March 14, 2010 — With the frost of winter finally dripping its last drips, 55º meant it was time to un-mothball our scooters. The Mrs wants to know how to do her own scooter maintenance, so today she changed both the crankcase and gear oil in her Buddy 125. I changed the crankcase oil in my Vespa GT just for post-winter good measure and was happy to see it was basically still honey colored. No harm in fresh oil and a new filter though. The oil from the Buddy was blackest tar and the gear hub oil was equally long in the tooth. Good thing we changed it.

The Mrs took off to see her friend’s new house here in Eagan, and I headed to the corner gas station to top off with fresh fuel and make sure my tires were at their proper pressures. There’s a 6 psi difference between the front and rear tires on the Vespa GT, and if it’s not observed the bike won’t handle properly. There’s something about these little details that really resonates with me. I’m not a particularly anal retentive, type-A kind of person. My Vespa is filthy, truth be told —  covered in a fine layer of last season’s road grime and this winter’s sawdust. But there’s something about these little idiosyncrasies that I really enjoy. It’s how I come to really know the machine.

With everything inspected and topped off, it was time to scratch a winter-long itch. I headed through Mendota and wound up exploring some wonderful areas of St. Paul that I wasn’t familiar with. More than anything I wanted to lose time. Not waste time, but lose it. I wanted to avoid well-known roads. I wanted to have absolutely nowhere to go and not care about how I got there. It’s something that I feel like I lost last season. By commuting nearly every day, it got tough to just let go and ride. A winter away and some new perspective has really refreshed things. Today’s ride also did great things for me in that regard. By having nowhere to go, and no time limit save the setting sun, my Vespa and the open roads of the Twin Cities were reunited. Hello, old friends.

Nathaniel Salzman