Sunday, April 16, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
My love of little 49cc scooters puts me in a rider’s quandary.
At some point in my scooting life I will always be in need of more power. More speed to navigate traffic, more power to pull up hills, more comfort to ride long distances.
This realization pretty much sums up my version of scooter angst over the years. There is nothing that I can do to alleviate this existential frustration other than own more than one scooter, if one of them is going to be a 49cc.
And oh how I love the little scoots, the 49ccs. At this point in my dotage I have come to accept that one must be in my scooter cave.
If it is the only one, then I will have to rig up a way to transport the scooter out into the rural areas for expanded riding options. A utility trailer, a versa haul, a small pick-up truck as a second vehicle. Something.
I started out on a 49cc Ruckus and riding one puts a big ol’ grin on my face every single time. 40 miles per hour feels like 80. They zip around like a jack rabbit on speed and it has to be the closest thing to the sensation of flying.
49cc scooters are small enough to park at the bike rack up at the grocery or on the sidewalk at the mall. They can be stored easily, moved around easily, and I sit flat-footed on them with ease.
They are cheap to insure and easy to love.
Now here are the downsides to owning only a 49cc scooter, in my experience…
I live in a semi-rural area. This means I am doing a bit of errand riding to the grocery, library, post office, book stores, local parks, and the mall. All within a few miles of me at no more than 35 mph. Perfect for a little scooter that goes up to 43mph on a flat route with an encouraging wind at my backside.
But this daily use of the scooter is only a part of how I want to ride. The thing I love the most is to get out on those back roads east of my location. Rolling rural enclaves of farmland stretching out to the Ohio River and on to the foothills of the Appalachians.
Miles and miles of quiet, scenic beauty where I find my “scooter nirvana”. I have gone out there on my 49cc scooter, but it has been a day’s journey out and back. I have had to ride on the side of the road most of the time to allow cars to pass and ensure my own safety. It is fun to do this once in a while, but for more frequent excursions it becomes a chore.
There was a time when I lived out there and doing those rides was an easy, daily occurrence. Now, from the burbs, it is a project. One that I take on because I love it, but it takes up a lot of time and happens much less often than I’d like.
Here’s another downside that I experience from owning only a 49cc scooter: I cannot go to local scooter club events as I am too damn far away and even if I could get there I cannot keep up with the group rides.
And I am tired of scooting alone all the time.
Sure I could “haul in” the scooter on a versa haul or utility trailer to the scooter rallies. And I may am plan to have one of those options available to me within the next year. Mainly because I would like to haul my scooter on vacation or take it to way far off areas to ride in events or on fascinating routes.
But then again, unless these rides are “49cc friendly” (and some are, but most are not) I am still going to be the “cow’s tail”.
We’ve got two more or less local scooter clubs and I have never been able to go to any of their events. Even the few other riders in my area ride Burgman’s or PCXs or whatnot. I have had opportunities to hook up with some riding companions, but I am automatically “out of their league” in terms of keeping up. Most people are accommodating, but who wants to putz along at 35mph for hours on end? (Except for riders like me, who love to do that.)
And then it comes down to this. Some days I would like to just get on my scooter and ride way out in the country. I mean “way out”. Down along the river, over 3 or 4 counties to the foothills, up to the antique shops north of me, into town for lunch with scoot club folk, and so forth.
A bigger scooter in my garage would allow me to do that.
So basically this need for 2 scooters is a functional thing.
My goal at this point is to own another Ruckus and then to find a second scooter that I can do all of the above.
For me, on my budget, and based on local availability, this might take awhile. I am not sure if, or when, I would accomplish this goal.
I am not sure which scooter I will obtain first, little or big.
I will start a little “scooter fund” once my retirement money starts coming in later this month. I will watch to see what pops up used locally and get some figures on prices for new models.
I might consider a used scooter if it is a later model and ridden frequently. No more scooters that sat for years and years.
There are only a few shops here in the area that carry used and new scooters. I am known in all of them.
I lean toward Honda, Yamaha, Genuine, Kymco, and Suzuki products because of the warranty and availability of competent service if something goes wrong.
I also want to consult with U-Haul about what it would take to put the brake light kit on my SUV so that I could rent a utility trailer. This would increase my range of options for shopping scooters out of town.
