Posted on

Are You “Vespa People”? And the story of my first ride on Roxy.

 This week on the ‘ol blog, I am looking forward to getting back to some of the basics about owning a vespa and provide some information I could have found very handy right before I purchased mine. I plan on writing out a few detailed posts that I think will help those out there looking to own a scooter and aren’t sure how to go about it. The questions you forget to ask are often the questions you’ll most regret, so I plan on asking you those in a few of this weeks posts. The posts will include topics such as maintenance, figuring out what questions you need to ask yourself before you even start asking questions to a dealer, and how you can figure out if a vespa is a better choice for you over another vehicle in this time in your life.

 I will go through more of these details from the very beginning steps of someone who is considering their options and wants a better idea of the larger picture and how owning a vespa could help/hinder that picture. If anyone has any questions they would like me to try and answer about these beginning steps before ownership, please leave a comment or get in touch with me ( I’ll also write a bit about my own shortcomings with this whole vespa ownership deal that I really wasn’t aware of at the time of purchase and now better understand. I wanted to start off these writings with my first drive on Roxyvespa, from Jerusalem, the day I bought her to show you that things do indeed get better.

My First Ride, in summation:  It was a decent day with warm sun overhead and little wind, considering it was early December. Once the guy (who I bought it) from left, I knew I was on my own and that made me even more nervous. I haven’t drove before in Israel and have only heard, and seen, how bad Israelis are at the whole driving thing. And here I was just going headfirst into this mess on a Vespa. Sometimes, it is just better to do and stop thinking and this was clearly a good place to apply that lack of logic.

For the longer version (for those keen on vespas), 

:My First Ride on Roxy

I honestly do not know how I didn’t involved myself in a wreak that cold December day, as I was driving home from Jerusalem with my new (used) vespa. I haven’t drove one in years and let alone been behind the wheel  on these Israeli roads in a car, so my nerves were pretty high that day. I rode the bus in from Rehovot and met the previous owner in Jlem so that we could change the ownership titles over to my name. Luckily that whole process dragged on and it was about two hours before the guy and I parted ways: the vespa was now mine, if I could only get it off the darn kickstand and go.

Of course my nerves were on high alert that whole day, so it seemed like every simple task leading up me to driving away on my vespa was impossible or just not happening. I remember standing by scooter for about 15 minutes trying to get the kickstand up. It isn’t really that hard at all to take it off the kickstand, but that first time I couldn’t move it an inch. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Plus the alarm kept going off, which if you are thinking about installing an alarm, think really hard and long about that one. (All mine seems to do is piss me off.) Finally some woman approached me and started chatting to me in English and I was so happy for her speaking with me at that moment that I almost hugged her. She was very kind and calmed me down. Plus she told a few ‘gents in Hebrew to help me out. Before that, it seemed like all these men were just looking at me, watching me trying and failing to move the vespa. Thank goodness she came along, or I might still be there today.

Finally, although with a bit of trouble themselves, the guys were able to get the kickstand up and I could finally get on my merry way. I thanked all of them again and, of course, the lady, and started my first ride on Roxy.  Sooner than I even knew it, I’m on the road that passed by the shuk and goes under the tram bridge. If you know this road, you know that this area is pretty hectic all the time and maybe not the best area to be on for your first time driving in Israel. On a vespa. Yeah.

So, yes: my legs did fly out in places they maybe weren’t suppose to on that first drive. And maybe I did a few other thanks that I’ll just leave out on this blog, as it is better left only known to me and those around me that day. I think I also might have barely missed running into the back of a huge truck too. But, in all that traffic, there wasn’t much time to react and I knew I had to handle driving as best as I could, so I somehow drove on.

On one of the last traffic lights, just as you are out of Jerusalem, I was at the beginning of the line and there were a group of young teenage girls crossing the These girls were very much religious and most likely Orthodox.  Every single one of them looked at me and I couldn’t help but smile: fly legs be damned, this was the best decision ever.

In my mind, this is what the group of girls saw that day.

To see their reaction was something I’ll never forget. It was something they haven’t witnessed before and it felt good to present that visual to them. This was also the moment that I realized that in all my nervousness back at the shuk, I had forgotten to put on my gloves. Ouch. (Maybe they noticed my red nails first and realized I wasn’t just another dude on a scooter too.) December in Israel isn’t so bad really, but December in Jerusalem (in those higher altitudes) is not what I would describe as comfy either. It was pretty cold that day and I assume the adrenaline following in my body, from the nerves, was somehow distracting me from those sorts of painful bodily details. I ended up riding the whole way without gloves, because I was too worried about pulling over and not being able to get the kickstand up again. Bad idea.

I had it in mind that I would get to Rehovot, but that didn’t happen that day at all. The road from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is quite a nice ride, but it is also rather difficult since you are coming down from the mountains into the planes. If you have ever been on the road, you know how steep those first few corners are as you exit Jerusalem and that somehow drivers still drive as hectic as they do anywhere else. If you want an idea of the road, think of how a toddler draws “straight” lines and that is a pretty good idea about the curves of this road.

These turns are nothing compared with others you’ll found oh Highway 1. 

I remember those absolutely scary curves and cliffs that first day and how I kept looking back in my mirrors and seeing the huge green Egged bus right on my tail end.  I wanted to keep up my speed, but the edges of those cliffs were so close. Oh, it was indeed scary and because it had taken so long to get the title in my name at the post office (where everything in Israel is done), I ended up being caught in the beginning of the rush hour traffic. People were ready to get home from the work day and didn’t want to fuss with no red vespa tooting slowly along.

So that is when I decided that making it to the kibbutz was my goal for the day, not Rehovot. I ended up doing much better than I thought I would with getting up and in to the kibbutz and finally pulled into the yard and was beyond happy to shut that engine off. I could barely move my hands (they were almost frozen since I didn’t think to wear gloves), but I was alive and made it.

I was pretty unsettled for the rest of the afternoon, but still understand that the riding could only get better from here on out.  The girls faces that day are still one of my clearest memories. I still notice looks of the same nature from people when I am out on rides, but the school girls stares affected me the most. Maybe they were able to look beyond thoughts of “heathen” or likewise and see a few possibilities for themselves that they hadn’t considered before.

That is what makes owning a vespa, specifically here in Israel, as a woman that much more important and of worth. Plus someone around here needs to show these men that women can drive- and do it well. Perhaps, drive even better than they can. Now those are the looks I live for. 

Do you have an story about your first ride out on your scooter to share? Leave it in the comments below if so and if you have any tips for new riders, that would be great to read below as well.  Cheers y’all!

About kaie w. bird

A freelance photographer in Israel that likes to scoot about while documenting just about everything. P.S. I am a horrible editor. Forgive me.

Love to hear some of your thoughts below!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s