MP3 500 to Alaska
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Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:52 am quote
I picked up an MP3 500 from Barney's in Brandon, FL June 10th, I went back the 18th for the first service with over 700 miles on it. I'm planning on heading to Key West the 22nd or 23rd of June then North to Alaska. I'm starting in Clearwater FL so I decided why not do it right and hit the Southern and Northern points in North America.

I'm riding a pretty much 'out of the box' MP3. I've added a GPS - running the power from under the seat - some soft luggage and that's it. I'm strapping a duffle, a lawn chair, cold and wet weather gear and some basic tools to it and I'm off. I'll deal with it as it comes. My only fear is flats and the drive belt disintegrating.

From Key West I'm heading to Varsity Cycles in Ft. Lauderdale to see if they have a Piaggio screen for the 500. I called last week and they said they were going to order one. Because of time constraints I couldn't get one in the Tampa Bay area.

From Lauderdale its North to the 'Dragon' which I've driven many times in a car but never on two (oops three) wheels and then maybe a day exploring the Smokies.

From there it's really an open itinerary; obviously I need to go North and then West. I picked up a lot of tips and wisdom on the site and I'm really appreciative of all those who have posted. As the trip progresses, fingers crossed, I'll put up some pics and a few videos.
Hooked
PX200 GTS300
Joined: 07 Jul 2009
Posts: 256
Location: Devon
Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:18 pm quote
sounds like a plan, would love to do something like this, have fun!!
Ossessionato
MP3 500, Ducati ST4s, Honda Silver Wing
Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 2646
Location: Nomad currently in Placerville, CA
Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:25 pm quote
Go north, the rush is on.
Member
2009 MP3 400
Joined: 04 Jun 2010
Posts: 39
Location: PENNSYLVANIA
Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:27 pm quote
Re: MP3 500 to Alaska
Wish I had the time! I'd be right there with ya!
Hooked
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 389

Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:33 pm quote
I am curious what 12V plug you are using for your GPS? All the ones I have tried pop out of the socket on the first bump. Apparently, it's a Euro socket and it's slightly larger than our American plugs.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I am thinking of just replacing the entire receptacle rather than trying to find an adapter.

BTW, I installed a secondary socket on the dash (wired to the ignition) and hardwired my GPS power cable.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:36 pm quote
Yeah, the recepacle is too large for a standard GPS plug. I'm wedging clothes up against it for now. I have neither the time, experience or tools to put a dash mounted outlet in. But I sure would like one.
Hooked
Joined: 28 Dec 2008
Posts: 389

Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:40 pm quote
Well if you swing by San Diego, I know someone who could install it for you. He did an awesome job on mine.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:45 pm quote
darkavich wrote:
Well if you swing by San Diego, I know someone who could install it for you. He did an awesome job on mine.
That may be a bit out of the way but I will keep it in mind. I'm going to talk to the guys at Varsity Cycles and see if I can get one put in. I got my fingers crossed that they did order a screen. If not, I'll continue to call ahead on the trip to see if I can find a shop that has one in.
Banned
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:15 pm quote
darkavich wrote:
I am curious what 12V plug you are using for your GPS? All the ones I have tried pop out of the socket on the first bump. Apparently, it's a Euro socket and it's slightly larger than our American plugs.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I am thinking of just replacing the entire receptacle rather than trying to find an adapter.

BTW, I installed a secondary socket on the dash (wired to the ignition) and hardwired my GPS power cable.
Get a match book, tear a piece off, place it on the edge of the plug and plug it in, wala, plug is tight and won't come out.
Banned
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:20 pm quote
Have you done any planning on the Alaska thing??? You really need to chat with Larry before just thinking you can stroll on up to Alaska with what you say you are taking with you.

Read his blog on his Alaska trip and you will get an idea of what is ahead of you. Have you ridden on muddy gravel roads before??

At the minimum you should have spare tires, belt, rollers, air filter..........
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:31 pm quote
StooterBoy wrote:
Have you done any planning on the Alaska thing??? You really need to chat with Larry before just thinking you can stroll on up to Alaska with what you say you are taking with you.

Read his blog on his Alaska trip and you will get an idea of what is ahead of you. Have you ridden on muddy gravel roads before??

At the minimum you should have spare tires, belt, rollers, air filter..........
I've been planning this for over a year. I've been to Alaska several times, the last few were in the winter. I lived in the Big Lake/Wasilla area for years.
Banned
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:38 pm quote
Chiaroscuro wrote:
StooterBoy wrote:
Have you done any planning on the Alaska thing??? You really need to chat with Larry before just thinking you can stroll on up to Alaska with what you say you are taking with you.

Read his blog on his Alaska trip and you will get an idea of what is ahead of you. Have you ridden on muddy gravel roads before??

At the minimum you should have spare tires, belt, rollers, air filter..........
I've been planning this for over a year. I've been to Alaska several times, the last few were in the winter. I lived in the Big Lake/Wasilla area for years.
Ok, that makes me feel much better about you knowing what you are getting into
I really was worried about you from your first post.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:41 pm quote
Day 1
As much as I wanted to sleep in this morning I got up at 0300 and got ready. That bag on the back is huge! Holy cow.

I rode out with the GPS on which is pretty cool at night because unlike during the day you can actually see it.

I went US 19 South down through St. Petersburg to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I did 4 passes on the Skyway last weekend to check and see if there were any issues with the scooter. It performed fine,

However, I started out with the duffle bag positioned at a 90 degree angle to the scooter. I've seen many riders attach theirs like this and it seemed the logical way to do it. I was pulled and twisted and pushed all over the road. I thought that perhaps it was me and I needed to suck it up a bit and hang on. I did until the first fill up when I turned the bag to be in line with the bike. It made a big difference but there was still a lot of wind buffeting.

I have my fingers crossed that a windscreen will cut down on some of the buffeting. I really wanted this roller duffle to work but I'm afraid that I going to have to try and downsize some.