In the meantime I am going to do a few other things that I have been wanting to do while I am saving and researching for another scooter. I don’t know how long it will be until I get another one and I need to have the cash on hand and to find the right one.
I am in no hurry.
During my “scooter hiatus” am going to get back into my first love, bicycling. So I will begin to blog about those experiences from time to time.
I am excited about this time, this pause from the “same ol’, same ol’”.
I feel like I am embarking on a new leg of my life’s journey, one that expands out from just riding a scooter to the grocery or out to see the cows and donkeys once a week.
Interestingly, this morning I got an email from the guy who bought Breezy. He tore her down and rebuilt her carburetor. He said she runs “like a top” and he loves her! I felt a twinge of sadness, yet happiness that she is where she is loved.
Two scoots, a lofty goal, but a viable one if the little 49cc scooters have grabbed the heartstrings.
And I really, really, really want one more Ruckus before I age out of scooting.
This blog isn’t called, “Ruckus Scooter Love” for nothing….
Safe riding, friends…
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Breezy bit the dust! And she was so pretty and so cool-looking too. But she bit the dust and now she is gone on to a new home where she will be used for parts.
What happened is that she sat too long unused before I bought her last year, fourteen years, more or less.
She had been used by her previous owner as a “camping scooter”. She had mostly traveled on the back of an RV and then was ridden around a campground. Off and on with years of idleness in between.
When I bought her at the dealer they said they had cleaned her carburetor, swapped out her gas tank. She ran fine all summer.
Then end of summer she stalled out on me while pulling away from a light. It was a scary experience, but I was able to roll her out of traffic and onto the side of the road where I walked her home two miles.
She would not throttle from idling on the center stand. I consulted every scooter shop in town and spent a lot of time investigating her issues on-line and with experts on scooter forums.
The theory was that once she was ridden, all that internal gunk that had coated her innards started sloughing off. So with that I ran Sea Foam through her in an effort to clean her out. This took up most of the time from the date of my last ride until I put her up on the tender for winter.
As I went through this process I was able to gun the throttle and blow off lots of exhaust smoke. I was told that this was an indication that the gunk was burning off and was a good sign. Yippee!
It got to where I could eventually throttle her and I began to ride her around the storage unit weekly throughout the winter. It became start up, clean, idle, throttle, ride, idle. I figured by the end of winter she would be good to go.
It didn’t happen. In fact, she went back to no throttle at all. Stall, stall, stall.
When I added up the cost of having her picked up and transported to the dealer, plus having her worked on, it came to about half her value. Not worth it.
I thought about buying a service manual and tackling the job myself, but lacked confidence and feared that worse would happen. So I put her up on Craigslist and sold her at a discount and got a buyer within 24 hours.
He knew how to fix and service Honda’s GY6 engine. I did not and could not justify that big money to do so.
I’m not sad, just scooter less again. I will be ok.
I have learned my lesson about buying that old of a used scooter, even if from a dealer. Even though she was kept indoors and was serviced by a Honda power sports dealership, old is old and crap builds up after that long.
Moral of the story: my next scooter will be new, under warranty and I am saving up for a new Ruckus.
Yes, going back to my roots. It may take me all summer to get one, but so be it.
I’ve got the patience of Job.
And in the meantime I am going to ride my bike to the grocery, hike, and get my fitness level back up.
Then one day I will take a taxi over and pick up my black Ruckus and ride her home.
A girl can dream…
Moral of the story: don't buy used, even from a dealership, if it's an older scooter with low mileage.
Monday, March 27, 2017
10 Years Scootin’
In the spring of 2007 I lived way out in the country in a little house on a ridge.
Everyone, including my 78 year old neighbor lady, rode ATVs up and down the gravel road.
She would come up the road to our house and sit with me out on the porch in the evenings and we would drink coffee and talk about planting gardens and watch the birds at the feeder and sometimes see the stars come out at night.
One evening I asked her how she came to ride an ATV around the ridge. Her reply began a new direction in my life,
“I ride to get out and see things I normally wouldn’t see. It is how I clear the cobwebs out of my head! There’s nothing like it!”
I knew right then and there that I wanted that experience too. It was why I used to ride my bicycle in the city, why I walked in the woods, why I took long drives along the river.
