I picked up my wife's Vespa Primavera 150 Pic Nic edition yesterday after months of waiting, and had quite the adventurous if not downright arduous ride home last night, and thought I would share my experience as I officially join the Vespa family (Well, sorta. Does it count if I bought it for my wife?). Here is my Vespa story, leading up to riding it home last night. Sorry, this is a long and potentially boring post - I'll do my best to channel my inner story teller
First, some background. I have ridden scooters for years and always thought about Vespa but never could justify the cost. In fact, while living in the Caribbean, I learned on a Gilera DNA 125, a Piaggio relative of Vespa. (My Avatar. I loved that bike and I'll never get over the sadness if it being stolen from right outside my home while I slept!) And for a time, after moving back to the States, scooters just didn't fit with my life. But I've recently got a new job really close to my new home in a safe, low traffic area, and have the financial means to get a Vespa, so I started talking about it with my wife. She met me when I had the Gilera and loved riding it, so she wasn't totally unfamiliar with scooters. But several months ago, we took a trip to Las Vegas, and while looking for a Vespa dealer to window shop at while on vacation, stumbled on a guided scooter tour of Red Rock Canyon. I told my wife about the tour, and she loved the idea. So we ventured out to Red Rock and took the tour, each on our own 50 cc "Mio". We had a blast and I was surprised how much she absolutely LOVED riding her own, rather than being 2 up on mine. She got bit by the bug and declared "I WANT one!" right then and there. (She was quite the natural, and even passed me while I was passing another scooter cuz she thought we were both going too slow!)
In fact, my wife had always talked about how in college she always wanted a mint green Vespa - even before meeting me or my scooters. It was kind of a "buck list" item for her. She would fantasize about getting a basket on it, throwing a warm baguette in the basket and taking off for a picnic. So in the weeks after that Vegas trip, I scoured the market for a Vespa for each of us. And was planning to order her the Primavera in Verde Relax. But then I saw the "Pic Nic" edition, and immediately became so disappointed that it wasn't offered in the US. Imagine my surprise and joy when a few weeks later, I go to the Vespa US website and see "Coming Soon - Vespa Pic Nic edition"! I immediately showed the online photos to my wife and she giggled like a school girl in a toy shop that also gives out free ice cream! She loved it! But but had no expectation that we'd be buying it any time soon. However, I knew right then and there, that I had to get her one. So even though she didn't really see herself getting a Vespa any time soon, or even for sure at all (We just moved into a new home and have a bunch of expenses and a lot going on), I kept checking for pre-orders to open and the day they went live in July, I ordered it! Without her knowledge of course.
Fast forward to September, and her Vespa arrives! I set up a "date" for us, and didn't tell her what we were doing, just that I had a surprise for her. I coordinated it with the local Vespa dealer, and blindfolded her all the way into the shop. That's when I took off the blind fold, and as she took sight of the Vespa, I saw the biggest smile on my wife's face that I've seen in a long time. She was instantly in LOVE!! ("It's SO PRETTY" was shouted more than once in that show room.) I gave the dealer my cashiers check in hand, for the full amount, signed some paperwork, and it was hers! Now all we had to do was get her home.
Here comes the problem. What about the frost bite you ask? Don't worry, I'm getting there. So the problem is, neither of us had a motorcycle license endorsement, so we couldn't ride it home. The irony is, I had signed us up for the MSF weekend course as a "fun couples" activity. I did it so we could get the endorsement after completing the course. I told her it would just be a fun thing to do to learn to ride a motorcycle, even if we never buy one. Selling the idea to her that I'm going to need it for my Vespa that I want to buy eventually, and on the off chance that one day she decides to buy one, she'll need the endorsement too. (Not knowing I already placed the order for her Vespa). But, long story short, I take a couple of long works trips, and come home ready to take the MSF course with her that weekend, and she ended up having to work, and couldn't get the day off. She gave me the whole "You've been gone for work for so long, and I'm sure the kids would love to spend time with you. And I REALLY wanna take the class WITH you, but you can go by yourself if you want to, really it's ok.(But do it and just watch how long I hold that grudge against you!" kind of things.) So of course, not wanting to find out what it's like to live the rest of my life as a eunuch, I cancelled the class. I didn't want to spoil the surprise that she was getting a Vespa, so I couldn't really emphasize how important it was for at least one of us to attend the class to get the endorsement for when it arrives.
So back to September, I try to reschedule the MSF course, but our first available weekend was weeks away (ironically now this weekend). And since her Vespa had arrived, I decide to just take the written test at the DMV, to at least get my permit so I can ride it home. And that's what I did, passed the test, no problem. Get my permit, now ready to go to the dealer and get the Vespa. One last step, gotta get insurance. I figured this would be an easy check list item - well, of course nothing can be simple anymore it seems. As I had recently filed 2 claims on my auto policy, and they hadn't closed yet (repairs still pending. And neither was my fault btw - One was a relative damaging the car when borrowing it, the other is moving cargo causing damage when a box fell) they wouldn't give me insurance for the Vespa. They referred me to another agency who tried with multiple other agencies, and no luck, got the same response from them! Until my claims close, no new policy. So now it's weeks after I paid for the Vespa and took my wife to see it, and finally got the endorsement and STILL can't ride it home! Well, I finally got frustrated with the delays on getting our cars fixed, and randomly called All State, and somehow, they had no problem insuring the Vespa. So I FINALLY got the last piece of the puzzle, and could bring my wife's Vespa home!!
