I'm approaching the one-month anniversary of getting a Suzuki Burgman 650 Executive scooter. I can predict pretty well how Burgie and I will celebrate: by going for a ride!
As you can tell by the exclamation marks in this blog post title and first paragraph, I'm enjoying my new scootering life even more than I thought I would. Yes, I am!
So much so, I run the risk of becoming a scooter evangelist, which is kind of scary given my churchless leanings. I don't want to end up going door to door, on my Burgman, naturally, handing out pamphlets that say, "Repent your car-nality! Scooters save!"
(Note: I include motorcycles in my praise of two motorized wheels. However, scooters make so much more sense to me -- quieter, no manual shifting, more storage, easier to get on and off, etc. -- I heartily recommend considering them over a motorcycle; my Burgman is as powerful and large as a motorcycle, without the drawbacks).
Rather than becoming an annoying Scooter Witness, I figured proselytizing via my blog is a better way to go. Here, then, are some reasons why scootering will change your life, based on my first 28 days of experience.
(1) No talk radio. Or any radio. I've been riding my scooter almost exclusively since I got it, the summer weather here in Oregon having been perfect for two-wheeling it. Usually I drive our Prius only one day a week, when I do the grocery shopping.
I've been wondering why I feel calmer. Not so upset about current events. Much less inclined to want to throw people on the opposite side of my political leanings into a bottomless pit. Then I realized: I haven't been listening to talk radio.
Or any radio. Scootering, all I do is drive (you need to, to stay alive, given the greater risk, albeit manageable, of riding a scooter or motorcycle).
No playing with a cell phone either. Or my car's climate controls (on my scooter, to warm up I close vents and zippers on my jacket; to cool down, the opposite). It's wonderfully refreshing to simply be doing one thing while I ride along: riding along.
(2) Life is a whole lot livelier. Motorcyclists and scooterers call cars "cages." Apt term. They keep us insulated from nature and sensory inputs, both natural (smell of a newly mowed field) and unnatural (diesel exhaust fumes).
I love being out there on my scooter. I notice things along familiar roads that escaped my attention before. Just coming to a stop sign or light is an adventure.
I roll off the throttle, feeling the Burgman's considerable engine braking coming into play. Bumps in the road are evident. As is the bumper of the car ahead of me, no longer hidden behind an enclosed windshield.
I'm right there, life to every side of me, clearly evident with a turn of my helmeted head. (In my Team Oregon motorcycle safety class, the instructor pointed out that helmets don't obscure your peripheral vision as some riders claim. This is even more true of my Arai helmet, which has a 10 mm wider eyeport than usual.)
(3) More connections with other people. Partly I'm talking about the "motorcycle wave," which is cool -- a left hand acknowledgement to my fellow rider that we're part of a brother- and sisterhood of people who choose to travel to their own two-wheeled drummer, unlike the cagers.
I enjoy getting and giving the wave, which has some subtleties to it. Since my Burgman looks a lot like a motorcycle, especially from the front, I'm getting more waves than I expected -- since I was warned by a Suzuki salesman that I'd never get a wave from a Harley rider, given I was on a scooter and, horror of Harley horrors, a Japanese machine.
However, I have. And I've decided that regardless of whether the other person waves back, I'll wave at passing motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles, anything and anyone on two wheels.
Also kids in a crosswalk. I did this last week and had one of those only-on-a-scooter moments. I was stopped at a downtown intersection. A father and two young children walked by in front of me. A boy turned in my direction, idly looking at the stopped traffic.
I raised my right gloved hand. Gave him a wave. His eyes opened wide. A big smile popped out on his face. He and I had made human contact! None of the people in cars were visible, hidden behind glass and long hoods. The kid and I were right there, together.
Riding off, when the light turned green, I thought: Man, this is why I love scootering.
(4) You'll embrace your wild side. We all have one, a wilder side than we normally show to others. But let's face it: if yours isn't sufficiently developed, you won't enjoy a scooter or motorcycle.
Motorized two-wheeling takes some special skills. It also requires a bit of daring, being more dangerous than driving around in a seat-belted air-bagged car.
But when you pull up in front of wherever you're going, even if you're on a 50 cc Vespa, you're going to feel like Brando when you pull off your helmet. (OK, Brando didn't wear a helmet, but you should, because it isn't cool to be dead...or brain-dead.)
Maybe you have an urge to climb Mt. Everest, hitchhike through South America, or break the bank at Monte Carlo. Sure, you could try to do those things. Why not stay at home and just ride a scooter, though?
You'll express a side of yourself that needs expressing, at less cost, time, and trouble. Plus, you'll be able to stop at the store and pick up whole wheat torillas. Scooters are pretty practical, given their under seat storage.
I remember reading a story about a Marine in Iraq who explained why he enlisted: "I wanted to do something that could kill me," he said. Sort of a strange quote, but not really. I feel like I understand what the guy meant.
Life is risky. Taking risks, reasonable ones, makes life more vibrant, alive. People have told me, "scooters are dangerous."
Well, yes. So is life. None of us make it out alive. What matters is how fully we live life. That's an individual decision, what makes us feel Yes, Yes, Yes! rather than a blah, That was OK.
My scooter does that for me. One could do the same for you. Something to think about. But not too long. Life doesn't last forever. Our living has to be done now.