This is a reunion pic of sorts, although myself and this scooter have never met before a few weeks ago.
The reunion is actually between myself and the art of riding a Vintage bike. You see, several years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Now, as far as the big “C” goes, it wasn’t the worst it could be: Testicular Cancer. A couple of surgeries and follow ups and you can escape with one of your “boys” intact and go on well enough. It gets touted as the “easy” one to beat. But, that takes the one thing I didn’t have at the time:
So, in an effort to cut bills and start what I could, I started selling equipment and stuff to pay for medical bills. After my SUV, my firearms and various other things, the one thing I had left was my scooter: A Vespa GTS250ie. But, as things got worse, repairs became harder to afford. Eventually it had a critical failure, and by a series of events a new engine was required that I could not afford. By this time, I couldn’t physically ride because I had stopped treatment due to funds. They got “most” of the tumors but the rest was in question when it came to follow up, and state medical services are about as advanced as any other form of state “assistance”. There was a lot of damage but no more cash. So, I plugged on without wheels and without a map.
Fast forward a few years, and by the grace of friends bolstering my spirits, the encounter with a pretty girl who would later become my wife and a “crap” job that turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in the past several years, I was able to not only find health insurance, but a true solution to the crap treatment that I had before! And, not a moment too soon: Major reconstruction was required on my abdomen and removal of a bunch of scar tissue and damaged muscle tissue. Long story short: They patched me up right, removed things that didn’t belong and were able to state that I was officially cancer free! Seems the previous work did the job, but the follow up was so shoddy that it caused more damage than it solved! Thankfully the aggressive surgical option was a success and while there is still talk of a return since I refused chemo or radiation treatment, I’m satisfied with things as they are and prefer to be fully functioning as long as the tests remain clear.
Why do I go on about this? Well, this all kept me from riding. Modern or Vintage, original Vespa scooters are expensive. VERY expensive! You’ll probably spend as much on a vintage bike or a brand new GTS300 as you would a Harley Davidson or BMWGS650, and the bike culture with Vespa is just as heavy. Also, riding is very physical, and the older the bike the more work it takes. All of which is pretty difficult when your lower abdomen has been held together with the medical equivalent of drywall patch for 6 months with no muscle.
But, after all this work, I was finally able to get physically fit enough to return to riding. And, with a bit of student grant money, a bit of savings and the grace of both my beautiful wife and a very good and loyal friend who’s known me from before this mess started, I finally became re-acquainted with the silver scoot you see above. And, the culmination of all of this will be at Amerivespa 2012 when we, members of the Slow Kids Scooter Gang, will ride from Phoenix, AZ to Lake Geneva, WI for the national Vespa rally! If that isn’t a badass way to celebrate a return to the saddle I dunno what is.
Over the next few days, I’ll be relating the adventure of getting this bike, and the ongoing fight to get it legal and registered in my state. It may not be pretty, and there will be horrible language but it will be entertaining a bit. So sit back and read on! Pictures, video and even product reviews of new gear to follow!
And, other male riders can see these posts as a bit of a warning as well, since I’m hardly out of the woods yet. It may not seem like a big deal, but I’m not the only rider who’s been taken off the road by this. Cyclist Lance Armstrong and Team BMW rider and BBC Presenter Charley Boorman have also dealt with the “thing” most men never talk about. It seems to hit riders more than other athletes I’ve noticed, and it’s got a stigma against talking about it. Hey, I can get it: I’m protective of my balls as well, but when it can kill you or take you from the sports you love, you have to say something. So, this scooter is my way of pointing it out, because it takes balls to ride a Vespa in the US as well as talk about a Cancer most men won’t.
Thank you Wende and my pretty Panda. Without either of you, this wouldn’t of happened!