During this time I was working a temporary job at a town an hour away. On the way to that town was a very small “mom and pop” Honda power sports dealer in a little, itty, bitty village that was more a strip in the road than anything else. I’d pass through the area on the way to and from work and there were motorcycles and ATVs in the front window.
One day I stopped to look at the ATVs. This was 2007, a time when Honda was phasing out their then broader scooter line. I looked at the ATVs, but was drawn over to the scooters. At this point in time I was totally ignorant, so had a lot of questions.
I won’t bore you with them here, but suffice it to say I got right down to this: on an ATV I could ride up and down my rural road and in the woods, but on a scooter I could ride OFF that road and into town and beyond.
I wanted to ride on the trails and dirt roads with my neighbor. I did not want a big machine that took up a lot of room and was hard for me to handle.
At that time on the dealership floor in 2007 there was a Big Ruckus, a Helix, a Metropolitan, an Elite 80, and a little Ruckus. A little Camo Ruckus with a gunmetal gray frame and big ol’ fat tires.
That was it-that was the one that got it all started.
From there I’ve owned a Honda Elite 80, Honda Elite 110, Honda Metropolitan, Yamaha C3, Genuine Buddy Psycho. 2 Rucki, 2 Mets, 2 Elite 110s.
If I could I would own one of each again and then add some more to the collection.
Ten years later I still ride to get out in nature, to slow down and relax, and to explore my surroundings in a way that only a biker knows.
I still love scooters, and the little ones are the most dear to my heart.
10 years! Who would have thought? Here's hoping for another 10…
Friday, February 10, 2017
Me and Abe in February. It's always been that way for me. He was born on the 12th, I was born on the 16th. He grew up in Kentucky, I grew up in Kentucky. We were children only miles apart in Hardin County, his boyhood home being less than an hour from mine.
His cabin still stands in the middle of a national historical park, though it is currently undergoing some renovation. You can read about this park here:
Abe and I met in school and then later in the "World Book Encyclopedia" set that my parents bought for me in the third grade. That is about the time that I set up my love for learning, a personality trait also displayed by my buddy Abe.
I had a third grade teacher then, Mrs. Lila Cissell, who opened my eyes to history and it was all around me in central Kentucky. Hodgenville was right up the road and so the story of Abe, growing up in a simple log cabin and reading his lessons by firelight, came alive for me.
I was an only child, shy and introverted, who found many friendships in fantasy and reading and Abe and I seemed kindred. He'd have his birthday and then I'd have mine four days later. George came along on the 22nd, but he was too late for our celebration. It was just me and Abe.
As the years went on I found myself drawn more and more to the historical circumstances of Abe's life and eventually of his untimely death. It's like I knew him and grieved his loss like a brother or favorite uncle.
I've visited Gettysburg and imagined him standing there on the battle field, saying those famous words, "Fourscore and seven years ago...".
One time when I was a teenager, my horse riding girlfriends and I rode way out onto the most isolated part of the reservation that was owned by Fort Knox, where I grew up as an Army brat.
We'd take these extended day rides and go out and explore wild areas with our picnic lunches and cameras and curious minds.
Fort Knox had arisen as the "Home of Armor" in the early 20th century from the Federal confiscation of several county land areas in central Kentucky. In that process many small villages and townships were more or less consumed and erased from existence, leaving only a few graveyards, churches, and homesteads standing out in the wilderness.
Here's some more on the history of Fort Knox, my home town:
On this one particular day we came upon a primitive pioneer cemetery hidden deep in some woods alongside a creek. We got off our horses, tied them up, and decided to explore the gravestones, many of which were so weathered to the point that they could not be easily deciphered.
Among these gravestones we found numerous members of the Todd family, Mary Lincoln's ancestry. It was fascinating and we wondered if these folks might be close relatives to Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln.
Of course in those days there was no ancestry.com or way to find out more about them. But I found it fascinating and one more link to Abe and his heritage in the area.
So Abe and I, we celebrate our birthdays together in February. His is on Sunday, mine is this coming Thursday.
It's a funny thing, this relationship that I have always had with Abe, but it's just part of who I am.
Happy Belated Birthday, Abe! And Happy Birthday to me!