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Two wheels

2010 June 4
by Hélène Martin

I’m sold on two wheels.  Look at me on the left, there… don’t I look thrilled?!

I’ve never much liked driving — I find it boring, terrifying, cumbersome and depressingly inefficient.  Most of driving is spent retracing the same route over and over again, all alone in a gas-guzzling bubble of steel.  Once at destination, finding parking is a frustrating and sometimes fruitless endeavor.  Not my idea of fun.

Yaw and I took a motorcycle safety class about a year and a half ago to see what two wheels were all about and we both loved it.  Yaw’s a gear head so no surprises there but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.  First, the class is well-structured and the instructor was fantastic but the whole motorcycle riding thing really appealed to me.  Think about it:

  • Anywhere between 30 and 80 miles a gallon works for my environmentalist side
  • Feeling the road and air around works for the side of me that doesn’t like a boring commute
  • Turning by leaning is just awesome in general
  • Quick parking everywhere appeals to my impatient side
  • The price tag for a two-wheeled vehicle appeals to my thrifty side

I was looking around for good starter bikes and realized that a scooter would liberate me from having to think about shifting and that it would give me under-seat storage.  I did a bunch of reading and looking around at the predictable Vespa,  the Vino, the La Vie, the Honda Metropolitan before deciding I had to have a Genuine Buddy 125.  I think it took me a week between deciding I had to have it and actually purchasing one used from a great Craigslist-er.

I love the Buddy 125.  It’s very easy to handle, is comfortable to ride, feels sturdy, is light, has a nice-sounding engine (not like riding a lawnmower), looks awesome, has lots of storage… perfect for me!  Riding it, I did not hate driving.

Sadly, my beautiful companion is no more.  This morning, I was riding along a couple of blocks from home and an SUV came out of a driveway going pretty fast about two car lengths from where I was.  I braked hard and with the wet pavement, I slid under him.  I was ejected onto my left side and got no more than a nice hip bruise but the poor scooter didn’t do so well.

Interesting to see how it basically just snapped in half.  Makes sense — that long middle part is pretty thin.  The officer who came to the scene wanted ID and I had to sheepishly explain that I couldn’t pry it out of the under seat compartment.  Finally Yaw managed it, bent key and all.

I’m a little shaken, of course, but I’m still in love with riding on two wheels.  What I’m getting out of the experience:

  • Even if it’s a boring commute, I need to be extra alert at all times.
  • I need to be particularly aware of driveways.
  • I need to practice emergency braking on wet pavement.  Not sure if I could have stopped no matter what (and maybe scrapping my side was better than face planting into the car), but I should be able to stop fast without slipping.
  • Gear rocks — I wouldn’t have liked to do this in flipflops and a t-shirt or without a helmet.
  • A crash at normal city speeds really sucks but hey.  Let’s not do this at highway speeds.
  • I need to figure out what two-wheeled vehicle to get next…
5 Responses leave one →
  1. Katie N permalink
    June 4, 2010

    I’m so glad you are ok! That is really terrifing. As a driver I always try to be careful around driveways and pathways for pedistrians and bikes. Can I take you out for coffee or a drink to catch up and calm your nerves? :) Its been far far too long!

  2. June 4, 2010

    Effffffff…. I’m so glad you’re ok. As a regular cyclist, I’ve had my fair share of close calls with cars, but I’ve never ended up underneath one. One thing about doing the two-wheel thing is that it makes you a LOT more aware of the dangers of traffic, and helps you be a better driver, especially around cyclists/motorcycles/scooters/etc.

  3. Hélène Martin permalink*
    June 4, 2010

    Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t on a pedal bike! I think that could have been much uglier. Cagers are scary.

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