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The PX’s first rally

October 30, 2006

I’m very glad I was able to get the PX when I did. There was one more rally on Seattle scooter club calendar for 2006, the annual Paseo con los Muertos orgainzed by the Los Gatos Gordos SC.

Three years ago, Paseo con los Muertos (LGG says it means “Ride with the Dead”) was not only my ET’s first scooter rally, it was mine, too. The rally concides with Dio de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, which is celebrated every November 1. This rally consists of a tour of cemeteries and a tour of the sites of Seattle’s most infamous homicides.

That first rally was held on a weekend that was wickedly cold; on this weekend, the weather forecast was for “a few showers.” Also on this weekend was the switch from Daylight Saving Time. And yes, someone didn’t set their clock back; Sunday morning’s breakfast meetup at the Georgetown Truckstop (which isn’t really a truck stop, but serves absolutely killer breakfast burritos) was sort of delayed when the person who was supposed to open the place up at 11:00 am PST and make the burritos showed up at 10:00 am and left after half an hour when no scooterists showed up.

Jimi Hendrix Memorial

The Jimi Hendrix Memorial (Wikimedia Commons)

Fortunately, everything was straightened out, and after chowing down the group was ready to roll. The PX began the rally with 514 miles on the clock; at this point I figured there would be no harm in fudging the break-in limits if necessary.

I used to have an SCCA National Competition License, and have found the experience and knowledge gained in amateur motorsports immensely valuable in group rides. You go fast and hard, and you must be aware of what’s going on around you at all times. Yeah, you can scare yourself s***less, but more often you’ll discover that, gosh, you can ride over the bridge grating at 45 mph and the bike is actually less twitchy. Wow! Do these things regularly and your riding skills will improve by leaps and bounds.

Still, I was feeling a few butterflies as the group prepared to leave. All I had to do on the ET was twist the right handgrip to go and squeeze two levers to stop. I have to remember there’s now a clutch I need to deal with, and a brake pedal on the floor. Not a problem riding by myself, but in the heat of someone, perhaps, stopping suddenly in front of me, a good possibility to forget.

We’re riding through Georgetown, and I’m in the middle of a pack that’s not huge, but not all that small, either. So far, so good… we’re not going terribly fast, and I find I can stir the gearbox almost automatically. I can slip the clutch and maintain my postion at stop lights and 4-way stops, though I do need to work on my 2nd-gear starting technique (if you’re rolling at all, starting in 2nd gear is much smoother and easier than trying to grab 1st). I’m a bit jerky at the last half-inch of clutch lever travel.

We head toward Renton and Greenwood Memorial Park, the site of the Jimi Hendrix Memorial, but stop off at a smaller cemetery in Southeast Seattle first. Exiting uphill, I am able to lanch smoothly but grab 3rd when I want 2nd. D’oh! Luckily I recover quickly, so the rider behind me won’t run into me, but I find I do that a couple more times. Just relax, Orin…Heading down Rainier Avenue toward Renton, the pack speeds up. I have to keep up, so I just say okay and crank the throttle. Something interesting happens: between 40 and 45 mph, you’ll feel a noticable buzz in the seat of your pants, but above 45 mph it goes away. I break my personal rule of not looking at the speedometer when riding in a group and see I’m going 50 mph… and the engine is as smooth as an electric motor.

It’s a bit harder to relax as we duck into Mt. Olivet Cemetery. This one’s on the way to Greenwood, and we don’t stop here, we just drive around the access roads. Which are covered with wet leaves. The PX’s skinny tires are noticably twitchy on this surface, and the downhill runs are still unnerving in spite of the fact that I can shift into 2nd gear and take advantage of the engine braking effect, instead of freewheeling down the hill as an ET would do.But I stay on my wheels and don’t make contact with anyone as we leave Mt. Olivet and head up the hill to visit Jimi.

The Jimi Hendrix Memorial is quite an elaborate monument, and there are offerings on top of the stone at the center. However, the blue skies and fluffly white clouds in the sky when we left Georgetown have given way to some of the darkest clouds I’ve ever seen. I had taken my rain pants off before we left, and scrambled to put them back on. We are gonna get rained on. Big time.

We’re heading downhill when the skies open up. I don’t know how fast we’re going, but I’m in the back of the main group, and I’m not going to do anything stupid trying to keep up. A fogged visor covered with raindrops is pretty much opaque, so I have to open it to see where I’m going. And it’s gotten really cold. The rain hits my face like so many tiny glass fragments, but I just have to deal with it. A guy ahead of me was wearing a piss-pot helmet and sunglasses. Ouch!

After getting separated briefly, I and a small group who met us at Jimi’s place catch up with the main pack in downtown Renton. The rain begins to let up as we head north on East Marginal Way, toward the midpoint at the Coliman Mexican restaurant. There’s actual blue sky as we pull into Coliman’s parking lot. I could use a beer… Favicon

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