A large part of the day was spent thinking about what I can drop from the bag and I really can't think of anything significant. What I can look at is packing everything a bit more snugly and make use of compressible space saver bags.

It was ride, ride, ride for hours on end. I stopped as soon as the low fuel light came on. This gave me some time to stretch and get something to drink. The only meal I ate today was breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

Another surprise was all the toll roads that I came across. I was always scrambling for change. I'm going to pick up a tunnel bag on an off day to store change, a camera and a drink.

The weather was hot with a few clouds on occasion. I got lucky and did not get into any of the afternoon Florida showers.

I stopped a few times and fooled around with my video setup; positioning the camera, angles, etc. I probably wasted a few hours that I should have been on the road. While the VholdR is compact I don't like that you can't review video until you're hooked up to a computer. Your never really sure of your shots.

The video I shot with the Ram-Mount arm parallel to the scooter looked good. But I have it mounted on the grab handles and the angle is so low that on the Keys bridges all you are looking at is the retention wall and the tops of sailing boat masts peeking over. When mounted on the handle bars with the arm vertical you get a great view of the road and it's a bit higher but it is really susceptible to movement and you get a wavy appearance in the picture.

Lots of staring and pointing at the scooter. It seems like there are only a handful of people in the country that have seen one. Actually, I have yet to meet anyone outside the dealership that knows about the MP3.

The seat, surprisingly, was comfortable for about 8 hours. I don't know if my ass conformed to the seat or the seat to my ass. Late in the day though, it seemed like I was sitting on bare metal. And there was a distinct numbness for an hour or so after finally getting off. Getting off slowly.

The plan was to get to Key Largo and if there was time head to Key West and do a turnaround back to Key Largo. I used some points and made a reservation at the Marriott in Key Largo. It looked so nice heading Southbound I just wanted to pull in but I drove on.

It's only 108 miles from the hotel to Key West but it took hours there and back. Traffic and construction all made for delays. I saw more cops in the Keys than I've seen in years anywhere but I only saw one car pulled over.

Regardless of the speed limit; 45, 50, 55 if you're not doing 70 drivers' are right up your ass. No enjoying the scenery. Yet no one was getting pulled over. The cross winds and turbulence from the big trucks was especially bad on the bridges.

Mileage today: 539
Fuel expenses: $33.03
Food/drink: $21.23
Misc.: $8.5
Fuel avg: 51.9 mpg

Way too many hours on the road for the miles driven but it's done and I know I can do 500 miles if I have to - but I sure don't want to.

Tomorrow is finally north. I'm going to try and get out of Florida into Georgia. Not sure if I'll take the turnpike across the state to 75 and then North or just head straight up the East coast to Jacksonville and beyond.

Mile_0.jpg
Mile 0.

0330_start.jpg
Way too early to start the day.

First_fillup.jpg
First fillup before moving the duffle bag around.



Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
Hooked
MP3 500, Kawasaki Versys, KLX250S, Buddy 150 Pamplona
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 432
Location: Seattle
Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:08 pm quote
Cool, a real life MP3 ride report.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Neutrino MP3 492.7 AK, 2013 Moto Guzzi Norge
Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 21367
Location: Harriman, Tennessee, Tn
Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:38 am quote
nice start to your trip. I look fwd to more reading.

edit: If your looking for a windshield you have a couple options on your way.
1) Orlando you have http://www.scootertrap.com/ Matt should have one in stock
2) then you also have http://www.sstam.com/ they have stores in Daytona and in Georgia. Fuzzy just told me the Atlanta stores stock them as well.
Hooked
'12 BMW R1200RT
Joined: 27 Mar 2009
Posts: 375
Location: iowa city, ia
Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:03 am quote
Wow - very impressive. Great start to a what promises to be a great ride report. Keep those posts coming!
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:39 pm quote
old as dirt wrote:
nice start to your trip. I look fwd to more reading.

edit: If your looking for a windshield you have a couple options on your way.
1) Orlando you have http://www.scootertrap.com/ Matt should have one in stock
2) then you also have http://www.sstam.com/ they have stores in Daytona and in Georgia. Fuzzy just told me the Atlanta stores stock them as well.
Thanks. TwistedThrottle has one that just shipped to my brother in WV. I'll swing by and get it later in the week as well as some RideOn, more GPS City parts and a new set of contacts as I lost mine the day before the trip.

I called sstam and they didn't have one in stock. Didn't know scottertrap was in Orlando or I would have come back that way. I did the turnpike to 95 and went straight North. i'm in Kingsland, GA on Day 1 (everyone eles's day 2). 448 miles today. I'll post a report later on. Much better day than yesterday.
Molto Verboso
MP3 500, Honda PCX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 1123
Location: Dallas, TX
Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:34 pm quote
500 miles in a day is a bunch in these temperatures. The windscreen will make a big difference. I'm planning to go to CA, WA, etc but can't leave until mid July. I went to TN and SC last year from TX and had the time of my life. You are a lucky man. Keep us posted.
Molto Verboso
2007 GT200L Graphite Black
Joined: 27 Jun 2009
Posts: 1869
Location: Fayetteville, AR
Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:54 pm quote
Hope your first day heading north went well today! Looking forward to your posts along the way.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
RIP: MP3 500 - Brutto Moto
Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 5278
Location: Austin, TX
Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:56 pm quote
Is that one of those rolling duffels from Costco? I saw one of those and wondered if it'd fit - looks mighty roomy...
So do you have a route posted so we can see where yer headed?
Molto Verboso
MP3 500 'JAZZ'
Joined: 13 Jun 2009
Posts: 1208
Location: Not on my MP3 ;( - Folsom, CA. -
Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:02 pm quote
Dude, you are going to get awful tried without a windscreen in front of you.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:07 pm quote
mvtroiano wrote:
Dude, you are going to get awful tried without a windscreen in front of you.
I'm a tired already. One is in transit to WV, my brothers, and I'm going to install in a few days.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:14 pm quote
BubbaJon wrote:
Is that one of those rolling duffels from Costco? I saw one of those and wondered if it'd fit - looks mighty roomy...
So do you have a route posted so we can see where yer headed?
Samsonite. Maybe they have it at CostCo. Much of the weight, I'm sure, is from the internal frame. I believe I'm going to swap it out for a waterproof duffle.

