I got a night off and I got an invitation to lunch so I combined the two and to make the afternoon perfect I took my old Vespa for the longest ride in a while. I left home before noon and it was a sunny windy morning, hot enough that Cheyenne evinced no interest in leaving with me, so I left her snoring on the tiles in the kitchen. I chose to take the old Vespa 25 miles to Key West to see how we did on the Highway. I am trying to keep the top speed at 50 mph and in bursts so I don't burn any more pistons or rings. Which makes makes riding the highway in winter a bit of a challenge sometimes what with all the tourist traffic. But fun, as there is something very elemental about riding a 35 year old scooter, full of noise and vibration armed with no instruments except a speedometer, with the possibility of seizing the motor at any time...as I'm not sure I've got the carburetor settings quite right just yet. The Vespa looks pretty and the engine is strong but I have yet to feel confident the air/fuel mixture is dialed in quite right for sustained highway travel. One day I should be able to ride between 55 and 62 miles per hour without worrying about seizing. One day...
I first made a moment to meet the only other southernmost old Vespa rider. Jason has a collection of old Vespas in various stages of restoration and we have exchanged texts from time to time and I thought it was silly that we had not met. It was a brief moment because I had my lunch meeting to get to but I was glad to shake his hand and talk old scooters for the time we had. Two P200s on the street together would be a sight. Maybe one day, when he gets his Chinese POS carburetor sorted. The Chinese know how to built quality products but our demand for things made as cheap as possible they understand too and give us what we ask for.
One pleasure I have running in the old Vespa is that I should pull over from time to time to make sure I'm not over stressing the piston. I think I burned a piston by running too long too fast before I had properly seated the internals so now I take it slower, try not to be impatient, and pause from time to time. To allow the engine to cool for a few minutes, and take a picture! These I took just past Big Coppitt at the public boat ramp. The one below I took when I stopped along the highway when I heard my phone ring (!). It wasn't my wife, it was my boss, the woman I used to call my work wife when we worked nights together. She was calling to let me know I am getting a new trainee in a couple of weeks. Remedial training to try to help her learn some basic skills. I have been coasting with my current Trainee who is doing great and runs the police channel with hardly any input from me so my life will change, and so will the Trainee's who will also have to enjoy staying awake all night with me nagging at her, poor thing.
Phone calls like those remind me how lucky I am to have this schedule, this job I know and like, good people to work with, a serene home life, the best landlord, perfect weather and an old Vespa to play with. I feel like a kid.