The Story of Jim
Summer of 1973, Albert Lea, MN. A high school friend of mine tries to
teach me how to ride and shift his 350 Honda. Total disaster (one down
and two up? or is it one up and two down?) Almost spill the bike and he
ends the lesson. Due to lack of funds and fear of shifting I never ride a
motorcycle in my youth.
Fast forward about 30 years to Brooklyn Park, MN. Wife is out of town
at bridal shower and I have nothing to do for the weekend. Find out that
Midwest Motorcycle rents out 50 c.c. Ventos with auto shift. Love at
first ride...planned four hour ride turns to 7.
I buy a 50 c.c. Vento, soon is not fast enough. Get my license (see
story below) buy a Kymco People 150, fast enough for a year, then not fast
enough. Buy a People 250 c.c.and now currently happy (though Bob at
Scooterville and I would be overjoyed if my wife approves purchase of an
Xciting 500 this spring. Bob's working on the numbers). I live, eat and
breath scooters during riding season. The annual Twin Cities scooter
rally is heaven packed into three days.
The story of Jim getting his license. I rent a 125 c.c. German
scooter that Midwest Motorcycle provides almost exclusively for taking
your test. I wait in line behind a 20 something on a big ass Harley hog
and ahead of a 20 something on his Yamaha crotch rocket. The kid on the
Harley knocks down half the cones and rides off without even hearing his
score. I proceed to circle the cones at what the instructor says "has to
be the slowest speed I've ever seen." I think I get my license simply
because he sees my age and figures that I'm a lot less dangerous than the
kid on the Harley.
In July, 2005 I was happily riding my People 250. I had just exited
off of southbound 94 using the Broadway Ave. exit. The exit has two lanes
that allow left hand turns, and I was waiting in the right lane of the two
I commenced my left hand turn when the light turned green and swung as
far right as I could to turn into the right hand lane heading eastbound.
Normally, drivers waiting in the left most of the left hand turn lane turn
directly into the left lane heading eastbound.
I never saw the guy who rear ended me. Witnesses could only confirm
that a white van that had been waiting in the left hand left turn lane
swung wide right and rear ended me. The bike hit the curb and I
discovered I could fly short distances over my handlebars. After
bouncing a couple of times and sliding ten feet (thank god for helmets
with face shields) I was staring at the sky in total shock. The bike was
a total loss with a bent front fork and frame.
The cops put me into an ambulance and sent my bike to the Minneapolis
impound lot. Thankfully I got away with only a stiff left arm and some
Trying to get the bike out of the impound lot the next day was an
adventure. The lot doesn't differentiate between vehicles towed there for
violations vs. those brought in for accidents. I had to pay $200 plus to
get in with my pickup; I then sat there staring at a bent up 250 pound
plus bike, trying to figure out how to get it into the truck bed (even if
I had a ramp the front wheel wouldn't roll). Finally gave two tow truck
drivers $20 each to heave ho the bike into the truck. Drove the bike to
Scooterville and both Bob and State Farm agreed it was a total loss.
Kudos to State Farm for a quick claims check and to Bob for holding
onto a new People 250 for me so I could get back on the horse.
They ARE all trying to kill us.....
We all have our stories of "near misses"
with idiot auto drivers....here's mine. Last summer I was waiting at a
stoplight to make a left hand turn. A minivan was waiting in the oncoming
lane, also signaling a left hand turn, with the "person" (I don't want to
single out and stereotype a particular gender, but you can guess) chatting
oblivously on their cell phone.
The light turns green, I begin my left
hand turn, and at the same time the minivan turns off their left turn
signal and starts coming straight at me. Only the speed and nimble
handling of the People 250 kept me from becoming grease paint on the
street. My final glimpse of the driver showed they were still chatting
happily on the cell phone. I truly believe the driver never saw me even
though I was right in front of them.
Thankfully my "near misses" have been far
and few between, but the majority of them have involved drivers distracted
by their cell phones. Studies have shown that even the "hands free"
models provide a significant amount of distraction.
If it was up to me, I would ban all cell
phone use in moving vehicles; if you want to yak, pull over and
stop...maybe it's just me being old and paranoid...they ARE all out to get