Out-of-State Experience: Melody Does Philly
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Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2286
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:07 pm quote
My November Story so far: Le Wife has started a month-long artist's residency in Costa Rica. I, in the meantime, am keeping the home fires burning (and having long, nightly conversations with the Tapper, the cat), but also musing about road trips, albeit rather late in the year to be thinking about such stuff. only two such trips came to mind: I'll get to the second one later (which involves asking which of you Vespisti here might be available for a Brooklyn meet shortly), but this is about my trip last Saturday to Philadelphia.

First, a few basics: this would be roughly a 160-mile round-trip, and while I wanted to keep things interesting (not just highway hooning), I wasn't necessarily avoiding the big slabs out of fear…in fact, I was relishing what would actually be my third run on the New Jersey Turnpike with Melody.

At this point, I'd already run the Garden State Parkway the better part of a dozen times, each successive time easier than the last. I was already confident that Mel could hang with the semis and semi-leadfoots with relative ease. But I knew what I was in for traveling into Philly, which is justly reviled for its scantly-maintained highways and boulevards, just from riding shotgun with Le Wife when visiting her older of two sons and his GF. Now, I was paying a visit to them solo, with a side-trip to RevZilla HQ and dropping in for the Philadelphia Bicycle Expo. At least, that was the plan.

A big part of that plan was hitting the road from Asbury no later than 10 AM, which included making sure Melody was all checked out and gassed-up the night before. That part happened, but somewhere in the wee hours I got an urgent message from Le Wife about a matter that ultimately was a non-matter, but did a number on my sleep. Suffice to say that I didn't hit the road till well after 11. Naturally, I was hoping for easy traffic that Saturday.

For my route, there seemed to be one simple rule: whatever I did, do not cross the Ben Franklin Bridge. The route to and from this bridge is notorious for being something of a Mad Max-like free-for-all, and this is just during the day, when you can actually see nearly everything that's coming at you. Since there wasn't a guarantee I'd get out of there before sundown, this was probably good advice. I took the route that brought me to the the Betsey Ross Bridge (I believe), straight off the NJ Turnpike, then down 95 into Philadelphia proper., where my first stop was RevZilla.

There's no doubt about it: upon approach, any major thoroughfare through Philadelphia is what you might call "character-building." The pavement is lousily maintained, but everyone drives fast regardless, and signage is largely worn-out and confusing at said speeds–I bought my Quad Lock smartphone mount partly in anticipation of this trip, as I recall Le Wife going nuts navigating with her phone on the dashboard, albeit with a lousy dash-mount. This actually worked beautifully heading into town by day, but I actually missed an exit while leaving at night; more on that shortly

RevZilla was a blast: no, I didn't run into Anthony, Lemmy, Spurge, or any of the other online luminaries there, but the crew I did meet were warm, helpful, and approachably hip. There were lots of moto-wear to try on, a lounge where you could grab coffee or tea, plus multiple overhead monitors showing events, races, and (naturally) various Zillans describing all sorts of gear. If you find yourself anywhere nearby, and have a little time to kill, you should definitely visit.

Heading back out into the parking lot, I looked at my watch: I decided to blow off the bike expo in favor of spending more time with eldest son-in-law, his GF and dog, while sorting out whether or not to dine out with them and chance a nighttime exit. Ultimately, I chose to live dangerously and head out to a very cool pizza joint (Clarkville, 4301 Baltimore Avenue: their "Danger Pizza" is magnificent), where we caught up on each other's lives over slices and a pitcher of seriously good Belgian-style Ale. We also joked about just how bad driving in Philly is: his GF had someone total her parked car a bit over a year ago just a block from their apartment, then run from the scene, leaving a hastily-written note on her windshield. (Made little sense to me at the time, and I'm an ex-New Yorker.)

