Monday, July 30, 2012

Friday, 27 July 2012

Bill gave me very easy-to-follow directions on where to meet this morning.  I dragged a suitcase full of scooter stuff to the light rail stop.  After a nice, smooth ride with great views of Sydney, I arrived at the end of the line.  I walked the few remaining blocks to his house.  We sorted through what we needed to take and what could stay.  He packed it all on his beautiful, shiny red GTS and we rode to Scooter Central, he - pilot, me - pillion. 

This is kind of a round-about story so please stick with me:
About 6 or 8 weeks ago, I was hanging around my local scooter shop, Vespa Motorsport.  I was talking to my pal Steve Bailey and whining about the change in start date of "Once Around Australia" from October to August 1.  That didn’t give me enough time to ship my scooter.  And I heard that it was no longer possible to use air freight.  (Not that would have, considering the expense.  But it meant I had one less option available.)  Steve, being the quick-on-his feet, problem-solving guy that he is, immediately got in contact with Allen Drysdale.  Allen runs Corazzo (gear for scooter riders) and lives in Sydney.  And Allen (like Steve) was quick to act and put me in contact with Murray Walters.  Murray runs Scooter Central.  Murray made arrangements for me to buy a scooter, get insurance coverage, and re-sell when the trip was complete.  This is a HUGE favor, for a friend of a friend of a friend.

I love Steve.  He’s like both a big brother and little brother to me (a little brother because I'm probably twice his age, and a big brother because he's always looking out for me.)  So I wasn’t surprised that Steve would call in a favor to help me.  But Allen and Murray went way above and beyond anything I could have hoped for.  And certainly more than I could repay.

Fast forward back to today with Bill and I at Scooter Central.  They have a couple of scooters for me to choose from and I’m not familiar with any of them. After some hemming and hawing on my part, the Piaggio X7 300 was chosen.  Also picked up lots of spare parts (oil, filters, headlamp bulbs, break lights, etc., etc.)  The Snap-On tool truck happened to be there, so the tools to do roadside repairs were also purchased.  It was an expensive day!

The best part of the day was meeting and talking with Allen and the staff of Scooter Central.  They were all friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and patient.  They gave good information and advice about the road conditions, weather, scenic highlights, as well as the bike and it's mechanical specifics.  Even the Snap-On tool guy took the time to share advice.

Here are Charlotte and Theresa recommending and gathering the spare parts.

Here’s Grant making the X7 all shiny and pretty.

Here’s Allen, working the phone and calling ahead for service at the next Piaggio dealership.

Here they all are: Charlotte Costello (seated), Grant Borg-Grech, Dave Marik, Peter Dixon (goofing around making bunny ears), Theresa Wilson and Allen Drysdale.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all.  You guys are awesome!  I'm only sorry I didn't get to meet Murray.  Maybe he'll be in when I turn the scooter back in to the shop.

Bill had an appointment and left around noon.  I was finally ready and packed up by 4:30.  I was actually glad that it was the start of rush hour.  That meant traffic would be slow and I would be able to get used to the scooter.  I followed Bill’s instructions back to the hostel.  Of course, I made a wrong turn.  Or maybe I missed a turn.  (For reasons I can’t quite explain, I seem to get lost about once a day.)  Fortunately, I recognized some of the landmarks I photographed yesterday and found my way.

Now is the challenge of packing everything so it fits securely on the scooter.
Thursday, 26, July 2012

I walked around the “backpacker’s district” since I don’t yet have a scooter. George Street has quite an interesting variety of architecture and attractions. In less than a block you can eat sushi, go to the Catholic church, visit a masseuse, get a haircut, and go to the Baptist church.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is under restoration and is particularly beautiful.   It’s gargoyles look like pigs.

 There is a lot of public art.

I don’t know what this one is, but it’s cool. And it shows what perfect weather they have, even in winter.

All the Sydney-ites I’ve met are warm and friendly, Even their graffiti is polite. (The top line reads "I love this city")

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My ride to Alaska and continuing on to Scooter Cannonball 2010 is long over. It was great fun and I still think I’ll eventually finish the blog. I have pages and of notes and lots of photos to share.

But now I’m on to a new adventure – a lap around Australia. It started as the idea of a fellow San Diegan in 2010. He was going to retire at the end of 2011 (I think) and relocate to Australia. The ride was a way to combine the joy of riding in is new homeland with other scooterists from around the world. He envisioned it as a huge event with 100 riders. It did not go as he thought. In fact, the event was officially cancelled just days before it was to begin.

Since I was already committed, plane ticket in hand, I decided to go ahead with a modified version of the same “event” – circumnavigate Australia with any scooter rider who wanted to join in. I had already “met” some Australians on the website Modern Vespa. It’s a forum for scooter enthusiasts that I stumbled across about five years ago when I was looking to buy my first scooter. Anyway, when they heard I was coming to ride, these Aussies stepped right up with offers of help in planning a route, places to stay, a home cooked meal, etc. I hope not to need their help on the road but it would be nice to meet some of them in “real life.”

One I’m going to meet today is Bill. He’s organized charity events and rides both BMW and Vespa. And as a native, he’s got great info on where to go and where not to go. We’ll be setting off from Sydney on Sunday and expect to meet up with additional riders along the way. Can hardly wait!