Sunday, February 8, 2009

Scooters and Mortality

Since I was a teenager I have been obsessed with Vespa scooters. Obviously this had something to do with my "mod phase" and too many viewings of Quadrophenia. I had visions of myself zipping around San Francisco in a mini dress and big sunglasses.

So, much to my mother's dismay, I bought my first Vespa, a 1979 P200E when I was 19 years old with money I had saved up from my Bat Mitzvah. $3,000 seems like not that much money in grown-up figures but to a teenager it was a fortune so I was able to save it that long. It cost about $1900 and then about $600 in repairs to make it (nearly) perfect. I bought it over the summer when I was living at my parents house, so once I went back to NY for school I knew I had to have another one, so I did some research and found a shop in Germany that would sell me a 1973 Rally 200 (my favorite make) for $1800 including shipping. This is the bike that I have been driving around for the past eight years.

But as the years go on, I find myself riding it less and less. I find myself favoring my bicycle for short trips around the neighborhood, and end up taking the subway into the city. Today it was unusually warm so I decided to take him out (first time since November) to the Brooklyn Flea market in Dumbo. BIG MISTAKE. A couple miles into the trip, Chip (his name) started backfiring and eventually refused to stay on. I was stranded in a pretty desolate party of Williamsburg near no subways and wearing 4" heeled boots. Fabulous. I locked him to a pole and found a bus stop and am now waiting till Tuesday when Brooklyn Bretta, my repair shop, gets my voicemail when they open, hoping he will still be there and in one piece.

I had forgotten but I had had the same problem with Chip over the summer and had to get him picked up again, this time in front of my house. I am wondering if maybe Chip's life is close to finished. He is nearly 36 after all. There are plenty of Vespas out on the road that are older than that, and since the engine is so simple, it is generally believed that with regular maintenance you can keep a Vespa running indefinitely. However, this comes at a time when I have been riding less and, for some reason, getting more and more scared to ride at all. After back surgery #3 last year I think I became a little more cautious and conscious of my own mortality. And frankly, riding around New York on a Vespa, while convenient, is becoming less and less fun and more and more just plain scary. There are 2-foot deep pot holes everywhere, cars drive too fast and honk at you or cut you off if you're not driving fast enough according to their liking, pedestrians and bikes dart out into the street without looking, and even other motorcycles can be assholes. I've never had a real accident, though I've fallen off a couple times, but the close calls are more than I could count.

So basically, I'm starting to consider selling Chip. He is my baby and I love having him around, but lately I've been feeling like a car might be a better bet for me. I could carry groceries and run errands in it, drive it in the winter, and take trips out of town. It would be more expensive for sure, so probably not realistic until I get a new job, but maybe I need to come to grips that its time to let this scooter fulfill some other kids Quadrophenia dreams. If they can get him running, that is...

Chip, I hope you are safe down there on the fringe of Williamsburg and Clinton Hill. May you be safe from thieves and vandals.


Anonymous said...

What a sweet little post. Girl, I hope Chip doesn't get scooter raped out there in Williamsburg.
My old roommate had a scooter that was stolen and miraculously returned. The person that took it actually repaired it. When she was reunited, the scooter was in better condition than when she got it. There was even a pair of cute riding gloves inside.
I only hope Chip receives the same good fortune.

Rachel said...

Woah that's so weird, its like the scooter fairy!