Life at 40…. (mph)

A few years ago, my wife and I bought a scooter. Actually, it’s a 250cc scooter so it’s officially a motorcycle. (We have since upgraded. I have a larger scooter 650cc, and my wife has a real motorcycle)

We both had to get our motorcycle license to ride the scooter around town. When most people hear of a scooter they think of one of two types, either the smaller 50cc scooter that very small and has trouble getting up a hill, and the other would be the quintessential vision of a European scooter, the Vespa. Having traveled a bit and seen scooters being used a lot overseas, I’ve often thought having a scooter just made sense. Gas in Europe for example could be twice as expensive as here in the states, and a lot of folks there resorted to scooters a long time ago.

We bought a larger scooter so that we could take it on longer trips and not be relegated to trips around town. My wife’s parents live in Dover, NH about 45 miles from our home in Concord, NH and we wanted to be able to ride our scooter on weekends to see them. The first time we took the scooter on a road where the speed limit was 55 or above, it began to show its smallness. The scooter is not as heavy as a larger motorcycle, and while we could ride at those speeds, it wasn’t as comfortable as riding at 45 MPH or below. Try sticking a large flat piece of plastic out your car window when you are traveling at 60 mph and try holding on to it. As a matter of fact, we’ve found that the best speeds seem to be somewhere between 30 and 40 MPH. That’s when the wind isn’t so bad, and the scooter rides along easily.

But once we started taking roads that allowed us to go along at a slower pace, travel began to change completely. All of the sudden the most enjoyable part, wasn’t arriving at our destination, but it was the trip itself. Travel to most people is a means to get from one point to another, and the goal of the trip is the destination. However this mentality often times diminishes what could actually be the best part of the trip, and that’s the time spent traveling.

My wife and I would pick a destination, then look on a map to find the smaller back roads that would take us there, so we didn’t have to get up on the highways, and travel at 65 mph on our scooter, fighting the wind, the road and the traffic along the way. We found many of these smaller roads were the types you find in auto adds, and travel magazines, where they twist and turn through the hills of central New Hampshire. We were going at a pace where we could stop easily if we found something that caught our attention, or we could simply enjoy passing a unique barn or house situated in a beautiful setting.

Vermont Country Store
You won’t find the original Vermont Country Store unless you take a back road.

As a matter of fact, we’ve started to collect a set of pictures of barns and sheds around the area, and we now have a goal of finding all of the small town stores throughout this area.

Recently I purchased a larger scooter (Suzuki Burgman) that was safer and more comfortable to ride on longer trips. My wife went in for a motorcycle for the same reasons. However our trips are still the same (just longer sometimes). We still search out the backroads with 40 mph speed limits. While we can get up on the highways now, we always do a map search online asking to exclude highways.

So if there’s a moral to this story, it’s not to be afraid to slow down and take a look around when traveling, and that sometimes the trip is the destination.