I decided last night I would take a route I that would be the longest ride on my Vespa so far. It would also test the abilities of the bike like I had not tested it before.
First, I looked at the weather. It appeared that if I was going to do it and not get wet, I would have to head out on the road no later than 10 a.m. The temperature was about 47 degrees so I knew I could get a little chilly. So, before heading out on the ride I took Heebie over to Touring Sport BMW where there is also a Ducatti and Vespa dealer.
I purchased me some pretty nice kangaroo skin gloves that fit - well, like a glove - they are thin but warm. Plus they are motorcycle gloves with a skid plate, etc. When I drove up I parked kind of out of the way. As I got off the bike and walked in the store the attendent said, "Next time you need to park the vintage bike up at the front. You've earned it." That was pretty cool.
Unfortunately, I flooded the bike because I forgot to turn off the fuel flow. I tried kicking it and then tried roll starting it. I couldn't pull it off because the parking lot was too small. Then one of the guys from the shop came out and offered to push me. He seemed to know a bit about the bike because he knew exactly what to do. He pushed and I was on my way.
My plan was to head over Paris Mountain. Now, for you all from a place where there are actual mountains, Paris Mountain is more of a hill. However, Altamont Road gives some nice climbs and is great fun because of all the curves. I mapped out a 19 mile route and headed off. You can see the route by checking out my Wayfaring space:
The blue line shows the route. Click here to expand the map. The bubbles are different locations that figure into my Vespa chronicles.
When I left, it was beginning to mist. I almost turned back but I simply couldn't resist! So, off I went. Heebie did great. Even in the steepest places going up Altamont I managed about 24 mph. I would say I averaged 35 mph over the whole mountain.
Down on the other side, I had a much easier time of it. It was a little warmer down on the lower elevation and a little flatter as well. I really opened it up and got up to 55 mph a couple of times. It was kind of funny passing some of the slower drivers in their cars.
Most people looked at me with interest. Only once did I see a teenager point and laugh at me as she and her friends passed by. Didn't bother me at all. I was having a blast.
Things I learned: 1) I still need to do something with the gas cap. It does not appear to be a vented cap. If I close it, the carb gets starved. 2) I'm still not happy with the brakes. I don't really see how I can fix them. I wonder if it is just a "vintage Vespa thing." 3) The gears are not exactly where I want them. The more I drive the bike, the better I get with finding the right ones. However, fourth still tends to slip into neutral if I don't really twist the shifter as far as possible. 4) at certain speeds - especially when slowing - the bike seems to bump quite a bit. I have heard this is somewhat normal for these scooters, but I wonder just how much bumping is normal.
Other than those few things, it was awesome! Even though I got a little cold and the rain covered my visor toward the end of the ride, it was great fun. I can't wait until spring. I've got to start planning my next actual long ride.