Like I mentioned earlier, I was out and about on business. In each town I have what I call my "field offices". In between appointments I can get some coffee, make a pit stop, etc. The reason I call them offices is because I can also make phone calls without disturbing folks around me too much. Being on the bike, anyone calling me just has to leave a message. Then I check voice mail and return calls during these time slots. On days like yesterday in Portland, I really needed to warm up, too. But that's a future post.
My stop in Salem is a downtown mall. There's enough background noise in the food court that it masks my conversations without being too distracting. I use the parking structure which makes me walk a couple of blocks worth of distance both ways. While walking around I'm always on the lookout for bikes. Especially those that appear regularly. Like the BMW R1200RT and the Honda Shadow behind the gate in the parking structure. It's a facility used by Parking Enforcement. Getting a picture is really tough through the bright yellow mesh fencing. You'll just have to picture it on your own. The advantage for the riders is that it's a pretty secure place to park under cover.
Both bikes were there through the summer. Now the Shadow's not there anymore, but the BMW rider is hanging in there. I've had several students from this organization. I always wonder if these were some of them. The BMW usually has a bright yellow jacket draped over the seat so I have to think the rider's had training.
Anyway, now that you have more background than you ever wanted to know, let's get to the point.
There was some sunshine outside. Just inside an entry to the parking structure I see this Honda Ruckus. You can see the full face helmet attached to the far side of the scooter. I try to keep the point and shoot camera in my riding jacket pocket. I'm working on putting something together for a post on a new trend we're seeing in scooter riders. So I snapped a photo of the scooter. It could have been a better photo but I kind of like the dark and light contrast.
I check out the Honda and start to walk away. I see a young man jaywalking across the street towards me. Not that I care, I'm just trying to be descriptive in my writing! His walk was actually more of a saunter, easy and carefree. Judging by the riding jacket and the backpack I figured he belonged to the Ruckus. So I waited a bit for him to get to the bike.
Introducing myself, I found out that he did belong to the Ruckus. Did you detect the subtlety? Do we own the bikes or do they own us? He shook my hand and told me his name was Andrew. Figuring I should sort of explain why I was taking a picture of the scooter, I told Andrew about the blog. I also stated that I was an instructor for TEAM OREGON. Andrew said his brother took a class over at the Community College on a scooter. I believe he also mentioned that his father rides. On a small scooter, too, I think. I wasn't taking detailed notes, obviously, so I'm going by memory. I gave Andrew the url for the blog and invited him to watch for the post. So if you're reading this, Andrew, feel free to make corrections in the comment section! By the way, thank you for spending the time with me and agreeing to grace the blog.
What really struck me about Andrew is how enthused he sounded about riding the Ruckus and being a "scooter person". Andrew very willingly posed for a photo with the Honda. In that way that only young people seem to have, he looks both cool and cheerful at the same time.
This Ruckus is the smaller version. I believe it's got a 49cc single cylinder engine. Andrew told me he doesn't have a motorcycle endorsement. The scooter's just under the displacement cut-off set by the Department of Motor Vehicles for requiring a motorcycle endorsement. Despite not having the endorsement, it's apparent to me that Andrew's a serious rider.
Notice the good jacket and full face helmet. During our conversation Andrew brought up several topics relating to safety and using your head when riding. It seemed to me like he has a good grasp of the essentials even though he hasn't taken formal training. Yet!
Here's what's really impressive.
Andrew's had the scooter for about two years. During that time he says he's put about 6,000 miles on the Ruckus. Bear in mind that this scooter is only capable of about 40 mph! That's about average mileage for riders of even the bigger bikes. Andrew rides for fuel economy but seems to have caught the "passion bug" in the process. He's particularly fond of bantering with people he knows who drive SUV's. When they give him a bad time about being on the scooter and out in the weather, Andrew says he asks them how much they spend on fuel in a week. Then he tells him the Ruckus gets 70 mpg. Then tells them to go do the math.
Insurance isn't bad for the Ruckus. Andrew asked me to guess how much it cost to insure the scooter. I guessed a little bit low. I'm over twice as old as Andrew. I tend to default to the "old guy" frame of reference. He told me he paid $150.00 a year for liability. Andrew's excited because he'll turn 25 soon. His insurance should go down some then. The last big age milestone for a few years! After that you quit looking forward to the age going up and wish they'd stop going by so fast.
He's going to need the economical transportation a little more right now. Andrew told me he worked for DHL but got laid off a couple of weeks ago. DHL is a freight and package delivery company. They've cut back and consolidated which meant job cuts. I wish him success in finding new employment soon.
As a side note, I asked Andrew what he would change on the scooter if he could. His reply was that he was thinking of putting pegs just forward of the front of the floorboards. That way he could stretch out just a bit more. Andrew also stated that he wished the storage space under the seat was enclosed. He has some elastic cords to keep stuff in but the weather gets to it. Other than that, he really likes the thing.
I came away from my encounter with Andrew feeling refreshed in my enthusiasm for riding. It was neat to see his face light up when he talked about the scooter and riding. The small size of the scooter makes no difference. He's on two wheels and that's the important thing! As you can see by the photo, it's not the size of the bike we ride that makes us what we are. It's the size of our hearts!
Miles and smiles,