Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Day 9 - Warren, PA to Scooters Originali

The last leg of the Cannonball is finally here. It seems like ages ago that we left Pacific City, yet it's only been nine days.

Todya's ride across northern Pennsylvania was characterized by the same amazingly wonderful weather we had every day. The only thing that was different was that it was warmer here during the entire day. most noticable here, though, was the more advanced state of color changes in the leaves. Fall has already got a head start in this area.

The ScootersO folks put on a wonderful reception for us (in addition to everything else they are doing for us). It was really nice to roll in to a warm reception like that. Still hard to believe it's over though. I've been missing my family more and more every day though and am very glad to be going home tomorrow afternoon. Leave the light on guys, I'll be there late!

I want to send a special shout out to the folks from Modern Buddy who came down to greet me upon my arrival in New Jersey, Shellee and Ellen and the folks who I missed. Thanks for coming out guys, it made my day to know that somebody was cheering for me. Sorry I didn't get much of a chance to talk to you. It always seems to take me an hour or so to come back to earth after a long day in the saddle. Anyway, thanks again, I appreciated it.

Tomorrow it's back to reality, but for now I'm going to take a long hot shower and get some sleep.

Today's Theme: Changes

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Sunday, September 17, 2006


Day 8 - Cleveland, OH to Warren, PA

After a great night's sleep and a terrific breafast at Water Street Cafe, we left Cleveland and did a short (157 mi) ride today. I had a a little trouble reaching escape velocity from Cleveland and ended up navigating the western Pennsylvania countryside in the dark by myelf (Well, Libby & Scott were behind me in the support truck, but you know what I mean)

There were lot of critters running around on the road. As it got later and the temp dropped, fog developed and that combined with the critters actually made me a little edgy. I'm glad again for the Blur's excellent headlight and brakes.

Tomorrow is the last actual day of distance riding. I can't say I'm sorry that the long days in the saddle are soon to be done. The Cannonball is a lot like other intense experiences, you are not sorry to see them end, but you are glad to have done it.

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Day 7 - Merrillville, IN to Cleveland, OH

I rode today with Kieren. Today was navagation city and we slogged through it using a combination of printed directions, maps, cheat sheets, Kieren's sense of direction (something that I don't have), and asking the locals every time we couldn't figure out where we were.

Eventually we rolled into Pride Of Cleveland Scooters where Phil treated us like royalty. (I was pleased to see lots of Genuine Buddy scooters and even a Blur on the showroom floor at POC)

Riding with Kieren made me think about the folks from the first Cannonball who aren't on the ride today. Wish they all could be here, too. It sems particularly unfair that Robert Benning did not get to come since he worked so hard planning the trip.

We had delicious Cambodian food for dinner. The restaurant had two hotness scales for their food; mild, medium, and hot - American vs mild, medium, and hot - Asian. I went for Hot American and it was perfect for my taste.

Thanks to Bobo (and, we had a wonderful room at the Renaissance Hotel right around the corner from POC. I wish my bed at home were even half as comfy as that one. Thanks again, Bobo!

Tomorrow morning we get to sleep in and leave in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to the rack time in that comfy-looking bed. Zzzz...

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Day 6 - Ames, NE to Merrillville, IN

Cannonball Blog Stub
/Cannonball Blog Stub

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Friday, September 15, 2006


Day Five - Valentine, NE to Ames IA

Today's ride was all about fighting the wind. Two things scooters really do not like, wind and steel grating bridges (the third is gravel). Today we had high winds in the form of gusting crosswinds buffeting the scooters while we crossed the Missouri River on the Decatur Bridge, an old steel grating bridge. The scooters wander on steel grating, giving you the sense that you are not in control. The secret to handling this is just to relax, but that is a lot easier said than done. Anyway, as far as I know, everybody made it safe and sound.

Today we lost dc_rob and Mike Heytens who both had come to the end of the line with their scooters. It is a sad day for the Cannonball. The finish will be bitter-sweet without them. Rats...

Last night I forgot to set my clock forward one hour for the time zone change, and got up just in time to see my riding partner putting out of town. Rats! I had to navigate like crazy all day, which is not something I am very good at. I guess now we know which half of Team Lost & Found I am.

Seldom in life do you get a second chance. I had one today, and I was glad to take advantage of it. I had pulled off the road for a reality check because the Mike Heytens Route Cheat Sheet seemed to be wrong. I could not figure out if I had missed a turn or what. While I was looking at the map, a local Harley rider pulled up and offered assistance. I told him what road I was looking for and he told me how to get there, which involved a short trip down a road that was not on the cheat sheet. I was not enthusiastic about his idea as well-meaning locals have repeatedly tried to send us off the route, something we are not allowed to do.