Route? Still in flux. I'm in Kingsland, GA 990 total miles heading to NW GA and then on to the Dragon tomorrow - at least that's the plan.

Original route was up the East coast to Maine then across Canada to AK and then back down through the Mid-West. I was going to ride with Alaskabikerun.com - I signed up but they are not going to be leaving until the 16th of July. Just couldn't wait around.

Now, I'm heading to WV, then NW. Really making plans on the fly. As the days progress and I get more comfortable I'll commit to a 'plan'.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:16 pm quote
jerryw wrote:
500 miles in a day is a bunch in these temperatures. The windscreen will make a big difference. I'm planning to go to CA, WA, etc but can't leave until mid July. I went to TN and SC last year from TX and had the time of my life. You are a lucky man. Keep us posted.
Agreed, even at 70+ mph it was still warm.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:41 pm quote
June 23, 2010

I got up far later than the day before, much later and it felt so good to sleep late. I thought that I was going to have a hard time getting around in the morning but I felt great. Looking out my window I realize I'm right on the beach - what a view. No time to enjoy it as I need to move on. Maybe next year with the 1200GS!

The room was free. I had a bill hanging from the door knob in the morning. Total - $0. Of course I've probably had to spend in excess of $10,000 over the years to get a standard room in the off season in a year that has a depressed economy where no one is travelling but the thought counts.

I headed put on US1 north and was immediately hit with high cross winds. This was especially bad on the few bridges that remained heading north.

My plan was to try and avoid the turnpike thinking that I would like to run up US1, the scenic route. This turned out to be a bad decisions as traffic was bad, the street was tore up and they have these things called stop lights that are eternally red on any North/South approach.

My options now were the turnpike north to I75N then up the center of the state or continue on and take US 19 North into GA. Taking US 19 would take me to Tallahassee which was too far West as I really wanted to go to the NE corner of GA. I've been there many times biking (mountain biking) and driving but I really wanted to get back and do a little exploring on a motorcycle or scooter.

Heading over to I75 was fine but I've literally driven that so many times that I'm sick of it. I'll do just about anything to avoid driving I75. So on to the toll way.

This went well for about 25 miles until it started to rain. I had thought I had passed it by as the roads were wet but no rain was falling and all the dark clouds seemed to be moving away. After stopping for a toll and making a broad right turn the road ran directly into a rain storm. No time to stop and put on rain gear.

I put on the flashers and slowed to 25 mph and just cruised along. If I had known it was going to rain this hard (I thought hail was falling for a few minutes it was so bad) I would have sprayed my pants with Shout to clean them. I only have 2 pairs of pants with me so why pass up an opportunity to wash your clothes?

The rain lasted about 20 minutes and then I rode out into the sun. I knew that riding at 70 mph I would eventually dry out the only issue were my underwear. Soaked, soggy and trapped between my now numb butt cheeks (my ass) and the seat, they, the underwear, took hours to dry out. I should have pulled over, changed underwear and rubbed some talcum powder on my ass and continued on. I'm not sure if that's a traffic violation in Dade County.

North and further north. I wanted to get out of Florida just for a psychological boost but what I didn't realize until last night was its 400+ miles to GA. Ouch.

I transitioned on over to I95 and continued on north. The winds died down and the traffic lightened up a bit. I have to admit it seemed like everything to come together for a few minutes; I was cruising at 75 mph, minimal buffeting from the wind and the scooter was riding real smooth. For about 20 minutes it was what I had envisioned travelling by motorcycle or scooter was like - this WAS the trip. It was amazing. I was riding along effortlessly, lane changes came and went. Even at 75 mph when I was passed by a few cars and heavy trucks this didn't break up the great feeling I had about the trip - finally.

Passing other vehicles? Not a problem. At 70 mph I would move into the passing lane roll on the throttle and I was at 85 mph within a few seconds and then back into my lane. I still had plenty of throttle left, plenty. It seemed like I could have done a 100 if I needed to. This scooter was kicking ass.

Of course all good things must come to an end. I pulled in for gas at a super station off of I95. As I was leaving I made a wide U-Turn in the parking lot to head on out and the scooter died. I was rolling at maybe 5 mph and between the time it died and I rolled to a stop my paranoia kicked in and I was picturing myself having to track down a towing company, find an Piaggio dealer, get a room, wait for parts to be flown in, wait a few more days and then finally get back on the road. This again, all before I came to a stop. I paused, wondering, what the heck is going on? Hit the starter, the scoot started and I rolled back to I95!

Now it's one thing if you're broke down in the middle of the wilderness in Canada. It takes a joint operation of the RCMP, Alaska Air National Guard, Alaska State Troopers Special Operations Team, Blackwater and those really cool helicopters you always see on TV, several Special Force units have to be pulled from Afghanistan just for this operation, all work on the oil blowout in the Gulf stops and NATO deploys peacekeeping troops to keep spectators out. The government of Canada sets up a staging area for the operation that's larger than most Canadian towns. CNN interrupts regular broadcasting for updates every 15 minutes. ABC News tracks down old girlfriends who give you regular shout outs of support even though they haven't seen you in 15 years. You get a scooter sponsorship from Piaggio and they are seriously thinking of naming the 2011 MP3 500 after you. You get a book deal AND a reality TV show. Megan Fox is interviewed on Larry King and she tells the world that she wants to have your child. All of this is to get a towing company that will haul out the damn scooter! Much less the issue of warranty repairs!! (Don't get me started on that)

But to break down in a gas station? I'd climb off, walk back to the gas station and buy a 12 pack (Bud Light Lime if anybody is taking notes), call a cab and drive off never looking back. How inglorious is that? A gas station parking lot? Come on!

