Not So Easy Rider
If you happened to be driving down Hubbard Avenue or Williams Street in Pittsfield on Friday night at about 10:00 or so, and you saw a bright red scooter being driven very slowly by a guy that looked like he didn’t belong on anything with two wheels and a motor, it was likely me.
So, let me back up a bit. Sadly, my stepdad passed away in March. It was very sad and I miss him a lot. After all the grieving, as the trustee of his estate, I had the responsibility of getting his house cleaned out and getting it ready to go on the market. If you’ve ever had to do that, you know that it is physically draining, but I digress.
When it came time to decide what to do with my stepdad’s two scooters, I wasn’t at first considering keeping one of them. However, as it turns out, I eventually settled on doing just that. One of the scooters, a 49-cc motorcycle-size bike, was a bit older and a bit beat up, so I decided I would sell that one rather than trying to get it repaired. I decided to keep the smaller of the two, a Zoom electric scooter that gets up to maybe 35 MPH tops and runs silently. It was much more my speed.
On Friday night last week, I decided that I would drive the scooter home. The only problem is, I’ve never driven a scooter before. How hard could it be, right? I didn’t know it, but I was about to head out on a ride that I would not soon forget.
I figured out where everything was... the ignition, lights, blinkers, throttle, and most importantly, the breaks. Then I put up the kickstand and got ready to ride. I first took a ride around the neighborhood to make sure I could get my balance. I pretty much got that right away, sort of like riding a bike. The throttle, as it turned out, was very sensitive. More on that later.
After a few times up and down the street, I decided I was ready to head out into traffic. So, I strapped on my helmet with the visor up and headed out with no idea what was ahead. My wife, Marianne told me that she would drive behind me the entire 5 miles back to our house. And she did mostly.
I was zipping along at a blistering 20 MPH on Hubbard Avenue when I realized that I was doing pretty well, so I figured I would try to kick it into second gear. I reached for what I thought was the gear button. I pushed it to the right, hit the throttle, and waited for the booster rockets to kick in. They didn’t. Obviously, I was hitting the wrong button. I eventually discovered that I had turned my headlamps off. I quickly turned them back on. After futzing about for a while, I finally somehow got it up to a riveting 25 MPH. I was really moving now. Apart from turning on my hazards every other time I tried to turn on my turn signal, I did alright control-wise going forward.
When I was about halfway home, of course, it started to rain. And here I am going 25 MPH about three miles from home yet. There was nothing I could do about the rain, so I concentrated on driving. I finally made it to a traffic light on Crofut Street, about a half-mile from my house, when I decided to put my visor down. That turned out to be a mistake. It completely fogged up and I couldn’t see anything. “I better put it back up,” I thought to myself. However, I couldn’t get it to go back up – and the light had just turned green. Ack! So, I had to take off the helmet and, in the process, took off my glasses along with it. I quickly put on my glasses, held the helmet by the strap, and proceeded home. It was still raining and now I was really getting wet. Just then... my street appeared. I drove the last few hundred feet or so and made it safely into my driveway. I felt very fortunate and relieved.
I proudly dismounted the bike and reach to turn the ignition off. Just then, I somehow hit the throttle and the bike started to take off. I reached for it. The bike and I both fell to the ground. I got up wondering who may have seen my little stunt. Maybe no one. Lesson learned. Next time, if there is one, the igniting gets turned off before I get off the bike.
I’m going to need some practice!
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