Posts Tagged ‘killing it’

Kickin’ It Into Gear

April 9, 2014

Fourth gear that is.

Yes, I got the scooter up to 40 mph.

Vroom, vroom indeed.

I also learned how to put gas into the tank today.

Guess how much it cost to fill her up?




Granted the tank was about a third full, so it will cost more to fill her up if the tank is empty.

But guess how much it gets per gallon?

Somewhere between 100-109 miles per gallon.


Then there was this other thing that happened with it today.

I got my insurance taken care of.

I was referred to an agent by a friend who rides a scooter–also a Vespa–and I got the quote and a good driver discount from the agent of $154.36 for six months.


I am full on insured, licenced, registered and ready to rock and roll.

I still need loads of practice.

I still killed it once tonight.

But I am getting better.

I have to work on getting used to the brake on the right side of the scooter, which is on the floor of the Vespa and keep my foot more connected with it.

It’s not really comfortable to ride it that way, but I have to learn to let my foot hover over it.  I end up being a bit cramped up and sitting a little further back on the seat than I would like.

I was riding along really well, but my friend noticed that I was not engaging my rear brake fast enough.  So we pulled over by the DeYoung, how awesome to learn how to ride a scooter then by zipping around Golden Gate Park, and he showed me how to hover my foot over the brake more.

I got nervous about it and lost a little bit of the flow of the ride, but I will just keep practicing.

Practice, they say, makes perfect.

I practiced grinning a lot.

I am also going to go out again this week, Friday, with an old friend from back home who’s going to ride along with me on his Honda.

It really is exciting.

It is scary too.

Learning new stuff, not getting killed by large motor vehicles, or by flocks of bicycle racers whipping through Golden Gate Park in large groups doing training rides.

The cyclists were not gentle hearted riders training for the AidsLifeCycle Ride, no, they were serious cyclists, kitted out and riding hard, easily going 20-25 mph through the park.

I had to let them pass me at one point, I did not want to be in the midst of that.

I also crossed my first major intersection with lights.

“We’re going through,” my friend hollered at me, “you ready?”


I said and went anyway.


God, though, the park, so pretty, even with the thick fingers of fog filing in through the trees.  It really is such a gorgeous spot and I do feel incredible getting to learn in it, not too much traffic, rolling hills, riding past the bison in the paddock, the trees and flowers and the lakes, so much beauty.

Then dropped down to La Playa and there’s the ocean.

It was amazing to pull back into my block and see myself get off the scooter, secure it, tuck away my gloves, lock my helmet to the seat and take a big, deep breath, as well as pocket a SFSG flyer.

What’s that?

San Francisco Scooter Girls.

That’s right.

My friend gave me their flyer.

They are having a 10 year anniversary party on May 10th at the San Francisco Motorcycle Club on Folsom Street–right where I took my motorcycle safety class room portion of the course–I might just have to go.

I typically have a commitment on Saturday nights, but maybe I will ride down from Noe Valley and peep into the club and meet some new folks.

I would love to be a part of the organization.

They provide support for women learning how to ride as well as organizing socials and rides.

How much freaking fun would that be?

Ride out with a bunch of girls and terrorize the mean streets of San Francisco.

I am in.

The party is a few weeks out and fingers crossed, I will be up to riding cross town by that point.

I am going to keep practicing in my hood and eventually, not this week, but maybe once next week, I think I am going to try riding into my job in Cole Valley.

I don’t think that I will be quite ready to tackle the job in the NOPA–lots of morning commute traffic–or the job in the Castro–huge hills.

But sooner rather than later, I will.

It’s just a matter of time and I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as long as my brain tells me it will.

There are also a few supplies I want to get for the scooter–some gloves, plastic mechanic’s gloves, to keep in the little side compartment, so when I fill up the tank I am not getting gas on my hands.  I have to pay attention to pumping it in, as well as needing to mix a little two-stroke motorcycle oil in with the gas when I fill the tank.

Then there’s the need for a better placed rear view mirror.

And last, but not least, a net that I can put over the rear seat so that I can haul groceries back on it.

Oh groceries.

I can go over to Rainbow again.

I can get more than a messenger bag full of groceries.

I look forward to this, I do.

I also am just enjoying the ride.

Having fun, being silly.

Yelling at my friend as we turned a corner of road, “Bwack! Bwack!”

Now, to anyone over hearing me, I sound like a lunatic.

But it’s an inside joke that we have had running now for over seven years.

He and I and my friend Shadrach had seen this crazy martial arts movie years back and it was so bad it was good.

I mean, so bad.

The main character at some point or other Shanghai’s a scooter and is riding it like a madman through the streets screaming out “Bwack! Bwack!” as the pedestrians fling themselves to the side of the road.

We all fell out of our seats laughing.

