Sunday, August 30, 2015

7BSC Ride To Steffens in Kingsland, Georgia

Today's ride was a continuation of the Sunday rides this year.  With the rains coming every afternoon, we have chosen to take shorter rides that leave Jacksonville earlier than usual.  Russ picks a breakfast destination within an hour and a half and we head there from a logical starting point.

This one was to Steffens Diner in Kingsland, Georgia.  We had been there before and had good service and food, so it was an easy choice.

We met up at our usual place, Bojangles on Southside Boulevard. There were nine of us riding together and we went north, over the Dames Point Bridge to Hecksher Drive.  From there we went past the ferry dock onto A1A north to Amelia Island.

The only bad part of the ride is on 200 from the Intracoastal Waterway to US 17 where we headed north, across the Florida Georgia line to Kingsland.

It was busy, but we were seated in less than ten minutes.  My food was great, breaking from my recent good eating habits to have a chicken fried steak with two eggs over hard.  There was gravy too.  I left happy.

But I left in the beginnings of a great rainstorm.  Everyone knew the way home, so I headed out first and alone.  It wasn't one mile before the rains came, and they came heavy.  I could barely see where I was going as I approached the little blue bridge that crosses the St. Marys River.  I had to lift by sunvisor so I could see.  My glasses were all wet and foggy too, but I could tell where I was going well enough to continue.  Jim caught me in Yulee and we rode together for a while until I got tired of stinging my face on fast roads and turned off on Duval Road, taking back roads the remaining twenty miles home.

I got home drenched but satisfied that I was out riding.

Photos courtesy of Russ Dixon.

Heading out from Bojangles

Turning onto Southside Boulevard

On A1A about to cross the Fort George Inlet.
Winds were heavy on the bridges.

On A1A on Big Talbot Island

A1A on Amelia Island

Through the Canopy Road on Amelia Island.

Happy Diners

Suiting up for the wet ride home

 The gang stopping because of the rain.
I had gone ahead and rode through it without stopping

Friday, August 28, 2015

R&M Shirts Around the World

My friend Dave sent me this photo of him wearing the t-shirt I gave him recently. It was taken while he and his family were on a vacation in Italy.

While there aren't many of these shirts out there, it made me think that if others want to send in similar photos, I will gladly put them on the blog.

So far, there are around fifteen shirts that I have given away.  Some who have them don't read the blog, but others are active here.

Also, anyone wanting to join in, send me your information and I will send a shirt your way.  No charge.


Dave and his new friend in Italy.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I went to see the surgeon recommended by my regular doctor.  Upon examination, always fun, he told me that I have three hernias.

And because of a complication, he will not operate on all three at the same time, preferring to do them separately.  He says there is too much danger and pain in doing all three together.

I trust him because he was recommended by people I trust.  It turns out that he is a scooter rider too, owning a 50cc modern Vespa that he rides to work from his house a couple of miles away in Springfield.

It looks like the first surgery, for the biggest and most uncomfortable hernia will take place within the next two weeks.  I am of the opinion that I will try to do all three before the end of the year.  Apparently, these heal quickly so hopefully it will have minimal affect on planned rides.  But you never know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Iron Butt Florida

An Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 is a 1000 mile ride on a motorcycle in less than 24 hours.

I thought I might be finished with riding these after the one I did a few years ago.  That one started and finished in Jacksonville.  The middle part was fun.  I rode the entire way on interstate highways, up I-95 into South Carolina, then I-26 to Columbia.  From there I rode up I-77 to Charlotte to meet up with Adrian who rode with me to Salisbury for lunch.  After a 75 minute lunch, I was off again on I-85 headed to the Raleigh Durham area, then I-40 back to I-95.

I hit I-95 in the mid afternoon with 425 miles to go.  Luckily I had a tailwind the entire way and rode with the fast crowd at 75 to 80 the entire way except the next to last leg when the engine began overheating and could maintain only around 65 mph.  It healed itself for the last leg.  These machines are a mystery sometimes.

But that is changing.  I have been in communication with a Modern Vespa acquaintance in England who is an Iron Butt rider.  He has done six Saddle Sore 1000s and one Bum Burner 1500.  Two in England, two in the US, one in France and the BB 1500 was in Western Europe, combining a SS1000 with the BB.

He asked me if I would be interested in riding with him and another Modern Vespa friend, Bob, while he was here.  Then it became an Iron Butt ride with both of us riding my two freshest GT's and Bob riding support.

The two freshest machines are Razzo and Vanessa.  I have some prep work do do to assure us that they will be able scooters.  Four new tires are ordered and will arrive this week.  I already have new belts and will get rollers to install in the next few weeks.  I need to mount another RAM mount for the second GPS and a 12v outlet to allow its use for the entire ride.  Then new, quality oil and they will be as ready as possible.

