Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hangin' with legends

Thanks for your patience.

Here at last is Episode 3 of Life on two wheels, the vlog.



In this episode I meet up in northern Florida with three Vespa legends. Ken Wilson, Jim Mandle, and Bill Leuthold.

Here are links to their rider profiles:
Bill and Ken are bloggers and (extreme) long distance riders and explorers. Jim is a rider, licensed Adirondacks guide, Adirondacks philanthropist, and a blacksmith.

I consider each of these men legends because each of them embraces life without reserve, following their passion with gusto. This is something every one of us could stand to learn from.

You'll get to know each of these guys in the course of this, and the other episodes in this Florida touring series.

To see Ken's and Bill's take on this little adventure check out their blog posts:

Ken Wilson's original Vespa LX150 was painted over by talented modern artist Tyler Ramsey, here are some links:
Stay tuned for additional episodes chronicling this very special tour.

In the meantime, here is the map Ken made showing our travels:

Copyright Ken Wilson

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rider profile: Bill Leuthold

Name: Bill Leuthold
Find me on Earth: Jacksonville, Florida in the historic neighborhood of Avondale.
Find me Online: Rocket and Me
Interview Date: Thursday, February 9, 2017
Interview Location: Cedar Key, Florida

Bill near Klosters, Switzerland

Life on two wheels: When did you start riding, how old were you?

Bill: My friend Matt had a mini bike that we rode around the neighborhood until it broke and his mother traded it for a slot car set, but I really got started when Sarah, Sam and I moved to Bermuda in 1990. There, I bought a used Suzuki FB100 for $800. I rode it for the three years we lived on that beautiful island. I was 35 years old when I got that one.

Life on two wheels: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Bill: I have owned eight bikes.

Life on two wheels: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

Bill: I currently have five. Three Vespa GT's, a Lambretta Li125 (in the shop, of course) and a Honda NC700X. The Vespas are my favorite by far, and of those, Rocket has a special place in my heart.

Life on two wheels: Talk to me about the most challenging riding skill you learned.

Bill: I believe I have always had a knack for riding, so nothing has been difficult in the learning process. The most important part of riding safely, in my opinion, is to be very vigilant about watching your surroundings.

Life on two wheels: Are you a moto-commuter, a tourer, or a fair weather rider?

Bill: I ride the easy 1.3 mile commute to work every day, so you could say I am a commuter. But after two cross country rides and numerous 1000+ mile rides around the southeast US, I consider myself much more of a tourer.

Life on two wheels: Are you a solitary rider? How about riding in a group?

Bill: It is both. I have led over 40,000 miles of club rides for the past seven years. But I also love to ride solo, when I can ride my ride, fast with stops only for fuel. That style is not preferred by anyone else I ride with, so solo rides are special to me.

Life on two wheels: I dare you to share an awkward or embarrassing riding moment.

Bill: The worst one for me was on a long club ride in Alabama. I was leading on my brother's GT, using an older Garmin that I had not programmed thoroughly enough. It led us up a small road. That road got narrower and steeper as we ascended the hill. We crossed a very small wooden bridge near the top where we ended up at a dead end in front of a farmer's house. He came out and said that Garmin sends people up there all the time. It was so steep and treacherous that one of our riders dropped his scooter while turning around. On the way back down, the rider in second saw the wooden bridge and balked at crossing. I didn't notice immediately and continued around the corner and up a hill. When I noticed that nobody was following, I went to turn around on a very steep portion of the road. The steepness caused me to slow and the scooter to lean over. It was so steep that there was no road to put my foot down, so down we went. It scraped the side engine cover badly and broke the rear brake lever. The group of six then arrived to find me on my side. We stood the scooter back up, but it wouldn't start. Then once it did start after 30 minutes or more, it ran poorly. We finally replaced the spark plug and it ran fine for the remaining 1500 miles of the ride, miles that I rode with no rear brake.

Life on two wheels: What is the best place your bike has taken you?

