Friday, October 05, 2007

Riding and Posing

You always think it’s the other guy who’s posing. The one with full racing leathers, wildly colored helmet on a superbike. Or the doo-ragged, gloveless, helmetless, bluejeaned cruiser. It’s easy to judge, dismiss, and point out triumphs of corporate marketing over good sense. Especially when it’s in someone else. Especially from the higher levels of the judgment seat. A glimpse in the mirror though can be troubling. For me at least.

I’ve passed the large granite eagle at a small monument company dozens of times before finally stopping to make a picture – wondering who would actually put this thing over their grave. It’s six feet tall and pretty sinister as it gazes down over the world. While maneuvering around with the camera a Harley rumbles up to the traffic light. He sits stoically looking straight ahead as if nothing in the world concerns him. The rider has on black cowboy boots, jeans, short black leather jacket, no gloves, no helmet, and a pair of cool black sunglasses. Normally I would not have given it a thought but on this morning it was 41 degrees F. Call me a sissy scooter rider but that’s cold when you’re riding.

While I’m thinking about Gerbing electric gloves this gentleman is gloveless. Behind him is a similarly clad female though she does have on a half helmet. She is shivering and struggling to merge her body into his in an attempt to stay warm and out of the wind. Her bare hands clutched around his chest must be cold. She is stylish though. I bet she talks to him later about a windshield. As I climbed up to a higher level of the judgment seat they rumbled off down the road.

The eagle and the gloveless rider started the wheels turning and as so often happens things end up pointing towards me. Looking down at my Vespa I wondered what sort of insensible posing I might be up to. I do try to sit up straight while riding. Wait, that’s posture.

When I first started riding I chose the brightest colored armored jacket in the shop when I bought the Vespa. I didn’t care what it looked like other than bright and armored. Pure function. There are more visible jackets available. HI-Viz with lots of reflective stripes. I still buy yellow and black jackets though. I think I have a style that’s competing with function. I may have assumed another posture.

And then there is riding. Things can get blurry between riding for riding’s sake and riding for blogging’s sake. There’s an audience watching now. Perhaps the best thing for me to do now is climb down from the lofty seat and pay attention to myself. There's no need to judge other people's choices. My own backyard might need some weeding.


Lucky said...

"Are you a poser?" The one question test.

Have you ridden through a snowstorm on a scooter?
a. Yes
b. No

For each "a." answer, give yourself 10 points. For each "b." answer, give yourself 0 points.

0 points - Poserdom is possible
5 points - you did the test wrong
10 points - you are not a poser

SimplyTim said...


Sounds like you need a signature piece of clothing or a garment of some sort.

How about a plum colored scarf?

Or a Pitsburgh Steelers design on your helmet.


Phil said...

I am poser for sure. I like to be noticed specially on the road. I may be the mid-size range and older generation rider that enjoys the fun nature and convenience of a small scooter. I am not concern with other(s) or what they might say...I just prefer to be noticed.

What I enjoy most out of scooters;
1. Comfort and protection for the road elements,
2. Knowing my limits not to get on faster speed ways,
3. Upright posture on riding,
4. Ease of handling and traffic maneuvering,
5. Carrying extra-clothing, gloves, columbia-shade protection hat, my digital SLR, camcorder, and refreshments, and most of all
6. the great gas economy; knowingly operating and enjoying a motor vehicle without producing anymore green house gases as necessary for one's self entertainment.

How much more of a poser can I be. I wear the brightest colors available to be seen. Ohh- I forgot to say I am also an avid cyclist - colorful and noticeable prints clothing helps us stay alive on the road.

Great subject Steve.

Ride safe and enjoy.

Jonathan Ziegler said...

With your post and the photo, I can't help but be reminded of "Sam the Eagle" (You remember. The voice of self-righteousness all that is decent from the Muppet Show).

With and new to me vintage bike I'm a little worried about the poser factor myself. Then I rode through a 10 mile fog bank on Saturday morning.

Conchscooter said...

We are what we ride. Thats why two-wheelers represent passion in our lives and cages symbolize convenience. Statues are another thing entirely.

Aggieknitter said...

I enjoy your blog a lot.
My husband is giving me a Vespa for my birthday. Next week I'm taking the motorcycle class through the community college, and then assuming I pass and I'm not scared out of it, I'll have a Vespa.
As far as being a poser, I don't think I'll ride it in the snow, so zero points for me. I do plan to ride it to the library and grocery store, though.
I like your emphasis on safety. I saw someone on a Vespa the other day without a helmet. I thought she was crazy. I hadn't given much thought to all the protective clothes though. Is it really necessary for a 2 mile ride? But I'm rethinking that.

