Friday, September 28, 2012

The Angry Bee Scooter Club Of Key West

Yesterday was a totally crappy day as far as the weather was concerned. Cheyenne and I got in a dry sunrise walk then she demanded another walk later as I hauled trash to the dump in the trailer. She stood on the back seat of the car looking hard out of the passenger window at the mangroves flashing by. That's her way of howling "Let me out!" so I did and we went for a second sunny walk of the day. Then I left her at home while I went to pick up Layne's scooter fully repaired after the recent belt breakage at JK Motosports on Stock Island, also known as Jiri the Miracle Mechanic.

My plan was to leave the car and trailer on Stock Island and ride my wife's refurbished Vespa into the hectic traffic plaguing Key West's torn up streets. Instead, as if on cue, the skies opened as soon as Jiri had run my credit card and handed me the keys to the ET4 Vespa.

The rains hammered down in a typically brief summer thunderstorm. No problem I said, I'll wait till the rain passes. So I waited, and I waited and I continued to wait. The rain fell ever more insistently on the just and unjust alike including two other scooter riders trapped in the shop.

I never did exchange names with them but we were three juvenile delinquents stuck on our rides waiting for the rain to pass. I wanted to ride with them into town actually, they were on Yamaha Zuma 50s stopping by Jiri's shop to plan modifications to their heavily modified rides and I thought they were typically cool Conch kids. They reminded me of my youth when Giovanni and I hung out in motorcycle shops dreaming of evermore power and bigger engines and greater speeds....sins of my youth! We bantered for a while and the black kid started laughing. "Did you see the movie The Hangover?" he asked. "You remind me of the crazy guy." He giggled and asked Robert, Jiri's assistant if he knew what he meant. I hadn't a clue as I never saw the movie. I'm going to have to now as apparently I am the spitting image of Zach and the kids now wanted to ride into town with Zach. To that end Jiri issued us with old waterproof jackets that the kids immediately struggled into. I tried and failed and gave up on riding in the rain.

They sounded like a nest of angry hornets when they fired up their modified scooters and I thought they looked like angry bees dressed in glowing yellow jackets. I actually was sorry to see them go.

If you're under 21 you have to wear a helmet in Florida, and you can't drink. I told the Latino kid he would be a holy terror when he could drink and ride. He laughed and winked at me. "I'm 21 in December," and I'm pretty sure he will be a much more responsible adult than he was letting on to the inimitable "Zach." His age is borne on his tag, the red badge of youth and sobriety.

I had the car and I didn't need to get wet so I checked my phone and found no storms showing on the weather radar which didn't stop the rain continuing to come down hard. Robert was working on an Aprilia scooter which he says is very difficult to get to under its layers of plastic bodywork and I watched him for a while.

Jiri was tuning a crotch rocket in brilliant orange. He posed like a serious Czech mechanic about to appear on the Internet. In real life he laughs a lot and can't stop talking about his four year old daughter. I chatted with him for a while as the rain crashed down and thunder rolled overhead.

And then through the rain came the afternoon's pièce de résistance a lovely black Vespa PX150, the spitting image of the white P200 I went to buy in Iowa. This one was attached to a hack.

$4500 for sidecar and scooter combination, top speed 40 miles per hour and spare wheel included. They made room for the combination which was suffering from a dead electric starter which I suspect is attributable to low mileage from a strange story of mixed ownership. The kick starter works fine though, although the relationship that spawned this machine in Key West isn't doing so well according to the rider.

The rain was still pouring down and the drenched Vespa rider asked for a lift into town in my car. I told Jiri I'd be back after I was done in town and took off with the trailer in tow and the stranger in the passenger seat.

The Vespa apparently belongs to his ex-girlfriend who bought it because she didn't want to ride bitch on her boyfriend's scooter. So he got his motorcycle endorsement to ride the 150 she bought and then they broke up. Bummer and the Vespa is leftover, orphaned and looking for a home. No I don't want a 40mph combination and the sidecar is too small for Cheyenne to fit. I suggested he sell the sidecar on the web and buy the Vespa, which he likes, from his ex. He sounded dubious.

The rain stopped by the time I got back to my wife's Vespa with my new health insurance card from work. I quickly loaded the 65mph 150cc scooter with its new drive belt into the trailer and drove home. That was a hell of an afternoon at Jiri's yesterday in the laid back Florida Keys. My phone never rang but I got all the entertainment I needed from my neighbors. A great day at the shop.