Saturday, Aug. 14 | “I saw your bikes, they look great,” says a guy on the street as we leave Betty’s Restaurant in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the one with the memorable sign inside.
Our sidewalk fan mentions the fluorescent green motorcycle jackets we have on and Linda says they’re hot in this kind of weather until we’re actually moving. The guy nods and says, “take care, ride safe.”
That’s amazing, I think to myself as we part, since Erebus and Linda’s red Vespa are parked on a side street way up the hill past Shepherd University’s main building.
What a coincidence: He saw the Vespas, came down the hill, and unexpectedly encountered us.
But circumstances become clear a few steps later down East German Street: A pair of serious BMW 1200 GS motorcycles1, like the one I lusted after in Nashville, are parked in front of the Badgerhound Studio and Gallery.
They look like they’re built for the Dakar rally and they are beautiful.
Ah, so that’s it, he thought the BMWs were ours, I think, and wonder what his reaction would have been if he’d seen the Vespas. Perhaps not as enthusiastic, but still.
The Shepherdstown reconnaissance was part of a short 135-mile ride charted by the mission navigator2 – who overcame my initial reluctance since I was just too tired – that kept us off interstates and on country roads.
We go through a few small towns that are interesting, though Shepherdstown unanimously wins the day.
It’s a college town, obviously, with an artistic, cosmopolitan air that invites one to linger. Even humble sidewalk benches are an integral part of it, transformed into works of art with paint and imagination.
We find a really great independent bookstore called Four Seasons Books, one of those rare places of discovery where you walk in and fascinating tomes and titles call out to you from shelves. Books you didn’t know existed. I could have spent a lot and lugged home a double-armful.
We hadn’t been on the scooters for months, owing to work and other matters. I had only 814 miles on Erebus and I’m still not acclimated to riding it after years on motorcycles. The GTV still feels too small and the saddle is uncomfortable.
I know I have to do a lot of work before riding it down to St. Petersburg as we’ve planned and using it in the 2023 Scooter Cannonball rally as I – perhaps insanely – want to do.
But Saturday’s ride gets us out and about and it feels good once I get used to being in the saddle again. After a while, the seat doesn’t feel so bad. We ride through some scenic places, including Lock 29 of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal national park, near the Potomac River.
We end the day with dinner at the Italian Café in Falls Church, our favorite place (where the photo at the very top of this account was taken).
Friend and owner Younes Jafarloo3, is a former sportbike rider and tells us how uncomfortable his Kawasaki Ninja could be after a while on the road. Ninjas have an aggressive riding posture.
“My arms would hurt after a while,” he recalls.
Over dinner4, Linda and I relax and talk about what we’ve seen and where we’ll go next. Outside, the sun starts to set and street lamps light up.
Through the window5 I notice a couple, about our age, intently studying the Vespas and talking about them. The guy seems especially interested; he circles both and gesticulates at Linda’s GTS.
I’m mildly curious about what he has to say and if he’s been on scooters himself, but I stay where I am and don’t break the moment. At least he doesn’t think we’re on BMWs.
1 – Like Endurance, my 2000 R1150 GS, only 20 years later.
2 – That would be Linda, of course.
3 – Younes is a great guy who sold his Ninja years ago; I confess to pestering him (gently, I hope) about getting another bike or scooter. He sat on Erebus once but graciously declined my offer that evening that he take it around the block or across his parking lot.
4 – Which did not include wine, since the Vespas were parked outside and we never, ever, drink and ride. It’s an ironclad rule of our riding protocol.
5 – Because we always maintain a clear line of sight to the bikes whenever we’re in a restaurant or some other place.