Friday, March 06, 2009

A scooter tale.

This entry really has nothing to do with my recent posts about some folks who choose to ride scooters. In an interesting coincidence, though, it does sort of dovetail. This is just a short story on a particular man. There's no moral to the story. Take it for what you will. Of course, typical for a long distance rider, I'm going to meander a back road or two on the way to my destination.

I'm teaching this weekend, again. The Weather Guessers are talking about snow showers Sunday morning. Oh, goodie! Last weekend I taught in Salem. My group was interesting. Heck, they all are, really. Sam and I had nine students. Seven of the nine were career military people. Five men and two women. Anthony has been a Medic for ten years. Thankfully, we didn't need his services. Ironically, though, he nailed a big handful of front brake on the quick stop drill Sunday. The pavement was wet and the front tire washed out. He jumped up and took a bow for the benefit of the others. He didn't need his own services, either. He was certainly a lot smoother after that! One of the guys and one of the gals had never ridden before. Everybody did fine. They're used to following orders, after all! At the end of class I made sure to express my appreciation for their service.

This weekend I'm here in Albany at Linn Benton Community College. Rolling in on Sophie around 5 PM, ( yes, I still can't let go, although there's currently an ad in Cycle Trader ) I checked out the motorcycle parking corral. Sitting there by itself, quiet and proud, was Balisada's Rebel. I swear, girl, I'm not stalking you! I'm a motorcyclist and so I'm naturally drawn to other motorcycles. The fact that I consider you a friend and fellow hard core commuter does add a bit more of a draw, though. You're a great example of what this blog is about. Serious about using a motorcycle for transportation with a great attitude about gear and training.

Anyway, the Rebel was a proud symbol of a dedicated commuter. It was parked back in the corner quietly waiting for the ride home. I hope you two beat the rain that spiced my own ride home later.

Like I mentioned earlier, each class has its own appeal and stories. This group has four couples. Three that are more middle aged, and one younger couple. What I find interesting are the reasons for taking the class that the gals offered.

One stated that she's just not going to ride behind her husband anymore. They're in my group so I may get a further clue. I gather there's an unpleasant experience or two there. Another gal says she doesn't know if she wants to ride on her own or not. Mainly, so she says, she just wants to be a better passenger. One lady is very enthused about doing her own thing. The young woman probably plans to mostly be a passenger but wants to be able to ride the motorcycle should that be required. I hope she finds her own passion for riding in the journey this weekend.

Which brings me to Kevin. He's just bought a scooter like these. Only 50cc but big and fast enough that DMV says an endorsement is required. A few days ago there were three of these sitting here. Today there's two. The third now lives with Kevin. His story is interesting.

Kevin was sitting in the hallway when I arrived to open the classroom. He said he'd been there since three. That's when his ride was coming to town so that's when he had to travel. Kevin lives in Sweet Home which is about 25 miles SE of here.

Things got interesting when I asked Kevin to fill out the waiver and to leave his driver's license out so I could take a look at it. Kevin stated he had just gotten his driver's license for the first time. No, he's not 16. He's a little over 40. The only reason he got the driver's license is because he discovered he needed to get that first so he could get the motorcycle endorsement for the scooter.

It seems being behind the wheel of a car "freaks me out" to quote Kevin. Circumstances turned out so that Kevin needed motorized transportation. He saw the scooter on sale for eight hundred dollars and decided he could do that. Since Kevin was the first student there, I took the opportunity to probe a little bit.

Up until now, Kevin had a roomie. This guy worked at the same place and owned an SUV. They worked slightly different shifts. Kevin would get a ride to work with his bicycle stashed in the back of the SUV. When he got off at night, Kevin would ride the bicycle home. Then the roomie moved out of state, leaving Kevin alone. Besides the now extended bicycle ride, Kevin was faced with things like getting big bags of dog food home. Due to his anxiety over driving, Kevin saw the scooter and decided to buy that. He needs an endorsement so here he is. Actually, there's just a little bit more to the story.

Kevin purchased the scooter at Joe's. One of the points that was brought up earlier was how the place of purchase could affect the rider's decision on taking training. So I asked Kevin if the people at Joe's had said anything about gear and training.

