Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gathering Day Two

In the second day of the Spring Gathering we had a long ride into Tennessee and Virginia.  Doug found many miles of the best twisty roads in the area, making for a 200 plus mile ride.  We had plenty of stops to keep everyone fresh.  One was at a store on 421, The Snake, where we had lunch and bought stickers, saying we were there.

The evening had the entire group dining on ribs, then ascending to the lounge where we drank adult beverages, played pool, darts and ate cheese balls.  It is a very cool group.

Ralph and Will with Razzo on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Along the way in NC.

George in the Twisty Bits

The group at the 421 store

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ride to the Gathering

I rode Razzo up to the Gathering yesterday.

The ride up was great, in that there were no issues, and it ran fast and smooth as usual.

I saw the sun rise from I-95 near Brunswick.

And met Mike in Landrum, S.C. for lunch.  I told him the day before that I should be there at 12:30.  I met him at 12:28, so good timing.  He had offered to buy me lunch but arrived at our meeting place with his wallet conveniently left at home.  Luckily, I had mine.

I arrived at the Skyline Inn at Little Switzerland at 3:00.

A ride was arranged with Noreen, Kevin, Ralph, Will and Mark.  We covered some of the fantastic roads in the area until Noreen had a flat rear tire.  Will, Ralph and I stayed the hour or so with her as Kevin went to retrieve a trailer.  We put the scooter on it and headed back on 80 and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I really love riding in these mountains.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MP3 Spring Gathering

I am leaving tomorrow to attend the MP3 Spring Gathering in Little Switzerland, NC tomorrow morning.

It has been a trying couple of weeks.  We lost Sarah's mother, Sue, on Memorial Day.  She gave it a good fight, but couldn't overcome a recurrence of cancer.  She was a great Mother-In-Law all these years and will be greatly missed.

Besides that, we had Vanessa's accident, an intern quitting, my father in the hospital for a few days and the possibility of finally selling the house.

Razzo is the chosen mount for the ride.  Last year I rode the Honda to the Fall Gathering.  It was fine but the scooter will make it even better this time.

My intended route is to ride up I-95 into South Carolina.  Then take 321 to Columbia where I will pick up I-26 past Spartanburg.  Then smaller roads, mostly 221, to the gathering.  It will be a nice mix of the pure speed of the interstate highway system and country roads.  Google says it will take around 8 hours.

It will be the fourth long ride for Razzo after Apalachicola, Virginia and Orlando in the past three months.  I was getting a little concerned about the rear tire wear this week.  I put a new tire on it in mid March.  In those ten weeks it has been ridden 4300 miles, but I checked this morning and it looks fine.  I will check the oil, coolant and tire pressures tonight, fill the tank and be ready for a 5:30 launch.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ride to Orlando

Sarah has been in Orlando for some time, tending to her mother, Sue.  Kylie joined her on Friday so I decided to ride down for a visit.  I wanted to see the girls and Sue, who was in her last days.  Sue has been a great, friendly and fun Mother in Law over the years.

I was going to ride the Honda down the interstate highways but, at the last minute, decided to ride on Razzo, taking the more scenic US17 to Deland, then shift to I-4 to get into downtown Orlando.

It was a pleasant ride, good weather and reasonable traffic.  I always enjoy passing cars on the two lane country roads and had my opportunities going both down and back.  Three hours down, four there, three back.

Nothing like a nice ride to clear the head.

Razzo at Sue's House

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Disturbance in the Scooter Force

After years of only minor damage to scooters in a couple of very minor incidents, we had a bigger one on Thursday night.

Sarah wanted to clear some space in the garage to store items for a yard sale on Saturday.  Kylie was home for the sale and we were headed to Mossfire Grill for dinner.  Along the way is my office, the place where the bikes would stay while away from home.

Because we had two to move I thought it would be quicker to ride two of them to the office at once, so Sarah said she would ride one.  I put her on Vanessa, gave her the usual instructions and sent her off from the driveway.  She had ridden the Malaguti several times and I made the incorrect assumption that this ride would be easy.

She rounded the corner onto the road and promptly ran into the rear bumper of a Land Rover parked across the street.

Luckily, Sarah emerged unscathed!  Just a minor pain of the tailbone when doing yoga the next day.

The damage to Vanessa is limited to the front end, but she is really damaged.