Time passed, and before I knew it, I was saying my goodbyes and astride Melody a bit before 8:30 at night. Rode about five blocks to a Sunoco on Baltimore Avenue to fill up with Ultra 93 and checking Los Googles for route info. The ride out of Philly was rather eventful: lots of disabled vehicles along the way, one of which caught the driver of a Jeep Rubicon to the right of me off-guard, slamming on his brakes and veering into my lane. I shot ahead of him while prepping to brake to a mere foot from the number of an SUV in front of me. Thankfully, that was the only close call of the night, although dealing with those awful roads was a tad tiring. Unfortunately, right after that incident, I missed a, exit that in retrospect is damned easy to miss, even with Google at one's side; fortunately, Google got me back on track via a relatively straightforward (for Philly, anyway) loopback.

Once I was back on 95, things calmed down, and I dialed up my pace to about 70-75 for most of the way back, especially along the Turnpike, although I was also on-guard for that errant Deer With My Name On It…which was a concern, since there were periods where it seemed I had the Turnpike almost to myself. Melody handled the high(ish)-speed run very much in stride, my only issue being ever-so-slightly chilly in spite of having hauled out my thermal undies as a base layer for the first time since early March. Not shivering cold, but a tad less-comfy than I'd have liked for the 80+ mile run back home.

Overall, and in spite of some of the abovementioned mishaps, the ride was seriously fun. Getting Melody out on the superslabs a bit more proved she could handle the fast intercity thing (as if folks like Quezzie hadn't made the point already, and repeatedly), and simply whet my appetite for more of the same: I have a photo shoot in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn this Saturday, and given the vagaries of public transit around those parts, I'm likely to ride there directly–another somewhat-challenging ride, but this time on more-familiar ground.

Anybody up for a slightly-impromptu Brooklyn meet-up Saturday? If that doesn't work, I might try for the weekend after.

routetophilly.jpeg
Getting There and Back: Yes, you CAN do that on a Vespa.

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RevZilla Parking Lot: Admittedly a bit slow that early afternoon.

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Inside RevZilla: Well, yes, impressive.

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Melody, in Philly: Just watch those SEPTA streetcars.



Last edited by amateriat on Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:39 pm; edited 4 times in total
Molto Verboso
Yamaha Tricity 155 Urban 2019 - MV Agusta 125 RS 1956 - Moto Guzzi Airone 250 Sport 1951
Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 1762
Location: Latina (Italy)
Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:41 pm quote
This i want to read, an interesting life carried out along a path that gives time to reflect; a tip if i can ... buy a Go-Pro, you can drive and buy or show interesting views and experiences.
Enthusiast
Aprilia Scarabeo 500
Joined: 02 Oct 2019
Posts: 69
Location: Florida
Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:49 am quote
Sounds like a pretty good experience! I'm sure you had to change out of your undies after that scare. Happy motoring.
Ossessionato
Vespa LX150 GTS250ie GTS300x2
Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 2014
Location: St. Pete, Fla
Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:33 pm quote
Interesting ride . However, we need a picture of Tepper for it to be a true story.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2286
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:22 pm quote
lostboater wrote:
Interesting ride . However, we need a picture of Tepper for it to be a true story.
Ah, Tapper, the Wonder Tux? (Yep, I made a typo spelling his name, now corrected.) Here he is, rockin' on with his bad self.

IMG_20190813_002226390.jpg
Could've been Don Draper's cat..

Addicted
2009 GTS 250ie
Joined: 24 Mar 2018
Posts: 545
Location: south Texas
Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:27 pm quote
Good read - thanks for sharing!
Molto Verboso
1980 P200E project, 2005 Stella Mal 177 MKIII in pieces
Joined: 20 Jul 2018
Posts: 1127
Location: Staten Island, NY
Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:40 pm quote
I used to live in Bushwick during my grad art school days. You should be fine with a trip up 278 through Staten island into Brooklyn no problem!
Ossessionato
Vespa LX150 GTS250ie GTS300x2
Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 2014
Location: St. Pete, Fla
Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:39 am quote
amateriat wrote:
lostboater wrote:
Interesting ride . However, we need a picture of Tepper for it to be a true story.
Ah, Tapper, the Wonder Tux? (Yep, I made a typo spelling his name, now corrected.) Here he is, rockin' on with his bad self.
Now the story is complete!
Molto Verboso
2013 Vespa 300 Super, 2007 Burgman 400
Joined: 30 Mar 2014
Posts: 1545
Location: Minneapolis USA
Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:21 am quote
Riding on the Express Way
Thanks for the great narrative and photos. Love those tuxedo cats.

