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We love a parade

August 18, 2007
Rainier Valley Heritage Parade staging area

Waiting in the parade staging area (Orin O'Neill photo)

The ET was never in a parade; this will be the third for the PX. Tutta Bella (translation: “it’s all good”) Pizzeria invited members of the Vespa Club to participate in the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade. All five blocks of it.

The offer of free espresso and pastries prior to the parade, plus pizza and liquid refreshments afterward, was all it took to get me to Columbia City.

Seattle’s Rainier Valley (so named because Mt. Rainier looms large over it when weather conditions are right) was once referred to as “garlic gulch,” because of a large concentration of Italian immigrants. These days, the immigrants tend to be from Southeast Asia, though it could be argued that yuppies are a far more prevalent group of immigrants in this time of way-stupid housing prices.

Elizabeth, the manager at the Columbia City Tutta Bella, had asked for 10 bikes, but there were at least 25. Safety Ed and our friend Chuck on his ’64 GL accompanied me from Queen Anne, while a big group of Westenders showed up at about the same time.

There was a bit of confusion finding the staging area, but once the parade got under way, a bigger concern for me was the dreaded heat soak. A group of riders led by Boating Bob started riding in circles, but I was in the middle and had to wait for an opening, so as not to cause a major pileup.

About halfway through (I guess that’d be 2½ blocks), our friend Chuck’s GL quit running and wouldn’t restart. Since we were going slightly downhill, I suggested he push it along by foot, to which he replied, “at least on this bike I can put my feet on the ground!” His usual mount, a GTS 250i.e., is considerably taller.

The parade moved quite slowly, but still was over before I knew it. As it turned out, the GL’s spark plug had fouled due to all the idling. Unlike the PX, the really old-skool Vespas require mixing 2-stroke oil with the gas with a little measuring cup, every time you fill up. Too much idling, and the spark plug can’t burn off the excess oil. The PX, on the other hand, mixes the 2-stroke oil with the gas at the carburetor, the amount of oil determined by how much throttle you’re giving it.

Luckily, El Dorko had a spark plug wrench, so a new plug was all it took for our friend Chuck to be up and running again, his old-skool scooter education proceeding apace. Favicon

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