Bits of Vespa in my purse

1 Apr

Weather in Long Beach has been beautiful the last few days. The space heaters are tucked away for the rest of the year and jackets are being swapped out for lightweight hoodies. Fantastic weather means I change my commute and leave the Mini at home and head out on two wheels.  My drive to work is pretty short and traffic is very light so it’s a very easy ride in.  I’ve been on two wheels for nearly 30 years now and have owned a lot of different bikes but the one I have now is oh so special. A Vespa Primavera 70th anniversary edition in Azzurro, yes it’s just as fancy as it sounds. I bought this scooter in the fall and rode it all the way home from Sherman Oaks loving every minute of it. When I go out riding I’m often stopped by people with one of two questions – “how much does it cost?” or “aren’t you scared to drive around here?”. I generally won’t answer the first question because I don’t want to get pushed off the scooter and have it stolen from underneath me. The second I tell them that having an accident on one of these things is bound to happen and it’s a lot easier to just get on with things once you accept that.

I’ve been fortunate not to have an incident for 20 years, the roads on my way to UCLA were very big and me and that Honda Elite 80 met many a pavement on Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards. Nothing was every too serious and walked away unscratched from most of those. Yesterday I stopped after an appointment to grab a lunch to take back to the office. The row of restaurants close by has an impossibly small parking lot and spots are very hard to come by which makes it an ideal place to swing by on the Vespa as it can just park by the dumpsters outside of Starbucks for a few minutes. I was headed to that spot when the car in front of me stopped. I saw a car a few spaces up start to back out and just sat on the scoot to let this all happen. The car in front of me spotted a better spot right next to them and decided as it was 20 feet closer to the restaurant to back up and grab that one instead. Of course they backed up without looking. When I’m stopped at an intersection waiting for a light to turn my biggest fear is someone not seeing me and plowing in to me smashing me in to the car in front of me or in to the intersection. When waiting I’ll try to pump my brake handle to make a little red flashing light for a little more visual awareness. So here I am in a parking lot watching this Kia just coming for me in reverse. I honked my horn, yelled, and tried to move the scooter back but she didn’t hear any of this and collided in to the front of Miles Kane (the Vespa). The driver didn’t stop once she connected me and kept going, pushing me back a few feet. I was standing by now ready to jump away from the bike if she kept pushing back and pulled it under the car. It was a terrifying moment but one we all were able to walk away from, both vehicles scarred, my body aching and head pounding from the incident even after a good night’s sleep.

Miles is still roadworthy just looking a bit battered, it’s going to cost quite a bit to get him back in to shape but that’s what insurance is for. Not sure how long it’s going to be for me to get back to normal but I know that day will also come. Today I made a point to get out back on the mean streets of the 562 and run all my errands on the Vespa rather than the Mini. Breezing around the traffic circle doing 40 it’s hard to see the bits missing from Miles and the cracks on the front fender, drivers just see a woman in a pink glitter helmet riding past on a beautiful bike. It wasn’t a very busy weekend around town with most of the action happening closer to the water for the Grand Prix the traffic was particularly light. Miles and I just had to get out there and show everyone this wasn’t the first accident (well it was for him), it won’t be the last but that’s not going to keep me off the road.

Miles 0401


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