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600 miles already?

November 4, 2006

Today is the day the PX goes in for its 600-mile service. and it’s raining like nobody’s business…

However, I like having a warranty, so this must be done. It would be nice if Seattle was like most major cities in Europe, where there are a dozen Vespa dealers. For better or worse, Seattle has just one (well, two stores, one owner). The service department’s in Georgetown. Did I mention it was raining?

The appointment was at 4:00 pm, so I decided to be ready to go at 3:00. Even if it were dry, I’m not ready to take the PX on the Alaskan Way Viaduct just yet, so that’ll give me plenty of time to slog through downtown.

Downtown Seattle can be a rather difficult (well, mostly annoying) place to ride through when it’s dry, so putting Seattle’s clueless, inattentive drivers in the rain can make it 10 times worse. At least I’ll be able to get through before the real rush begins.

Remember the scene in “The Interpreter” where the 7-Series BMW nudges Nicole Kidman’s Vespa, breaking the taillight? And how she says to Sean Penn, “I think someone’s trying to kill me”? What’s your point, Nic? In my case, it was someone in one of Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s Chevy Impalas, and while it didn’t break my taillight, it was six inches off my rear bumper (that’s the plastic thing on the lower edge of the rear fender). And the driver was honking at me! Geez, the speed limit in downtown Seattle is 25 mph, I could see 30 on the speedometer!

It doesn’t help that 5th Avenue is paved in concrete south of the Library, and it slopes noticably downhill. Not sure why this is, but you have to live with it. Fortunately, the Impala’s driver realized there was a clear lane on either side of me and zoomed by.

It was therefore poetic justice that the Impala had to stop a few blocks later for a construction crew. It was a relief to be able to stop before the rightward kink that sends 5th Avenue down toward the Chinatown International District. It’s quite apparent that the PX’s skinny tires don’t have the wet grip of the fat donunts on an ET, and having to hotdog the kink in the wet was not something I was looking forward to.

Crossing Dearborn to Airport Way meant traversing the worst pavement of the route… did I mention it was wet, too? Luckily, there was no one behind me, so I could crawl and thread past the worst of the potholes.

Airport Way was smoother, but it was windier. If you come from an ET, you will find a PX to be twitchier. Combine this with a disturbing sensitivity to crosswinds, and it’s not exactly a relaxing ride.

The final obstacle is a bridge over some railroad tracks. It’s paved with concrete, and the steady rain makes the road surface look like glass. Glass, however, would offer more grip.

Somehow, I make it to Big People. Happily, they have an empty bay and they’re ready for me, even though I’m 15 minutes early. As the bike is wheeled into the store, I debate going to 9lb Hammer for a beer, but decide coffee would be more prudent, since a PX’s 600-mile service is fairly simple and won’t take more than an hour.

Sitting at All City Coffee, I ask once again what’s so great about Fall? It’s dark and rainy and it’s only 4:00 pm. Sipping a grande mocha and trying to read the paper in the dark does help to pass the time.

Having finished the mocha, I decide to go back to Big People and wait there. They have more lights. As I approach the coffee shop’s door, I see a black PX… with a familiar license plate. Jeff, aka Nixon, the shop manager is finishing up the test ride. Everything must be okay.

Including my Vespa Club discount, the tab comes to $89. I’m liking this a lot, especially since I won’t need to visit Big People for another scheduled maintenance until 4,000 miles. Time to go home. It’s still raining… Favicon

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