Have you considered a larger windshield for these higher speed trips?

Bob Copeland
We are off the road here - freezing temperatures
Hooked
2001 ET4 150 Red, 2010 GTS 300 Volcano Black, 2013 BV 350 Silver/Black
Joined: 27 Mar 2010
Posts: 382
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:35 pm quote
Nice story - thanks for sharing. Riding the NJ Turnpike at night is quite an adventurous undertaking. Vehicles go so fast even in the right hand lanes, you hope they see your scooter as they're pulling up behind you at higher spped even if you're doing 75 mph.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2286
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:58 pm quote
Re: Riding on the Express Way
Bob Copeland wrote:
Thanks for the great narrative and photos. Love those tuxedo cats.

Have you considered a larger windshield for these higher speed trips?

Bob Copeland
We are off the road here - freezing temperatures
Funny you bring that up: I was on my way back from the Long Branch train station very late last night (longer gig in NYC than expected). It was veering down into the upper 30s, and I'd more or less dressed for upper-40s temps, but for the six miles I had to ride, I was fine. The Euro-spec flyscreen is just tall enough to keep most of the wind off my upper body, and the FF helmet pretty much does the rest. My only issue involved my neck being a bit exposed: I can't find my neck gaiter/scarf thingie, which would've done the job: think that's the next thing I'm ordering from DoubleGood ASAP.
Scooter10S wrote:
Nice story - thanks for sharing. Riding the NJ Turnpike at night is quite an adventurous undertaking. Vehicles go so fast even in the right hand lanes, you hope they see your scooter as they're pulling up behind you at higher spped even if you're doing 75 mph.
Well, even though I gave the mirrors a frequent glance as always, at that time of the night, the Turnpike/195 was surprisingly deserted, which was why I was on high alert for deer, which for me was more of a concern than someone coming up on me stupid-fast (and with me moving at 75, it would have to be stupid-fast). But other than being just a wee bit colder than I'd have liked, that stretch was relaxing: it's true that the best thing you can do for a bike is actually ride it lots, and Melody was simply humming away happily, a true magic-carpet experience. The more I do stuff like this, the more I want to, and the more I love this machine.

Last edited by amateriat on Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
Enthusiast
2018 Piaggio BV 350
Joined: 08 Jun 2019
Posts: 93
Location: NJ
Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:17 pm quote
Re: Out-of-State Experience: Melody Does Philly
Anybody up for a slightly-impromptu Brooklyn meet-up Saturday? If that doesn't work, I might try for the weekend after. [/quote]

I wish it were warmer; I’d be down. Maybe next season? Take and post more pics!
Hooked
300 GTS, Stella 4T
Joined: 29 Jun 2018
Posts: 214
Location: EPX
Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:13 am quote
I cross the Ben all the time. Certainly no crazier than other bridges, and I've crossed pretty much every one over the Delaware from Chester to Port Jervis.
Addicted
2010 Vespa 300 Super
Joined: 04 Oct 2015
Posts: 688
Location: NYC
Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:26 am quote
Hello. Was nice meeting you in Brooklyn. It is snowing a bit here in NYC today. Hope you got to enjoy Brooklyns amazing roads.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2286
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:35 pm quote
baba12 wrote:
Hello. Was nice meeting you in Brooklyn. It is snowing a bit here in NYC today. Hope you got to enjoy Brooklyns amazing roads.
Absolutely got home fine, thanks…and thank you for the company! It seems the farther I travel on the bike, the more I love it. Funny, right?
Member
Joined: 03 Jan 2018
Posts: 36
Location: Ga
Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:27 pm quote
That's a nice story and a nice bike.
Ossessionato
2013 Honda NC700XD
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Posts: 3420
Location: Columbia, MD
Fri Nov 15, 2019 5:49 am quote
amateriat wrote:
...It seems the farther I travel on the bike, the more I love it. Funny, right?
Ah, you have drunk to kool-aid. There's no turning back now. Next thing you know you'll ride out to "get the paper" in Maine!

Great write up and photos. Also, that's an adorable kitty!!
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