North Florida is filled with large trees. Many grow near the old roads and with their far reaching limbs, form a canopy over the road. Riding through the thickest ones gives the impression that you are riding through a tunnel. On hot days the shade is appreciated.
Amelia Island Parkway
Amelia Island Parkway. I wish they would get rid of the signs.
One weakness of the Vespa GT is the belt drive. Vespa calls for them to be changed every 8000 miles. I have had one break in 30 miles (2014 Cannonball after changing it on a bad variator), and around 2500 miles years ago. They usually last until the change but with the miles on Rocket, it goes through them quicker than before. I decided to ride Rocket to a jobsite meeting at the beach a few days ago. While passing almost everyone on Butler Boulevard heading out, I got that pause in the stream of power that indicates a belt going south. But it didn't break so I slowed a bit, to mid 60 mph and continued. It stumbled on Ponte Vedra Boulevard. At a light I could smell it burning and looked down and saw a piece of belt thrown onto the roadway. But I rode slowly and made it to the house in Sawgrass. Of course, I had left tools and spare parts at the office to make room for the drawings, tape measures and work related things. When the meeting was over, I arranged for Dave, the builder, to let me ride back to town with him. But before we left, I cranked up Rocket to use its power to help me get into the house. It groaned a little and wouldn't push at all. Definitely in need of replacement, that I will do later in the week. Here are photos of Rocket in its temporary home, the guest room at a Sawgrass house.
My client is going to be in town this Saturday. She offered to pick me and the tools up and drive me to the beach. There I will replace the belt and drive home.
Last night was Scooter Tuesday with a ride to Mr. Taco for dinner. It is one of our favorite places because the food is good and cheap.
I rode Vanessa, a quick GT that is gaining speed every time I take her out. My friend Mike has three bikes, a Yamaha Zuma 125, Yamaha Morphous 250 and a Yamaha R1, among the fastest bikes in the world. This night he rode the fast one.
Vanessa and the R1
After dining, he left first and was at the exit to the parking lot when I pulled up alongside. Because we live just blocks apart, I asked him, tongue in cheek of course, if he wanted to race home. He laughed.
We got onto Bowden Road with him leading. We came to a red light. We had to turn right at the light and he was being a good rider and stayed behind an SUV that was going straight. I saw an opening and took the space to the right and gained the lead.
From there we turned onto University Boulevard for a very short stretch to I-95. We were behind a big truck and I was stuck trying to get around but he used his horsepower to pass me and the truck. But Mike, a very skilled rider was being careful and settled into a speed where I could catch him if I tried. I did and stayed behind him through the construction on I-95 leading to the Fuller Warren Bridge. We were going around 60 mph here, riding with traffic. I had to run up to 80 to catch him and Vanessa was enjoying the ride.
The fastest way home from the bridge is to turn onto I-10, then off on Roosevelt Boulevard to Dancy Street. At the end of the bridge, Mike was behind cars on the exit lane and I saw an opening to get around. I passed him on the right and sped away, running 70+ on the stretch leading to Roosevelt, where we both had to move over four lanes to get to the turn.
Once on Roosevelt, when the traffic cleared again, he raced by me again. Damn Horsepower! 200 to 20 simply isn't fair.
I followed to Dancy and to his house where I let him know that I had enjoyed the ride.
Safe, fast riding is what makes me happy these days. I am making it sound like this could have been considered a dangerous ride, but we both stayed well within our limits. It was simply a lot of fun.
One of my favorite parts of riding scooters is the friends we make along the way. I can honestly say that the friends whom I spend most of my free time, fun time, with are those I met through scooting.
This past Sunday, we had a medium ride from Bojangles on Southside Boulevard to St. Marys Seafood for lunch. That restaurant is located on the outskirts of St. Marys, Georgia.
One of our regulars, Sue, has been missing many rides recently and I had asked her through Facebook to come back for a ride. She did.