After a hard fought battle I ended up in Kinglsand, GA., literally the first exit after entering Georgia from Florida.

Mileage today: 448 Trip total: 990 (If I had realized I was so close to 1000 I would have kept traveling.)

Avg. miles/day: 495

Fuel expenses: $22.56 Trip total: $55.59

Food/drink: $29.44 Trip total: $50.67

Fuel avg.: 51.3 mpg Trip avg.: 51.6 mpg

Misc. $3 Trip total: $8.50

Beer: $7.09 Trip total: $7.09

Room: $0 (Marriott points) Trip total: $0

Total expenses: $121.85

No numbers include items like windscreen, RideOn, service prior to trip, insurance, etc.

IMG_6768.jpg
Great view.

IMG_6776.jpg

Map_Photo.jpg
Trip route.

Hooked
09 MP3 500cc Reddevil, 2011 LX150 IE (Wifes) 2019 MP3 500cc Sport Nightrider (Mine)
Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 349
Location: Colorado Springs CO
Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:33 pm quote
Trip
Oh man what a nice trip your going to have on your MP3 500 I love reading your story about your trip to Alaska.
Hooked
MP3 - 500
Joined: 11 Jan 2009
Posts: 413
Location: Alabama, USA
Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:42 pm quote
Chiaroscuro,


It seems to me that there is more in your story than meets the eye.

I think you've done this sort of thing before.

IE An adventuring travel writer. You may even belong to that illustrious group " A Person Of Letters".

Your writing is infectuous, and I can't wait to see the rest of the story unfold.

Good going, a great start......r




.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:58 pm quote
Rank Bajin wrote:
Chiaroscuro,


It seems to me that there is more in your story than meets the eye.

I think you've done this sort of thing before.

IE An adventuring travel writer. You may even belong to that illustrious group " A Person Of Letters".

Your writing is infectuous, and I can't wait to see the rest of the story unfold.

Good going, a great start......r




.
Thanks, first time. I'll screw up soon.
Molto Verboso
MP3 500 08
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 1560
Location: Toms River area, New Jersey
Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:48 pm quote
What a nice beach picture! For the GPS, you could get a dedicated power supply cord for it. Mine just sits by the dash top. Or if you have a DC power outlet, go to a marine supply store and buy a Marine DC outlet. Differance is, it has a quarter turn twist lock built into it. Cost about $25, but will not bounce out. Then you have to cut the power plug and adapt the newer twist plug for the gps. Buy a dedicate power supply connector to fit ur GPS is the better way to go and about the same price range.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:12 pm quote
G03 wrote:
What a nice beach picture! For the GPS, you could get a dedicated power supply cord for it. Mine just sits by the dash top.
'dedicated power supply cord ' I'm not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean a power outlet in the dash?
Banned
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:57 am quote
The Garmin Zumo has two power cords available, one with a lighter plug end and a hardwired cord.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:04 am quote
StooterBoy wrote:
The Garmin Zumo has two power cords available, one with a lighter plug end and a hardwired cord.
I'm using a Nuvi 255w.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:05 pm quote
June 24, 2010

From Kingsland, GA I wanted to get to Dillard, GA in the NE portion of the state or as close as possible. As usual, I underestimated just how big these things called states are. They look so small on my laptop monitor. I need to get it adjusted.

From Kingsland I made the run up towards Savannah on I 95. I got beat to death the entire time; cross winds, head winds, tail winds, and wind winds.

Through the Savannah area I went 16 NW to 1 North. In one of the towns I passed through that I neglected to get the name of I came across what has to be the Gourd Capital of Georgia if not the world. There were gourds or Curcurbita pepo ovifera as I like to call them when I've had a wee bit too much of the grog, everywhere. Need 200 gourds for a 'special occasion' like a wedding or a bachelor party? I'm sure the order can be filled overnight by someone in this town.

Pass Blundale, Wadley and through Wrens I got in some great country driving. Lots of great roads, many of them recently paved with funds from the government's economic recovery act, according to signs posted. Thank you Washington!

A lot of the time I had the road to myself. No frantic fight for lanes, position and speed. This was a much needed break.

No on to something a bit more serious, no not the war in Afghanistan, my ass; it was pretty much on fire for most of the day. If they need heat to stop the oil rig blowout in the gulf, I can provide it. Oh so sweetly painful that it brings tears to my eyes writing about it.

I'm wondering if this affliction runs in my family. Growing up I remember overhearing my Mom complaining about 'ass' on occasion but I always assumed she was talking about my Dad. It might be time to contact some distant relatives.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do. An ER visit, find a GP that specializes in this? I hurt. I had to make frequent stops to make 'adjustments'. I prayed for red lights in small towns. But I didn't cry, much.

From Wrens I painfully rode on to 17 North to Thompson then 78/10 and then on through Washington where it became 78. I may have snapped a tooth at some point because of the discomfort.

The weather was great. I was tempted to stop and get a watermelon from a road side stand to take to WV. It was also another excuse to rise off of the gigantic slab of steel I was sitting on. But there was no way a watermelon was going to fit on this scooter. Even sitting on it was not an option.

On to Elberton. You need granite? Elberton's your place. Bought a headstone for someone in the past 150 years? It was probably provided by a quarry in Elberton. Need a granite watermelon, yeah Elberton. Needless to say I looked but did not buy.

Further on I got on 441 north. I've been through here many times heading to the Smokies for mountain biking, rafting or mending my broken heart. You name it I've probably done it here. Great ride, great memories.

