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In the other land Down Under

May 26, 2009
Ken's PX200 on the beach

No, that's not Alki Beach (Ken McGrath photos)

Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. I am still without scooter, but New Zealand Bureau Chief Ken McGrath took a lengthy road trip on his PX200 a few weeks ago. Take it away, Ken.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand—We took a trip to the Turangi area on the southwest corner of Lake Taupo. David hadn’t ridden for at least 15 years, so I made him lead so that I didn’t set a pace he wasn’t comfortable with. We had agreed on a set of horn and hand signals.

Heading out

Ready to head out. Ken's on the right

We’re off as I push off the stand at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 9th. (Auckland looks an awful lot like Seattle, doesn’t it? —Ed.)

And they're off!

About halfway along, in the township of Tirau, which is infamous for its use of corrugated iron, an example of which you can see in the background. The lady is apparently astonished at two old geezers zipping along State Highway 1 on motor scooters.

Corrugated metal wolf

The lead picture shows Vittorio (that’s the PX200’s name) alongside the lake on my way back, a few kilometers north of David’s home in Waitetoko. The island and the bluff feature in David’s view from his lounge. I decided to return on Monday as the weather Sunday was continuously rainy and blustery. Turangi is at the foot of the bluff at the extreme left edge of the picture, at the southern end of the lake.

The journey down and back had no incidents and traffic was light. Apart from cold hands in my case, the rides were very pleasant and neither of us was fatigued; however, a good soak in the Turangi volcanic hotpools was very welcome after our arrival. My return trip was dry until about Lake Karapiro, just north of midway, when moderate showers set in. I didn’t get really wet as the wind was from ahead and I had plenty of shelter from the bike and screen. An hour short of Auckland, the showers stopped so that I rode up the southern motorway into the beginning of the evening rush hour completely dry.

Each direction was 337 km (209 miles) for a total of 674 km (418 miles) on my PX. Riding time underway was 5 hours, 14 minutes down and 5 hours, 17 minutes back. I must have retained some of my naval passage planning skills, for the planned time was 5 hours 19 minutes! Even so, I was astonished at how close the times panned out. We allowed breaks about every hour for a leg stretch or comfort/refreshment stop, so the total journey time was 7 hours, 10 minutes both ways.

My last long Vespa ride was Dunedin to Picton on the South Island over two days in 1971, so I was very pleased to experience the fun of touring on two wheels again. I can’t wait for the weather to improve to have another go! Favicon

One Comment
  1. Ken permalink
    May 28, 2009 2:21 am

    I should add by way of explanation for others, as Orin knows the score, that David had just bought one of the 2008 PX200s of the same batch as mine (which had been returned by a buyer who decided he would rather have a twist-and-go) and this trip was the means of getting his PX home. Our PX200s are members of the last batch of 24 sent from Piaggio in Italy to NZ in early 2008 and probably the last classic 2T geared Vespas manufactured in the world (excluding Indian clones of course). They are certainly the last PX200 (the serial number of mine is VSX1T*6018449) which is sad. My touring in the past was mainly on a SS180 and I am impressed with improved capabilities of the PX200; both scooters ran the journey faultlessly and cruised at 90+kph effortlessly. Mine turns over 7000 km tomorrow in exactly 14 months.

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