After a brief look, I assumed that Vanessa was a write-off.  But we are now looking at ways to save her.

I have spoken to Boris and others to get advice on the direction to head.

My wonderful friend Ken settled me down, offering sage advice that I am now using to move forward.

It was an error in judgement that has me reeling.

I truly enjoy these scooters.  Seeing one go down is hard.  And with my wife on board was very scary.  It is a miracle that she was not hurt.

A note to all.  These machines, that appear to be so simple and fun to ride to us seasoned riders, are very dangerous to those with little experience.  I see it very clearly now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I have been wanting to make some windshield changes on the three GT's that have in my possession.  They are, of course, Rocket, Razzo and Vanessa.

Saturday, I took the entire day off.  It started by riding the noisy Lambretta to Boris to start the repairs of the exhaust damage caused by the drop last week.

Then I went home and looked at the three scooters.

Rocket had a small, fly screen that I like a lot.  Vanessa had the Faco mid size screen that came on Razzo.  It is a thick, stout screen but the supports are very vertical, leaving it very upright, too much so for my taste.  And Razzo had the mid size Malossi that I bought as a replacement when it was broken in the rear ending accident in August.  The Malossi is thinner and vibrates a bit more than the Faco.

So I took the screen off Vanessa, took it apart, and put the upright supports on Rocket, re-installing the fly screen.  It is upright but not an issue with the much lower screen.

Then, I took the old supports from Rocket and matched them with the heavier Faco screen and put them on Razzo.  The more stable windscreen is more comfortable at speed than the flexible Malossi.

And I put the Malossi on Vanessa with the more reclined screen than before.

I like all of them better now.

The Players Championship

I know that this isn't about scooters, but a very large golf tournament comes to the Jacksonville area every May.  It is the Players Championship.  It is the championship of the Tournament Players, the golfers who play around the country every year for the PGA Tour.

It isn't a Major Tournament, like the Masters, US Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship, but it is number five for most golf enthusiasts.

I went on Friday and Sunday this week.  Friday was with some contractor friends and the child of one.  The kid is Matthew, Jr., but he goes by the name of Peanut.  This is the third year going with them and it is a hoot.  Peanut is a cool kid, now 9, who likes Ricky Fowler a lot.  He went seeking Ricky at several locations, trying to get a golf ball or at least a hand slap.  Unfortunately he got neither from Ricky, but he was successful with Rory McIlroy and several others.

Sunday was with my friend Drew and his son Dylan.  Dylan is also 9, and he was looking for the same things as Peanut.  We stayed at hole number 4 for most of the day, near the green where the golfers all walk off heading to the fifth tee.

Dylan got lucky, getting golf balls from five players, including major champions Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and K.J. Choi.  He also got hand slaps from many.

But because Sunday was Mother's Day, we left before the leaders got to 4 and headed home to our respective Mother's Day celebrations.  Mine was at Safe Harbor Seafood, a seafood merchant that has a restaurant connected to the facility.  The line to order food was an hour, but we managed to navigate the place, finding that beverages could be purchased before ordering food and a nice covered area awaited outside, along the river.

In doing that caused me to miss the best golf finish in a long time, with Peanut's favorite, Ricky Fowler, winning in a playoff.

I don't mind as having a mother is much more important than any golf tournament,

The view of the 16th hole from the Palace.
Free food and drink along with a nice view.

Peanut and his dad.

 Peanut not getting the attention from Ricky.

Rusty playing with a little lizard that was hanging around.

Rory McIlroy

Fifth hole on Sunday

Two brothers with Mom and Dad at Safe Harbor.

Monday, May 11, 2015


There is a very small following here, but it is a fine, quiet group that keeps me writing.

I am so pleased with Kylie's new graphics that I am going to make a few t-shirts.

Little Matthew Carlton, Peanut, he is called, wanted one.  Kylie too.

So here is my offer.  I will send a t-shirt to the first five readers who request one.

Free t-shirt and shipping.

Just post a comment here with a size and color preference and I will get it done within the next couple of weeks.

They can be either of the attached below on any color.  Black on any color works too.

Colors on white or any light color

White on any color.  This can be black on any color too.

Peanut.  I made him hold the beer. I have a strange sense of humor.

Lambretta OOPS!

