I’m not sure my friend Victoria knew what she was getting herself into, moving to the West Coast. Or, more specifically, moving in with me. Let’s not blame Seattle at large for my borderless insanity.
A couple of weeks ago, VVB (as I affectionately call her) packed some books, her cat, and a guitar into her little VW and drove 3,000 miles from Connecticut to Seattle. One of her first questions when she arrived was, “Do I get to ride on your scooter with you?”
I was a bit surprised. While she was visiting a few years ago, I tried to get her to ride with me. She had just received a crazy industrial ear piercing, making the helmet uncomfortable. So we didn’t ride. And perhaps it was my imagination, but I remembered her looking relieved to have an out.
With no piercings in the way, VVB strapped on a helmet and enthusiastically mounted the GTS behind me. I took her for a morning sunshine spin down Lake Washington Blvd., which is the route you take visitors when you want them to stay. It’s hard not to fall in love with Seattle riding through the Lake Washington Arboretum, or through the verdant tunnel of foliage along the crystal blue, sparkly waters.
VVB was sold on both the city and the scooter in short order, so I decided to organize a little ride to welcome her to the neighborhood. One of her favorite movies, Almost Famous, was playing at Movies on the Pedestal downtown. They project the movie onto the side of the building and you watch under the stars and city lights. Very cool. Very Seattle. It seemed like the perfect destination for a ride, so “Operation: Almost Famous” was born.
I’d never lead a formal ride before, and even when riding with one other person, I defer to their leadership. There are several reasons for this: first, I’m still new to the area – especially West Seattle. (Last week I was pleased as punch to find my way from the bridge to Alaska Junction without consulting my map.) Second, I’m terrible with directions. Catastrophically terrible.
Third, I ride a 250cc scooter and I’ve got a lead foot. Er, lead wrist. Ripping along Aurora at 50 m.p.h. is fine when it’s just you, but when you’re leading a crew of 60-year-old vintage scooters, manual shift Vespas, and 50cc bikes, not so much. I’m always paranoid I’ll leave someone behind because it’s hard for me to tell if I’m accelerating too quickly or going too fast. It’s easiest for me to just follow other people so nobody gets hurt.
But I figured the time had come for me to buck up and take the heat, especially since the ride was my idea. The night before the planned ride, VVB and I mapped the route with the help of Google and took a test run. I printed out the directions and taped them to my headset. I kept the route simple and focused on creating a pretty ride with lots of “ooohs” and “ahhhhhs”. Alki Beach at sunset is hard to top.
We met up at Cupcake Royale in West Seattle. As we’ve already established, I don’t need an excuse to make a cupcake run. But this time it was also a tribute to VVB’s status on my scooter. A few months ago I met Angie, founder of the Ladies Scooter Society of Boston, who said her club had replaced the traditional “riding bitch” with “riding cupcake”. “It’s much nicer, don’t you think?” she said. I have to agree. (Although when it comes to boys as passengers, I’m not sure you could convince them that either is appropriate.) Hence, VVB was my Cupcake, so our adventure began at Cupcake Royale.
The night of the official ride was nearly 90 degrees and clear skies. Flawless. Beall even made it on his new Salsbury – a scooter half a century old that looks like it should be in a museum, not bombing down a busy coastal street.
Beall definitely gave our little gang street cred. Which brings us to the Westenders “gang sign” in the opening photograph. VVB dreamed that one up and offered a tutorial when we stopped at Hairy LaPinch’s studio on California for the West Seattle Artwalk.
We cruised along the beach and down Fairmount – my favorite secret side street revealed to me by Joni Jett. Then we took Aurora to Pioneer Sq. I held it at a steady 45, which seemed doable for everyone, even Safety Ed with a lawn chair strapped to his ET.
The ride was beautiful and the movie was great. Plus, my Cupcake felt welcomed, which was frosting on the… oh, never mind.