And you couldn’t have told me then where my life would be now, nor that I would have a scooter.

All the little things that add up to today, even when today is not that huge a deal, it was just an hour and a half with my friend cruising around the park.

But it was the culmination of time and teeny tiny baby steps toward getting on the Vespa at all.

The journey has been amazing.

Can’t wait to see where it goes next.

I Killed It

April 6, 2014


I mean.

I literally killed it.

Like, um, four times.


Learning how to use the clutch on the scooter.

But learning I am and I now feel comfortable enough to go out on my own tomorrow.

Not very far.


Just up and down the block, get the feel of it, get used to rolling off the throttle, using the clutch, moving from 1st to neutral, neutral to 2nd, not killing it.

But killing it.

Now, figuratively.



Soon, I will be zipping around this seven by seven tract of city like no body’s business and it’s going to be on.  Of course, there’s a learning curve, and I did not want to get on that curve today, nope, not at all, in fact, I had more than one fleeting thought about how this was all a mistake and what was I thinking and who needs a scooter and I am crazy.

I ate my dinner anyway before my friends showed up.

My friend came over with his girlfriend to help me practice.

And I thought as I hugged her, this was a mistake, the eating of dinner, I am going to throw up.

The feeling stayed with me as I promptly killed the engine on the scooter taking it from neutral to first and letting out the clutch to fast and leaping forward a little and whomp, there she goes dying.

I got to slow down then.


Back it up against the curb.

Practice finding and using the kill switch.

Practice rolling on and off the throttle.

Practice squeezing out the clutch slowly.

My friend noticed my biggest error right away, I was using the clutch like it was a brake.


Makes total sense, at least to me, I am used to squeezing a lever on the handlebars on my bicycle, it means I am engaging the brake on the wheel.

Eight years of habit is a hard habit to break.

And I have to learn how to brake by using the foot brake on the Vespa, the right side has a foot brake on the floor board of the scooter.

The clutch is on the left, the throttle on the right and the right front brake and then the rear brake is on the floor on the right side.


Dyslexia girl strikes again.

What my friend did was genius though.

He just paced right along side me on his scooter.

He went slow, watched for traffic, had me start out in neutral, ease off the clutch, go to first, give it some gas, and practice stopping and starting every ten to fifteen feet for a while.

Then when I was getting the hang of it, I took it into second and went a little bit faster.

Not that much faster, though.

I got passed by cars.


And, mortifying.

One guy on a skateboard.

But what ever.

I got it.

I stilled killed it at a four-way stop sign when I got overwhelmed with the sunlight and the cars and the turn and just fritzed out my brain.

And that’s ok too.

I am learning.

And I got the thumbs up to do some practising on my own.

l feel like I can do that tomorrow, take her out, just zip, slowly, up and down the blocks.

My neighborhood is actually perfect for that kind of practise.  It is so residential and there are stop signs just about every block.  I couldn’t bring the scooter over 25 mph if I wanted to before I would be braking.

I can just do exactly what I did today.

Get on, start the engine, I literally have to kickstart it.

There is not engine on switch.

I put the key in the scooter, turn it, to make sure the handle bars have gotten unlocked, and kick down the lever to start the engine.

It is pretty awesome when I think about it and I really do see myself becoming a pro at it.  I just have to practice and allow myself to be a novice at something.

I learned how to drive a stick shift when I was fifteen.

I did the same thing then as I did today.

I stalled out  the engine.

I didn’t understand the feel of the clutch and the sound of the engine and when I needed to shift.  Mostly I was also mortified to make any mistakes.  Especially with my mom in the passenger seat telling me how to do it.

She made me drive up and down the drive way at the house in Windsor.

What I did not realize when I was first learning was that too often I was putting the car into third gear, first and third being close together on the gear shift, I didn’t know the difference, until, one day, it just clicked.

But by that time I was in a panic to not drive anymore.

I had stalled out at the four-way stop sign in Windsor and had traffic behind me and mom yelling at me in the car and I just wanted to give it up forever and who needs to drive anyway?

I somehow managed to make that left turn, just like today.

And after that it got easier.

And my uncle Jeff took me out in his truck shortly thereafter and was so laid back and easy-going and just explained it to me and I got it.

Same thing happened today.

I got the throttle and easing up and off while using the clutch and I got used to using the foot brake.

My friend was wonderful and patient and encouraging and so was his girlfriend, who had learned from him as well.

There was even a few moments when I was not terrified that I was going to kill it, never worried about killing myself, just the scooter, and I really enjoyed riding, the park is beautiful and I was riding along John F. Kennedy and hey!

I live in San Francisco and I own a vintage 1965 Vespa and I am riding it through Golden Gate Park wearing a sparkle helmet.


Life is amazing.

Even when I killed it.

I was killing it.


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