By chance, another fellow Cannonballer came by and I waved thanks to the Harley guy who seemed genuinely puzzled about the whole thing. I felt sort of bad that I had dissed his advice and wished I had a chance to explain. In the next town, I stopped for gas and while I was sitting there, you guessed it, he came rolling in. I was only too happy to take a minute to explain to him what we are up to and showed him the erroneous cheat sheet. He and I shared a hearty laugh, shhok hands, and parted company. Every day of every life should have a cool moment like that.

In Ames, we ate a huge dinner of BBQ and fell asleep the instant we sat down back at the room.

Today's Theme: Wind

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Day 4 - Dubois, WY to Valentine, NE

Sometimes when you're lost in the middle of nowhere, it's best to just swallow yor pride and ask a local. Today I did just that. In fact, I strolled right into the police station in Douglas, WY and the friendly cop there cheerfully gave us the directions we needed.

We explained to him that we were riding cross-country on very small bikes and that made him curious, so I invited him to check our bikes out. When he saw the scooters, he stopped short and said, "Whoa, did you guys lose a bet or something?" Hahaha!

Today's ride was all about the Great Plains, a starkly beautiful place. At one point, I was trying to imagine what J.R.R. Tolkein would write if he saw the landscape we drove through today. No doubt, he would have seen the hidden beauty and detail that's a little hard to see when you're whizing by on a scooter.

Here is a brief list of details that would have to be in any story I wrote about the place: endless grasslands, giant stone outcroppings, cows, telephone wires, barbed wire, sky, cliffs, and a telephone poles with no wires on them. Is that enough to start a story? I don't know...

We rode into Valentine after dark and the scooter of the guy I'm riding with burned out both it's headlights, so we ended up riding side by side and the Blur's excellent headlight showed the way into Valentine.

Lose a bet? Ha!

Today'd Theme: Hills

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Thursday, September 14, 2006


Day Three - Hailey, ID to Dubois, WY Addendum

Today we were really having to watch our gas to keep from running out in the middle of nowhere. I carry a one- gallon gas can on the scooter and I use it several times a day as we try to stop as seldom as possible.

We have this clever plan to go 200 miles between gas stations (with one fill-up from the can). Today we cut it a little too close and I ended up running out of gas. We disconnected my riding partner's (Noe) Tour Tank (not as easy as it should have been and we managed to get gas all over us in the process) Then we poured that gas into my gas can the into my scooter. Then we made up this elaborate plan just in case Noe were to run out of gas and so on. After all that, we rode over the next hill and there was a gas station right there at the top of the hill. tomorrow we're not going to cut it so close.

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Day Three - Hailey, ID to Dubois, WY

I apologize in advance for the grammar errors and the atrocious spelling mistakes these latest entries have been filled with. The truth is that this little handheld device does not have a spell checker or grammar checker. :-/ Have I *maybe* become a little too reliant on technology? Hmmm...

I'm going to keep this short and sweet and try to catch up on my blog. There were two big highlights to today. The first one happened almost immediately upon leaving Hailey. The route happened to run right next to the runway of the local airport. As I gunned the Blur doen the road, I heard a roaring noise and looked over just in time to see an airplane taking off on the runway right next to me. For a moment, we were side by side at about the same speed before he accelerated and lifted off. I always wanted to do chase a plane down the runway as it lifted off and today I got my chance. Lovely.

Second high point of the day (literally and figuratively) was the Continental Divide at 9600+ feet. I guess it goes without saying that climbing to that altitude on a box-stock 150cc scooter was a bit on the slow side. Really I was making an indicated 40 mph prety much all the way to the top. Close to the pass, it finally slowed down to 35 mph, but things picked up pretty quickly on the downhill side... :-}

Dubois was nice. Mountain air makes any and all food taste wonderful, so I thoroughly enjoyed dinner then went to the room to shower. Eight hour later I woke up without ever having taken that shower. Oh well...

Tomorrow we decend to Nebraska! It's all downhill from here.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Day 2 - John Day to Hailey

Interesting change from yesterday. Another rider and I teamed up and that made riding a lot more enjoyable. The twisties that we encountered today were generally a little higher speed which suits the Blur and my riding style better.

Yesterday the twisties were often so tight that I couldn't carry much speed in the corners. The Blur is extremely nimble but it doesn't make enough torque in stock trim to muscle out of a turn. So the trick is to carry as much cornering speed as possible.

Tomorrow is the big climb over the Continentl Divide. 9659 feet. Yikes! Wish us luck.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Day One

Due to my extremely late arrival last night, I did not get dinner and then I was too slow getting up this morning to get breakfast. I am diabetic, so this is not a good thing. To that, add the fact that it was very cold this morning, and the result for me was hyperthermia. All I really remember of the morning ride is hanging on to the Blur for dear life while my body was racked with chills and shivering. During that time i wandered off course in a large way.

