Probably not so fixable

Thud, snap!  Helmet falling from eye height shelf in my office to the ground, the visor that I never really cared for much broken on the one side.  Not gonna work.  Oh crapsicles.  I am not so delusional that I will try to glue this back together.  Having it give way on the road seems like a terrible idea.  (Epoxying my rubber boots last month DID teach me something -epoxy cannot fix everything.)

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Not a quick trip to the store after work, this one.  Will have to make replacing a priority this weekend.  Made it home fairly uncomfortably.  The rain was driving in around my glasses.  I hunkered behind my tall windshield, my back and shoulders complaining.  The rain, the different visibility through the windshield, and the 5pm darkness were a bit scary.  I realized that hunching threw my centre of balance way off -we are supposed to be tall in the seat to be well balanced as my parking lot cone test taught me!  I will be taking advantage of the car tomorrow.

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Making Old Gear New Again

One of the most aesthetically attractive aspects of my Vespa GT200 when I was purchasing it was the gorgeous Prima luggage roll. (Sonja M so nicely captured it in the Craigslist ad photos as below.)  Top cases seemed pretty mandatory during my research phase -a scooter without a top case seemed akin to a car without a trunk. I did briefly wonder what the heck would fit in one, but was quickly distracted by the fact that it would be lockable.

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Fortunately in addition to the lovely lines it produces on the Vespa, the luggage roll is so functional. Like I can buy a thing of low-sodium vegetable stock at Costco and stick it in there, plus my purse and one other random piece of clothing that I always seem to be carrying. Or I can fit in my monster work bag and a change or shoes.

The strapping over the roll has always been in a bit rough shape since I’ve had it but everything worked and the former owner had judiciously used zap straps to keep the whole apparatus together. This fall it really dawned on me that I need to take action. Being down one main strap was still okay but when your second buckle almost falls off that is sort of it.

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An inspection of the underside of the bag turned up a similarly disturbing state of affairs.

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One of my main motivations in adopting a scooter lifestyle was to tread more lightly from a waste and consumption angle. (2 years of commuting to Squamish on the improved but still deadly Sea-to-Sky highway really did in my interest in commuting by car.) So throwing out a giant plasticized bag with working zippers seemed very counter to that goal. Also, the shipping and duty in ordering another piece of gear were just too much to bear.

A lovely coworker suggested I try take it to a cobbler. Which seems obvious but really isn’t all that self-evident to a child of the 80s. So, I dropped my bag off at Nanaimo Shoe Repair on Saturday and got a quote of about $35. A new bag runs $134.99 USD +shipping +duty… +throwing something out that is still mostly in working order.

It’s going to be done in leather, so that should stand up a bit better than vinyl in the sun. I will be asking for some wet leather tips when I pick it up.

Gear on the horizon

Summer commuting and riding were relatively easy gear-wise.  I already had my GoGo Gear black trench jacket and my First Gear black armoured pants.  Not to mention the gold fleck helmet that actually fit my face with glasses and two pairs of gloves (winter gauntlets and light summer gloves).  The factory windshield that only rose 8″ over the headlight put wind to my neck and chest but I never got very cold.  The little rain there was didn’t have time to soak through my jacket, nor did it impede my vision through my 3/4 helmet’s visor.

These days are gone, but I feel ready for the change.  I have recently added quite a few weapons to my cold/wet weather arsenal already.

One of my peeves about safety gear is that I look like a Transformer when I wear both the pants and the jacket.  Sometimes I revel in this totally butch look and the enjoy tension between the toughness and my blonde librarian appearance, but sometimes I just want to be a regular person in a store and less like Optimus Prime.

Hence, my weakness for GoGoGear.  I got my jacket from the now closed Urban Wasp in Vancouver, on-sale (since they were closing…boo!).  It was actually rather flattering!  And it didn’t end at my belly button like the other jackets I’d tried on.  They just got in a new product: kevlar leggings with optional knee pads.  And updated another with actual colours: armoured kevlar hoodies.

Special Edition GoGo Gear Armored Kevlar Hoodies - LIMITED TIME ONLY - SPECIAL ORDER ONLY

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy a good “adult ladies pink” garment.  The leggings and the pink hoodie are pre-ordered and possibly arriving in Canada for Christmas.  Score!  (Please let the duty charges be small, Santa.)

On a less exciting note, some ass-hat stole the Vespa logo off my leg shields.  This probably happened at work.  And I doubt it was one of the seniors from the care home next door -they can’t piss me off or I won’t help them with their iPads!  Am investigating whether ScooterworksUSA will ship it for less than the $36 that their website says it will charge me (you know, for a $12 part that fits in an envelope).

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It looks like the logo is there, but trust me that is just the under sticky stuff.

An aspiring all-season scooter commuter

I moved to Nanaimo almost 2 years ago.  While I loved many things about growing up in North Vancouver, I am definitely appreciating some of the features of (Vancouver) Island Life.  Like the ability to use roadways without people trying to kill you.

Every time I talk to my parents they talk about something craptastic that happened to them on the way home from work in Metro Van or (my dad) how much the traffic has increased in volume. Though this gets tiring to listen to and genuinely stresses me out, I believe that the traffic has worsened in the last 2 years since I’ve moved.  I don’t know that I would have survived learning to ride over there.

My commute is a fairly pleasant 20-25 minute affair, entirely composed of Old Island Highway traffic lights with some faster travel of up to 80-90 km/hr (wheeeee…!).  It was relatively unintimidating to build my skills on and is predictable and steady.  In 4 months I’ve only sounded my very loud after-market horn once and boy, did it work!  (Wolo, installed by previous owner.)

Since I’m not as worried about being mowed down I have been focusing my energies on getting warm and dry gear.  I am generally a cold person and cling to the Persian saying of “cold hands, warm heart” to feel less reptilian.  My wife wears a polar fleece with the underarm vents open, and I wear a merino wool shirt under a polar fleece with a down jacket on top to not freeze my butt off.New Termoscud

Items purchased this Fall:

  • Highlighter yellow rain jacket that fits over my armoured jacket, Scott’s, 3 way stretch from Tuff City Powersports here in town (about $95)
  • Black rain pants that fit over my armoured pants, same as jacket (about $85)
  • Tucano Urbano Termoscud lap blanket/”pensioner blanket” from SIP Scootershop online (97 Euros + shipping and duty)
  • Prima Windscreen (Tall, Clear) for Vespa LX/GT from ScooterworksUSA online ($114 + shipping and duty)

Service and install done this Fall:

  • Oil and filter
  • Installed windscreen
  • Installed heated grips (from Tuff City, a Christmas gift from the year before that never quite got installed)
  • Tire pressure adjustment

It felt awesome to have the cash to actually get some good gear.  I was previously precariously employed for 4.5 years (on-call casual hours, contracts with no benefits -don’t get me started…).  Now I can invest in my comfort and safety to have a lighter environmental footprint and save a bunch of money by not having another car in our family.

So…. I suck at blogging regularly…

I had intended this to be a chronicle and how-to guide for someone like myself who had no intention of being a regular in motorcycle stores and really didn’t know how to to a lot with a scooter. My desire to be thorough combined with a shoulder problem have thwarted my efforts. My new goal is to be brief and regular. I’ve acquired a bunch of new accessories in my attempts to make it through this winter commuting to work, so I will try to include those.