Well, We Did 522 on a Vespa…

DCIM100GOPRO
One of the turns near U.S. 522.

We took our second official ride of the year down to Scoot Richmond on Saturday, where we 1) got out to ride; 2) looked at new Vespas; and 3) found a great road.

Scoot Richmond1 is one of our favorite dealers. We discovered it not long after Linda bought her 2010 300cc GTS Super. They’ve done some maintenance on her Vespa and we buy some riding gear there every now and again.

vespa03
It’s a great scooter, but it’s not red. Say, what color is that, anyway? Concrete chic?

The Scoot Richmond jaunt was also a bit of a test run for a possible ride to St. Petersburg in October, assuming half the nation hasn’t succumbed to the coronavirus2. We looked at a Vespa GTS Super 300 HPE3, which is fairly close to what Linda has now, except this new model has ABS and traction control, which are good things to have. We’re considering options now.

DCIM100GOPRO
Quick conference at at a stoplight.

While it’s good to have a destination, the ride is still the thing. We took I-95 south to Richmond, which was somewhat of a mistake because that interstate is frustrating enough to be an expressway to one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell4.

It was soul-crushingly hot, too, the heat just bouncing off the bare cement. The rolling roadblock of endless stop-and-go traffic, with no discernible reason, was another Dantesque bonus.

honda1
Scoot Richmond has a lot of bikes in the parking lot, including this one, an old 550cc Honda Four, that looks a lot like the Honda 500 Twin that my old friend Tom McCray took to San Diego. His wasn’t a cafe racer, though. I think this belongs to a Scoot Richmond mechanic.

But the ride home was great. Instead of the hellscape boulevard of I-95, we took I-64 west to U.S. 522 north and things got better immediately. 522 is one of those twisting two-lane roads of Robert Pirsig lore5 that takes you through tree-shrouded rolling countryside.

DCIM100GOPRO
The church we should have stopped at.

It’s kinda what motorcycles are made for. Freeway pressure disappears and the road opens up and you’re enjoying yourself. You pass into shade thrown by a line of trees and the temperature drops, like going from a hot porch to the kitchen and opening an icebox door.

DCIM100GOPRO
The helmet-mounted GoPro, firing photos at five-second intervals, captured this.

And there’s more to see, more life to observe: An old stone church with an ancient cemetery that we really should have stopped at to investigate; a family-owned gas station where customers park pickup trucks and are hailed by name by the women behind the counter; and farmhouses and barns and abandoned fruit stands and everything else that waits for you around every curve.

baker02
And, a week after Baker, West Virginia, we found another Baker!

All told, about 267 miles, according to Terra Nova’s odometer. A good day on the road, with my favorite riding companion.


1 – It started as a scooter-specific dealership but has expanded to selling Triumph, Moto Guzzi and KTM. Accordingly, they’ve changed their name to Moto Richmond, but Scoot Richmond is still our moniker of choice.
2 – I’m still part of a group that covers coronavirus and it’s so disheartening to see the blacklash against science.

brochure

3 – I downloaded a PDF of the Vespa brochure and found it to be 37 MB worth of rather garish color photos, with only one (above) tangentially connected to travel. I’m aware how sales pitches use lifestyle appeal, but why the yotz6 can’t Vespa acknowledge that their scooters, at least the 300cc models, can be both fun to ride and capable of long-distance travel?
4 – I’m betting it’s the fifth one, Anger, since drivers are apparently driven mad by the stop-and-go traffic and start cutting in front of innocent motorcycle pilots.
5 – In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Pirsig writes: “Secondary roads are preferred. Paved county roads are the best, state highways are next. Freeways are the worst…Twisting hilly roads are long in terms of seconds but are much more enjoyable on a cycle  where you bank into turns and don’t get swung from side to side in any compartment.”
6 – That’s another Farscape reference. You’re welcome.

3 thoughts on “Well, We Did 522 on a Vespa…”

  1. It was at a filling station near Avalon, Mississippi where a pair of New York sojourners stopped to ask if the owner had ever heard of Mississippi John Hurt, lost to recorded history some 30 years earlier. Yep, he’d been by that morning with some firewood. The visitors received directions to find John a few miles down the road. They put a guitar in his hands to see if he could still play. And he could. Most of MJH’s recorded music we have today is thanks to these two curious travelers who explored that highway now some 70 years ago.

  2. Great photos. You and Linda look great and I can tell you really enjoy the weekend escapes to the countryside.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s