I eventually ended up in Dillard GA. For most people when you mention Dillard, think The Dillard House. The Dillard House is a restaurant that has been in operation since 1917. It also has rooms/chalets available for rent as well the restaurant and farm where they grow many of the vegetables they serve.

West of here towards East Ellijay is Lake Conasauga which at 3150 feet, actually its 3152 feet but those wonks at Wikipedia just won't listen, is the highest lake in Georgia. I've been there many times. There is an absolute kick-ass mountain biking trail; Bear Creek Mountain Bike Trail that you can get too by coming out of East Ellijay towards the lake.

The first time I rode it I saw a bear on the trail, incredible. And mushrooms weren't even in season. Great views, great descents and some lung busting climbs (I pushed my bike all the way up but everyone looked pretty pooped when I eventually got there) so something must have busted.

Oh and I have an absolutely great story about a woman on a horse that I met when I got lost while hiking one year. Which I'm not going to share.

I was hoping to ride up through this area with the scoot as I think it would be fun but I was too far east and it was too late.

Oh, I just remembered, I have a GREAT story about a night in a chalet that I rented from the Dillard House one winter. It doesn't involve me getting lost or a women on a horse though. Which I'm not going to share.

The restaurant is the draw and the town pretty much revolves around the restaurant as there is not much else there. When you arrive at the restaurant you notice everyone leaving seems to be carrying to-go boxes. Why? Because they serve WAY too much food!

The food is served 'home style'. Too me it's code in the South for waste. There is one menu that is posted on the wall when you walk in. The listing is pretty extensive and you get served it ALL. None of this namby-pamby I'd like a side of this and could I only have one of these please? They dump enough food to satisfy the Duggar family on your table. And I'm talking about a single serving!

It's almost indescribable. I was by myself, again. Not that I haven't tried to rectify that but Match.com won't return my emails or phone calls and don't get me started about EHarmony.com, Scooterlove.com, HarelyGirls.com, ExHooterswaitresses.com, etc. The single serving filled the entire table for 4 that I was sitting at.

I had forgotten just how much they bring out. I like to eat like. I like my food and I've been there several times but this time it was a turn off. It was just too much for one person. Hey it makes for great pictures but other than a young Roseanne Barr or John Goodman in his prime just before he did the Big Lebowski I can't see anyone finishing.

The story goes is that the waste - what you don't eat, which is a lot - is used as slop on the farm that supplies a lot of the food for the restaurant. I sure hope so. Assuming you don't carry it home.

It's not cheap. Each dinner is over $24. Yeah, try it once, I guess. It supports and has supported the local population for a long time. I would bet that many, many children have gone on too college, mortgages have been paid because, and cars been bought because of The Dillard House.

What's the answer here? I don't know. Serve smaller portions and it becomes Cracker Barrel. Have a menu to choose from and it becomes Cracker Barrel.

The staff is great. They all do a great job. If you sit back and watch the dynamics of the serving floor it is quite evident they are working their ass off. Not a slow moment.

Dillard House, lots of food.

Mileage today: 401 Trip total: 1388

Avg. miles/day: 462

Fuel expenses: $27.35 Trip total: $82.94

Food/drink: $44.02 Trip total: $94.69

Fuel avg.: 52.5 mpg Trip avg.: 51.9 mpg

I'm getting just over 51 on the freeway (65-75mph) and 55+ on the back roads with 45-60mph.

Misc. $14.98 Trip total: $26.48

Beer: $7.16 Trip total: $14.25

Room: $62.15 Trip total: $62.15

Total expenses: $280.51

GA_Roads.jpg
All to my self.

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Granite, nuthin' but granite.

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Dillard House

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One serving at the Dillard House.

Ossessionato
MP3 500, Ducati ST4s, Honda Silver Wing
Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 2646
Location: Nomad currently in Placerville, CA
Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:30 pm quote
I thought you were exaggerating about Dillard house until that last picture.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:35 pm quote
heinlein wrote:
I thought you were exaggerating about Dillard house until that last picture.
No. And you wouldn't believe the scene if you were sitting there looking at tables that had 4+ people at it. It's truly unique.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:19 pm quote
June 25, 2010 Trip Update
June 25, 2010

I find comfort and slay the 'Dragon'.

Last night after my meal that most likely could supply most third world countries with food for a week at The Dillard House - a big shout out to Alison, who is a wonderful server, I rolled over to Wal-Mart. I was looking for foam, any foam. Actually, a dark frothy foam from a local microbrewery crossed my mind but I needed just regular foam tonight.

The plan I had was to get some foam. I pictured a slab of tan foam approximately 12 inches high 32 inches wide by 40 inches long and weighing about 3 ounces.

Kind of like you would use in a chair for your grandmother who is a bit frail, keeps forgetting to put in her teeth and keeps calling you 'Pap' even though you've gone by the name Sven since that accident you had with the toothbrush when she was supposed to be watching you while your parents were in Mexico to 'renew' their relationship. The fall back was going to be one of those big sheets of 'egg crate' type foam mattresses that you put over your mattress when it's wore out and your too cheap to go to Mattress Giant and spend $98 on a replacement mattress even though your wife, girlfriend, significant other, life partner and/or roommate from the Vocational School your just 2 credits shy of graduating from who stopped by last winter and has never left won't even sleep on it. Yeah, that kind of foam.

At dinner I pictured me carrying back a few slabs of this foam, some scissors and duct tape. I was going to fashion an addition to my seat. I was in the seat business.

So I was going to take this foam, carve it up into the approximate shape of the seat, tape it together and sit on it. I was hoping that this would take some pressure, pain, heat away so that I could at least make it to WV where I'm going to hang for a few days to heal.

My rear end hurts. It hurts so bad I was hoping I had a slip and fall in the shower before dinner last night and I broke my arm just to take my attention away from the pain.

I'm not sure that I have a rear end anymore because I don't feel anything when I reach back where I used to feel something. It's been this way since about Daytona Beach. Every time I sit down on that scooter seat it would be cooler if I was in a kayak on the SURFACE OF THE SUN!

