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Vector control

August 4, 2007

Mopeds

Group rides are fun in many ways, not the least of which is seeing the reactions of people in cars and on the sidewalks. Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve ever seen people pumping their fists in the air.

I’m on the Friday night opening ride of Blood Drive V, the Mosquito Fleet’s annual rally. Many of the moped kids show up at scooter club and Cretins rides, and they invited us to ride with them. I’d been meaning to stop by Seattle Mopeds for a while, but didn’t get around to it until this evening… I think the offer of free pizza finally motivated me. That, and a chance to get some color on the spark plug with a low risk of serious engine issues because, hey, these are mopeds. The pace should be 30 mph, tops.

I didn’t count the number of bikes, but I was surprised to see the sheer numbers of California plates (the Golden State issues a specific moped plate, with no stickers). Heck, I was amazed at the numbers, period… there were enough mopeds to fill the block where Seattle Mopeds’ shop is located.

The itinerary said the ride would leave at 7:30, but we didn’t head out until after 8:00. Not only is there scooter time, there’s moped time.

Probably the biggest difference between a scooter rally and a moped rally is the cloud of blue smoke that accompanies the ‘peds. The smell of 2-stroke oil was even more pungent than on the Vashon ride at Amerivespa… I was feeling a bit of a buzz already.

The group is heading west on 45th. I ride toward the back with Chris, one of only two other riders on something other than a moped (there’s a fellow who appears to be a regular who’s on a Sears motorcycle). Chris is totally jazzed by the PX, especially by the fact that I have gears.

We scooterists, at least in Seattle, practice safe group-riding habits (mostly); we’ll be nicely staggered, use lots of hand signals, that sort of thing. A thought popped into my head after about four blocks: this is what the morning rush in Hanoi must be like. These guys and gals ride on whatever patch of pavement they can claim. There’s a moped about three inches off my right side, and one zooms by on my left. Oh youth, and the thoughts of invincibility…

We hit hills, and some riders start pedaling furiously (remember, moped is short for motorized pedicycle). People pop in and out of the group, their engines momentarily stopping… that’s why there are pedals.

We’re taking a route that pretty much covers everywhere I ride: Wallingford, Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Fremont, Magnolia. I’m having a blast! We’re doing about a 30 mph pace, but I’m working it, and getting into the swing of whipping around if necessary.

We pull into Magnolia Park for what I guess is a repair break, judging from the number of people wrenching on their bikes. Like Hollywood Holt says, “moped’s always broke but it’s easy to fix.” Our friend Chuck happened by, so he pulled in to say hello. The kinks are slowly being worked out of his ’64 GL 150, and he was out for a ride. Chris is even more jazzed by this bike than mine. Hey, so am I.

Magnolia Park offers an almost magical view of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay and Alki Point in the twilight following sunset. But the call to saddle up comes, and it’s time to go. We’re heading for a party in Georgetown. O youth… Favicon

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