November 17th, 2008

Orange Vespa Huskyteer

Vespas in Kent

On Saturday, for a change, it was the turn of my little ET4 to go for a ride in the country in the company of some friends from the Modern Vespa forum.

It was a sunny autumn day in my part of the world, and as I rode to the meeting-point at Pratts Bottom (fnarr!) leaves whirled across the road in front of me from the orange drifts piled along the verges.

I tail-ended as Jim led us up and down single-track roads (going very carefully on the muddy bits) with glorious views to either side. We were a motley bunch, with engines ranging from 50cc to 500cc. Uphill the moped among us could barely manage 30mph, and we stuck firmly and defensively together to prevent dangerous overtakes by following traffic.

But the route had been planned so cunningly that, bar occasional sorties onto A roads and swiftly off them again, we saw very little other traffic beyond an occasional horse.

Lunch was at a pub called the Halfway House, a poky, smoky place with a wood fire, 7.5% cider from nearby Chiddingstone and 'hand-cut chips', which we mocked on the menu ("I want laser-cut chips!") but turned out to be delicious.

After lunch it was a race to get our feeble little headlights safely back to London before dark. Sitting at the back in the dusk, it felt strangely cosy to be riding in the shadows of the trees with all the red taillamps and the hi-viz stripes and patches glowing.

I peeled off as we headed up the A20 and made my way home for a bath and a glass of wine. My Vespa took half an hour to start this morning - I can't blame it for being reluctant to head into the smoke and snarlups after its day in the country, as I felt the same way myself.
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