A few weeks ago I went on my first overnight trip on my new GTV 300. Part of the reason I wanted this bike was the ability to get out of town if I wanted to and be able to travel on highways for long periods of time without worrying about keeping up, so a few weeks after the first service I began to plan my escape from NYC.
I did lots of research on great rides throughout the neighboring states and decided on a trip to the mountains in Vermont. I rented a beautiful little cottage in the woods on Airbnb, got the days off from work, and began to plan. Now almost everyone I work with has a Vespa, and the ones that don't have or have had motorcycles, and every one of them said traveling all that way on a Vespa was crazy and dangerous. I take a highway to and from work every day, and have taken some small day trips out of town before, so the speed didn't bother me. But what did begin to bother me was everyone else's concern for my safety. I had full riding gear, an extra liter of oil, perfect tire pressure (I check it once a week), but everyone's comments about how insane that was started to get to me, despite reading countless ride reports on here and knowing full well my Vespa was more than capable of handling the trip.
The night before my trip I was walking to my bike to head home after a long day at work and saw a man at the stoplight next to my bike. He also had a GTV 300. I said "Nice Bike", and he said the same. He said mine looks new. I said "It is, two months old. I'm actually taking it on a little road trip tomorrow up to Vermont." And then something magical happened. As if somehow sensing my apprehension brought on from all my coworkers and friends he said "Don't worry. I did the whole of Route 66 on this bike. You're gonna have a great time." Then the light turned green and he was gone. This confidence booster was literally the last person I spoke to before heading out on my trip the next morning and I'm so thankful for him. All of my fears melted away and for the first time in weeks I began to feel incredible excitement.
The next morning I loaded up my bike with a small bag of clothes, a few tools, some emergency snacks, and a wilderness survival kit for some reason. I got a later start than I had wanted, but around noon I pulled away from my street and started off. The route I chose was to take 87 to get out of NYC until I could switch over to the Taconic Parkway for about half of the journey, then 22 the rest of the way. It was a hot day and there was a lot of afternoon traffic for no other good reason than that its New York City and there is always traffic somewhere. By 1:30pm I had taken 2 breaks, could barely walk from being so sore, had already consumed most of my "emergency snacks", and was barely out of the Bronx. My spirits were low and I thought that maybe I had made a terrible mistake. How could I go another 5 hours when it was so beaten up after a little over an hour?
I got back on the bike and headed towards the parkway. Turns out the reason I was so tired was because of the stop-and-go traffic in the heat. Long stretches on the highway were much easier than what I had done so far. My back hurt like hell from fighting the wind and I'm sure the GTV seat wasn't making things any easier. The Taconic Parkway was nice, lots of trees, some beautiful views, no large trucks, and very nice roads. But my breath wasn't taken away until I hit Route 22. Gorgeous winding roads that wove through the countryside, over hills and through some of the most picturesque little towns I'd ever seen. It was as if every village had been painted with a fresh coat the day before I got there.
The thing that struck me most were the roads. I knew NYC had bad streets, but I didn't realize how bad until I experienced hours and hours of perfectly smooth roads. Here in the city about 70% of your perception is devoted to potholes and other violently jarring obstacles, and other things like cars swerving in and out of lanes, street lights, other hazards, are mostly periphery. So that's how I spent the first half of my ride, scanning the road ahead for potholes. Once I realized that wasn't the primary hazard I was able to actually ENJOY THE SCENERY on longer stretches. That was a completely new feeling for me, and very liberating. It was about that time I began to really smile, for no reason, for long periods of time.
When I arrived at my destination for the night the hosts of my Airbnb came out to greet me. The husband wanted to come out and shake my hand and meet the guy who came all the way from NYC on a Vespa. He was a Harley rider who couldn't believe I had done that. In town the next morning I stopped at a local store to pick up a few souvenirs for the lady back home. In the parking lot a man walked by, looked at my license plate and said "You came all the way from NY state on that thing?" Which was only about an hour away. I said, "Actually, I came up from the southern tip of Manhattan." He shook his head and began to walk inside. Then he stopped, turned around and came back. "You rode that all the way from New York City!?" "Yep", I said. "...Wow.." Was all he could muster.
After my night in Vermont I worked my way back down through Massachusetts and Eastern CT, before making my way back. I even extended my trip another night and got a cheap roadside motel. When it was all said and done I did just over 700 miles in 2 and half days, and it was an experience I'll never forget. My Vespa performed beautifully and I think just LOVED those long drives. I felt the moment that the engine really broke in and loosened up around 1500 miles and became truly a powerful beast. At one point the speedometer hit 90mph, which I'm going to guess is really more like 80 actual. I guess my Vespa friends are more like motorcycle people, they just don't know what these babies are capable of!
Can't wait to do it again! And to that mystery man that restored my confidence, I can't thank you enough. You were right.
Last edited by PaulTBach on Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:08 pm; edited 4 times in total