward the loner. Any introduction to Vespa riding should point out those two schools of travel.
There is ample information available in print and online regarding the technical skills and requirements for safe operation of scooters and motorcycles so I won’t attempt to add anything here. But their are unique, though certainly not universal, riding experiences that perhaps warrant attention.
Like the coffee shop experience.
I can only speak for Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland and West Virginia. Others might weigh in on the rest of the country as I illuminate the non-moving part of a ride, the coffee shop experience. What I refer to is that moment during a ride when you say to yourself, “I’m taking a rest”, and you find yourself sitting in a small establishment dedicated to serving hot, brown liquid along with a small array of food.
Whether one of the nearly 13 thousand Starbucks establishments in the United States or the countless other local shops I’ve found these stops holding more than just a place to eat and drink. These places can be an adventure in themselves for the observant rider.
Confession — I don’t drink coffee. Ever. But they aroma is intoxicating and the myriad processes of refinement and concoction are fascinating and at times border on magical. I’ve watched mesmerized as a barista creates art amidst a steaming cup of coffee with a flourish of hand and liquid. It’s a far cry from a waitress showing up with a glass pot of black coffee from a BUNN coffee system. It’s not better, just different.
And worth noticing as all sorts of traditions and rituals are swept aside as modernized processes take their place. Maybe coffee shops, the small ones, are a last bastion of human endeavor.
I’m probably exaggerating the point.
I’ve found coffee shops good places to relax and think. Unlike the hustling energy in a restaurant a coffee shop allows a person to fade into the background. Watching this person at Saint’s Cafe I’m reminded of my own need to collect my thoughts.
Riding a Vespa scooter, or a motorcycle demands a heightened level of attention to the road in order to stay safe. Bringing those skills indoors, especially if you’re making photographs, helps you see what’s going on around you. I’m always amazed at how much I neglect to notice.
It’s increasingly rare to see someone reading a newspaper in the places I haunt. Information consumption by mobile devices has already and will continue to change the face of the information world. There’s a price though and as I watched these people I could not help but think the newspaper reader seemed more relaxed.
Probably a bias on my part. If I’m not already addicted to my iPhone I can see it from here.
Who am I kidding. I feel naked without it.
Friends and Acquaintances
Like the bar family in the TV show Cheers, the same thing can happen in a coffee shop. Carl is one of the regulars I’ve come to know from my frequent visits to Saint’s Cafe and appears periodically in photographs I make.
Riding a Vespa scooter or a motorcycle transports a rider through the world. I often hear it’s all about the ride or the journey but I’ve come to realize the destination can also play an exceptional part of the ride. For me, a coffee shop is one of those exceptional places.
What places are you and your ride drawn to?