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Column

Scooters mighty fun to ride, even in the rain

Good floorboard is a must-have, however

Earlene Campbell
Earlene Campbell

It’s been a busy time for me, but this morning I blew the cat hair off the computer screen and I’m ready to go again. After writing about the Isetta Zu, the strange little vehicle I rode in back in my younger years, the other vehicles I have ridden in or driven came to mind.

Back in the early 1980s, I had a chance to buy a yellow Honda Express with a top speed of 26 mph. This began my cycling cycle, which carried through until recent years.

Husband Jerry wasn’t too happy about my first purchase. Once he found out the gas mileage was terrific and I used it as transportation, as well as joy rides, his attitude changed a bit.

I had a temporary job with Pioneer located out at the extreme southeast corner of Princeton. At the time, we lived at the extreme far northwest corner. Weather permitting, I rode that bike to work. It didn’t take long to discover that a ride across town in a dense fog completely drenched a newly applied makeup job, a fresh hairdo and a freshly ironed outfit. Going into work with stringy soaked hair and dew dripping from your eyebrows and lashes did not portray a professional image.

After a couple of years of tooling around on my Honda Express, brother Buck offered to sell me his larger souped-up bike. He had customized it with a more powerful motor and a windshield, so I was really moving up. The problem with this souped-up engine was, it had to be shifted at every stop.

Do you have a clue how many stop signs there are in Princeton? I couldn’t even get the motor revved to full speed before it was choking up and dying on me, again. There are even more impatient drivers in town than there are stop signs. Also, I found a bar on each side were the only foot rests. Living in fear of my foot slipping off and causing a disaster, spooked me out. That bike was a stress machine.

I was ready to go back to a simpler driving bike. I traded Buck’s high-stress-machine for a bright-red Honda scooter with a floorboard that could manage up to 50 mph. With secure footing, I simply turned the handle, took off, then squeezed the brake handle to stop — easy peasy. I could go to the store and put purchases in the back carrier. If it was overflowing, I put some on the floor board. I was set.

When we could manage to get out for a bit, friend Julie and I would hop on our motorbikes and go for country rides with the warm summer air flowing around us. We would keep our eyes peeled for a nice quiet roadside spot or a field. And I’d pull the cold beer out of my carrier. Don’t get excited — it was one can apiece — but the ride back was a relaxed one.

On work days, sometimes those sunny morning skies turned into black clouds with a summer storm rolling around in them by 5 p.m. As I left City Hall and drove down Peru Street, black clouds were following me as I headed east. I needed a loaf of bread. Passing the turnoff for home, I kept going toward Bogo’s grocery store, located where the present-day Princeton Public Library is.

I parked my bike in the front row of the parking lot, hopped off, ran to the back of the store, grabbed a loaf, came up to pay, and was greeted by a group of shoppers watching and out-waiting the downpour.

Now, I had another decision — leave or wait. I just wanted to get home. As the folks who were too chicken to run to their closed-in cars watched, I ran out, hopped on my scooter, and took off.

I couldn’t see a thing while driving home. Water was splashing and running down my glasses. I took them off and the rain splashed in my eyes. It wasn’t just the glasses and eyes that got wet. My hair, shoes and every item of clothing down to my skin was thoroughly soaked.

But no problem, it all was drip-dry — including me. And I was home drying off while those sissies I left behind were still watching the downpour through Bogo’s window.

Watch for more cycling experiences at a later date. In the meantime, don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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