Practice Makes Perfect

by

Well, maybe not perfect.

But a whole lot better.

I took my Vespa out for her first solo ride.

Sans friends.

Just me and a scooter.

ME

Me

Scooter

And A Scooter

I am just a little excited in this photo, if you can’t tell.

Nervous too.

I was.

Unmindful?

A little bit.

I got so excited about my virgin voyage on my own that I forgot to lock up the house.

Oops.

I did all the checks that my friend told me to do, I made sure that the handle bars weren’t locked.

I put it in neutral and double checked that it was in neutral before I kickstarted it.

She was a little cold and did not want to start-up right away, so I pulled out the choke and then vroom!

It was on.

I walked around the scooter, stepped through, and rolled her down of the kickstand.

Then I just sat for a moment with my foot on the brake and let the breath come to me.

I wasn’t going to go far.

I figured I would just go up 46th from my house to Sloat and back.

Which is exactly what I did.

As I eased off the clutch I gave it a little too much throttle and it did a quick jump out.

But then I steadied myself, laughed a little, and tried again.

This time much better.

I rolled up to the stop sign at Judah.

I let everybody go, I mean everybody, just waved folks through, waited for the pedestrians, swiveled my head around to make sure no one was behind me, prayed, smiled, grinned, and breathed, eased off the clutch, rolled the throttle and I was off.

I got it to second gear.

I felt what my friend meant when he said that it would give a “ka-thunk” when it was in gear and I would know it.  Also that when I was putting it into gear to roll of the throttle and not give it gas and smoothly release the clutch.

Within four blocks I had it in third and was cruising right along.

I know enough about the neighborhood to know that despite it being quiet and residential, folks still do all sorts of wonky maneuvering to find parking and I kept my eyes out to watch for this and also intersections where cars are rolling through the stop not paying too much attention.

I gave myself plenty of space.

I grinned a lot.

I thought, I got this.

Then I killed it at a stop sign.

I tried to start it while straddling it and could not quite get the gumption to give it the strong kick it needed.

So, I settled into neutral, stepped out and pulled her up onto the kickstand.

“Need help?” A taxi driver leaned out the window of a Yellow Cab.

“Nope,” I said, “thanks!  Just practicing.”

I smiled.

He smiled.

The world smiled.

Or that’s what it felt like.

The cab moved off, I came around, kicked it started right off the bat and stepped back through, pulled it up off the stand and proceeded forward.

I got to Rivera and decided to not tackle going all the way to Sloat.

The street was right there, but so too is the MUNI turn around for the Taraval train and I did not want to navigate over and around the MUNI tracks.

I turned right and slipped down to 47th then headed back toward the house.

At Noriega I turned right and then left back onto 46th ave and headed to my house.

I felt really good and decided I would keep riding for a little bit.

I turned on Irving and headed up toward 43rd, then around the block, back to Judah, and back home.

The neighbors across the way hollered out to me as I got off the Vespa, “lookin’ good!”

I might have blushed.

There’s a bunch of guys and gals in their twenties across the way with surf boards galore and motorcycles and stuff and it felt kind of nice to be cheered on.

I secured the Vespa, locked the handlebars, locked my helmet on the seat, tucked my gloves into the little fender box built into the rear hub and went inside to celebrate.

Which looked like pulling up the e-mail from the insurance agent that a fellow scooter rider suggested and filling out the rest of the paperwork to get my insurance all in a row.

Then I wrote a check for this month’s scooter payment, a week early, but hey, that’s how I like to roll, and walked it to the mail box and dropped it in.

The day was gorgeous and I was drawn to the back yard.

But not before I made a coffee date with an old friend I haven’t seen in over a decade.

He is going to come out next Friday on his cycle and we’re going to meet at Trouble and have coffee and catch up and then go for a ride.

I told him I have only been out for three rides and he told me he could still kick my ass.

We used to study Shaolin together.

I am not sure how relevant it was to the conversation, but it made me laugh and I am looking forward to more practice on the Vespa and catching up with a friend from back home, Madison, Wisconsin.

He gave me props for still having my 608 area code too.

After our conversation I retired to the back yard, sat in the sun and read for a while, made some lunch, sat outside some more, took a nap, yes, I did, then yes, sat outside a little more, finished my book and had an early dinner.

Then off to Church and Market for an early evening commitment.

I rode my bicycle.

I am not ready to scoot that far.

Yet.

But I will be.

Soon.

Just a little more practice.

And it’s on.

 

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