I planned the route up and to make it where we would arrive after opening, had to plan a circuitous route taking us to Fernandina Beach first.
The south end of Amelia Island. Eight scooters riding up.
It was a beautiful day, a bit windy but clear and cool.
We were to meet Ana at the Florida Georgia border. She is a new scooter friend to me as we first met with her a couple of months ago on our last ride to the area.
On this one, she offered to show us her 1951 Vespa Fenderlight after lunch.
So we headed to her house and she opened the garage to reveal this wonderful scooter.
It is in perfect condition and, after a few kicks, started and ran well. A special treat for all.
6 days after the double hernia operation and I am back at work.
6 lost days as I laid around the house watching the Masters golf tournament a good bit of the time. For some reason, doing that is just not as fun as it used to be.
This recovery has been much easier than the first one, even though it includes the exact same procedure plus a new one higher on my belly. The cuts include one that is a mirror image of the first, about three inches long that hurt a lot the first time but is painless this go round.
The upper one involved three small holes that were used to insert the tools to make the repairs. Those holes are causing no problems either.
Today I do have an ache in the lower left side, like a stitch when running too long (I think I remember doing that in the past)
But all is looking good. Actually looking forward to working again.
When the surgeon discovered that I had three hernias last year, he agreed to repair the painful one only. He said that it would hurt too much to recover from doing all three at once.
And he was right. Recovery from that one was not pleasant. It took weeks to feel normal.
Over the past month or so, the hernia that created a bulge in the front of my fat belly would hurt occasionally. Once in Port St. Joe while riding with the Oyster Boys, twice while visiting clients, plus a few more. It felt like a bad stomach ache that wouldn't go away until the next morning.
So I went to see Dr. Herrera, who occasionally rides a Vespa ET50, who scheduled surgery. But in the days before going in, the low hernia began hurting. Nothing like the earlier one, but it needed to be fixed.
Sarah accompanied me to the hospital for the procedure and suggested doing both in one operation. So, in the meeting with Dr. Herrera, the Anesthesiologist (a very tall fellow) and three or four assistants just minutes before knocking me out and wheeling me into the surgery suite, they agreed to do both. Yay! I shouldn't have to go back!
That was two days ago and the recovery is going well. I have a compression wrap and, more important, oxycodone. The pain so far is not bad at all. I can climb into bed, that I couldn't do last time. Going from sitting to standing and back again is workable too. I know that it can get worse, but I am hopeful to be as good as new soon.
It might be wishful thinking, but I believe I can ride again soon.
My friend Dave, Fledermaus on MV, asked me recently about my technique for taking photos from my moving scooter.
Some use a fixed camera that can be activated by remote control. Some use a GoPro and capture still shots from the video.
I do it the old fashioned way. I attach the camera to a lanyard that stays around my neck. The camera usually stays in the left coat pocket (the non throttle side). I pull it out when I want to take photos and often leave the camera loose until I hit another boring stretch of road.
Camera in the left pocket at the Beartooth Pass in Wyoming
I lead many rides, so I often shoot to the following riders by holding the camera over my shoulder, then snap the shutter with my gloved hand.
Looking back yesterday on 315 near Interlachen, Florida
It usually works well, but I often miss shots or the photo is of something other than the planned subject.
Thought I was taking a photo of something else. Got a good one of my chin and nose.
Doing this does cause some distraction. I don't take photos in locations where I could be in danger by moving around in my lane. Not on mountain corners or heavy traffic. I usually slow down a bit when taking the photos, but having the photos after a ride makes it all worth the distraction.
I can take them at any speed. This one at checkpoint 1, day 1 2014 Scooter Cannonball Run.
On the Chief Joseph Highway in Wyoming. Drew leading.
Banff National Park
Banff National Park
Taking photos this past club ride to Melrose, I was using my new camera with a new lanyard. It was a bit too loose and was captured in several images. This even throws off the focus as the camera believes that the lanyard is the subject.
The camera focusing on the lanyard. I must get a better fit.