To my pleasant surprise, Kevin pulled out a piece of paper. He had all the stuff with him, by the way, even the owner's manual. The paper was an 8 X 10 photocopied document. Basically it stated that Joe's had partnered with TEAM OREGON to provide a resource for training. The paper provided our website and phone number for registration. I do not know if there was any financial consideration provided to Kevin. He didn't offer and I didn't pry.

I was out and about this morning so I stopped to take these photos. It seems our blog posts just aren't complete without pictures anymore! I asked the gal at the customer service desk if I could get a copy of the paper. It would have been nice to post it here. In typical teenaged bubblegum chomping fashion, she was less than helpful. Probably her Friday night date was a lot more important than her job and customers. I decided it wasn't worth the trouble and let it go. My Grandfather always told me to never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Save it for the really worthwhile stuff. Not that I'm calling the girl a pig, mind you. Just picture the general principle without picturing Petunia. Er, I mean, the girl.

Kevin was also pretty freaked out about the shifting thing. That's another reason he bought the scooter. "I want nothing to do with that shifting stuff", he declared.

I encouraged Kevin to take the class on his scooter if he could get it there legally. Kevin said he had a friend who could haul it down for him and would like to do that. He's not in my group but I'm going to keep in touch with the PM instructor to see how it's going. I'd hope Kevin's enthusiasm for riding will catch fire over the weekend. If the scooter remains practical transportation only, I'm still happy. He's here for training and we'll do our best to do right by him!

Keep you posted. No, that's not really a pun even though it sounds like it.

Miles and smiles,



bobskoot said...


Sorry, my mind is a few posts back . . . I still have that image of you dropping your pants to tuck in your shirt while getting out of your vehicle

as for Joe's, seems like they are going about selling scooters in the right way by suggesting training. I often wondered about scooter training for the uninitiated. I was thinking of a simple Bicycle "test" to ensure that this person actually knew how to balance before I would entrust them with a self powered machine with a motor. I have heard stories about people who "hop" onto a scooter then don't know how to balance and immediately crash, however in this instance you mentioned that he used his bicycle to ride home

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Bryce said...

"We" here in southern Ontario are in the midst of a warm spell. Up to 16 degrees C and sunny! Had a friend appear this afternoon on his Goldwing and chastize me for not being in a preparation mode for riding. He's been in Arizona all winter, lucky bugga. As to my future riding it may or may not come to pass.

As to your student Kevin, reread and reread your post Dan.

At forty years of age I see somebody who is employed, maybe not making one whole heck of a lot of money, might be shy
and by his own admission is scared to heck being behind the wheel of a car.

He may well be one of your best pupils!
He has no bad habits that need correction. He probably is in reasonable physical condition as a result of riding his bicycle. You didn't say how far he lived from work.

This could be very interesting!

Dave said...


Well Kevin doses have one thing going for him he has been riding bicycle for part of his transportation needs for some time.

An it’s a safe bet he has one or two if your on two wheels cages cant see you stories .

If he doesn’t freak out on information over load taking the course he should do ok.

Just think of the new worlds this cheap little scooter will open up for him.
Even if its only for transportation.

Old F

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Now, Dan if that girl looks anything like my Petunia, she's a real looker.

This is an interesting story and hopefully Joe will keep in touch and we can all follow his progress.

-Tim said...

Cool story...I do find it interesting that you can't just get a motorcycle license here in the states...I know quite a few people who have no need for a car license...

Balisada said...

You know, I am willing to ride in a variety of weather (it's just water and it will dry), but scooter riders, in my opinion, are hardcore.

I see scooters chugging along in the most miserable of weather, rider hunched over, as if the sheer mental acuity of the rider can ward off wandering motorists.

Cue Yoda waving his fingers: "Hit my scooter, you will not."

Steve Williams said...

Balisada said:

Cue Yoda waving his fingers: "Hit my scooter, you will not."

No, that's not what were thinking. It's more like this:

Gosh! Idiot!! What are you doing!!!

As far as Kevin goes-- I bet some time on the course and in class may eventually cure him of his driving anxiety. Knowledge is a powerful thing.

