Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rider profile: Jim Mandle

Name: Jim Mandle
Find me on Earth: Hernando, Florida
Find me (ADK Jim)
Interview Date: July 6, 2015
Interview Location: Lake Luzerne NY (ed.: spiritually)
Scootcommute: When did you start riding, how old were you?

Jim: My real riding career started at age 64, but I first fell in love with scooters when I saw pictures of the early Vespas in the Sears Roebuck catalog at about age 8. I just loved the lines and aesthetics of them and used to keep pictures of them on my desk, and later in my briefcase, to dream about. My first riding experience on a motorized two-wheeler was when a friend in junior high school used to let me ride his Cushman scooter around his family’s backyard. What a thrill!

Scootcommute: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Jim: The first was a broken down Honda, which I think was around 125 cc. I was given it by a friend in non-working order, and spent an entire summer trying to get it to run. On its “maiden voyage” I made it halfway around the lake where I lived and had to be towed back – I looked like a water skier being pulled by our car. My second “real” scooter was my 50cc midnight blue Vespa LX 50. I kept it for less than a year, building my riding skills, until I realized it was underpowered and unsafe for the roads I intended to ride.

Scootcommute: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

Jim: My current bike is my favorite - a red 2013 Vespa 300 GTS Super.

Scootcommute: Talk to me about the most challenging riding skill you learned.

Jim: I have taken riding seriously from the start and try to do all I can to increase my personal safety. I took motorcycle training classes, purchased the best helmet and safety clothing I could find, and continually practice and seek knowledge from my riding friends with more experience and skills. My most challenging skill has been being smoother at tight slow speed turns and also working on gaining greater comfort at highway riding speeds.

Scootcommute: Are you a moto-commuter, a tourer, or a fair weather rider?

Jim: I would like to think that I am a tourer and have been taking ever increasing long distance rides. It combines my love of travel, ultra-light camping, and the Vespa. Using much of my backpacking gear, I can get a week’s worth of food and camping gear down to a small pack weighing only 23 pounds! I hope to do more really long distance rides combined with camping. I’ve been fortunate to take some great rides becoming friends with riders like Bill Leuthold, Ken Wilson and “Captain Gary” Kinney, and my Canadian Hero, David Masse! (ed.: blushes, resists the strong urge to edit)

Scootcommute: I dare you to share an awkward or embarrassing riding moment.

Jim: There are so many, like knowing that I look like an overgrown bumblebee (yellow helmet and yellow/black jacket and pants) walking into stores. Embarrassment – I just appreciate the patience of my riding buddies as I was learning and know the embarrassment that they must have felt just being with me!

Scootcommute: What is the best place your bike has taken you?

Jim: Every ride is a thrill as I continue exploring on two wheels. Just riding and having all my senses alive – smell, sound, greater concentration riding, are all the things you don’t get in a car. I especially enjoyed the long rides like the one to Dothan, AL and the trips in the Adirondacks.

Scootcommute: Tell me why you ride?

Jim: Mostly it is exploring and the sense you get by riding on two wheels. I also never tire seeing the lines and look of the Vespa. It just makes me smile! Every time I ride the scooter I meet people who mention how good looking it is. People don’t react that way to a typical motorcycle.

Scootcommute: If I could grant you one riding wish, what would it be?

Jim: One riding wish? How about that all motorcycle and scooter riders ride ATGATT (ed.: All The Gear, All The Time) eliminating all two wheel accidents! (ed.: Jim snuck in two wishes, but that's OK)



SonjaM said...

Started at retirement age? That's what I call the superlative of a late bloomer. He rides the same year and model than I. The man has good taste in scoters ;-)

David Masse said...

Sonja for many of us, mothers and wives kept us off bikes for the earlier parts of our lives.

A few of us had the courage to take it up later on, which is probably a good thing, since too many young men perform poorly on PTWs and tempt Darwin's theory.

Bill Leuthold said...

I have enjoyed getting to know Jim through several meetings and nice rides. It is great to have another Vespa tourer in the state. I am looking forward to more upcoming gatherings.

David Masse said...

When riders get together there is an easy bond of shared experience. The more experienced the rider, the more similar the riding experiences in terms of type of travel, distances, and other aspects, the stronger that instant bond can be.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Adirondacks ride in Jim's company. He is a very warm and generous person and that makes spending time with Jim truly a pleasure.

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