Our route is to stay in Florida, with the added bonus of receiving a special patch for a Florida only IB.  We will head west, out I-10 towards Tallahassee.  Then turn south on 57 near Monticello to pick up 19 to Perry where it joins 98.  We continue to Chiefland where we then run on 27 to Williston where we turn to I-75 and the ride south.

From there it is all interstate highways, taking I-75 to Naples and Fort Lauderdale with a stop along the way to have a brief visit with my co-rider's sister near Sarasota.

From Fort Lauderdale we will turn north on I-95 for the 330 mile ride home.

It is going to take place in late October, so daylight will be less than ideal.  But the scooters have good headlights and the roads are all well traveled.

My only concern at the moment is that I have this hernia.  I am meeting with the surgeon tomorrow to schedule the procedure.  I hope that it is in the next week or so, giving me plenty of time to heal.

My friend is hinting at the adventure on MV at the moment, so I will let him do his thing there.  I am looking forward to another adventure.

Florida North

Florida Middle

Florida South

Monday, August 24, 2015

Waiting out the Storm

Late yesterday afternoon, I decided that I really needed to ride Rocket to Best Buy in Orange Park to look at cameras.  I checked the weather and it looked like I could make it.

I looked them over and headed home.  I saw the big clouds to the north and west as I turned onto Blanding Boulevard so I took Collins Road to Roosevelt to the east.  As I ran up Roosevelt, I could see that it would be close.  So just four miles from home, as I came to Timuquana Road I could feel the first wind gusts indicating it was close.  I could see the huge clouds and rain ahead, so I ducked into the nearest shelter I could fine, the McDonalds restaurant at that intersection.   I went inside and sat safely at a table and started on Facebook, telling everyone my predicament.  My friend Adam was having a similar problem in Gainesville, but at least he was at Loosey's, a bar downtown.  I was stuck in McDonalds.  Russ suggested I get a milkshake.  I looked at the menu and decided on a smoothie.  But it turns out that the smoothie and milkshake machines had stopped working at the first lightning strike in the area.

I was stuck for an hour, then decided to give it a shot.  I decided to ride up Ortega Boulevard to avoid the much larger Roosevelt Boulevard.  Ortega was flooded and I almost got splashed off the road a couple of times but made it all the way home with minimal wetness. One nice part about riding a scooter is the protection from rain and road water that the leg shield and windscreen provide.

My view for one hour in McDonalds

The 2010 Scooter Cannonball Movie

For thepast several years there has been a rumor that a movie was to be made about the 2010 Scooter Cannonball Run.  Some of the same riders participated in the 2014 Scooter Cannonball Run that I entered and ran successfully into the ninth day of ten.

There have only been sporatic reports of movement in the completion of the work and they had a kickstarter program to help fund the work.  It is now looking real and coming out in a few months.  I can't wait to see it and look at it compared to our run.

Nobody was filming on the 2014 run.  Rats.

The poster

It looks like the movie people took the trailer off R&M.  No problem here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I now own Vanessa.  Not legally as I have not received the title yet, but I deposited a big check in Leslie's checking account this morning that starts the wheels turning.

As I have posted here, I had been holding Vanessa, Leslie and Maria's Vespa GT, in my garage while they lived in Italy for three years.  I had been very careful with her until I asked Sarah to ride her to the office one afternoon so we could clear some space for a garage sale.  Sarah had ridden my Malaguti several times and I assumed that she would be OK.  I refreshed her memory as to what each lever does, etc. and sent her on her way.  She promptly ran into a parked Land Rover on the street in front of our house.  It was all my mistake and I take the blame for the accident.  Sarah was unhurt, but Vanessa was a mess.  She had a large dent in the front leg shield and was leaking coolant profusely.  Insurance would have instantly totaled her.

At first I was to repair the scooter but that felt daunting.  Getting her back to new condition would require proper tools and a skilled body shop.  I asked Boris if he could get his body guy to do the work but he couldn't get him interested.  I went to the local dealer to see who they used and they said that they couldn't find a shop to do body work on Vespas.  I tried a local body shop but couldn't get them interested either.  I was out of ideas when Leslie let me know that she would sell her to me instead, as she and Maria were to stay an extra year in Italy.

I agreed to her terms and took her to Boris to have his brother Eric bang out the dent and get her on the road again.  He succeeded and I am now the owner of a perfectly good 2007 Vespa GT.  It is the fourth I have owned.  I sold one so I still have three.  It may be an obsession, but it is fun having so many.
After the repair.  Still awaiting the new fender that I will have painted blue to match.  I am leaving the bent parts and painting them with primer only for now.  I prefer that to bondo.

