Last Saturday morning I stepped outside into a gray world. Heavy clouds and remnants of a nighttime rain washed the color from the landscape leaving behind a quiet form of the world. This world requires less energy to embrace and is easier for me to process. It’s as if things have been distilled to their simplest forms and textures without all the noise and confusion that can appear in the color and shadows of postcard sunshine. The most ordinary places reveal their magic and a ride through familiar territory becomes new again. Moving along astride the Vespa in this world provides a special satisfaction.
On this morning my plan was a leisurely ride to breakfast in Bellefonte at the Café on the Park. A circuitous route would cover 20 miles and provide mostly empty roads and many opportunities to stop and look around. I’ve always felt riding was like flying. Not in a plane but if I could actually fly. The scooter exaggerates the effect because there is not much in front of your visual field to interfere with the fantasy like there is with a motorcycle. With earplugs stripping away most of the engine and wind noise it can be like a dream at times. A hyperfocus on the road that moves through an almost surreal landscape.
When I look at the Vespa through a wooded landscape I am reminded of how my wife Kim saw this first in her mind – what my riding would be like. How else could she have created my blog title, Scooter in the Sticks, without knowing?
If I have regrets on the road it is that I can’t keep riding. Pennsylvania has thousands of miles or rural roads that to me seem nothing short of spiritual pathways. For me. A place for slow and deliberate riding.
I’m often asked when I will get a motorcycle. I enjoy looking at motorcycles and find some of them enjoyable to ride. The Vespa GTS 250 strongly insists I make a choice. When I stopped beneath the underpass I was aware of the choice. Where did I want to live on the road? Did I want to slowly meander or eat up miles? The Vespa doesn’t preclude the high road but it does nudge me towards the slow one.
Just outside of Bellefonte I stopped to look at a cross at the corner of an old building. I assumed something bad happened here but could not imagine what. As I stood by the road with the camera the passing cyclists probably were wondering the same.
The Café on the Park. An unassuming place from the outside but unexpectedly elegant inside. These days I have to force myself to ride anywhere else when I am out for breakfast.
A pot of hot tea and my journal keep me occupied and involved in the ride. I have been participating in this kind of morning ritual (sans riding) since I was a teenager. One of the habits I haven’t had to give up.
Breakfast is always excellent. And I love getting fresh fruit. If I wasn’t so damn lazy I could have fresh fruit at home. But it seems overwhelming to slice things in the morning.
The ride home was different. I felt the pressure of the clock and the chores of the day. Riding onto Interstate 99 is a dramatic shift away from a slow ride. The Vespa can handle it. I can handle it. But I really wish I didn’t have to.