Won’t you take me on a pizza cruise
Since the GTS went to a new home, I haven’t been riding much. Which given the incredible weather this summer, has, uh, sucked. Needless to say, Suz’ offer of her newly-acquired 2005 Stella was one I couldn’t pass up.
There has been a feeding frenzy among Seattle scooter peeps, an announcement that an old-skool scooter of some kind (mostly Stellas) now graces the garage of yet another modern scooter rider coming daily, or so it seemed.
“Now I just have to learn how to ride it,” they say.
This here blog can certainly help with the shifting-gears part: click right here to see how it works.
I’ve been showing and telling Suz and others how to do things like remove and replace cowls, change tires, and other stuff you don’t have to deal with on a modern scooter. She reciprocated by lending me the Stella for Andrew’s (“Danger is my middle name”) second annual pizza cruise.
More riding, fewer pizza joints was the theme this year. We gathered at the location of Fritz Repair, in the U District on Boat Street.
You can see how the street got its name.
Though the Autumnal Equinox had occurred a few hours earlier, the weather was once again un-Autumn-like for Seattle, the sun peeking out from overcast partly resulting from wildfires in Central Washington, the temperature warm enough to shed the intermediate layer under my riding jacket.
While there were lots of familiar faces and familiar scooters, most were new. And orange. “I’m in a minority,” observed Safety Ed; his ET4, Suz’ GT and couple of GTSes were the only modern Vespas, the rest being Stellas or P-Series.
The ride over from Suz’ place on First Hill was a pleasant one. As I say, shifting gears on a Vespa or Stella is like riding a bicycle—once you know how, you never forget. The shifter and clutch cables need adjustment (I told Suz later), but as we make our way through downtown Seattle I am reminded of how engaging riding an old-skool scoot is. Still, I’m happy the Stella’s instrument cluster has a neutral light.
The foot brake is a bit more of a concern. I have to think really hard about how to position my right foot, now that I only have part of one. Modulating the brake is a bit more difficult, too.
Oh, and there’s the matter of bridge grating. There isn’t any in Bellingham. Luckily, the grating on the University Bridge is new, and rather smooth.
As it turned out, there’d be plenty of time to sort all this out.
The group headed out, skirting the north shore of Lake Union to the Fremont Bridge (more grating), then Westlake on the way downtown. As we traveled south, a bicyclist offered high-fives to riders near the center line (I was not one of them), and another flashed a peace sign. How ’bout that? There are two Seattle bicyclists who aren’t assholes.
We rode. And rode. And rode. Through Sodo, on Airport Way all over Beacon Hill. My left hand, having not had to squeeze a clutch lever for quite a while, was getting sore. But it was working, though a nerve issue I’ve had for a while had made me wonder.
“Are we there yet?” I asked as we made our way through Columbia City. At least the Stella and I were keeping up. An apparent fuel-starvation issue Suz mentioned did not seem to be happening. Yet.
Wow, where is this place, I thought as we headed toward Renton. Our objective finally appeared: Pizzeria Pucinella is about halfway to downtown Renton, still in Seattle’s city limits. They do Neapolitan-style pizza (thin crust, lotsa tomato sauce, cheese optional), and have the certificate on the wall to prove it.
Bellies full of pizza and beverages ($2.75 for a Diet Pepsi?!) we were on the road again. Next stop: Pizza Pagliacci’s Sand Point store. Sand Point? Uh-huh.
As we headed north on Lake Washington Boulevard, the Stella hiccuped. Ruh-roh! The hesitation had appeared. Luckily, I was riding toward the back, and could still go fast enough to keep the group in sight. The problem seemed to get worse on MLK, but hugging the shore of Lake Washington slowed the group down. The hesitation only seems to happen at wide(er) throttle openings.
The hesitation had gotten worse still on Sand Point Way; just as I was thinking of pulling over, there was Pagliacci.
I parked the Stella and popped off the engine-side cowl; if the starvation was caused by excessive heat, maybe exposing the engine would let if cool off faster and more completely.
While most of the group headed for another pizza joint, Suz graciously offered to lead me back to her place. First Hill is not too far.
However, it quickly became apparent the hesitation issue was not caused by engine heat. I could maintain 30 mph for brief stretches, though third gear was necessary. Traffic was clogged around Husky Stadium, which was a good thing, even though my left hand was really getting sore slipping the clutch.
The worst part of the trip was the uphill stretch on 23rd Avenue E. At one point, I truly believed a German luxury car would rear-end me, but somehow I was able to shuffle off to the rightmost part of the right lane. By the time the First Hill neighborhood sign appeared on Madison Street, I was counting the inches to Suz’ garage door. But we made it. *Whew!*
When we left in the morning, the Stella was showing a bit less than 1900 miles on its odometer. When I parked it, the odo read 2003. Wow. A hundred miles? Really?
Pretty much makes up for the riding I haven’t done this season.