In general, I go to great lengths to find reasons to ride the scooter. Most mornings begin with the dogs, walking slow laps through our woodland landscape and reflecting on the day a step at a time — a quiet meditation on life. Contemplation is made more difficult by two excited canines with squeaky balls in their mouths who are anxious for the contemplation to end and the ball throwing to begin.
When I saw fog on the mountain yesterday morning, the fragile detente between man and dog was threatened. If I go out of my way to find reasons to ride, fog trumps almost all riding situations. It wasn’t long before I remembered I had a library book to return — a short five miles to town.
The direct route to the library is a bore. Besides, the fog was on the mountains so I quickly determined an alternate route was in order — the long way around so to speak. Just a slightly extended morning Vespa ride.
A few words about riding in fog. Make no mistake, the risks of not being seen, or not seeing something in your path are significantly higher. I only take on this sort of two-wheeled travel if I feel comfortable with my assessment of the potential traffic, the ability to ride at significantly slower speed, and the density of the fog. Not all fog is the same. Some is a mere wisp shrouding the world while at other times it’s a claustrophobic mess that cuts off almost all recognition of the world.
It wasn’t long before I had a clear assessment of the morning Vespa ride and was riding farther and farther away from the library.
The sun almost always prevails over the fog and by 9am things usually begin to clear. Stopping in the middle of the valley I surveyed different directions trying to estimate which routes would provide the highest likelihood of a foggy landscape. Regardless of the fog level, the morning Vespa ride was a luscious experience with the thermometer reading a wonderful 55F — far more to my liking than those warmer summer mornings. It was almost cool enough to slip the liner back into my First Gear Kilimanjaro riding jacket.
Fog or no fog, riding the Vespa GTS scooter on these sorts of winding roads is an absolute pleasure. So much so that on some stretches I’ll make a U-turn and try it again. The GTS is nimble and quick and can be thrown about in ways that you just can’t experience on a motorcycle at slower speeds. It’s probably why the scooter can feel so exciting in so many situations.
On this particular stop three different people stopped to ask if I needed help. I suppose parking the scooter on the road is a universal signal of something wrong. The gravel berm was so loose and tapered away that it was impossible to keep the Vespa upright on the stand.
Besides, it makes a better picture to have the scoot along that white line.
By the time I was 25 miles away from the library and winding through the roads leading up toward the Allegheny Plateau the fog was pretty much gone. With no more ghosts to chase I made the descent toward Bellefonte, Pennsylvania for one last diversion before attending to that library book — a stop at DAM Donuts. I’ve ridden past many times but today it made sense to stop.
If my cardiologist reads this post — I promise this is a one time thing. Standing in the store watching the donuts cook in a bubbling froth of oil I knew in my heart that this was not part of a heart healthy diet. With three freshly cooked and dipped in chocolate little donuts in a bright pink box I piled on the Vespa and jumped on the freeway toward a place I could deal with these little gems.
With the sun out and chocolate everywhere I eventually cleaned myself up and sized up a route to the library where I dutifully walked up to the little drop off door and deposited my book. Mission accomplished, I returned home. What could have been a 1o mile round trip ended up being 65 miles.
That happens sometimes when you ride a scooter or motorcycle.
If you’re doing it right.