SnareQueen said...

I stumbled onto your site while surfing for information regarding the Vespa LX150, I've been eyeing it for awhile and it's just yesterday that I found out a company is finally bringing the little cuties to Brunei (where I am). I love your blog, I love your pictures and especially the bit bout how to handle dogs chasing along the roads. For sure, I think I'm a poser, I'm planning to get the Daring Plum with Sand Seat and some of the shinny trimmings. Pretty juicy, don't you think?

CodyandMichelle said...

I'm definitely a poser! Why else would I pimp out my ride like I do?!
For you real riders who always state"it's all about the ride"
Well for me, it's how my ride looks first, the ride is always second, how I look really doesn't factor in. That's the whole reason I bought a Vespa in the first place!
As for you having to "come down from the lofty seat". That's crap Steve! We all judge other people, it's a human condition called insecurity, and everyone suffers of it to one degree or another. You've always seemed like a pretty humble guy to me, don't worry about your yard, it's far from overrun with weeds.

Kano said...

You should get the Vespa company to put you on the payroll. I bet you've sold a lot of people on Vespa's in your blog!

I think everyone is, if not overtly then secretly concerned about how their ride looks and how they look on it. It's just a matter of how much one cares.

I look a lot better with a helmet on than off!

Doug K. said...

"Noun: poseur pow'zur
A person who habitually pretends to be something he is not"

I doubt that there is a rider around who, when riding past the mirrored windows of a large business, has not sneaked (snuck?) a sideways glance to see how he or she looks astride their machine. We're all posers to at least some small degree.

When the posing becomes the point then you've become a poseur instead of a poser.

I'm not sure how someone would be a poseur on a Vespa, they are too, too honest, too lacking in pretense. There is no huge "pretend" to go with the Vespa image as there is with some motorcycles.

I suppose if you decked out your LX150 with aluminum paniers and Dakar Rally stickers but only rode on the road that might do the trick though (or get you into a BMW club). ;-)


irondad said...

Only you know for sure.

Ale- said...

I don't exactly know if I'm a poser or not, but I'm sure of one thing: my Vespa is! As it catches more than one glance and curious inspection by passers-by and people on foot!

Steve Williams said...

lucky: Some might grade that quiz differently.

0 points - Sanity is possible
5 points - you did the test wrong
10 points - chain your scooter to a post in winter

Tim: I'm not much for fashion. I was thinking more along the lines of having some chocolate at every stop...

phil: Being noticed as a rider is a good thing. I suppose there is a line somewhere for each of us. Great comments you have. I like the Vespa for many of the same reasons you outline.

jz: Careful in the fog!

conchscooter: Passion indeed! Hope you find it renewed with your new Triumph!

aggieknitter: I think protection is always important on two wheels regardless of how short a ride you are having. It only takes an instant. Helmets, protective gear, gloves, boots, it is a good habit to get into. It takes some time to adjust to feeling all bundled up, especially in summer, but we are adaptable creatures.

If you want to see how fragile you are, go out in the driveway in short pants and a t shirt and throw yourself onto the ground. Even not moving it hurts. Add 10mph and a little dragging force and it gets worse.

I've talked to scooter riders who don't wear any gear including helmets and they tell me that they like the freedom, the air, and such. But when I press them they all believe they are safe riders, they ride slow, and they will never crash. I can believe the first two things but not the last.

I'm not saying I ride thinking I will crash, but I accept the possiblity that it could happen however remote. I am not willing to expose my body more than necessary. And I would be pissed if I did crash without say a helmet, or gloves, or boots and really screwed myself up.

Talk about regrets....

snarequeen: I've seen the Daring Plum scooters and they are elegant looking machines. I wonder if dogs have a color preference when chasing Vespas?

cody: I hear you! I continue to try and reduce my judgment levels though. I have enough things to tend on my side of the fence.

kano: I know quite a few people now who said they've bought a Vespa because of what they've read or seen here. I don't think my riding life matches Vespa's branding goals though. I'm not gregarious enough or in a city. I'd entertain some sort of interaction with Vespa though. In the past they supported artists and photographers who used the scooters in their work.

doug: Got me. I always look at my reflections. Hell, I even remember where they are. I always find it sort of weird to see myself---I don't look like I think I do. That awareness gap has produced quite a few self portraits.

I don't think I'm going down the Dakar sticker and aluminum paniers route anytime soon. I can see myself using bungee cords to attach a big duffle bag though.

irondad: Yeah, I know.

ale: People do look at the scooter. Sometimes when I am at a cafe I can see people walking by the scooter and looking at it. Mostly older people though. The young kids walk right by listening to their iPods on their way to a World of Warcraft event...