I'm really afraid to take a look at it in the mirror. I'm afraid I might pass out. I spent 13 years as a Paramedic and usually when we came across a patient with this intense amount of pain we had a protocol in place to start IV Morphine and transport to the closest ER. That, sadly, will not happen here.

So I went to Wal-Mart with my grand plan and walked around for some time thinking that I would see a display of foam for do-it-your-selfers. No go. I stopped in Paints and talked to Pete for awhile but he swore that WM didn't sell that kind of foam. He was right.

However, in my travels through the aisles I came across memory foam. You know the kind that always has a picture of a handprint pressed into the foam on the package?

I hadn't thought of memory foam. I first looked at the big sheets that you would use on your mattress that no one but you would sleep on. Pricey. Over $120 for one sheet. But they have pillows. Amazingly, I never thought about sitting on a pillow. Ok, bring it on; inflatable hemorrhoid rings, surgical supports, walkers, canes, those big 5 gallon buckets you poop in, etc. I can take it.

So I got one pillow for just under $15. I headed back to the hotel with my science experiment stuffed under the scooter seat.

I wanted to cut and shape it but in a stroke of genius folded it in half and taped it together. Simple and I didn't have to do any measuring. I tested it and it felt so sweet sitting on it. I sat on it on the floor, the chair, the bed. I was tempted to take it to the lobby and try it out on the hardwood floors there but it was still early and there were kids running around and I didn't want to scare them.

So this morning after I packed everything up I took my new seat out, put it on the scooter and sat on it. Sheer nirvana and I'm not talking about that group with all the plaid clothes.

It was so sweet. And it has a memory! If you get up from it and then sit right back down it remembers the shape of your rear end. It's sitting there waiting for you to sit back down. No, really, I tried it at least 6 times.

So I was ready to ride to the Dragon. The problem was I couldn't remember where it was. I looked it up the night before but didn't write down the name of the closet town. I have been in the area several times with a car and I've even driven the Dragon with a car but it's been awhile. Deals Gap doesn't show up on my Garmin GPS so I needed the name of the closest town.

My laptop was packed deep in my luggage so I headed off to the lobby to use the computer there. It was occupied by some 60+ YO who from the looks of things was updating his Facebook page. Or someone's Facebook page that looked like him.

Back to the room to sit around for a few minutes. Back to the lobby. Facebook guy is still at work. Come on! It's 0800 in the morning! Is this necessary? Back to the room. Some thumb twiddling, seeing how much shampoos I can snag, watch the weather report on TV. Back to the lobby. Facebook guy is now doing a video chat with someone who looks older than him and they are yammering about that they're both alive to see something like this, wouldn't Mildred, who passed away 5 years ago, like to have seen something like this, shouting into the microphones about all the recent updates to their Facebook page and encouraging each other to check their respective updates.

I roll out without an answer sitting on a pillow headed for the NOC in Wesser, NC. Nantahala Outdoor Center has got to be one of the most awesome setups for outdoor sports anywhere.

They do it all there; kayaking, rafting, biking - a must see is the Tsali Recreation Area. I've spent many days at the NOC. I've done the week long kayak class, Swift Water Rescue class and White Water Raft Guide program. And just hanging out at a really cool place. Located in Wesser, NC they have several buildings right on the Nantahala River. The Appalachian Trail even runs through the complex crossing the Nantahala on the foot bridge there.

I knew that from NOC I could find the Dragon. Sure enough, I was able to get directions from the guys in the outfitters store. Great place and some really great food.

The city is Robbinsville on 129 and that shows up on a GPS. I had two choices on going to it and luckily I chose the right one as they have blocked off one end of the Dragon. I followed the Nanty' north which is 19 towards Murphy and turned off on 129. Bingo, there was Deals Gap.

Ok, what did I expect? Not sure but I expected some enthusiasm, some excitement, some camaraderie. I just didn't get it.

A bunch of over chromed bikes lined up for a show that was never going to start. A few people standing around adjusting their do-rags, vests, chaps and logo fanny packs every 5 minutes. Disappointment has a name and its name is Deals Gap.

I did see a few BMWs and a Spyder or two that were interesting. As I rolled in and lined up with the other bikes I'd like to think I was probably the highlight of the day. People stopped adjusting their doo rags to stare as I rolled past. Before I could get my helmet off I had a few people come by for photographs.

The store, a t-shirt shop, has about 50 different configurations of the same 'Ride the Dragon' theme. The only saving grace was that they sell alcohol in an area that is pretty much dry. I saw lots of trailers parked on the upper lot so many of these 'Bad Boys' were not ridden in.

I just don't get it. Maybe if you came with a group of friends you could have some fun but I didn't really see anybody having a great time. Travelling across the country or from another country just to experience this? No.

So I took off and rode the Dragon. The speed limit is 30 mph. And they enforce it. I didn't realize it until I got to the end that it was blocked off and that you had to turn around. By the time I got to the end I was ready to keep on rolling north.

So back to Deals Gap. The only stop along the way is of some dam that's NOT Fontana - now that's a dam! And to be honest when you ride out you see it and now you see it riding back. Did I mention the speed limit is 30 mph? I know people have lost their lives on this road because of speed and I'm sure the county is tired of all the issues with speed but, 30 mph?

I followed a few Harleys back in. It turns out that this was the second time today that this group had gone out and back on the Dragon.

I hung out for awhile and wandered around checking out the bikes and the smallish crowd. No doubt with a special event planned this place is probably packed, loud and the general spirits of the crowd is much lighter. It just wasn't on the day I was there.

However, I was struck by the women that were there. It was unreal. It was like my Harley Goggles had fallen off and I could see now. I've been to a lot of motorcycle events and have never been impressed with 'Harley Women' until today. There were a ton of attractive women there! Did they trailer them in as well? Are they doing a video shoot? Is the Discovery Channel doing a special on supermodels who ride Harleys? Am I dehydrated?

