Moments after making this photograph I dropped the Vespa. First time in ten years. The first time was inexperience in the snow. This time stupidity.
I had ridden off the road just a hundred feet on a little shale covered farm lane. Other than the steep rise when leaving the pavement it was a farm lane like dozens I’ve ridden on before. A few pictures, a look around and then back on the Vespa to be on my way.
Simple. Predictable. Nothing unusual.
Error Number 1: Saving time.
Instead of following the lane to it’s natural connection to the road I decide to take a shortcut and descend down the side of the lane to the road. This will save me 15 seconds.
Error Number 2: Miscalculating traction.
The descent off the side of the lane was steep and the loose shale and my street tires combined to create a nice sliding experience.
Error Number 3: Not paying attention.
I didn’t recognize the slide. As I was descending and turning I was late to realize the front wheel wasn’t really turning but sliding down through the loose shale. And the scooter was moving toward laying on it’s side. Put my foot down to keep the scooter up but at this point it was too far over and too heavy to hold up. I just gently lowered it to the ground.
Result: Some adjustments in my future.
The scooter was barely moving during this entire event. Virtually stopped when I eased the Vespa to the ground. I remained standing throughout. Picked up the Vespa and put it on the stand to assess any damage which I assumed would be negligible.
I was wrong.
At first a couple more little nicks on the paint. Nothing new or special. Right mirror needed to be adjusted. Engine started right up so I figured all was right with the world.
I was wrong.
Damn if the front wheel and handlebars were out of alignment. When the wheel was straight the bars turned noticeably to the right. Not sure whether this happened on the way down to the ground or picking the scooter back up by the bars. Both trips involved a lot of pressure. Straightened it a little on site but will need to loosen the headset to fix.
Rode another hundred miles or so and the scooter felt and performed fine.
Lesson: It’s the little things that get you.
I replayed the event in my mind. If I had only just followed the lane to the road instead of taking the short cut. If I had more aggressive tires. If I had been paying more attention. If I had been riding a KTM. If I had a rule to never ride off the pavement.
One thing’s for sure — this was a rider induced event. I can see how even at a very slow speed a lot of things suddenly unfold that quickly become manageable. It’s important to think about how the same can happen at speed on the road. Best to make good choices instead of bad.
The first time I dropped the Vespa was similar in that things developed so quickly. I’ve linked to that story below. I was inexperienced then and riding in the snow.
This time I have no excuse.
Bad Vespa rider…