I am leaving the Girl Star sticker.  It just belongs there.

This one came from the scooter rental shop in Rome.  It stays too.

I rode her to Baldwin yesterday.  20 miles at 70+ mph and she was more solid than the others,  It is probably because I took the top case off while leaving the heavier bar ends on the handlebars.  We were also running with no front fender and that may have helped too.  

If all goes well, she will be used in an upcoming Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 ride in October and the 2016 Scooter Cannonball Run.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rocket & Me Shirts

A few months ago I had my daughter, Kylie, make improvements to this blog.  I liked her design so much that I had some t-shirts made and offered them to people who read this little blog.

I sent one to the number one reader, David Masse, who surprised me by posting about wearing it during a ride through the Adirondacks with Stephanie Yue.

Courtesy of Stephanie Yue

Then, when I flew up to Wisconsin for Wisconscoot in July, I gave black model t-shirts to the entire Langholff family for organizing the fun event.

I gave one to my son, Sam too.  He wore it on the last day of Wisconscoot.  His visiting with me on that ride made it a very special trip.

And Michael Beattie, Conchscooter, asked for one, which he received and posted this photo on his site, Key West Diary.

I wear mine around town and for sleeping, but it feels a bit self promotional to wear them to scooting events.  Maybe I will get over it soon.

Riding Pain

The hernia has led me to the realization that I have always been comfortable on scooter rides until now.

Two weeks ago I rode Rocket on the club ride and didn't feel very comfortable.  I couldn't understand why.  Then riding to and back from Apalachicola last week I was in a good amount of pain.  It took another couple of days to realize what had happened to me.  My doctor confirmed it on Monday.

The only rides where I have had any discomfort over the years were on the Honda and its treacherous seat that I call the "Little Seat of Horrors".  And that is only after a couple of hundred miles.

But, on a scooter, I have ridden 1000 miles in one day with no discomfort at all, other than my hands and left arm getting quite numb and useless for a couple of days.

I rode nine days of the Cannonball at an average of 350 miles per day with no discomfort at all.  Actually nothing but excitement and fun for every mile.

And at least 30 more 300 mile days over the years without ever an issue at all.

I am scheduled to meet the surgeon on Wednesday next week.  Then I hope the surgery can be scheduled soon after that and I can get back to the comfortable rides.

At the start of 3200 miles in nine days.  Not a minute of pain.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

She's Leaving Home

Today marks the day that our beautiful daughter, Kylie, heads out into the big world on her own.  Sarah and I are putting her on a plane to Chicago to visit her brother, Sam.  From there she is flying to New York City to seek her fortune.

She has nothing but a few interviews planned so far, but is determined to make it work.

It is a sad day for Sarah and me, but we will stay in touch and visit as often as we can.

We are certain that she will do well.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oh No! Hernia!

On the long ride on Rocket two weeks ago, I felt a little uncomfortable for the first time ever on a scooter.  Then, riding to Apalachicola and on the return, I felt much more uncomfortable, with moments of pain that would make me wince.

Then, I spent much of the day Saturday cleaning up the yard at the new home.  This included moving potted plants and mowing.

I noticed a bulge in my, um, private area over the weekend, then looked up hernia on my Google machine.  It described my condition exactly.

So, yesterday I called my doctor, good friend Richard Flynn.  He saw me in the morning and confirmed my diagnosis.  Then let me know that I was too young to let it go, so surgery is up next.

It means that I will probably have to miss the Fall MP3 gathering in north Georgia.  I really like that event and the ride up, but it is too painful to ride that far before the surgery, and I heard it takes a couple of weeks to recover after the procedure.

So, I will be out of commission for a while.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Florida Summer Oyster Tour

On Thursday I left Jacksonville just after 8:00 to meet up with Ken in Perry, around 140 miles to the west.  I rode on I-10 to get out of town, 30 miles to Macclenny where I turned south on 121.  Because I prefer empty roads, I turned off 121 to 130 at the closed Cash Cow store just south of the Florida Mental Hospital.  Then to 229 and 238 to Lake Butler.  238 is one of my favorite roads in the area as it is narrow, vacant and goes through forest, past a large lake and farm.  That plus it has a few turns that make it interesting.  Here it is as I turned on it from 229.

Rode along the lake through through Lake Butler, then picked up 121 again to Worthington Springs.  There I headed west on 18, another of my favorite local roads.  This ran into Fort White where I took 27 through Branford and Mayo to meet Ken at the McDonalds on 98.  When I got there, I checked my phone to find a voice message from him saying that Big Red, his 250 GTS had stopped running 27 miles south on 98.  I called him to find that he had called a tow truck to haul Big Red to a dealer in Gainesville.  He suggested I continue to Apalachicola and meet up with Captain Gary there and await his arrival via rental car.