That was my highlight of Deals Gap, the women. Amelia, Carol; call me. Please.

On from the Dragon I rolled. Rather than go through Knoxville I went back past Bryson City and then on to 441 through the Smokies towards Pigeon Forge.

I drove up Clingsman Dome as a quick side trip. I've been there in a car before but never on a bike/scooter. The road was great as they had just paved/repaired sections of it. The parking lot was crowded at the top. Because of the time I didn't hike up to the observation deck. The AT passes besides the parking lot there.

The whole ride through the Smokies is great. It made up for the disappointment of Deals Gap. I got caught on some rain late in the ride. I pulled over, struggled into the rain gear and then rode for about 5 minutes before the road was dry again. Stop, repeat steps above in reverse.

Pigeon Forge; crowded, hot, noisy, busy and overpowering come to mind. At least with Gatlinburg you get to look at the mountains when you're stuck in traffic. Here you get to look at bumpers and asphalt. That strip is so long I'd swear if you sight down from the first tattoo parlor on the right as you enter town from the Smokies towards the All-You-Can-Eat-Flapjacks for $5 Emporium you can see the curvature of the Earth. It's that long.

Traffic was slow, lots of crowds and a greasy falafel haze in the air. But I have to admit with all the crowds I'm seeing and lots of road construction I have to think that the economy is on the upswing.

I stopped at 5 Brothers for a hamburger. I've never been to one. I used to walk by them all the time in DC but never stopped in. It was very good, I was impressed. It shook me a little when I opened the bag that my order came in. The hamburger looked like a meat softball but I was able to eat it anyway.

In the parking lot of 5 Brothers I got stopped by a family that somehow didn't understand the concept of wheel lock and unlock for stopping and parking. They thought, even though I walked them through it slowly, that the scooter would right itself if it fell over. I gave up after 15 minutes of embarrassment and left.

I ended up on 40 E which turns into 81 N. I tried to stop in the Bristol area for the night but all the hotels were full. I didn't ask but I suspect that maybe something was going on at the speedway. A bit down the road I did pull off for one hotel that it looked like a converted chicken coop. And there were no lights on.

Eventually I found a hotel in Atkins, VA.

Oh, the pillow is a keeper.

Mileage today: 378 Trip total: 1766

Avg. miles/day: 441

Fuel expenses: $15.19 Trip total: $98.13

Food/drink: $15.24 Trip total: $109.93

Fuel avg.: 59.3 mpg Trip avg.: 55.6 mpg

Cruising through Deals Gap (The Dragon) and the Smokies really increased the mileage.

Misc. $ Trip total: $26.48

Beer: $7.70 Trip total: $21.95

Room: $90.94

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Ready to 'Slay the Dragon'

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Afraid? No.

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Something doesn't fit in.

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The AT runs right through NOC.

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Outfitters store at NOC.

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You want bikes? NOC has them.

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At Clingmans Dome.

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:32 pm quote
Map of June 25, 2010

Capture.JPG
Map of June 25, 2010

Ossessionato
MP3 500, Ducati ST4s, Honda Silver Wing
Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 2646
Location: Nomad currently in Placerville, CA
Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:35 pm quote
I've been enjoying your narration; but your picture posting leaves a lot to be desired. Where are the pictures of Amelia, Carol, and your new seat?
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:39 pm quote
This is version 1.0. I'm sitting on v. 2.2 now. No pics of that.

Amelia and Carol are for another forum.

IMG_6804.jpg

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:19 pm quote
I slay the REAL Dragon.
June 26, 2020

When I finally found a hotel room last night I bumped into the front desk clerk from hell. He talked my ear off about everything; the weather, gas prices, his back, my back, shoes, the color blue and how to use it effectively with yellow so it's not so overpowering to the senses, batteries of all kind - 12v, 9v, lithium, AA and the ever popular AAA, etc. I was standing there trembling with exhaustion hoping for the glorious sensation of a full blown heart attack to wash over me to shut down that 'I used to be a telemarketer of timeshares but that seemed to dry up real quick last year and no will hire me back and the midnight shift here is only temporary' voice, I heard him mention the road to Tazwell.

At first I thought he said the Road to Damascus. He said that it 'out dragoned the dragon'. Not only were there twice as many turns but there were significant changes in elevation and great views to boot.

On and on he went squeaking about how the magazines were just starting to write about it. How isolated it was. Isolated enough to never find a body I thought? How everyone who rode it came back raving about it. That was a lie because no one comes back here after talking to this guy. It's probably the only Holiday Inn in the nation that never has a repeat customer.

So this morning I decided to take that route and then from there I would connect up to 77 N in Bluefield. From Atkins you go back through Marion and make a right at the McDonalds to get on 16 N. It's called 16 N, Park Blvd and Bf Buchanan Hwy. They are all the same and it, my friends, is amazing. That fat bastard was right. Of course I'm not going back to thank him I might snap a tooth if I hear that high pitched screech that passes for a voice. The road is in great shape and the turn are too numerous to count there has to be 500+.

What makes it amazing is not the number but the quality and variety; off camber left then right, drops and ascension as well as long looping down hills with multiple turns including a few that almost completely turn back on themselves. I looked down at the track on my GPS and it shocked me. It looked like an MRI of my lower colon after a hard night of drinking Bud Light Lime's at Natalie's in Lakeland, FL. It was THAT twisted.

Oh yeah, great views and vistas every couple of miles. You work both sides of the mountain so the drop offs can be on the left or right side.

And did I mention that for the great majority of the ride the speed limit is 55 mph? Yeah that's not a typo 55 mph. That's insane. Of course I had a hard time cracking 40 on most the ride I wanted to 'save' my engine for the trip ahead otherwise look out.