Bill: Everywhere has been special to me, but the best ride of all was the Scooter Cannonball Run in 2014. Riding Rocket in Hyder, Alaska was great, then the three days in British Columbia and Alberta were spectacular. The third day took us from Jasper to Fernie, including Banff National Park and the Ice Fields. To top it off, I won that leg with the speed of Rocket.

Life on two wheels: Tell me why you ride.

Bill: There are two reasons. I love riding anywhere, but put me on a Vespa GT on a great road and I am in my element. Riding has become the part of my life that defines me. The other reason is that riding has brought me so many wonderful friends.

Life on two wheels: If I could grant you one riding wish, what would it be?

Bill: I would like to ride every great road in the world. I know that is impossible, so my simple wish is to be able to ride for many more years.

_____________________________

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rider profile: Ken Wilson

Name: Ken Wilson
Find me on Earth: St. Petersburg, Florida, sometimes
Find me Online: lostboater.comMotorcycle Men Podcast interview
Interview Date: Thursday, February 9, 2017
Interview Location: Cedar Key, Florida



Life on two wheels: When did you start riding, how old were you?

Ken: I bought my first motorcycle in Germany in 1970 at the age of 20.

Life on two wheels: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Ken: Not a lot. Maybe five or six.

Life on two wheels: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

Ken:  I have three Vespas, an older GTS, a brand new GTS with ABS and traction control, and an older LX150. The LX150 is my favorite.

Life on two wheels: Talk to me about the most challenging riding skill you learned.

Ken: Riding 12” wheels in deep sand and off-road challenges.

Life on two wheels: Are you a moto-commuter, a tourer, or a fair weather rider?

Ken: I'm a Tourer for sure, and I prefer fair weather.

Life on two wheels: Are you a solitary rider? How about riding in a group?

Ken: I am definitely a solitary rider. I will ride with a few friends and some larger groups like the Cross Egypt Challenge but that is rare.

Life on two wheels: I dare you to share an awkward or embarassing riding moment.

Ken: Too many to list. One was when I noticed in my mirror I was dragging my luggage down the highway for a long way.

Life on two wheels: What is the best place your bike has taken you?

Ken: I was asked that in front of a camera and could not narrow it down. The best answer I guess is that the scooter has taken me to a whole new world.  Those who ride scooters will know where this is.

Life on two wheels: Tell me why you ride.

Ken: I don’t know....addiction?  It is a need that I have come to have. The Zen of riding solo though the back roads of America, I guess.  A old fat guy riding a little red scooter in the back roads of Mississippi or New Mexico opens a lot interesting conversations and doors.

Life on two wheels: If I could grant you one riding wish, what would it be?

Ken: That I do not encounter any more bears while riding. (Ed.: that is a cryptic reference to an unfortunate fender-shattering incident during the 2014 Scooter Cannonball.) 
_____________________________

Monday, February 6, 2017

I hit the road, Jack

At long last, it's episode 2 of Life on two wheels, the Vlog.

I has been a long day folks.

Episode 2 crashed my iMac, at least twice.


As promised I returned and added some show notes, useful links, a hint or two about what I'm up to, a list, and some other stuff too.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Leap of faith



This is a first, and you are witnessing history.

Last week I got a little lift courtesy of Ted Kettler's Motorcycle Men podcast when he interviewed me. I say a little lift because that interview took me from publishing my thoughts here in writing to sharing my thoughts in audio on his podcast.

I have had to scramble the rest of the way up to the windswept pinnacle of video blogging (or 'vlogging').

Let me know what you think.

I am brimming with a few vlog topics so this may not be the end (unless you are particularly cruel, in which case I'll take you on in a Twitter duel).

Finally, in response to David Blackburn, here are pics of those business cards. They are hot out of the mailbox:



 


Friday, January 20, 2017

So what the hell am I up to?

That's what Sonja asked a few days back. But so much more politely, I hasten to add.

I feel that I need to say something to break the suspense, you all deserve some kind of an accounting.

Things have been hectic and I have had my hands full (Christmas and the holidays, professional stuff, estate settlement tax reporting stuff, the stuff below (read on), and on, and on.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

31 days...

