NOTE: ***The following techniques should only be engaged in by advanced, experienced riders.***
Shortly after 7am I was on my way to work. Sleepy commuters at the wheels of their cages darted from lane to lane, competing for position as far ahead of each other as possible. Noticing fog over a field to my left, I moved into the left lane. The fog hung along the path of a small creek. I can always use one more fog picture.
Waiting at the traffic light by Hills Plaza, my attention shifted between the rear view mirror and the traffic light. I make it a habit to watch for competitive commuters approaching from the rear. The light turned green. I twisted the throttle.
Then it happened. Sudden loss of power. Engine running but no response when I work the throttle. I thumb the turn signal and move into the empty right lane when the engine cuts out. Rolling downhill, I coast through the next traffic light and make a right turn onto Branch Road. Twenty feet later, the scooter rolls to a stop. Instinct tells me: Take a picture.
My fuel gauge had stopped working a few weeks earlier, so I'd switched to one of the classic modes of fuel management: counting miles ridden since my last fill-up. After extensive and careful calculation, I had determined I could easily travel 100 miles between fuel stops with a 2.4 gallon tank. The trip odometer read 88 miles. I couldn't possibly be out of gas.
Stepping away from the Vespa, I began streaming data through my gourd like an engineer analyzing the Space Shuttle. With mini MagLite in hand, I removed the gas cap. I shined the light inside. Empty. Nothing. Even the fumes are gone. For the first time in my life (not counting lawn mowers) I have run out of gas.
This is where advanced technique comes into play. Two miles behind me is a gas station. Another mile ahead, uphill, is another. My mind moves into overdrive. Training turns it into a meat-based supercomputer seeking the answer to an age-old riding question -- "Who will save me now?"
Traffic is increasing as more people make their way to work. A light flickers in my head. My daughter and her husband travel this way to work. They may still be at home. They have a lawn mower. They have fuel.
Jason answers the phone. "Buhwah?"
Shit. He was sleeping. "Did I get you up?"
"It's the first time I said anything today." Now with perfect enunciation. I think of slow cranking in cold weather and chokes on carburetors.
A few minutes later I'm pouring 100 percent grade A lawn mower gas through a small funnel into the Vespa. Just a glassful and I'm off for some Exxon Supreme. At the Exxon station, the Vespa's 2.4-gallon tank gulps more than 2 gallons of fuel.
I ran out of gas. My calculations failed. But I faced a real life riding situation and I lived to tell of it. I'll look back on this one day and realize I'm a better man for it.
Additional Note: In my emotional state my wife Kim helped me make sense of this post and the experience.