Oh yeah, in case you didn't get the post. It is now illegal to post in the blogosphere without visual content. Same penalty as cutting off matress tags.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

cpa3485 said...

I am betting that Kevin will be fine. I know that my previous bicycling experience helped me a lot in being a better scooter rider. There was already an awareness of what crazy auto drivers may do.

Love the Yoda comment. I think there is a little bit of Yoda in all of us.

Tinker said...

Kevin needs to get a "longbike", an Xtracycle or Kona Ute, Surly Big Dummy or similar bike. This would give him the storage to carry big bags of dog food, even furniture, surfboards, ladders and the like. Might cost a bit more than a Chinese made scooter, but will last much longer, smaller Co2 footprint, lower fuel cost. Commute by bike,no War for Chainlube!

kz1000st said...

I agree with the pundits who say that Kevin will be a good rider because of his cycling background. It teaches you how vulnerable you are in the face of traffic, how to use handbrakes and generally how to read danger on the road. You're mortality is right there all the time on a bicycle, unlike a car. The lessons he learns in your class won't be just "theory", they'll be facts.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

Years of riding a bicycle over fairly long distances 50-100 miles a day in urban New Jersey really prepared me for driving a car. The most riding a bicycle did for me as far as motorcycling is concerned is made me unafraid to get in traffic on a two-wheeled vehicle.

In New York City, there are millions of people who do not own cars and cannot drive one. There are also quite a few who do have cars and can't drive them either. I think your student had an adventurous streak a mile wide and doesn't know it yet.

That scooter is going to open up hours of time as well as new roads and even new relationships for this guy. I'm curious about something though... Doesn't a drivers license entitle the bearer to a learner's permit, enabling the rider to use his scoot on the street?

Once again, another thought-provoking post.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Lucky said...

I know a guy who does NOT have a drivers license, just an MC endorsement. I'm not sure how he pulled it off, but he's never driven a car.

Anyhoo, good on Kevin! Many happy miles to him. I hope he does well with his new scooter.

Dru_ said...

Some states do not require a C endorsement to get an M, Georgia is one.

Allen Madding said...

I admire Kevin for taking a good step towards becoming a safe, prepared, and licensed rider. I think it is awesome that Joe's has taken such a responsible stance on selling scooters by encouraging the purchaser to take a class.

I hope Kevin does well with the class and enjoys his new journey of independence.

Jack - We have a lot of people in Atlanta that have a car and a drivers license that don't have a lick of sense. I'm still lobbying for requiring an IQ test with results higher than the applicants shoe size before allowing someone to register to vote or apply for a drivers license.


irondad said...

Sorry to have scarred you for life! We get people who come to our classes and are really unstable on the bike. Then they tell us they couldn't ride a bicycle, either! Maybe you're right. We should put a couple of bicycles on the range and watch everyone ride them first.

I just posted the update.

You're exactly right. Two wheeled vehicles are machines that take us to a whole new dimension.

Arizona Harley Dude,
The girl and your bike are both beautiful!

I don't know all the state laws. In some states it may be possible. The written test would probably be different as it would have to include a lot of general traffic law stuff that's covered by the regular license exam.

Is there any other way to ride a small scooter except hunched over?

Steve W,
Please don't mention any more stuff about Yoda. Gary C will jump in and tell me I'm too wordy again!

You know how much of a rebel I am. Now I'm going to have to do a post with no photos!

Serious bicycle riders do gain valuable experience in dealing with traffic. Kevin should be okay in that department.

I'm always amazed by how much storage space there is on some of those long scooters. If it weren't for having to ride with my ankles together, I'd be tempted myself.

If Kevin combines his bicycle experience with the mental skills and strategies we teach, he'll be just fine, I think.

I hope Kevin takes the opportunity to explore this new world. Yes, in Oregon Kevin could get a learner's permit to ride with someone over 25 years of age during daylight hours. Of course, how that helps a new rider when they make a mistake and face danger, I don't know.

I don't know the law there but it sounds outside the norm.

Thanks for the input. I guess it is possible to do in some states.

I wholeheartedly agree with the IQ test!

Take care,