... hath December.

This is the second year that December sees me still in the saddle. My last jaunt on the Vespa in 2015 was on the 8th of December.

On Thursday the first of the month I rode downtown for a fruitful meeting at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Scribbled - Voting in a Democracy

Susan is a little concerned. She may be right.

Lately I have taken to sending e-mails to Toronto Star columnists. I have also written to the Prime Minister on two or three occasions.

We're not talking about angry Tweets, or dozens of e-mail messages, or about indiscriminate rants, much less unpleasant ad-hominen diatribes aimed at reporters and politicians. Still, Susan's concern is certainly warranted (she doesn't want me morphing into either Statler or Waldorf, those angry old muppet men).

That said, I may be done with the few topics that recently prompted me to take to my keyboard.

This morning I was ingesting my daily ration of news (Toronto Star, New York Times, and Quartz) and found it largely indigestible. This is a steady diet of worrisome stuff, after all. I can't write letters every time I read an item that rattles my cage. I'd spend my days doing nothing but. I certainly shouldn't devote too much time airing my concerns here, right? Who cares what I think, anyway?

So that may be it for a while.

Let me say this though.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PMS

We humans are ruled by hormones, pheromones, and craveomones.

Many years ago we were sitting around the kitchen table. We were eating something good, but it couldn't have been entirely healthy. The kids began to read the ingredients on the labels of the jars and other containers on the table. That's when someone discovered that one of the condiments claimed it contained "flavonoids".

It only took mere fractions of a second for us to invent "tasterenes".

In that same vein, yesterday I discovered that craveomones were ruling my body.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Life after snow?

Winter is here.

I was rummaging in the storage locker today. For a brief moment I considered the Vespa's winter storage cover. Then I tossed it back on the shelf.

Snow, shmow. I'm in no mood to close the book on riding for 2016. It might happen, it might not.

The truth is that Toronto is new to me. I'm pinning my hopes on the lake effect.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fall riff

Summer lasted forever.

And then there was fall. As often happens, when summer ebbs and leaves us contemplating the looming winter, life gets busy.

What have we been up to? We've been busy.

In mid-October I joined fellow members of the Toronto Motor Scooter Club and headed northeast towards Georgian Bay.


This is the ride that marked the arrival of fall.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Requiem for an epoch

My life began as we emerged from horrible decades of genocide, world wars, and depression. The lessons we learned at unimaginable cost gave rise to an era of stability, growth, and prosperity accompanied by unprecedented international cooperation.

Today we stand at the edge of a precipice. A very dangerous time in history.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Canadians are a rare breed

If you are not yourself Canadian, the best way to understand what it means to be Canadian, is to study the ways of a quintessential Canadian.

It's a little like birding. You need to learn the habitat, haunts, and habits of the quintessential Canadian.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Scary story


The most remarkable totally scary thing is happening right before my eyes.

It's one of those massive fog-bound freeway pile ups in slow motion. It's a system with the rules tossed out the window. None of the usual strategies like steering or braking apply to ward off disaster.

Except it's not traffic that has me mesmerized like a King Cobra's afternoon snack.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A place to call...


A place is just a place, until it becomes something more.

It remains only a place until you find meaning there.

Meaning is a peculiar brew of knowledge and feelings. Isn't that the same basic recipe that defines every single one of us? Without that combination of knowledge and emotion, a person is not really a person, and a place is just a speck in the universe.

The stronger the emotions and the deeper the knowledge that bind us to a place, the more meaning we attach to it.

When the tug of emotion is strong, and the place is familiar, our bonds grow, with the most important places eventually looming large, punctuating the landscape of our feelings like so many villages, towns, and cities.

Ultimately, a place becomes home.

It's a simple four-letter word. Yet it means so much.

Leaving home is one of the most important transitions we make.

Leaving our parents' home, finding a home of our own, leaving our own home behind, and eventually finding another. None of this is easy, and it takes time.

It hasn't taken that long, all things considered.

Toronto is beginning to feel like home.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.