So I called my dealer with the good news, and confirmed a time I could come pick it up. Now...here comes the frost bite. As my luck would have it, after weeks of unseasonably warm weather, we finally start seeing winter temperatures where I live this week. I knew this wasn't going to be a pleasant ride home, but I figured I would be ok. I've lived in cold weather before, gone skiing plenty of times, lots of outdoor activities in the cold. I know how to prepare. So I got dressed up, multiple layers of close, boots with long socks, 2 pairs of gloves, and a scarf around my neck.
I was hoping to get the Vespa mid day to avoid rush hour. We live in a major east coast Metro area and with traffic the ride home would take 45 mins. That's WITH highway. Being that I was riding a brand new Primavera with a 150, I wanted to take local roads only. So that meant 1 hr and 15 mins according to Apple Maps. Oh well. As I said, I was dressed for it. I studied the route before I left.
Well, to make a long story a little less long, I finally get a ride to the dealership, and by the time I sign some paperwork, get a brief orientation, and hit the road, it's after 3 pm, as traffic is getting busy. And the temperature was dropping by the hour. But still, it was about 40 degrees F and daylight, so I thought I'd be ok. I put on my helmet, riding gloves, and set off. Before I even left, my fingers were already very cold. We had stood outside for a few minutes getting the orientation on the bike. And as I rode some more, I got more and more miserable. As I said, I'm used to cold. I can tolerate quite a bit. But my fingers were getting so numb, I was worried I would have a hard time controlling the bike. And even though I was wearing denim, my THIGHS were actually FREEZING. I've never had cold thighs before! But the headwind was strong and very cold! So after about 20 minutes, I pulled over into a super market parking lot. I knew I had to get inside to get warm. I went to the bathroom to use the hand dryer to warm my hands, and then went to the rotisserie chickens and kept my hands under the lamps for a few minutes! When I finally felt I could tolerate going back outside, I switched from my leather riding gloves to the Columbia insulated ski gloves I had in my cargo bin. Fortunately, they were nice and warm from the engine just below.
With a still chilled body, I got back on the Vespa to continue the ride home. By now, it was starting to get dark, and traffic was heavy. And I was on city streets I am NOT familiar with at all (after all, we just moved to the area). So coming out of the super market, I exited the wrong way and by the time I realized it, was a mile or two off course. I pulled over again, checked my phone GPS, and set back out. I never really recovered from that mistake. I ended up taking a longer and busier way home, sending me through a local downtown, and busy streets. I tried to look at my Apple Watch for directions but between the sleeves of all my layers and my long gloves, I couldn't see it. So I turned the phone up to max volume hoping I would hear any navigation prompts. All the while, I could feel my fingers getting colder and colder. And despite my leather jacket, a warm shirt covered by a sweater, at 45-50 mph, with heavy headwinds against me, even my chest was cold. I was so eager to get home to just finish the ride and warm up! At one point, in my desperation, realizing I was in the wrong lane at a red light, and not wanting any more delays by missed turns, I even lane filtered to the opposite lane 2 lanes across to avoid getting more lost. I promised myself I wouldn't do anything risky, but I was so miserable and just couldn't wait to get home!
The last half of the ride was on a more open state highway, with red lights, and finally I wasn't worried about getting lost anymore. I had told myself and my wife, I won't ride at night. But it was completely dark by this point, and the speed limit was 55 and people were going faster. So to keep up, I was going 40-50 the whole time, even though I really didn't like going that fast at night. By now, my fingers were nearly numb as I kept getting blasted by the wind. I was so cold I was getting worried I would get sloppy with safety and miss something from being so distracted with how cold I was. And with each red light I tried to warm my fingers by sitting on them, blowing on them under my helmet - anything to get just an ounce of warmth!
By the time I was a couple of miles from home, I can honestly say my fingers had never been colder in my entire life!! My whole body was starting to shiver. Worst of all my legs - the wind was blowing so much on my thighs, and they had lost so much warmth that I couldn't stop them from shaking! Thank God I didn't have to operate a clutch or footbrake!
When I FINALLY entered my subdivision, I was cursing the car in front of me because I wanted to speed up to get home and just throw myself at the foot of the fireplace. I was getting so close to shelter that I could imagine the warmth enveloping my body!
When I finally did get home, almost 2 HOURS LATER, my head and ears were fine. But my hands, feet, and legs were so cold, I could only feel a stinging burn. I genuinely feel like had I been out just another 15 minutes or so, I would have had the first stages of frost bite. I rushed to the sink to run warm water over my hands. I laid in front of a space heater for over an hour, and still, my feet and toes felt cold!!
However...despite ALL that. The hassle of getting to pick up the bike and the harrowing and potentially life threatening scare I endured to get it home, I absolutely LOVED riding it! And my wife, wile so very sorry for the ordeal I had gone through to get it home, LOVES it! I can see the joy in her face when she looks at it. And now with us both taking the MSF course this weekend (in 34 degree weather!), hopefully she'll have her endorsement, and when we get a few warmer days, can't wait to go out and ride!
Now for me to order my GTS...
Sorry for anyone that actually made it to the end of this novel. But to make it up to you, I'll attach some photos. And remember everyone, ride safe and STAY WARM!