I have been enjoying getting on the Lambretta and riding it around the neighborhood.  On Thursday, I decided to start work on the project that is the payment for buying the scooter.  That is to design a back porch on the house of the previous (40 years) owners.  So I sent Arjeta, my summer intern to the house to measure and photograph the house.  Then I rode over to show them the running Lambretta.  While there, I picked up the title, so I can get it registered and get the 1975 Louisiana license plate removed.  Finally, legal.

On the ride back to the office, actually in the driveway, I was trying to get the gear selector into neutral for the stop.  It has balked at this every time since running, but I was trying anyway.  I got distracted and found myself running towards an old stump just off the driveway.  I hit it with the front wheel, then it came down on the midsection of the scooter with a big bump.  Then it went over, spilling me onto the concrete.  It immediately started to be very loud with a clearly damaged exhaust.  RATS!  Only the third time I have fallen off one of these things, all luckily while at very low speeds.

It still runs fine, actually felt a little more powerful than usual, but the noise clearly meant repairs were in order. 

I took it to Boris on Saturday, leaving it for him to check out.  He said that the jolt loosened one of the studs that connect the exhaust to the engine.  He tightened it and felt that it would be fine.  I am not sure yet if he tested it but I am hopeful.  While he had it, he also connected the choke switch to the choke so I can now activate it without having to remove the left cowl.

I am considering changing the exhaust for something that might allow a bit more performance.

I will try to get it licensed this week, then ride the heck out of it next weekend, and possibly display it at the Riding into History, Motorcycle Concours, coming up in two weeks.

The approach.

The stump, maybe more of an old root.

I left my mark.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Rocket Ship From Hell

Rocket has been a problem recently, breaking the variator three times in the past year and now having fueling problems that have left me stranded.  But it is still fine for riding around the city, so I could see that a mileage milestone was approaching.  It is known that 666 is the "number of the beast" and has many interpretations.  Well, Rocket has now done that in a big way.  

New Look Coming

My wonderful daughter, Kylie, a recent graphic design graduate from the University of Florida, sent me a sample of the new look she is developing for Rocket and Me.  It captured the spirit of "the adventures of a man and his scooter" and I am going to use it along with other suggested changes to make this blog better.  

Now I have to find a way to integrate Razzo into the name.  Maybe it is OK to leave it alone as Razzo is Italian for Rocket.

Full Face Helmet

Late last week I received an email from Motorcycle Superstore saying that they were selling a Scorpion EXO 500 helmet.  The normally $200 helmet was going for less than $70.

I had bought a Scorpion EXO CT 220 open face, 3/4 helmet last year that has become my favorite.  It fits perfectly, so I chose a similar one in full face.

At the low price, colors were not standard, but because everyone has commented favorably about the hi viz yellow that I have been wearing, I chose the most colorful model available.

So far, after only a couple of miles use I find it to be very tight.  It has inflatable cheek pads and these are tight even with no air inflated.  But I have found that over time they become more comfortable.

I was looking for more protection from wind and cold.  The extra benefit is that it will protect my face, just in case....not that it is special in any way.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fireball Update

After putting it off for almost a year now, I have decided that we will be doing the Fireball in the fall.  And after riding to Apalachicola to visit with Lostboater and ADKJim in March, that will be our overnight destination.  We will stay at the Gibson Hotel in downtown Apalachicola.  

The Gibson with three Vespa Scooters in front.

Ride over to Eastpoint to dine on oysters at Lynn's Quality Oysters.

A perfect place for dinner and scooters.

So, it will run through north Florida and south Georgia to Apalachicola for the evening, then return the next day to Jacksonville over some fine north Florida roads.  Probably three check points each way to allow some flexibility and creativity for the riders.  It will probably be in October.  I hope that we can develop some interest and have a super fun event.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kylie's Graduation and Razzo hits 10,000

The day after returning from the 1700 mile Virginia ride, I had to get to Gainesville, 70 miles from home, to see my daughter Kylie graduate from the University of Florida.  I had the usual choice of riding, either Razzo or the Honda, or driving the Miata.  Sarah made it difficult to choose two wheels as she needed me to bring a cooler and pick up a box of chicken wings from Dick's Wings in Starke, on the way to Gainesville.  