I finally stopped way south of where I'd started, got a coffee and some food and warmed up. As I came beck to my senses, I began to realize that I was not where I was supposed to be. I asked the man at the store if he could help me get hooked up with the route. He didn't bother to look at the map, just asked me where I was trying to go.

When I told him that I was trying to connect with Route 20, he laughed and motioned south and said, "You're in luck becuase Route 20 starts right down the road in Newport."

I rode a couple miles south and, sure enough, there was a sign that proclaims, "Route 20 Begins Here." I dismounted, touched the sign, said "Tag" and trundled off into the interior of Oregon in search of the Cannonball Route.

Many Many hours later I was hustling down the road in the middle of nowhere when I made my first sighting of the entire day of a fellow Cannonballer. It was gpPeej and he was lying prone next to his gorgous Lambretta by the side of the road. It turned out that both his Lammy and his cell-phone battery had chosen the same moment to die. was so happy to see a fellow Cannonballer with a working cell-phone that it actually made me feel way better about the fact that I was so late and so far behind the others.

After a few communications glitches due to cell phone coverage problems, we finally got in touch with the second support vehicle. The first support vehicle, driven by Scooter Libby (Heather) was almost already in John Day and would have been no help owing to the fact that, as Heather piut it, she already had a full boat with all the broken scooters she had aboard.

The second support vehicle came quickly when they finally received our distress call.

On the way to John Day we saw a family of deer cross the road right in front of us. That sighting alarmed me enough that I flipped up my visor so I could see better. A big bug flew into my helmet while I was rifing along and started crawling around on my scalp. This was not the highlight of my day, either.

The support vehicle sheparded me all the way into John Day. Needless to say, I was the last scooter to arrive in John Day and it was quite late. Oh well, tomorrow is another day...

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Saturday, September 09, 2006


Chilly in Pacific City, OR

Thanks to a late start, I ended up riding to Pacific City by myself in the cold and dark. I am cold and tired but quite well and safe and my feet will thaw eventually, I'm sure...

For those of you keeping score at home, the Cannonball officially starts in 7 1/2 hours. The sheer variety of scooters here is really amazing, There's no way I could even begin to do it justice with a plain text description. I'm sure that photos will be appearing soon on, so be sure to check that out.

Anyway, I just wanted to let everybody know that rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated.

Tomorrow should be hella interesting. Right now, sleep beckons...

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Saturday Morning! Portland! Genuine Blur!

Ashrat is in da house. Sitting at breakfast we heard that wonderful pop pop pop sound, look out the window and there sits Ashrat.

Question though, where is Mr Purple Bear? I guess that's going to have to be a mystery for now as I'm chilling at Scooter Heaven Portland, the new Vespa Portland Service facility. I call it Scooter Heaven because I've never seen so many so scooters in one place at one time. There's lots of Genuine Buddys here that need homes, folks! (Lots of Vespas, too) Also, currently at this location is one very hot Genuine Blur that is already spoken for. :-}

Yesterday, I put a couple hundred miles on the Blur riding around Portland to break it in as much as possible before hitting the road. Here is the big surprize about riding the Blur - the Blur is a people magnet. I think. Genuine expected the Blur's appearance to be polarizing. They figured that people would love it or hate it.

My question is where are the people who hate it? I ask because I was totally caught off guard by the number of folks who went out of there way to come over and tell me they love it! Particularly women! How odd! All those middle-aged men who spend $75 for Corvettes and then ride around with thier male buddies... they need to save the $71.5K and get a Blur. Totally, totally unexpected. Go figure.

So what about the Blur? First, the Blur is COOL. I don't quite know how to explain it, but, if you're at all curious, you should go see a Blur in person because the pictures just don't do it justice. Even the hard-core guys are grudgingly admitting it. It's cool. Enough said.

The Blur's brakes rock. You throw a finger over the front brake lever and give it a gentle squeeze and you STOP. RIGHT NOW. And that's just the dual front disk brakes at work. At that's totally not to mention that the rear disk on the Blur is OUTSTANDING. Seriously.

The Blur's suspension and handling are so good that it get's your attention. When you set up for a curve, the Blur reads your mind and does the work for you. Turn left here? Yes Sir! Mid-turn course correction? No Problem! Whew, the worst thing about the Blur is that it's a little disconcerting to ride a scooter whose handling may be better than my ridng skills. Wow.

The first question everybody asks is always, How fast is it? Later in the Cannonball after I get the motor broken in completely, I'll measure the speed with the GPS and report here. Stay tuned. I can tell you that I noticed the Blur getting faster and faster off the line as I was riding around and around Portland yesterday. Stay tuned.

One final thing. Genuine rocks! Vespa Portland rocks! P Town Scooters rocks! Portland scooter peeps rock! Thank you everybody who's gone way out of their way to help us out.

It's time to wrap this up. I have a little scooter ride to go on. :)

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