I felt it was divided into three distinct sections. Right off you get into the twisties with great elevation changes, then you drop out into farm land and you think the ride is over but the speed picks up and you get long sweepers with elevation changes thrown in. Finally you get back into the twisties come to the other side of the mountain and drop back down again with some great views.

It runs through Hungry Mother State Park which is pretty impressive as you approach it from the south. It, Hungry Mother, has a beach! They have sand. Fantastic.

What it doesn't have are crowds. I did not pass one motorcycle in the 30+ miles I rode on this route. I had a few, probably less than 15, cars going the other way. It is working farm land so there could be an issue of someone pulling out from a driveway but that didn't happen to me.

You'll feel like Mike Hailwood after an Isle of Man TT run with a fresh set of tires on a newly prepped Ducati 900SS when you get done. You'll be the man, you'll want to hunt, kill and eat and then sleep.

No way can you do it full on twice. You'd need some Scooter Cialis to keep that thing up. It's a full on work out if you push yourself. Did I mention the speed limit is 55 mph for most of the route? No, really, the adrenaline will be pumping. This place was amazing.

This place out does the dragon by a power of 10. The only thing the dragon has going for it is that it's close to the Smokies, Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg which are all tourist draws and so there is something do when you're not sitting around the dragon comparing do-rags. And of course the dragon does have the Harley Chicks. It most definitely has that.

And this could be good or bad. Not the Harley Chicks the location. The Harley Chicks are always bad in a good demonic sort of way. The good is that you have the place to yourself. Make a run find a place to hang out and then go back for another if you have the stamina. But other than that and the chili dogs in Tazwell you've put yourself in an area with, as far as I can tell, not too many other attractions. However, if you're hard core you won't mind, will you?

I shot some video that doesn't do it justice. I'll try and post later.

On too Bluefield and then 77 N. There are three tolls that you pass through. Each costs $2. The problem I had was that I was low on change and I have no tunnel bag to keep items such as change in. Also, the scooter doesn't have any kind of small storage trays underneath the handlebars that you can use. This slows you up a bit.

There is a distinct difference to the rhythm of the traffic when you enter WV. At that difference is all bets are off. 70 mph, hah! 'Boy we drive as fast as we want because this is West By God Virginny'. Oh', and those white stripes on the road don't mean shit it's open season. Run what ya brung, all lanes are open'.

Flat out and hanging on for my life I entered this madhouse. It seemed like the entire population of Virginia was travelling north, right now. What for, to escape the fallout from a North Korean nuke strike, I don't know but it was everyman for himself. Take no prisoners, including those North Koreans.

On we went. There are a lot of elevation changes so you get some fast uphill and incredible fast downhill's. Those truck runoff lanes with all the sand. Shit there for pussies a real man will ride that big rig all the way to the bottom.

What's that smell in the air? It sure ain't' momma cookin' up some biscuits it's the tart pungent smell of brakes failing.

For the first couple of miles if you're in the right lane you're in for a world of hurt. There are patches over the patches. There are more patches in 5 miles of this road than there was on Sonny Barger's vest when the feds popped him in the early 80's. Stepping out in the left lane to get away from the destructive forces being thrown at you in the right lane was not an option.

I pulled over at Ghent. Battered, bruised, my innocence left somewhere between Princeton and Flat Top. If you should find it please email me because I miss it.

I was hanging out in Ghent by the scooter when I saw this car go by in the parking lot. They circled around and pulled into the convenience store I was stopped at. Both the occupants, a man and a woman, kept looking over. I thought well another scooter fan, my legendary journey has proceeded me or their lost and they think I can point them in the right direction.

Wrong on all accounts; I was wearing a shirt I had picked up at the fire station on the base I was deployed at in Iraq. The passenger, Tim, had been deployed to the same base as me during the same time period that I was there. Small world.

He came over and introduced himself and we talked for some time about our time in Iraq. We didn't know the same people but were both sure our paths crossed a time or two on that base.

He was out of the Army and back in WV. He was starting a 'mine class' to prepare him for working in the coal mines. I could sense that he didn't really want to do this but he had a wife and kids he needed to support and this was what he needed to do.

Eventually his wife motioned for him to come back to the car and we wished each other the best on our respective journey. I stood there and watched them drive up the road away from the store and I really felt that if I turned around and went home at that moment this would have been a memorable trip with no regrets.

Good luck Tim.

I continued on north thinking of what just happened towards Charleston, the capitol of WV. Here the road becomes 79 N that continues on north through WV.

I defy anyone to tell me that 79 N is not a great drive. You see relatively few towns until you get to Flatwoods, WV area. It looks like your riding through a park or protected habitat. Occasionally you get glimpses of the old two lane, I believe, 73 that 79 replaces and is still in use for local travel.

When I got to my brothers in West Milford, just south of Clarksburg, no one was home but the screen I ordered from TwistedThrottle was there. I have been hesitant about this whole screen installation as some the posts online I see make it out to be quite an ordeal. It wasn't. I had a few issues with fitting some of the support brackets on. All in all it went on quickly. I think it looks great with the scoot and really adds to the appearance. The only thing I couldn't figure out to do was how to get the Piaggio medallion back on the screen. I was thinking you had to snip or grind down the clips on the back.

I took it for a quick ride out on 79 N to Clarksburg. Hardly any wind was striking me and I'm only feeling a bit of buffeting on the outer regions of my torso. There is still some wind noise but that was to be expected. I even pulled up the visor at 70 mph and I only got a little breeze striking my face. What a difference. Great value at just over $200.

I would have paid the $500+ for a Piaggio screen but I just couldn't find one in stock. What bothers me is the 250 and 400 MP3 come with screens yet the 'super scooter' 500 has a sunshield for the instruments but no screen. Come on Piaggio you need to include a screen with this scooter. Did I mention it looks great?

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West Virginia roads are awesome.

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How could you not like riding this highway?

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Made it, in one piece.

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