Because the weather was so good, and I will always choose a scooter over a car, I chose to ride Razzo.  I strapped the cooler in front of the top box, forcing me to sit a little forward of my usual position, but not uncomfortable.  I got the big box of wings and just hung the bag from the curry hook.  It worked fine, and without stopping for the wings, I might have set a speed record getting there.

As soon as I arrived, we headed to campus for a picnic lunch in the courtyard at the Arts college buildings where Kylie (and me 35 years ago) had her studio.  It was cool with a breeze and we ate under a large oak tree.  It couldn't have been better.  Sarah brought Tequila and fixings for my father's Margarita mix.  During one preparation of the mix, while setting down the enormous bottle, it clanged against the concrete picnic table and broke.  Not through but enough that it started leaking badly.  Quick thinking had Kylie throwing the celery out of a large plastic container where we then dumped the tequila.

The Picnic.  Sam, Kylie, Sarah, Claire and Eric

The Leutholds

We finally ate too much and cleaned the mess and headed out.  Kylie needed to get to the stadium early for the gathering of schools and students so I rode her over on Razzo.  One big benefit of having a scooter on campus is that parking is so easy.  There is a motorcycle parking area directly across the street from where I dropped her off, so I parked there and went inside to find seats for the five of us who were attending the graduation.  I chose the football seats we have had for the past four or five years.  We have been in that same area for the past thirty years but are giving up the tickets this year as the games are not much fun anymore and Kylie is graduating and will not be there to visit next year.  

We were all concerned that the graduation would take forever.  As the students were proceeding in, Sarah counted the seats, 2400, and we did some math.  2400 at 8 seconds each would last forever.  So we thought it might be as fast as four seconds per kid.  That was still a long time.

The procession.  Luckily they didn't fill all of the seats.

The graduation started and luckily the introductions of faculty, special awards and president's talk only lasted 25 minutes.  Then they started introducing the students, only 1600 in this session, and they went fast.  I timed them and it was one every two seconds.  We were done after an hour and 45 minutes.  

Kylie on the big screen...sort of.

She is in there somewhere.

We then went out bar hopping in downtown Gainesville.  I stayed up well past my bed time and at midnight headed back to Kylie's apartment for the night.  Sarah drove too, but the kids stayed another hour before heading back.

In the morning we cleaned up the apartment and dealt with the dogs, but the important part was saving the tequila.  We had no funnel, but needed to get the liquid out from the plastic container into a glass bottle.  We chose an old apple juice bottle.  We ended up cutting a hole in a plastic bag and filtering the tequila through a coffee filter into the bottle.  Saved!

Recovering the Tequila

Sam at breakfast.

We had breakfast downtown, then Sarah had to take Sam to Orlando to catch his flight back to Chicago.  On the way home, Razzo turned over 10,000 miles on a small road that is part of several of our rides.  I have had it for just over 2 months and have put almost 4000 miles on it in that short time.  I am quite certain that it will be over 14,000 by the end of summer.

10,000 miles

On County Road 130, near Macclenny

Still has bugs splattered from the big ride.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Marion and Wytheville Architecture

This is a scooter blog, but on the ride to Virginia, I took solo rides through Marion and Wytheville.  Marion had a wonderful group of what appeared to be historic government buildings.  Some of them might have been a hospital of sorts.  The downtown was in nice shape with several fine historic buildings.

Fine Federal Style building on the main street.

Greek Temple front.

Nice old hotel in good condition

The main drag of Marion.  Not bad at all.

The entry into this group of government buildings

Down the main drive.

The central building.

Razzo in front of this Italian masterpiece.

Fine government buildings.  This appeared to be the county offices.

And this wonderful building appeared to be the maintenance building.

They played baseball on the property

The old Marion train station.  Excellent example of these fine buildings.

Then I rode over to Wytheville.  This town is urban renewal gone bad.  In the 1960's, many cities felt that the old buildings were not what they wanted, so they covered much of the historic fabric with "modern" facades.  Of course, the worst of the urban renewal was the demolition of entire blocks of fine old buildings to replace them with crappy new structures.  It happened around the country.

It looks like trees are considered a negative feature of this poor downtown.  
Several looked this way.  Probably the start of a terrible new downtown plan.

The best building in town

Main Street Wytheville.

Remodeled display and entry area in a fine old storefront.
I am certain that it looked much better before.

Metal panels and display windows added in the classical facade.