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Day two

October 7, 2006

The PX

Not only did I make it home from Vespa Seattle without doing any damage to myself or the bike, I made the round trip to Cafe Racer, a local scooterist hangout, and back home without incident. Well, okay, there were a couple of close calls. But I stayed upright!

The transition to shifting for myself, as it were, was the part of old-skool scootering that had me most worried. I was therefore delighted to be making crisp shifts and working my way up–and down–through the gears with no incident. I was particularly proud of a very clean 4-3-2 sequence approaching a red light on the way to Cafe Racer. I wasn’t able to repeat it, however.

Today, then, would be a repeat of my first serious venture on the ET: home to Alki Point, via the bicycle route. This takes you past the waterfront and the cruise ship terminals to Spokane Street, the low-level West Seattle Bridge, and Alki Avenue. Traffic is not particularly heavy, especially during the middle of the day, and grossly unsynchronized traffic signals would mean lots of opportunities for first-gear starts from red lights.

No wheelies this time, but not exactly smooth starts, either. I notice I still tend to squeeze the levers when I want to stop, so I have to force myself to use my right foot. On the other hand, working through the gears works rather well threading my way between the tour buses, taxicabs and horse-drawn wagons. Past the Coast Guard station, the traffic disappears and I can wind out to almost 45 mph.

At this speed, the biggest differences between the PX and the ET are the ride (the PX is somewhat stiffer) and the engine (you really feel the vibration in the PX, while you heard the ET’s engine more than you felt it). Otherwise, it feels like riding a… scooter.

Approaching Spokane Street, the truck traffic begins to thicken up. You pass by the entrance to the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 on the way to Alki, and trucks are as numerous as flies in a garbage dump on this particular stretch of street. I’m not sure if these guys don’t notice or don’t care, but I’m worried about having to make an emergency maneuver. Second nature on the ET, what the heck do I do here. Oh, and it starts to rain.

No worries. Made it through without getting squished. And the rain stopped. Time for a nice little cruise on Alki Avenue, followed by two slices of pizza at a place called “Slices”.

Heading for home, I remember that a wet clutch, like the one in a PX can be slipped without major damage. My starts get much smoother, and it’s getting easier to determine what gear to be in to take advantage of lights changing while still rolling. But then I hit Broad Street.

The incline is slight, but it may as well have been El Capitan. Combine still having to think about the sequence of releasing the clutch without popping a wheelie with trying to feel when to take the foot off the brake, and you end up with an annoyed Jetta driver two feet off the rear bumper (yes, the PX has a rear bumper). After three unsuccessful attempts to get going, I was able to scuttle onto some level ground and get going again, but not without a bit of panic trying to get into first gear. *Sigh!*

I decide to go home via Interbay, which is nice and flat. Favicon

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