I decided to ride in a leisurely fashion, stopping a few times for photo opportunities, inspired by Steve Williams and his Scooter in the Sticks Blog.  The first stop came when I was just west of Perry and saw a turtle a quarter of the way across 98.  I slowed and turned around and parked on the opposite shoulder.  One pickup truck passed in the turtle's lane, then a large truck was coming in my lane and I hoped that he didn't give so much room around my scooter that he would take out the turtle.  Luckily the little friend was not hit and I moved it to safety.

I stopped to take a photo of Razzo in front of the Panacea town sigh.  Then turned and found it in front of a cool marshy pond.  In Carrabelle, I stopped for fuel and rode a scenic ride along the coast where I took another photo.  Then stopped for a shot at the Crooked River Lighthouse.

From there to East Point, 98 runs along Apalachicola Bay on smooth pavement with some nice curves and views.  I couldn't pass Lynn's Quality Oysters at lunch time without stopping for a dozen raw and a Yuengling.

After that delicious delight, I crossed the long bridge into Apalachicola and checked into the Gibson, a fine old Victorian establishment in the heart of town.  While checking out the room, I heard a noisy Vespa sound coming from out front and speculated that Captain Gary had arrived.  I went out to meet him and let him know that his exhaust gasket had failed. He hadn't noticed.

He wanted to share a room, so I changed my room from a king bed room to a pair of twins.  It allowed significant savings for both of us that we spent on more good food and drinks.

Because Gary has spent a lot of time in Apalachicola over the years, he took me on a guided scooter tour of the area.  It is a wonderful town that began and grew at a time of fine architecture and planning, the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Then it stopped growing and the structures survived.  Gary says that the houses are all being bought by people who are restoring them.  It makes for a fine, small town to visit and enjoy.

We were having a nice discussion with Trish, manager at the local watering hole that Gary had suggested when we got a text from Ken saying he would be at Lynn's at 7:00.

I said we would meet him there.  So Gary and I rode over the long bridge for more oysters and Yuengling.

The long bridge over Apalachicola bay between Apalachicola and East Point


Razzo and Gary's scooter at Lynn's

Gary on scooter, Ken in rental car.

After that we headed back west to Apalachicola so Ken could check into the hotel and we enjoyed ending the long day in the old bar inside the Gibson.

Morning came and Gary wanted to change the exhaust gasket on his scooter as leaving it leaking can damage the bodywork and brake line.  He carried an extra, I had two and the tools, but Ken had tools too (we are all experienced at Vespa touring), so Ken and I proceeded to watch Gary remove the exhaust while we drank coffee on the wrap around porch.  He brought it up to us where he and Ken did the gasket replacement.  Gary installed it and it was as good as new.

Ken telling Gary how to insert the gasket

Gary and Ken

Ken wanted to have breakfast at the place where the locals eat theirs, the Mexican restaurant in East Point.  Gary would have none of that so we went to Caroline's on the river where we had a delicious breakfast overlooking the water.

Gary was getting anxious to head home, it turns out that he was not feeling great, so he headed back to Dothan at 11:00.  Since Ken was driving a car, he said he wanted to explore some side roads on the way back and I said I would follow.  But we turned off at Lynn's for more oysters and Yuenglings, then I abandoned him and headed home along the same route.

Razzo and I had a light headwind the entire way home that made it a little tiresome, but we made it easily.  It was a very nice way to spend two days.

Our new home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Florida Oyster Tour, Act II

My friend Ken, AKA Lostboater, has been talking about another scooter ride to Apalachicola for oysters.  I have been needing a ride for August so it fit well.  Captain Gary has agreed to join us from Dothan, Alabama so we will have a mini gathering at the Gibson Inn in downtown Apalachicola.

All of a sudden, I now have three Vespa GT's that are capable of the ride.  There is Rocket, fresh off a new vacuum hose that solved all of the stalling symptoms that have been happening over the past several months.  Then Razzo, the perfect GT and now Vanessa.  With the new purchase getting closer and the dent and radiator issue repaired, Vanessa is capable too.

But for this ride, I think it will be Razzo, due to it having the top box and no mechanical issues waiting in the wings.

I leave tomorrow morning and meet Ken at the McDonalds in Perry at 11:00.  I have a nice route, the same one I took last time that takes me to Macclenny on I-10.  Then I turn south on 121 to Lake Butler to 18, a very scenic Florida road to Fort White.  From there is is straight to Perry on 27.  The ride over to Apalachicola gets interesting as it gets near the end, running along the Gulf of Mexico.  First stop in that area will be Lynn's Quality Oysters for the first dozen or so.

I will try to post here.

The Gibson Inn from last March.